Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shaman's Blood

Shaman’s Blood
By:  Anne C. Petty
ISBN:  9781936564200
Published August 5, 2011 by JournalStone
Available Format:  Paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

When Cadjer Harrow, a half-blood shaman, carelessly bonds himself with an Australian Dreamtime shadow demon, he curses his family for generations to come. Shaman’s Blood opens in the early adolescence of Ned Waterston as he runs, literally, for his life. The problem is, what Ned is running from cannot be outrun.  Ned’s entire life will be spent attempting to undo the shadowy curse that plagues his bloodline. 

As a museum curator, Alice Waterston is fully educated in Dreamtime legends, but as near unfathomable events begin to occur more and more often, Alice has no other choice than to suspect a deeper connection to the mythologies. It is up to Alice and her daughter Margaret to finish what her ancestors began so many years ago.

I received a copy of Shaman’s Blood from the publisher for proofing and review.

I believe one of the things I liked most about this book is the way Petty basically included the entire lifespan of a human being through different characters. She captures childhood and adolescence in the lives of both Ned and Margaret. On top of that, she expertly showcases some of the significant differences between the generations—the hippy of Ned’s lifetime versus the mannerisms and trends of a modern teen—from hitchhiking and getting high to manga chat rooms and iPhones. She was absolutely spot on even in their language, clothing, and social behaviors. Alice and Nik exemplify middle age, trying to raise a daughter, mourn a mother, and literally fight their own demons along the way. In Cecil Rider and Uncle Hal, the reader gets to experience the older adult with their wisdom, growing frailty, and terrible secrets. Furthermore, Petty also does an amazing job weaving together two completely separate cultures—the very familiar American and the mysterious Aboriginal. 

For me, the ‘horror’ of this novel is the demons and the way they stalk and incorporate themselves into the lives of these characters through very real nightmares and shape-shifter hallucinations. I was less than pleased to be confronted with an evil Quinkan snake in the first chapter, and I won’t even mention the disgusting giant tick! The ‘suspense’ lay in the simple questions:  Why were these people being haunted by this evil, and how were they going to stop it?  Anne Petty’s ability to write an amazing horror/suspense novel is entirely undeniable. 

I absolutely cannot wait to see where this story goes next, and I encourage everyone to pick up a copy in August!!

This review can also be found at www.journalstone.com.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

That Which Should Not Be

That Which Should Not Be
By:  Brett J Talley
ISBN: 9781936564149
Published October 7, 2011 by JournalStone
Available Format: Paperback, ebook

My Rating: ★★★★★

That Which Should Not Be is the winner of JournalStone’s 2011 Horror Writing Contest!

As a student at the mysterious Miskatonic University, Carter Weston is accustomed to the well-known reputation of the school’s association in all things occult and supernatural. When Professor Thayerson sends Carter on a secretive search for a dark and powerful book, he doesn’t even blink an eye. Shortly after Weston reaches the seaside town of Anchorhead in pursuit of the Incendium Maleficarum, The Inferno of the Witch, he meets a small group of fascinating men in a local tavern. Deep into the night, the men share their stories with Carter—stories that are chock full of paranormalcy and evil.  Two particular stories seem to deal directly with the very item Carter is in search of, proving their chance meeting anything but. Will Weston find what he is looking for, and what could this mean for the fate of the entire world?

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for proofing and review.

Since this book is the winner of the Horror Writing Contest, it is indeed of the horror genre. I have not read horror in years…YEARS! JournalStone is corrupting me! Nevertheless, this is a fantastic novel and absolutely worth first place!

For starters, I think this is one of my favorite book covers, at least of the JournalStone published books.  It really captures one of the pivotal scenes of the novel and puts a face, so to speak, on the evil that threatens the world.

Okay, so it really wasn’t that scary. Actually, a tremendous amount of the “fantasy” out there could be labeled horror but probably would be read less. The worst this did to me was give me some interesting material for some pretty creative dreams! Yes, there are a few rather gruesome parts in Jack’s trapper story, and the whole psychotic professor deal was a bit disturbing, but the overall plot was first class fiction in my opinion. (At least, I hope it is fiction!)

I love how the different stories within the narrative tied the beginning and ending together so perfectly. It was a truly creative and entertaining way to slowly add pieces to the puzzle of Miskatonic and the darkly magical books involved. There were the necessary twists, turns, and deceptions that I feel are essential to a good horror or suspense novel. You will find no objection from me that Mr. Talley is a fantastic writer!

