Saturday, March 28, 2009

Book Review: Abbie Against the Storm by Marcia K. Vaughan

Abbie Against the Storm
Abbie Against the Storm: The True Story of a Young Heroine and a Lighthouse
Author: Marcia K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Bill Farnsworth
Publisher: Beyond Words (1999)
Hardcover, 30 pages, $15.95
ISBN-10: 1582700079
ISBN-13: 978-1582700076

Based on the true story of lighthouse heroine Abbie Burgess, Abbie Against the Storm is an inspiring story of courage complimented by beautiful artwork.

When her family moves to Matinicus Rock Lighthouse in Maine, Abbie quickly becomes an invaluable assistant to her lighthouse keeper father. Abbie understands that keeping the beacon burning is a matter of life and death to sailors like her brother Ben.

When the supply ship does not arrive as scheduled, Abbie's father must head to the mainland for much-needed supplies and food for his family. He leaves Abbie in charge of the lights, knowing that she will be able to keep them burning in his absence.

As a violent storm threatens the area, Abbie's quick thinking and determination enable her to avert disaster. The young woman saves the family's hens just before the hen house is washed away. When the dangerous waves also claim the oil shed and fog bell, Abbie fears that the family's home will be destroyed next. After moving her family to the safety of the sturdy north tower, Abbie stays up all night to keep the lighthouse's beams shining through the storm.

The family's supply of food dwindles, and Abbie worries that her father may not return before the family starves. Despite the intense cold, hunger pangs, and an uncertain future, Abbie tirelessly tends the light until her father returns.

Farnsworth's vivid illustrations bring the daily duties of a 19th century lighthouse keeper to life. There is an especially striking illustration of Abbie polishing the lantern reflectors in the lighthouse tower.

Abbie Against the Storm is an excellent book for lighthouse enthusiasts of all ages.

Rating: 8/10.

Buy Abbie Against the Storm:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quotable - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Welcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

"Today I am a woman," wrote Francie in her diary in the summer when she was thirteen. She looked at the sentence and absently scratched a mosquito bite on her bare leg. She looked down on her long, thin and as yet formless legs. She crossed out the sentence and started over. "Soon, I shall become a woman." She looked down on her chest which was flat as a washboard and ripped the page out of the book.
-- Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Review of The Three Cousins Detective Club: The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse

The Three Cousins Detective Club The Mystery of the Lighthouse Ghost
Ten-year-old cousins Sarah-Jane Cooper, Timothy Dawson and Titus McKay call themselves the Three Cousins Detective Club. When a friend of Mr. Cooper's decides he wants to purchase and restore a decommissioned lighthouse, the cousins are excited to see it. Sarah-Jane has a very active imagination and is a little worried that the lighthouse might be scary. What if it's haunted?

When they arrive and find that the lighthouse has been vandalized, the Three Cousins Detectives Club start searching for clues. Sarah-Jane is relieved that the lighthouse doesn't seem too scary until she sees a haunting image in the lighthouse tower. The "ghost" turns out to be a teenage boy who was close friends with the last lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse is a very special place for him; he often comes there to remember his friend, the now-deceased lighthouse keeper. He's been trying to scare off potential buyers so he can continue to visit the lighthouse.

This book is part of an excellent Christian fiction series for children. Each book has a theme based on Biblical principles. The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse's theme is faithfulness. Spooky but not scary, this is an entertaining read.

Rating: 7/10.

Buy The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quotable - The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

I've been listening to an audiobook of Hound of the Baskervilles this week, and Stapleton's description of the moor to Watson set me on an almost immediate search for pictures:
"It is a wonderful place, the moor," said he, looking round over the undulating downs, long green rollers, with crests of jagged granite foaming up into fantastic surges. "You never tire of the moor. You cannot think the wonderful secrets which it contains. It is so vast, and so barren, and so mysterious."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
I think I agree with him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Review of The Berenstain Bears: The Haunted Lighthouse

The Berenstain Bears: The Haunted Lighthouse
Authors: Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (2001)
Format: Paperback, 96 pages
ISBN-10: 0375812695
ISBN-13: 978-0375812699

The Berenstain Bears are looking forward to an exciting summer vacation by the beach on Gull Island. There's just one problem: Papa neglected to rent a beach house in advance and all of the beach houses are taken! The family ends up in the only house available, an abandoned lighthouse on a nearby island.

