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Updated: 2014-10-01T22:23:37.322-07:00


Waiting on Wednesday: Love Story


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I am super-stoked about the July 19th release of Love Story by Jennifer Echols. While I am highly disappointed in my library for not purchasing her better books (we only seem to get the "Romantic Comedy" series that she has contributed to), I love that I can get them through Inter-Library Loan from outside of our system. This one though, I am fortunate enough to be reading right now. You'll get my opinion soon... I promise. In the mean time, here's the teaser:

Erin Blackwell is headed to college in New York City to study creative writing and earn a living as a romance novelist. Her grandmother has other plans: she approves of the college, but she wants Erin to major in business and then come back home to Kentucky to run the family’s famous racehorse farm. There is no way Erin will agree. Studying in New York and writing her way into a career is her escape from the farm and the family tragedy that happened there. So Erin’s grandmother decides Erin really will live life as a starving artist. She takes Erin’s future job running the farm, her inheritance, even her college tuition, and gives them all to Hunter Allen.

Hunter has lived on the farm for years. He’s Erin’s age, he’s the stable boy, and he’s the romantic dream of every girl in her high school. But he was involved in the family tragedy. Erin has always given him a wide berth. And he’s a slick opportunist. She’s furious that he fooled her grandmother into giving him Erin’s birthright and sending him to Erin’s college.

At least she’s free of him in her creative writing class. So she pens a story that has haunted her lately, in which the horse farm heiress at the very first Kentucky Derby starts a forbidden affair with the lowly stable boy. Unfortunately for her, the day she’s sharing this story with her New York classmates, Hunter walks in. He’s switching to her class. And after reading about himself in Erin’s story, he writes his own sexy assignments that lure Erin into dangerous fantasies about what could have been between them, and what might be.

From Goodreads

A longer description than usual, but one that definitely needs the extra words. I think I would absolutely FLIP if my grandmother did that to me! And of course in Echols's books there is always a guy who just happens to be right there. :) The outcomes tend to be at least a little predictable, but the way we arrive at the destination is never short of fantastic! If you've never read any of her work, I strongly recommend you give it a try!

What are you waiting on this week?

May 28th, Houston Kickoff Meeting at RMH


May 28th was our official kickoff for our Houston chapter! It was a great success and we want to send a big thank you to everyone involved. The meeting kicked off at 12:00 at The Ronald McDonald House in Houston. The venue could not have been more perfect for our needs. We greatly appreciate our wonderful hosts and look forward to our future meetings here. There was plenty of room, and we utilized both the boardroom table, for lunch, which was donated by our sponsors at Chili's and the living room area for our group discussion/presentation by Yamile Jackson, PHD and creator of the Zaky.Gift bags handed out to current NICU momsAmber Collier (Founder), Yamile Jackson (PHD, Creator of The Zaky),Allison Weaver (Assistant Director Houston)After meeting past and present moms, sharing stories, and connecting we enjoyed lunch. Then Yamile started her discussion on the benefits of Kangaroo Care and the story about the development of the Zaky (pictured below). The Zaky is a revolutionary product in the world of premature birth and we were so happy to host Yamile and have her share much needed information. Preemie Prints now has a goal to start purchasing and including a Zaky in every gift bag that goes out to current NICU moms. We feel every preemie needs to have one and we want to help to make that a reality. Your donations to Preemie Prints will begin going toward this goal. We want our first purchase of Zaky's to be a quantity of 25.This goal will cost Preemie Prints $900 and will  benefit 25 premature babies. We need your donation to make this a reality. Even $2.00 will help us reach our goal in no time!The reason we feel this is THE MOST important item to include in our bag is because it will be the ONLY item in the bag actually for the preemie and will make a positive change in his/her life. Here is what the Zaky is proven to do for preemies and why it is now part of our mission."The Zaky imitates the look, feel, weight, and warmth of the parents' hand and forearm. It assures proper positioning, helps with pain management and sleep, provides a sense of protection, and assists with the physical and psychological development of the child. There is also a new study coming out very soon that shows 0 apnea episodes while using the Zaky for a certain period of time when compared with not using anything and using another comparative product. It is used in over 300 NICUs worldwide and with healthy and special needs children."In addition to talking about the Zaky we also discussed the benefits of Kangaroo Mother Care. We all learned so much and will be able to share our insight with the future current moms who attend our meeting. A few key points as to the benefits...For the babies KMC provides:Containment & Safe boundariesMaximizes skin-to-skin contactIt is safe, comfortable, and easy to useStabilizes the baby's heart rateImproves breathing pattern & oxygen saturation levelsDecreases ApneaProvides a natural source of steady body temperatureDecreases crying and improves sleep timePromotes more rapid weight gainFosters more successful breastfeeding episodesAssists earlier hospital dischargeFor the parents KMC and the Kangaroo Zak (pictured below)Ensures bonding with babyProvides privacy while holdingFacilitates holding your baby longer, more comfortably, and hands-freeMinimizes anxiety regarding the risk of dropping your baby while Kangarooing for long periodsHelps you rest while holdingIncreases confidence in your ability to care for baby (aids in developmental care in the NICU)Increases your involvement and sense of controlIncreases mothers milk supplyWhen you Kangaroo Care you should NEVER do it less than 1 hour so your baby can achieve one full sleep cycle and grow. If done for less than 1 hour it is not beneficial to the baby. TO JOIN US FOR OUR NEXT MEETING IN HOUSTON PLEASE REGISTER HEREIF YOU ARE CLOSER TO BRYAN COLLEGE STATION OR TEMPLE PLEASE JOIN US FOR LOCAL MEETINGS IN YOUR AREA BY REGISTERING HEREHere is a short video from a recent episode of The Doctors, where a neonato[...]