And, Brett, if you read this, I must apologize…but, WAR EAGLE!!!



This review can also be found at www.journalstone.com.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Author Interview: JG Faherty, author of Ghosts of Coronado Bay



Mr. JG Faherty, the talented and witty author of Ghosts of Coronado Bay is joining us today for a little q&a...  I would like to extend a warm welcome.  Everyone make sure your feet are covered (am I the only person who can't watch a scary movie if my feet are exposed?) and hang out with us for a bit! :-)


(In case you missed it, you can check out my review for Ghosts of Coronado Bay HERE.)





Author Interview
Ghosts of Coronado Bay
By:  JG Faherty

GL:  First off, could you please tell us a bit more about yourself?

JG:  Hmm. Let’s see. I have spent the majority of my life living either in the Hudson Valley region of NY or the Northwest portion of NY, so coming from a rural background influences a lot of my stories - I like to write about small towns, where everyone thinks they know each other and so they’re surprised when secrets come out. Also, small towns are usually near woods, which always make great settings for horror. But I’ve also set a lot of my pieces in cities and in the south. I especially like southern gothic tales.

GL:  How did you begin your writing career?

JG:  If you ask my parents, I began it in the 3rd grade, when I started writing gross-out fiction stories, mysteries, and spoof comics. But after reading King’s ‘Salem’s Lot in high school, I didn’t think I could ever write that well, so I sort of stopped. At least with the fiction. I’ve always had jobs that required a lot of writing - laboratory procedures, marketing reports, etc. Then, in 1999, I got a freelance job writing grade school educational materials for The Princeton Review. I ended up writing 4 books for them, and in the process discovered I had a knack for short fiction, so I started writing it again.

GL:  What inspired you to write Ghosts of Coronado Bay?

JG:  I was watching a commercial for ‘The Ghost Whisperer’ and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if she could not only see and talk to ghosts, but make them real, at least temporarily. And after mulling that idea, I felt it would work better if the protagonist was a teenage girl instead of an adult. The rest just kind of worked itself out.

GL:  Do you have a favorite character?  Anyone you really relate to?

JG:  Actually, Lucy is my favorite, even though she’s not the main character. She’s sassy and totally not politically correct. I think without her, Maya would have grown up to be a stick in the mud. Lucy is the devil on Maya’s shoulder, the one telling her it’s okay to drink a wine cooler or cut class.

GL:  Lucy is my favorite too!

GL:  What is your favorite “scene” from the story?

JG:  It’s hard to say, since having just finished the book a few months ago the whole thing is still very fresh in my head, but probably the scene in the library where Maya isn’t sure if ghosts are following her or not. There’s some real suspense there.

GL:  What didn’t make the cut?  Was there anything that you wanted in but just wasn’t going to work out?

JG:  Actually, with this book it was just the opposite. My first draft was too short, so I had to go back and add some short scenes, and also some descriptive content to set the mood more.

GL:  What are you working on now?

JG:  I’ve got a few projects going. I am doing my edits on a book that will be released by JournalStone Publishing this fall, called The Cemetery Club. It’s about four friends who, in their teens, accidentally released evil spirits in their town. Now, 20 years later, the spirits are back and the friends have to solve the problem once and for all, before it’s too late. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the first draft of another book, pitching two books to publishers, and working on a couple of short stories. In my spare time, I’m holding down a job and trying to find time for friends, family, meals, and sleep.

GL:  I am eagerly looking forward to The Cemetery Club!!  Sounds fantastic!

GL:  Do you have any personal “quirks” when you are writing?  An open window?  Music? Sitting in the Eastern corner of the room? ;-)

JG:  I guess all writers do. Most of the time when I write, I like it quiet. Occasionally, when I feel the need for inspiration, I might put on some hard rock or 80s alternative ‘goth’ rock. But usually the music distracts me. I do sit by a window - I look to look outside when I’m thinking. And if I’m getting low on energy I’ll make a cup of coffee or have a piece of dark chocolate. Too much of that, though, combined with sitting at a desk all day, can be very bad on the waistline.

GL:  Do you believe in ghosts?

JG:  Absolutely. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a couple.

GL:  I hope they were nice...