When the family stops at a store for supplies, the store keeper gives them a book about the area. The book recounts a legend about pirates who sailed the nearby waters and are now rumored to haunt the lighthouse. Sister is scared when she hears this, but Mama and Papa reassure her that there's nothing to worry about.

However, once they get to the lighthouse, strange things start to happen. Despite being abandoned for years, the lighthouse is spotless on the inside. A clam shell comes clattering down the stairs of the lighthouse tower while the family is eating dinner. A fish shows up in their fishing basket despite the fact that Papa didn't catch anything. Could the lighthouse really be haunted or is there a less sinister explanation? The answer will teach the cubs a lesson in loyalty, bravery and friendship.

Short, easy sentences and large print make this an excellent choice for a child who has mastered easy reader books but might find a traditional chapter book too challenging.

Rating: 9/10.

Buy The Haunted Lighthouse:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

All right, show of hands: How many of you grew up reading the Berenstain Bears? (Or spent hours reading them to your children?)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Macmillan to Publish Young Sherlock Holmes Series


Macmillan is hoping to emulate the success of Puffin's Young Bond series with three books about a Young Sherlock Holmes.

The authorised adventures of Young Sherlock Holmes will launch with The Colossal Schemes of Baron Maupertuis due to be published in Spring 2010. The books will begin in the 1860s and will detail the life of a 14-year-old Sherlock Holmes.

McNally described the first book as "a completely gripping thriller," and labeled the young Holmes, "an utterly convincing, psychologically complex, flawed, clever fourteen-year-old boy".
Read the full article here.

There's a longer article with more details at The Guardian:
Starting at age 14 and tracing Holmes's life at school and then at university, the books will be written by author Andrew Lane – a self-confessed "super-fan" who has a collection of over 100 Holmes-related books – kicking off with a case referenced but never explained by Conan Doyle, The Colossal Schemes of Baron Maupertius. This will see Holmes, who is sent to stay with relatives in Surrey after his soldier father is unexpectedly posted to India, uncovering a series of murders.

"Like most teenagers he finds it difficult relating to girls, and making friends," said Lane, who is planning a doomed love affair for later in the series to help explain Holmes's adult difficulties with women. "He's quite intellectual, quite reserved."
I've read a couple of Andy Lane's Doctor Who and Torchwood tie-in novels (I loved the reference to Tapanuli fever, the illness mentioned in Conan Doyle's "The Dying Detective" in Slow Decay), so I'm very interested to see how this series turns out. The "colossal schemes of Baron Maupertuis" (The Guardian's spelling is incorrect) are, if memory serves, referenced in "The Adventure of the Reigate Squires".

Edited: I was correct. It's from the opening paragraph:
"It was some time before the health of my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes recovered from the strain caused by his immense exertions in the spring of '87. The whole question of the Netherland-Sumatra Company and of the colossal schemes of Baron Mauperuis are too recent in the minds of the public, and are too intimately concerned with politics and finance to be fitting subjects for this series of sketches. They led, however, in an indirect fashion to a singular and complex problem which gave my friend an opportunity of demonstrating the value of a fresh weapon among the many with which he waged his life-long battle against crime."
-- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Adventure of the Reigate Squires"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Book Review: Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue by Angeli Perrow

Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue
Author: Angeli Perrow
Illustrator: Emily Harris
Publisher: Down East Books (2000)
Paperback, $9.95, 30 pages
ISBN-10: 0892726008
ISBN-13: 978-0892726004

Pauline Hamor’s springer spaniel, Spot, loves life as a lighthouse dog. Whenever ships pass by the Owl’s Head Lighthouse, Spot eagerly rings the fog bell in greeting. Stuart Ames, captain of the local mail boat, is especially fond of the spaniel. He passes Owl’s Head Light twice a day and always blows his whistle in response to Spot.

When the mail boat becomes lost during a winter storm, Keeper Hamor is distressed to find the fog bell frozen solid. There is no way to signal Captain Ames – until Spot begins to bark. Captain Ames hears the barking and is able to return home safely thanks to the brave dog.

Based on true events that took place in Maine’s Penobscot Bay during the 1930’s, this beautifully illustrated picture book is a fitting tribute to a courageous lighthouse dog.

Rating: 8/10.

Buy Lighthouse Dog to the Rescue:
Indiebound | Powell's | Amazon

Sunday, March 15, 2009

TSS: 13th Book Review Blog Carnival

Welcome to the 13th Book Review Blog Carnival! I've been collecting submissions for the past two weeks and thanks to many wonderful bloggers have amassed quite a variety of book reviews for your enjoyment. There's definitely something for everyone here -- fiction, non-fiction, mysteries, young adult and children's books. I hope you'll discover lots of great new reading material. For more information about the carnival, be sure to visit the official Book Review Blog Carnival site. Happy Reading!

