Monday, March 30, 2015

New Book: Hometown Girls – Beginnings by Tressa Messenger & GIVEAWAY

I'm excited to be part of a book blast for a Tressa Messenger's latest book, Hometown Girls - Beginnings. As part of her book release, Tressa is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card! Woo-hoo! Enter on the Rafflecopter below and be sure to come back and let me know you thought of the book. I can't wait to read it - and can I seriously get some more hours in the day for reading?! So many books, so little time!

hometown tour banner
hometown girlLife for Marissa Lou was great. She was a popular senior in high school with great friends and an even greater boyfriend. She was on top of the world. That was until she made the greatest sacrifice of her life. Daniel and Katie both loved Marissa Lou but neither of them could deny the intensity of their growing affection for one another, no matter how hard they tried to fight it. Being the selfless person she was, Marissa Lou gave Katie and Daniel her permission to date. Little did she know it would be the first day of a hellish nightmare. One where, in her depression, she falls from grace and gets mixed up in a life she never would have expected. With a growing addiction she fights to right everything that went so wrong, but will it be too late? Buy on Amazon | Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publications

About the author:

tressa-2Tressa Messenger grew up in a very small town in Eastern North Carolina called Reelsboro in a coastal county called Pamlico. Being as it was such a small area Tressa developed an immense imagination at a young age. That is where she harnessed her love for writing. To date Tressa lives in New Orleans Louisiana with her husband, daughter and an assortment of critters.   As a young writer Tressa has overcome adversity of Dyslexia and continues to exceed expectations.

Follow Tressa: FaceBook | Twitter | Website

  The author is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card in celebration of the new release! Giveaway ends April 12th at 11:59 EST. Open World Wide. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 28, 2015

TBR Pile Challenge: I'll Give You the Sun Read Along: 1st Discussion

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Published: September 11, 2014 by Dial
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, LGBT

A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell 

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world. 

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

First Discussion Questions

1) How do you feel about the narration style? Was Noah's artistic voice hard to get used to? What about Jude's?

It took me a couple of Noah's references to seeing people's auras or some such to get that this was his artistic voice. And then Jude with her ghosts. I like it though now that I'm into the book more.

2) Between the two siblings/story lines, which one is you favorite?

Noah's actually. But at this point in the book it may because I'm still a bit bitter toward Jude about art school (not yet knowing the story there, of course, but still).

3) What are you feeling regarding the family dynamics: We have twins, a mom and dad, and a deceased grandmother. Noah believes his dad favors his sister and his mother favors him. Noah seems to favor his mom.

I suspect that this dynamic is a bit true in all families - merely magnified in this family due to the artistic minds, deaths in the family, etc.

4) All siblings have a bit of sibling rivalry between them? What sort of things did you and your siblings compete about? What is as serious and Jude and Noah or more playful competition?

My one sibling is ten years older than me and we are SO different. I don't recall a rivalry, but as the overachiever younger child, I can't speak for my sister. She may have felt it more than me. I was the straight A student, she was the one who was good with her hands (mechanical stuff, etc.). I could see where she might resent my grades or something. But I never sensed it in our relationship. I think the big age gap makes our relationship different than most siblings though.

5) Thus far, what has been one of your favorite scenes from the novel?

When Jude is spying on Guillermo sculpting. The author does a remarkable job of telling the intimacy of both Guillermo lost in his work and Jude lost in watching him.

Monday, March 16, 2015

REVIEW: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
Release Date: May 30, 2013

Publisher's Description:

Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.

Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.

And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.

First, I highly recommend NOT reading the book jacket on this before diving in. I received this recommendation and it helped with the "surprise" in the book a lot. 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is narrated in the first person by Rosemary Cooke. She starts her tale in the middle of the story and then proceeds to tell the whole story in chunks and pieces from various vantage points along the timeline. The story revolves around the missing sister, Fern, and how each family member, particularly Rosemary and her brother Lowell, deals with the circumstances and aftermath of Fern's absence. 

In the end, many of Rosemary's memories are shown to be misconceptions once she finally talks to her mother about Fern. I wish the author had gone into more detail about this. Instead, it felt swept away in an offhand comment when I thought the ideas presented there warranted more detail and more exploration. I suspect that the author's treatment of these revelations were to keep consistent with Rosemary's first person, internal narration. She spends a fair amount of time talking about types of memories and the way people form memories as part of the plot of the book. I can see where someone faced with knowledge that their version of events was inaccurate would choose to sweep away that knowledge rather than have to revisit and reexamine their memories. I get that the author needed to keep with the first person narrative. Understanding all that, I still would have liked to see some more reexamination since some of the information was SO different from Rosemary's recollection. Personally, at the time this new information was revealed to Rosemary, I think she was in a place where she would have reexamined her own memories but, for whatever reason, the author left that out. 