GL:  Is there anyone (family/friend/someone famous) you would like to visit you from the “other side”?  What would you talk about?

JG:  Hell, yeah. All sorts of people. Family. Friends. Famous musicians. Historical figures like Einstein or Poe. What would I talk about? That would depend on the person. The same things as I would if they were alive. Except, you know, for that whole how is it being dead thing. That’d probably be an important question to ask.

GL:  As far as the famous/historical people - I'd be kinda afraid they weren't as great as we'd like to think they were ;-)...

GL:  Who would you say is your number one role model?  How have they inspired you?

JG:  I don’t really have role models. My parents instilled in me at a young age a love of reading, and a taste for dark science fiction and horror, although that last one wasn’t on purpose. I had a professor in college who was sort of a mentor to me, and he taught me that hard work is a lot more important than brains when it comes to getting ahead in life. He also taught me to make sure I had fun, and not just devote my college career to studying. In writing, my mentors have been F. Paul Wilson, David Morrell, and Thomas Monteleone, all of whom have gone out of their way to help young writers and pass along the knowledge they’ve gained over the years. And Howard Stern has been an influence as well, because he’s someone who worked his butt off to get what he wanted, and didn’t conform to the ‘rules’ of political correctness. You can’t let people dictate what you write; you have to go with your heart and hope that at least some of the reading public enjoys it. Otherwise books and art will become like a cheap ice cream store - they’ll only have vanilla.

GL:  What is the best piece of advice you have received that you could pass along?

JG:  If there is something in life you want to do or be, you have to go after it. Work hard and become good at what you do. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. A lot. Don’t expect anything to be handed to you - no matter what you do, there are a lot of people in the world who are better at it than you are. Your job is to get better than them. Someone recently said, and it’s true, you have to do a lot of work and have a little luck to succeed in any business. Lots of people work hard, but they have no luck, so they don’t succeed. But if you don’t work hard, you have a zero chance of succeeding.

GL:  Is there a book that you really want to read but just haven’t gotten to yet?

JG:  A book? Hell, there are probably 20 or 30. My to-be-read pile gets larger every week, because I spend most of my free time either writing or editing. Reading is for vacations or while my wife is watching Desperate Housewives.

GL:  Word. :-)  I have over 70 books on my review list right now.  Forget about the ones I just want to read for my personal enjoyement! :-)

GL:  Why do you think there is a bias against horror when it comes to books, but not when it comes to movies? Everyone loves a scary movies, but a lot of people won’t read a book that has ‘horror’ on the label.

JG:  I think the problem has to do with two things. First of all, more people go see movies than read books, so your audience for any book, even before the genre is identified, is cut in half. If you’re lucky! Second, the whole slasher phenomenon has been detrimental to written horror. Teens love slasher movies, but again, they’re not buying tons of books. Adults will go to other types of movies - ghost stories, aliens, monsters, zombies, etc. - but when they think of ‘horror,’ they often automatically think of blood and gore and knife-wielding maniacs. And so they automatically shun anything that smacks of horror. Yet, if you look at a lot of books that are out there today, they’re pure horror, they just aren’t being marketed that way. Writers need to learn to market themselves differently, and readers need to understand that horror can still be good, mainstream fiction.

GL:  I am actually one of those people who tends to shy away from ‘horror,’ although I have started easing back into it.  You are very right about a lot of fantasy and paranormal actually being horror…but the 'label' makes it feel safer to read ;-)!

GL:  Your Goodreads blurb mentions that you volunteer as an exotic animal caretaker.  What is the most exotic animal you have encountered?

JG:  I don’t actually get the chance to do that anymore, but I have done it many times in the past. A friend of mine runs a last stop animal sanctuary where she rescues tigers, lions, bears (no ‘oh my’ jokes, please!), cougars, panthers, and other exotics. I’ve bottle fed tiger and lion cubs. When I was younger, I was studying to be a field biologist, and I regularly handled - or cleaned up after! - venomous snakes, black bears, beavers, coyotes, bobcats, and all sorts of wild animals.

GL:  Do you have a favorite vacation spot?

JG:  A few. Aruba. Ocean City, MD. Las Vegas. New Orleans. Anyplace that’s warm in the winter!

GL:  Have you or would you ever sky dive?