Caite reviews the intriguing Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely. The book's plot centers around a heart transplant. Caite tells us, "In Irreplaceable, we are presented with a view into both sides of the experience, those who have lost someone they loved, and those who were saved from losing the one they love, someone on the verge of death. Actually, we get a glimpse of a third part of the equation as well, the man who caused the death and set it all in motion."

Clare Swindlehurst of Blue Archipelago presents Silver by Edward Chupack. Clare writes, "Silver by Edward Chupack tells the tale of Long John Silver with a goodly amount of murder."

Florinda reviews the new release Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult at The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness. Florinda writes, "I think this novel will stick with me for awhile - for my money, it ranks among Picoult's best."

Heather J. presents Homefront by Kristen J. Tsetsi at Age 30+ ... A Lifetime of Books. This timely book examines what happens to those left behind when a loved one goes off to war.

Jen at Devourer of Books gives us a review of the audiobook version of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Jen tells us, "This is a book after a book-lover’s heart."

Jen also features a review of America America by Ethan Canin in audiobook format. Jen writes, "Although I finished it on March 1st, it is already a strong contender for my best book of the month." Read her entire review at Devourer of Books.

Keira gives us a review of The Kingmaking by Hellen Hollick at Love Romance Passion. She says, "In one sentence this book is about Arthur growing from boyhood to manhood, from untried to experienced, from soldier to king."

Nicole presents American Rust: A Novel by Philipp Meyer at Linus's Blanket. Nicole writes, "This novel is not to be missed."

Ali of Worducopia also gives us a review of American Rust, but with a twist: Her review is presented as an imagined interview with the book's protagonist.

Carrie Kitzmiller of Books and Movies shares Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. Carrie notes, "I enjoyed the descriptions of Austen’s time period, especially the things I’ve never thought about when reading Austen’s novels - things like personal hygiene, the smells, the way food would be served well past its prime."

Storybeader brings us a review of The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich posted at Stroll Through Storyland. Storybeader writes that the book is "filled with a plethora of complicated characters."

Children's Books
Dolfin showcases two Irish-themed books perfect for St. Patrick's Day reading, Tales from Old Ireland and Tales from Celtic Lands at Lionden Landing.

DNLee of Urban Science Adventures! © shares reviews of two ocean-related titles, Face to Face with Whales and WOW! World's of Ocean Life to compliment the recent National Geographic Kingdom of the Blue Whale television special.

Melissa reviews the classic children's tale Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie at Melissa's Bookshelf.

Shelly Burns presents a review of A Carousel Tale at Write for a Reader. Shelly writes, "This could well become a read-aloud favorite at bedtime." Be sure to check out Shelly's great interview with Elisa Kleven, the author of A Carousel Tale.

Christian Fiction
Rani reviews The Hidden Message by Lois Walfrid Johnson at Christ's Bridge. The Hidden Message is a Christian fiction children's mystery.

WordLily reviews Snitch by Rene Gutteridge at WordLily. She writes, "This is a fun, funny read. Pretty much the whole time I was reading this book, I was grinning."

Mysteries & Thrillers
Heather J. reviews one of my favorite books, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, the second installment of the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King. Be sure to check out her review of the first book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice and her interview with Laurie R. King.

Kerrie shares Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen at MYSTERIES in PARADISE. Her Royal Spyness is the first in a light cozy crime fiction series set in London in the 1930s.

Kerrie offers A Royal Pain, also by Rhys Bowen, as "Something for those who like a lighter style of crime fiction. Rhys Bowen is an award winning writer."

Kerrie also reviews Perfectly Pure and Good by Frances Fyfield, noting that "This isn't simple crime fiction. Frances Fyfield brings to her story telling an embellished literary style that demands that the reader see the world through the eyes of the main characters."

Melissa reviews Vince Flynn's political thriller Term Limits at Melissa's Bookshelf. Melissa tells us, "Flynn's writing is fast-paced and more than once I found my heart pounding as certain key events took place."

Melissa also shares Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer. Heyer is better known for her Regency romances, but also wrote several mysteries. Melissa writes, "For me, as a mystery lover, I enjoyed seeing Georgette Heyer use her talents in this genre and look forward to reading more of her mysteries."