I didn't love the book. I didn't hate the book. There were several anachronisms in the book I found distracting. She mentions having a bread machine on the counter in 1979 - bread machines were invented in Japan in 1986. She mentions there being a picture of her as a small child with her father carrying her in a Baby Bjorn. The first baby carrier made by that company wasn't made until 1973 and it wasn't called a Baby Bjorn. And for all the psychology terms she used, she then messes up a grade school life science fact. Rats aren't nocturnal. They are crepuscular or even diurnal. They tend to adjust their own sleeping schedule to be in sync with their human companions. (Says the owner of two pet rats who are fat, lazy little critters who sleep ALL night... and a good bit of the day).  Will I let little things like this mess up my overall enjoyment of a book... yes, yes, I will - if I don't otherwise love the book. I didn't otherwise love this book. 

I did love one quote I found in the book and I am not much one for saving quotes from books (To Kill a Mockingbird aside).  "Kindergarten is all about learning which parts of you are welcome at school and which are not".  How true. How true. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Artist of the Week Wrap-Up: Keith Haring

I'm making an early post for the wrap-up this week since Wednesday's class currently has FOUR openings. The kids today had a great time making life size Haring-inspired "portraits". We had to spread out of the classroom into the kitchen and front hall to have the space needed for these creations. There was a lot of cooperation as everyone helped measure, cut, gather rocks to hold down the corners, outline and then move the giant wet paintings to the basement for more drying time.

Sign up by 6:00 pm Tuesday, February 24th to get into Wednesday's class!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Artist of the Week: Keith Haring - February 23rd & 25th

For the week of February 23rd, the Artist of the Week is Keith Haring, an American artist and social activist. Students will learn about his life, art techniques and the time and culture in which he lived.

Monday, February 23rd, 2:30 to 3:50  - FULL
Wednesday, February 25th, 2:30 to 3:50 - FOUR spaces available

Students will learn about art for social awareness and then make life-size Haring-style wall "graffiti".

To register for this or any of my other winter semester classes, visit

Spring semester enrolling now! Signup here:

For more information on terms and policies, visit

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

TBR Pile Challenge: Throne of Glass Read Along - Second Discussion

I actually finished this book in time (by January 31st) but I got busy and didn't get this post written. Oops. I've finished several books in the meantime so hopefully I haven't forgotten too much. I will endeavor to get my thoughts "on paper" more quickly in the future.

1) Celaena receives help from many sources throughout the novel. Of all these character, who do you think helped her the most? What does he/she do or teach Celaena that further develops her as a character?

Nehemia. She helps Calaena learn how to trust and how to be a friend.

2) Who do you think is Celaena was before Arobynn found her?

An incredibly scared little girl. I don't think she was anything more than that. (I have NOT read the novellas.)

3) Are there any aspects of Throne of Glass that you wished Sarah had gone into more detail about?

The "other" world and the magic... maybe more about how Cain came to have so much power and knowledge. It's obvious the king has something to do with it but it felt like she left out a  LOT in order to keep the way clear for the next book(s).

4) What are your thoughts about the kinda love-triangle? Are you favoring Dorian, Chaol, or is it too soon to tell where you loyalty lies?

Ugh... the love triangle thing again. I don't know. They both have their strong points and their weak points. I honestly have no idea. It's already breaking my heart that one of them is going to have his heart broken.

5) What do you think of Nox now? Do you think he'll come back into play later? And are you hoping for it? (Andrea's Note: I AM!)

I didn't think much of him before and I don't think I think of him much more now. I certainly hope she brings him back as she spent just enough time developing him that it seems a waste not to have him come back into play again.

6) Who's your favorite character so far? Do you imagine this could change throughout the series?

Chaol. He's such a quintessential good guy. I suppose that could change if his character is revealed to be vastly different.

7) How surprised were you by who was behind the Champion murders? Did you guess before it was revealed?

I had guessed it had something to do with Dorian's dogs... so I guess I was onto something with the whole animal thing. Maas gave it away some in the scene where Cain ran past Celaena acting a bit deranged and she made a mental note that he seemed to be getting bigger and faster each week.

8) What do you think of Nehemia NOW? And her friendship with Celaena?

Nehemia is a wonderful character. I never doubted her though I could see where Celaena's suspicions came from.

9) How satisfied were you with the story as a whole? Do you plan to continue the series?

I enjoyed it and I would certainly like some answers to the plethora of unanswered questions... and some closure to the many plot threads laid out before the reader. I have The Assassin's Blade right now so I'm currently planning to read the "before". Not sure if I'll make it to the after given the GIANT pile of books I have to read. If there's going to be more magic, I would be more inclined to read more since magic/fantasy is my favorite genre.

10) Do you have any predictions as to what may happen next? (If you've already read the next book/s, you should probably sit this question out.)

Good wins and Celaena marries Chaol, Dorian or Nox. :-) In other words, I don't have any definite predictions.