JG:  No way! I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff in my day, including handling rattlesnakes and African vipers, racing my car on the NYS Thruway, exploring abandoned buildings, and eating food from roadside vendors in foreign countries. But I don’t do skydiving, parachuting, or upside down roller coasters.

GL:  What has been your craziest, most creative Halloween costume thus far?

JG:  Good question. I’ve been known to be very non-PC when it comes to Halloween. One year I was Jesus on the cross. Another year three of us dressed as Hassidic rabbis. I went to a party once as John Wayne Bobbitt (look him up and you can imagine the costume). You get the idea. Nowadays my costumes are more traditional, though, because my wife and I go to house parties where being an extreme costumer doesn’t win you any prizes!

GL:  You should have passed along some of these pictures ;-)!

GL:  Assuming that you are or can be a prankster…what is the wildest prank you have ever pulled off?  Please give lots of details!

JG:  Yes, I definitely am. When I was in middle school, there was an old 18th-century graveyard near our neighborhood (it was leveled for a new development). We used to lay down by the tombstones and cover ourselves with leaves, and then when the younger kids came along, we’d jump out and scare the you-know-what out of them.
As a teen I routinely put baby powder in my parents’ hair dryer, so when they were getting ready for work, BLAM! In college, we not only wrapped toilets in plastic wrap late at night so that people would make terrible messes in the morning, but we also would roll brownies up into fake poo shapes and then sneak into the girls’ bathrooms and stick them on the toilet seats. These are the fun things I’m teaching my nieces and nephews, now that they’ve hit their teenage years. Another fun one in college was to buy a box of crickets at the pet store and then dump them into someone’s room. Or buy a box of white mice and let them loose in a movie theater or donut shop.
Possibly one of my favorites was one I did recently, but I’ll never know if it worked. A hobby of mine is urban exploring, where you find abandoned buildings and sneak through them. While exploring a deserted (and supposedly haunted) mental institution, I found a box of Halloween decorations, plus a box of those plastic dummies that are used for training people in CPR. I took a bunch of stuff and went around the building, placing bodies and faces behind doors and under bed frames, so that the next people who come through will get some real surprises when they enter those dark rooms.

GL:  Too bad there are no hidden cameras in that asylum!!  


I knew when I was preparing for this interview that I was going to have lots of laughs!  Thank you so very much JG for sharing some of yourself with us.  I loved Ghosts of Coronado Bay, and I am looking forward to reading all of your future work!

You can learn more about Ghosts of Coronado Bay at JournalStone's webiste.  You can also learn more about JG Faherty and his life and work at http://www.jgfaherty.com/.


Ghosts of Coronado Bay

TOMORROW June 29, 2011, JG Faherty, author of Ghosts of Coronado Bay, will be dropping in for a little interview!  Please be sure to stop by and learn more about this extremely talented and very funny guy...

Ghosts of Coronado Bay (A Maya Blair Mystery #1)
By:  JG Faherty
ISBN:  9781936564095
Published June 10, 2011 by JournalStone
Available Format:  Paperback, ebook

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

It’s hard enough being a sixteen-year-old girl, but try being sixteen with an ability to see, talk to, and even solidify ghosts!! That is exactly what Maya Blair can do. She is what her grandmother Elsa (who is coincidentally a ghost) calls a Seer. In every other sense, Maya is a normal teenager. She has a fun relationship with her best friend, Lucy, a high-strung ex-boyfriend, Stuart, and a job at her family’s resident island diner. 

When a local museum salvages the hundred-year-old wreckage of the Black Lady, Maya’s number of ghost acquaintances begins to grow substantially.  She soon meets Blake Hennessy, to whom she is immediately attracted. As their relationship quickly develops, Gavin Hamlin throws himself in her path as he intends to finish the evil task he was part of before the ship’s demise.  It is now up to Maya and her friends to save Coronado Bay and the world from horrific destruction. Can they do it before time runs out?

I received a copy of Ghosts of Coronado Bay from the publisher for proofing and review.

This story immediately sucked me right in. Maya is exactly the kind of girl I’d want to be friends with, dead or alive. The balance of her “normal” life with her seer life is perfectly intriguing.  The diversity of the characters makes the overall tale even more charming. Lucy is my favorite character—sassy, headstrong, honest, and unequivocally loyal to her best friend. 

There is a point in the story where Maya does a very ordinary teenage thing, attends a school dance. But, her date is a handsome, blonde ghost. I could not help but be reminded of the little dance party scene in the 1995 movie Casper with Christina Ricci and Devon Sawa. Such an endearing yet sad little scene…made me cry like a baby!