Melissa's review of The Maidenstone Lighthouse by Sally Smith O'Rourke had me hurrying over to Amazon to add the book to my wish list.

Barry Wright III gives us an interesting two-part review of Fashion Foundations, a collection of essays edited by Kim Johnson, Susan Torntore, and Joanne Eicher; posted at 3stylelife. Be sure to read both parts.

Book Calendar shares There's No Elevator to the Top by Umesh Ramakrishnan, a look at what makes a successful CEO in today's ever-changing business world.

Clark Bjorke presents The War Within posted at I'll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book!. Clark writes, "Bob Woodward's fourth book on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq gives Woodward's final verdict on the Bush Presidency."

Christina M. Rau reflects on How to Be Alone by Joseph Franzen at Livin' The Dream (One Loser At A Time). She writes, "The essence of the essays are timeless. From learning about how the brain functions because of his father's lost battle with Alzheimers to writing about writing, the themes are close to a writer's heart."

Flash Gordon presents Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of Canada by Andrew Nikiforuk posted at Great New Books that Are a Must Read. To quote the review, "A cautionary note to government and industry: If Andrew Nikiforuk disappears in the middle of the night it will only prove his point."

Flash Gordon also presents Ghost Dance and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth Century posted at Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources.

At The Forgetful Librarian Recommends, we're treated to a wonderful review of Dewey by Vicki Myron. As FL writes, "Intertwined with tales of Dewey, Myron reveals many of her own personal struggles and triumphs making this a truly inspirational read."

GrrlScientist presents The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks by Susan Clark at Living the Scientific Life. She writes, "This book is the personal chronicle of the author's determination to learn about Great White Sharks -- however, the author's selfishness and immaturity ultimately destroyed two scientific careers and valuable research."

Holly at Woman Tribune reviews Getting Naked Again by Judith Sills, PhD. Holly writes, "This book reads more like a group of close girlfriends with the famous, no holds barred dialogue between good friends that every woman experiences at some point in her life, or if she’s lucky, throughout her life."

Jim presents a review of How to be the Family CFO by Kim Snider posted at Bargaineering.

Jim also features a review of The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes by Kay Bell at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity.

Kakie brings us an interview with Mark Hyman, author of Until It Hurts, America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids at Bur Bur & Friends: Community Park. Kakie writes, "In this book he examines the power of youth sports in our culture today and how it has reached a problematic state. We discuss his inspiration for the book and some important things he has learned along the way."

More than Just a Mother writes one of the more entertaining negative reviews I've read in awhile. Check out her review of My Bump & Me by Myleene Klass.

Nicole features A Child's Journey Out Of Autism by Leeann Whiffen at Linus's Blanket. Nicole writes, "As much as Leeann was committed to helping her son get the best possible treatment for his condition, she now also seems to be committed to sharing her experience so that no other family in this position has to think that they are without hope, or that they are alone."

S. Krishna brings us a review of The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson at S. Krishna's Books. She writes, "Neil obviously has a great sense of humor and he never takes himself too seriously throughout the course of the book. He reproduces angry letters from seven-year-olds that he received during the Pluto debates and comments on the fierce affection people felt for our strange and awkward cousin of a 9th planet."

S. Krishna also reviews First Darling of the Morning, a coming-of-age memoir by Thrity Umrigar. S. Krishna writes, "I can’t recommend it highly enough; I only wish there was more to read."

Tracey reviews On Becoming Babywise at GIRLS TO GROW. Tracey writes, "This was the book I turned to over and over again for practical advice on helping my infant sleep, eat and play well."

Jeanne presents What Might Have Been at her blog, Necromancy Never Pays. Jeanne asks us, "Is it only tragedies that make us long for what might have been? Have you ever turned a story over and over in your mind searching for a way out?" in her review of the poem "Casablanca" by George Bilgere.

Tasha B. presents Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James at Heidenkind's Hideaway. Tasha writes, "I honestly did not expect that much from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised--mainly because it's the most imaginative recreation of Pride & Prejudice I've ever read."

Tasha B. also reviews The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason. Tasha concludes her review with, "If you like books about vampires, and especially if you like vampire romances, you really need to read this book. I loved it!"

Science Fiction
Tru of True Science Fiction offers a review of Dr. Bloodmoney by Phillip K. Dick. Tru notes, "Dick explores how people react to losing everything, how they rebuild, and what they hold on to."

Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction
Anastasia starts her review of Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones with "I absolutely love this book." Find out why at Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog.

Ali presents American-born Chinese, a young adult graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang posted at Worducopia.

Anastasia of Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog reviews Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams. Anastasia's enthusiastic review and the Sherlock Holmes connection earned this book a spot on my wish list.

Bart of Bart's Bookshelf shares a review of Circle of Flight by John Marsden, the conclusion of a very popular Australian YA series.

Beth F reviews the young adult graphic novel Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith, at Beth Fish Reads.

Beth F also reviews the third and final book of the Inkheart trilogy, Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke.

Clare Swindlehurst presents Willow by Julia Hoban posted at Blue Archipelago. Clare writes, "Willow by Julia Hoban is the story of Willow; a sixteen year old girl who tries to cope with the tragedy of a terrible accident which took the lives of her parents by secretly cutting herself."

Gabriel Gadfly reviews Ptolemy’s Gate, the third book in Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus Trilogy at Gabriel calls the book, "A great end to a great trilogy."

Natasha of Maw Books Blog shares three Laurie Halse Anderson reviews in honor of the author's upcoming reading and signing in Salt Lake City. Don't miss Natasha's excellent reviews of Chains, Speak, and Laurie Halse Anderson's newest book, Wintergirls. (And check back at Maw Books Blog later this week for Natasha's post about the book signing!)

Tasha B. reviews Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles at Heidenkind's Hideaway. Authors, ever wonder if your book trailers sell books? Tasha says she bought Perfect Chemistry because she thought the book trailer was cute.

NathanKP spotlights six books by children's author Andrew Clements at Inkweaver Review. Nathan tells us, "Andrew Clements is one of the best writers for school age children. This is a collection of some of his best works."

Ruthie of Books Books and more Books! reviews Pride by Rachel Vincent, the third in the paranormal Werecats series.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed reviews. If you missed submitting a review for this carnival, don't despair! Submissions are being accepted for the next carnival, which will be hosted at Book: Thirty on March 29, 2009. Click here to submit a review for the next carnival.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Quotable - March 13, 2009: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Welcome to Quotable, a new weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

This week's selection is from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. I'm probably one of only five people who hasn't read this book yet. I'm three chapters in and have already scribbled down four separate passages; I think I'm going to like this book.

"I never read without making sure I am in a secure position. I have been like this ever since the age of seven when, sitting on a high wall and reading The Water Babies, I was so seduced by the descriptions of underwater life that I unconsciously relaxed my muscles. Instead of being held buoyant by the water that so vividly surrounded me in my mind, I plummeted to the ground and knocked myself out. I can still feel the scar under my fringe now. Reading can be dangerous."
-- Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale p. 4
When I was in elementary school, I was so engrossed in a book I was reading that I fell down a flight of stairs. Thankfully I wasn't hurt, but that was the last time I ever tried to walk and read at the same time.

What did you find quotable this week?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guest Blogger: Don Bruns, Author of Bahama Burnout

Today I'm pleased to welcome Don Bruns, author of the upcoming mystery novel Bahama Burnout, as a guest blogger at Bookish Ruth. Please give him a warm welcome. Don't forget to check out the giveaway information at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed copy of Bahama Burnout. --Ruth

Research Is a Pain
by Don Bruns

I write Caribbean/South Florida mysteries, and everyone I talk to makes fun of the research I must do. Well, I understand that it smacks of self indulgence. I pick out an island, I fly there, I write some of the expenses off, I drink the native drinks, eat the native dishes, stay out till all hours of the night, dive, take boat trips, and do everything that my fictional character would do. It certainly sounds like a lot of fun.

The truth is that it is a lot of hard work. Seriously. The minute the plane lands in St. Barts, Nassau, Barbados, Jamaica, Miami, I have to immediately find a best friend. Someone who likes the idea of entertaining a writer for the next four or five days, and helping escort me to the hot spots. Could be a bartender (St. Barts Breakdown), could be a taxi driver (Barbados Heat), or a nun (Bahama Burnout). And they always become a major character in the book. But I've got to hustle to find that person because I limit myself to five days. There's a lot to cover in five days.

Hanging out at the bars doesn't become just a fun, social connection anymore. I'm taking notes, picking up local conversation. Interacting with tourists and making every effort to capture the romance of the place is essential. Which club is the hottest spot, what does it look like, how much for a bottle of champagne and what celebrities are frequenting the place? Who just boated in on that 70 foot yacht? Rod Stewart? Put him in the book. My new best friend has to introduce me to the restaurants, the galleries, the hottest clothing stores...and hopefully stay out with me until 4 in the morning. (No, the nuns in Bahama Burnout did NOT stay up with me.)