Ghosts of Coronado Bay has something for everyone. Humor, horror, fantasy, action, romance, teen angst, friendship, love, evil, good…  You simply cannot pass up this great read!

Free ebook: The Right Path (Apocolyptic Novelette - Dark Future Series)

The Right Path (Apocolyptic Novelette - Dark Future Series)
By: Debra L Martin and David W Small


Abraham "Ham" Jones, a cripple, and Zia Slate, a tomboy with an attitude, find themselves unlikely partners in this post-apocalyptic tale of survival. It is decades later since the world blew itself apart. Life is harsh, gangs rule the streets, the system cops keep the peace anyway they can. Being a kid in this world isn't easy, being a cripple is about the worst sentence handed down. Being a girl with no protection is only slightly better. 

Ham and Zia's lives are irrevocably changed when they meet a mysterious old man bearing gifts - a cane for Ham and a knife for Zia. But, nothing is as it seems. Everyone wants something and no good deed goes unpunished. Forced into a desperate encounter, they must fight for their lives when it's discovered they now have possession of two of the legendary memory weapons, the very weapons that ultimately destroyed the world. 

THE RIGHT PATH is ~12,000 words.


Go HERE to get your free copy while it lasts!




JournalJabber - JournalStone's new Blog Talk Radio show...co-hosted by...moi!

Hello there guys and gals!


I have been chosen to co-host JournalStone's new Blog Talk Radio show, JournalJabber!  Our debut show will be tonight, June 28, 2011, at 8PM CST.  Amy, Cambria, and I will be chatting about some things we have read recently, and Christopher, our JournalStone "boss" will be calling in to add some testosterone to the program ;-).  


If you want to have some big laughs at our expense, please drop in and have a listen!  You can go back and listen to the show at any time.  Hopefully, as we work out all the little wrinkles, this will be both an entertaining and interesting little show!


Listen HERE!!!




Listen to internet radio with JournalJabber on Blog Talk Radio


Monday, June 27, 2011

Max and Izzy in 'Where's My Iggy?'

Max and Izzy in ‘Where’s My Iggy?’
By:  Catherine Isom
ASIN:  B0051UC75A
Published May 19, 2011

My Rating:  ★★★★☆

This is a children’s adventure book that is recommended for children ages 4 to 10. 

It is Max’s birthday and his beloved stuffed piggy has been pig-napped!!  It is up to Max and his mischievous sister Izzy to find Iggy before Max’s big day is completely ruined.  Much to Izzy’s delight, the clues that the pig-napper left behind lead them to many of her favorite places to snack.  Coincidence?

I received a copy of this charming book for review.

After my initial read, I probably would have rated this about three stars, but after speaking further with the author, I decided to bump my rating up.  The copy I received did not have illustrations, but Catherine told me that she has an illustrator working on that right now.  I think pictures would be a tremendous improvement on an already adorable story.  There were also some minor errors which just needed a quick proofing job to clear up.  I pointed these out to Catherine, so those changes will be made as well.

Aside from those slight technical things, the actual story of Max, Izzy, and Iggy is absolutely delightful!  I read this with my six-year-old son who said his favorite part was that it was Max’s birthday and they were on a type of scavenger hunt for his best pal.  Even without the pictures, he was able to fully enjoy the mini adventure that we were taken on with the siblings. 

I have already told Catherine that I would love to purchase an illustrated copy when it is available, and I encourage you all to do the same!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Free ebook: Journey to the Well - A Novel

Journey to the Well:  A Novel
By:  Diana Wallis Taylor


Product Description

One of the most well-known and loved stories of Jesus's ministry is the encounter with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. Now the creative mind of Diana Wallis Taylor imagines how the Samaritan woman got there in the first place. Marah is just a girl of thirteen when her life is set on a path that will eventually lead her to a life-changing encounter with the Messiah. But before that momentous meeting she must traverse through times of love lost and found, cruel and manipulative men, and gossiping women. This creative and accurate portrayal of life in the time of Jesus opens a window into a fascinating world. Taylor's rich descriptions of the landscapes, lifestyles, and rituals mesh easily with the emotional and very personal story of one woman trying to make a life out of what fate seems to throw at her. This exciting and heartwrenching story will fascinate readers and lend new life to a familiar story.