If there's gambling, then I've got to do that. If there's a spot that only the locals go, then I need to see it. I need to talk to the local cops, the gendarmes; I've got to take copious notes, which becomes a real problem because I can't read my own writing. I've got to take hundreds of pictures...not for a desk frame, but because I need to remember a lot of things.

And finally, when it's all done and I'm back in the States, I find that I should have visited this place or done that, and I'm tempted to go back. But I don't. I fill it in with a phone call or a search engine. But, I have captured the island. I've given the reader a $4000 vacation for $24.95. So on top of being an author, I'm also a travel agent. I'm not saying it's not fun. But I go on record saying "It's a lot of work. Research can be a pain!"

Bahama Burnout
About the Author

Bruns is a musician, songwriter, advertising executive and award-winning novelist.

Bruns is the author of Jamaica Blue, Barbados Heat, South Beach Shakedown, St. Barts Breakdown and the forthcoming Bahama Burnout, a mystery series featuring rock and roll journalist Mick Sever. Bruns is also the author of Stuff to Die For and Stuff Dreams Are Made Of.

Bruns has also authored several short stories and served as editor of the anthology, A Merry Band of Murderers, which reached #5 on the Independent Mystery Bestsellers List in 2006. He is also a frequent contributor to The Little Blog of Murder.

A former road musician who traveled and performed throughout the US with major entertainment acts, Don
Bruns recently released a CD of original songs called Last Flight Out, and performed two original songs at the 2004 Edgar Awards ceremonies.

Bruns divides his time between Ohio and South Florida. His website is

Bahama Burnout Giveaway

Don Bruns is giving away a signed copy of his book, Bahama Burnout, to one lucky tour visitor. Go to Don’s book tour page,, enter your name, e-mail address, and this PIN, 6931, for your chance to win. Entries from Bookish Ruth will be accepted until 12:00 Noon (PT) tomorrow. No purchase is required to enter or to win. The winner (first name only) will be announced on Don’s book tour page next week

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quotable - Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Today's quotation comes from one of my favorite books of 2008, Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. The book captured my attention from the first few lines:

"The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up. That's when they can hear us true, Momma said. That's when ghosts can answer us."
-- Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains p. 3
Quotable will be a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth starting on Friday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quotable - Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos has a lot of things that I love all wrapped up in one book: Egypt, London, a creepy museum, and a strong, clever and endearingly unusual main character.

"As I drifted off to sleep, I had to remind myself that sleeping in a sarcophagus wasn't creepy. Not really. Not if you don't think about it..."
-- R.L. LaFevers, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos p. 71
Quotable will be a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth starting on Friday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Book Review: Sammy the Boston Lighthouse Dog by Sally R. Snowman

Boston Light on Little Brewster Island is the last lighthouse in the United States still staffed by the Coast Guard. Sammy, a black Labrador, moved to Boston Light in 1997, where he remained the only official Coast Guard lighthouse dog until his death in 2004.

Sammy quickly adjusted to the life of a Coast Guard dog. His duties consisted of keeping watch at the porch door of the keeper’s house, greeting visitors, and exploring the island. A constant companion to Keeper Scott Stanton, Sammy once fell over 50 feet down the spiral stairs of the lighthouse tower. Remarkably, he was not seriously injured.

As the years passed, it became clear that the aging dog would need to retire. Sammy helped train the next Boston Light dog, a black lab puppy named Samantha Anne. When Sammy passed away in October of 2004, Keeper Sally Snowman and her husband buried the loyal dog on Brewster Island.

A loving tribute to Boston Light’s canine protector, the book includes pencil and ink illustrations, a glossary, and study questions and activities related to the story.

Quotable - Doctor Who: Shining Darkness by Mark Michalowski

Regular readers here at Bookish Ruth have probably noticed my love of Doctor Who. I never miss the show and am currently working my way through the tie-in novels. I have several that I still need to review here, and today's quotation is from one of them. I really enjoyed Catherine Tate's depiction of Donna Noble during Series 4 of Doctor Who. Mark Michalowski did an admirable job of conveying Donna's personality in print while giving a bit of a nod to one of my favorite episodes, the Agatha Christie-inspired The Unicorn and the Wasp in this quote:
"Look," she said firmly. "I've just come from one ship where everything was more mysterious than a Miss Marple. I'm not about to walk into a Hercule Poirot. Just tell me what the hell is going on!"
-- Mark Michalowski, Doctor Who: Shining Darkness, p. 161
Quotable will be a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth starting on Friday.

Mailbox Monday: March 9, 2009

I hope everyone is enjoying the first Monday of Daylight Savings Time. I'm thankful for more daylight, but it always takes me about a week to get used to the time change. Reverting to Standard Time in the fall is a much easier adjustment since I'm a night owl by nature.

Some fantastic books have made their way into my home over the past two weeks:

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes The Novels
The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Leslie S. Klinger
I think this book and the two companion volumes containing the short stories have been on my wish list longer than anything else. Since I'm planning to re-read both A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles for The Baker Street Challenge this year, I was very glad to finally be able to add this to my library. I've read the first few pages of A Study in Scarlet and have been very impressed by the depth of information contained in the notes.

Femme Fatale by Carole Nelson Douglas
Another Holmes-related book. I've been meaning to read Carole Nelson Douglas' Irene Adler ("The Woman" from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story "A Scandal in Bohemia") series for years, and have started collecting the books in preparation for summer reading. It will be interesting to read these after re-reading Laurie R. King's Mary Russell series.

Paper Towns by John Green
Shortly before her death, Dewey of The Hidden Side of a Leaf posted that she was so engrossed in John Green's Paper Towns that she read it while brushing her teeth. I knew then that I had to read it. When I won Sharon's Strand Birthday contest, Paper Towns was my first choice. As part of her birthday celebration, Sharon visited The Strand and agreed to purchase two books of the contest winner's choice.

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
This book came to my attention months ago thanks to Steph at Reviewer X. This was also my other selection from Sharon's contest. In addition to two books from The Strand, Sharon also sent along lots of promotional bookmarks, a Strand button, and a New York state license plate keychain with my name on it. Many thanks to Sharon for the fun and thoughtful package she put together for me.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Quirk Books is definitely living up to their name with the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Of all of Austen's heroines, I think Elizabeth Bennett would probably be best-suited to fighting off hoards of the living dead. (Emma Woodhouse would be a close second. She did leave a rather well-meaning path of destruction in her wake during most of the book.) Hopefully my slightly warped sense of humor will balance out my tendency towards being a bit of an Austen purist. We'll see.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Quotable

I'm re-reading the Mary Russell novels by Laurie R. King at the moment, and could honestly present hundreds of quotations from the series. This one, however, seems quite appropriate for today and the rather rude awakening that is Daylight Savings Time. (I want my missing hour of sleep back.) It also happens to be one of my favorite moments from A Letter of Mary. I love that Russell's powers of deduction are still very much present at a time when many people would be groggy and semi-coherent:
It was light in the room, despite the curtains, when a small noise woke me. After a moment, I spoke into my pillow.

"It occurs to me that I am condemned rarely to awaken normally under this roof. I am usually disturbed by loud and urgent voices from the sitting room, occasionally by a particularly horrendous alarm clock at some ungodly hour, and once by a gunshot. However," I added, and turned over, "of all the unnatural noises which serve to pull me from slumber, the rattle of a cup and saucer is the least unwelcome." I paused. "On the other hand, my nose tells me to beware a detective bearing coffee, rather than the more congenial beverage of tea. May I take this as a wordless message that my presence is required, in a wide-awake state?" I reached for the cup.

-- Laurie R. King, A Letter of Mary
Quotable will be a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth starting on Friday.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Book Review Blog Carnival: A Call for Submissions

A week from tomorrow I'll be hosting the 13th Book Review Blog Carnival. (Check out the 12th edition at Age 30+ ...A Lifetime of Books. There's a great selection of books there!) There's still time to submit a review and have it included in next week's carnival. Send me your review of the favorite book (or books) that you've read so far in 2009, any and all genres. (I'd love to have more children's, young adult, mystery and Christian fiction reviews to feature.) Send your most recent review, or a review that you're particularly proud of that didn't get much attention when you first published it and I'll happily feature it here. Thanks!

Edited to clarify: If you'd like to submit more than one review, please feel free to do so. I'll happily feature multiple reviews from the same blogger.

Weekly Geeks 2009-09: Quote A Day & The Launch of a New Feature!

Weekly Geeks
This week's Weekly Geeks assignment is perfectly timed, because it coincides with a new feature I was planning to launch later this week. I take copious notes whenever I read a book, often writing down a memorable piece of dialogue or a passage with which I can relate. Many of these quotations have found themselves in finished reviews, but at least an equal number of them are left in the pages of my trusty composition notebook.