   From the Back Cover

She went to the well for water. What she found there would change her life forever. Marah is a young girl in love with her childhood friend, Jesse. When she is forced to marry an older man, she must abandon her dreams of happiness. At the mercy of men who are often only interested in using her, Marah must fight for survival. Will she ever meet a man who can save her? The story of the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well is one of hope, redemption, and a life changed in an instant through a remarkable encounter. Jesus told her "everything she'd ever done," but we are left to wonder at the circumstances that led her life on such a tragic path to begin with. Now from the creative mind of Diana Wallis Taylor comes the full story of the woman at the well. This well-researched portrayal of a woman's life in the time of Jesus opens a window into a fascinating world. Taylor's rich descriptions of the landscapes, lifestyles, and rituals mesh easily with the emotional and very personal story of one woman who desperately seeks to rise above the difficult circumstances of her life. Diana Wallis Taylor is an inspirational speaker and has taught writing and poetry workshops. She has published articles and short stories and is an award-winning poet and songwriter. She lives in California.

You can get your free copy HERE while it lasts!


I've been Tagged!

Hey there everyone!  A friend of mine tagged my blog in a little game that is going around.  The point is to answer a few questions about myself so my followers can get to know me a little better...




Here goes:



1. Do you think you're hot?

I think this might speak to the age level of the person who created this little survey...lol...  No, I do not consider myself hot.  When I put a little effort in, I am bearable :-)...
2. Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using at the moment.


One of the wallpapers on my slideshow.
3. When was the last time you ate chicken?

Actually, just about an hour or so ago.  I ate the leftover half of my grilled chicken quesadilla from dinner last night.
4. The song you listened to recently.

I don't listen to music as often as I used to.  Usually it is just in the car or maybe if I am cleaning house or something.  My kids were listening to Veggie Tales earlier, and I joined in a chorus of the "Hokey Pokey."  Does that count??
5. What were you thinking while doing this?

What a wonderful way to procrastinate even more...
6. Do you have any nicknames? What are they?

Not really.  My brothers used to call me Poodinky.  Yes, I know...
7. Tag 8 blogger friends.
After some deliberation, I have decided not to specifically tag anyone.  You can see all the blogs I follow in my blog roll on the left side of this page.  I encourage you to check them all out and follow anyone you fancy! :-)  
As for game play, anyone who is following me and takes the time to read these silly questions :-), PLEASE consider yourself tagged and continue the game on your blog!
Have a wonderful week!!


Blessings,
Cassie

Cars 2

Cars 2
Directed by:  John Lasseter & Brad Lewis
Written by:  Ben Queen
Produced by:  Denise Ream
Released in theaters June 24, 2011

My Rating:  ★★★★★

This film is rated G.

Most of the original Cars favorites are back, with tons of fantastic new characters, like Finn McMissle (Michael Caine) and Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro).  This time, McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his motley pit crew take on the entire world (Tokyo, Italy, and London) as they participate in a World Grand Prix sponsored by the new green fuel, Allinol.  As Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) whole-heartedly supports his best buddy, while sometimes embarrassing him with his redneck quirkiness, he is mistaken by two British operatives for an American government contact.  The road gets a little bumpy when Lightning and Mater have a bit of a falling out, and Mater is pulled farther and farther into international espionage.  Finally, Mater must make a critical choice that could save his best friend, even if it means the great junkyard in the sky for him.

When my oldest son was around the age of my youngest son, he would watch Cars over and over all day, every day!  I can probably still recite the entire movie to you, word for word.  To this day, it remains a favorite in our house.

Most, if not all, of the familiar voices have returned for this new motor-powered adventure.  Tow Mater seems to take the lead this time, as he is inadvertently taken for an international spy and tossed right in the middle of a jalopy uprising.  I was pleased to find Mater had more on-screen time, not just because he is a “southerner” like me, but also because he is just so darn loveable and funny! 

While this film is certainly not short on humor, it is also much more action-packed than its prequel.  The spy cars, even Mater eventually, come fully loaded with automatic grappling hooks, machine guns, and missile launchers.  While the plot of this story was undoubtedly all in great fun and entertainment, even my six-year-old commented on the bombs and guns.  Perhaps it was a little more intense than what some people would prefer.