Each Friday from now on I'll be hosting a feature called Quotable, which will pluck some of these gems out of my notebook and onto your computer screen. It's my hope that you'll enjoy these quotations as much as I have, and that they may inspire you to pick up a book you might not have considered before.

This will be a weekly feature open to other bloggers -- grab the button and share your own quote along with me every Friday!

Consider the quotations each day this week as a sneak peek of things to come.

Charles Dickens muses the significance of The Moonstone, which is now considered the first English language detective novel:
"The idea of an entire novel revolving around a single mystery, with an interesting and three-dimensional detective character -- perhaps a private enquiry detective rather than a formal police detective -- in a central position, and with all character development and nuance of daily verisimilitude flowing from the side-effects and after-effects of whatever crime was the mainspring for the novel's central tale...why it is revolutionary!"
-- Dan Simmons, Drood p. 561

Friday, March 6, 2009

February Reading Wrap-Up

February was definitely the month of Drood. At just under 800 pages, it took up a good part of my reading time in February. It's been awhile since I read a book with more than 500 pages (I think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was the last one that took me over the 700 page mark; I read it in January of last year) and it was nice to get lost in one story for so long. In addition to Drood, I read 10 other (significantly shorter) books.

1. A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King
2. The Kerry Hill Casecrackers: The Case of the Lighthouse Ghost by John F. Warner and Peggy Nicholson
3. The Girls of Lighthouse Lane: Katherine's Story by Erika Tamar
4. The Berenstain Bears: The Haunted Lighthouse by Jan Berenstain
5. Drood by Dan Simmons
6. The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer
7. Afghan Dreams: Young Voices of Afghanistan by Tony O'Brien and Mike Sullivan
8. A Letter of Mary by Laurie King
9. The Mystery of the Dark Lighthouse by Laura E. Williams
10. Three Cousins Detective Club: The Mystery of the Haunted Lighthouse by Elspeth Campbell Murphy
11. Dear America: A Light in the Storm by Karen Hesse

Plans for March:
  • Finish up the last few books for the lighthouse book project I'm working on.
  • Continue re-reading the Mary Russell books in preparation for The Language of Bees in April.
  • Catch up on reviews. I've gotten a little bit behind in my reviewing, so be looking for lots of reviews this month!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: The Best Books I've Never Read

We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.

What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?

I have a lot of great books just waiting for me on my bookshelves. Here are just a few of them.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I've read nearly all of L.M. Montgomery's books with one very glaring omission: I've never read the Anne books. I'm not exactly sure how I managed to accomplish this, since I love the rest of her work and absolutely devoured it as a child and young teenager. I know I watched the movies quite a bit as a child (I think I wore out our library's Anne of Avonlea VHS) and I wonder if that had something to do with it. Perhaps I was more eager to read stories I wasn't already so very familiar with?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I've been interested in this book since it showed up as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I bought a copy the week it was released, but haven't had time to read it. I don't think I've read a truly negative review of this one yet. I love that correspondence is central to the book, since letter writing truly is a dying art. I've also seen favorable comparisons to 84, Charing Cross Road; which is high praise indeed.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Quoting a Sherlock Holmes story in the title of your book practically guarantees that I will buy it. (Especially when the Holmes short story quoted -- "Silver Blaze"-- ranks among my favorites.) Having an autistic main character will further pique my interest. I'm hoping to finally get to this book sometime over the summer.

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is probably my favorite writer of all-time. My eighth grade teacher got me hooked on the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I've read many of Doyle's non-Holmes short story collections. I have not, however, read The Lost World or any of the other Professor Challenger stories. I hope to remedy this in 2009.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I think just about everyone who has seen my bookshelves has commented on this book. They tell me how much they loved it. They tell me that someone recommended it to them. One person recited the first 25 digits of pi upon seeing this book on my shelf. (He lost me after the sixth.)

Persuasion by Jane Austen
I try to read at least two Jane Austen books per year. Last year it was Emma and Northanger Abbey. For some reason, I've never read Persuasion, which is thought by many to be her best work. This review on LibraryThing really struck a chord with me, particularly this statement: "The age at which most reader girls are tearing through Jane Austen is far, far too young for this book. I just wish I could mail every woman a copy in her twenty-seventh year." Anne Elliot is 27 in Persuasion. I turn 27 this year. Guess what I will likely be reading the week of my birthday?