The graphics were superb, of course.  We did not see the 3D version of the film (I try to avoid these as much as I can!), but the colors popped and the story came to life before our eyes.  The soundtrack is subtle, but fun, including a track from Weezer.  The cast was spot-on.  Michael Caine was the perfect choice for the British spy, Finn McMissle.  I was sad that Doc Hudson was not included in this film (though he was honored near the beginning), but I later learned this was in respect to and in memory of the late Paul Newman.  Other voice actors who were lost prior to the filming of Cars 2 include George Carlin (Fillmore) and Joe Ranft (Red), but these characters remain in the story. 

Overall, this film was fantastic, and I know it will join our home movie collection when it is released on DVD and Blu-ray.  My entire family gives it an energetic “KA-CHOW!”


Friday, June 24, 2011

Wonderful Giveaway of Highly Acclaimed Novel by Fellow Blogger!!

Everything Beautiful Began After
By:  Simon Van Booy


Simon Van Booy brings to the page his unique talent for poetic dialogue and sumptuous imagery in this his remarkable debut novel of love and loss, dependence and independence. Rebecca has come to Athens to paint. Born and raised in the south of France, Rebecca's mother abandoned her and her sister when they were very young, left to be raised by her loving yet distant grandfather. Young and lost, she seeks solace in the heat of Athens. George has come to Athens to translate language. Dropped off at a New England boarding school when he was a child, he has close to no relationships with anyone, except the study of ancient language and alcohol. Henry has come to Athens to dig. An archaeologist, Henry is on-site at Athens during the day, and roams the Agora on the weekend. Three lost and lonely souls whose worlds become inexorable enmeshed with consequences that ripple far among the ruins of ancient Athens.


Because 'Nerd Girl' found Booy's novel to be the best book she has read in 2011, she is generously giving away three copies of Everything Beautiful Began After.  She previously made this comment about Simon's work:
After I read a Simon Van Booy book, I feel a little more alive, shiny and loving, if that makes sense to you. Simon has this rare gift of talking about life and love that very few authors have ever shown to me. I believe with all my heart that anyone in need of a few moments of joy must read his books. The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, both collections of short stories, were two of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

Head over to http://thegirlfromtheghetto.wordpress.com and enter for your chance to win!


Contest is open to US and Canadian residents.  Entries accepted until July 5, 2011 at midnight.

I haven't read any of Booy's work...yet...  But you're darn tootin' I will be checking it out now!  Maybe I'll even win a copy myself! ;-)



Thursday, June 23, 2011

J.K. Rowling makes a BIG announcement!!!

Early this morning, J.K. Rowling made a video announcement introducing the new Pottermore website.  



What is Pottermore?

Pottermore is a free website that builds an exciting online experience around the reading of the Harry Potter books.  

Users will be able to complete a personalized homepage as if they were about to start at Hogwarts School.  Books, ebooks, and audiobooks will be available for purchase.  Rowling has also provided exclusive,  previously unpublished material to add in the fun.
Go to www.pottermore.com and enter your email for updates.  Then return on Harry's birthday (July 31st) and follow the owl to find out how you can get the chance to enter Pottermore early.


Great Giveaway by a Fellow YA Blogger...

Loren at The YA Lo-Down is giving away some awesome YA reads in celebration of 200 followers!  Be sure to drop by, follow her, and enter to win!!

LoChase

Free ebook: Spirit Thorn: A Tale of Parallel Worlds

Spirit Thorn:  A Tale of Parallel Worlds
By:  Zacharias O'Bryan


Do parallel worlds exist? Searching for proof, Professors Rodger & Cassie Swift vanish. Kestrelle, a spirit girl claiming to know their fate, tells their son Braden he must brave a whitewater, tooth-sprouting river into a land where wise vultures predict the future and blue minds inhabit lava caves. Only two powers can help: Kestrelle's Blood Thorn and Braden's vine-painted guitar. (For All Ages)


Go HERE to get your free copy while it lasts!



Free book: Herbs at a Glance: A Quick Guide to Herbal Supplements

Herbs at a Glance:  A Quick Guide to Herbal Supplements
Provided by:  National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine


Herbs at a Glance is a series of fact sheets that provides basic information about specific herbs or botanicals—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.


Features 42 common/popular herbs.


May be ordered in print (US addresses only) or downloaded in PDF format.


Go HERE to get your free copy while it lasts!