Books on Prematurity and the NICU


The NICU Rollercoaster By Nicole E. Zimmerman and Edward J. SpragueThe NICU Rollercoaster is a true story about premature twins and the ups and downs of their time in the NICU. Containing personal blog posts and helpful information for parents coping with the issues of having a preemie. Boy twin Ronan battled brain bleeds, NEC, surgeries, breathing issues and other common medical problems preemies may have, as well as still needing a g-tube after coming home. His sister, Julie, did do a bit better, however she did need to stay on oxygen after going home.  Other topics covered include: kangaroo care, TIP feeding, nursing staff changes, brain bleeds, temperature control, medical overviews and tips on coping with these stressors are provided, as are a good set of references for you to further your education.  Purchase here Newborn Intensive Care: What Every Parent Needs to KnowBy Jeanette ZaichkinThis book is a great introduction to the world of preemies.  It deals with coping with premature birth of your child and/or children. It serves as a wonderful guide to the care given to your premature baby while in the NICU, and educates and supports preemie parents from entry to the world of the NICU straight to the transition home. This reference book is something you will turn to again and again, to understand different medical events and techniques that your preemie may encounter during their stay in the hospital.Purchase hereParenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey by Deborah L. Davis and Mara Tesler Stein.The premature birth of your child tosses you and your family into a whirlwind of emotions, where it seems sometimes you will never touch down. This book will provide an emotional map per say for you from the first shock of the news you will be having a premature child and your first encounter seeing your new preemie. It goes on to discuss the journey of your time in the NICU and then on to your time at home. Topics include the emotional implications of early delivery, physical recovery, the NICU experience, settling in at home, development and growth, challenges, special needs, moving on, subsequent pregnancies and much more. The authors' descriptions and advice are backed by quotes from experienced parents and preemie support groups, which will surely touch your heart. Purchase herePreemies : The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies by Dana Wechsler Linden, Emma Trenti Paroli, Mia Wechsler Doron M.D.This is in my opinion one of the most comprehensive books for parents of preemies currently available. It focus’s on preemies and their care, and will provide the answers to many of the questions you seek as the parent of a new preemie or a preemie toddler. Purchase herePediatric Massage: For the Child with Special Needs by Kathy Fleming Drehobl, Mary Gengler FuhrOver-reaction to touch and other stimulus is a common problem for preemie babies, which may continue on into child and adulthood. This is a nice reference tool into understanding how to touch them, calm them and, overall help them if they are feeling stressed. Purchase here Where's the Evidence? : Debates in Modern Medicine By William A. SilvermanThis is a collection of essays written by William A. Silverman, who is a pioneer in neonatology and is well regarded for conducting one of the most important randomized control trials in medicine. He has truly mastered the art of explaining the most complex and critical issues in medicine in terms that are understandable, and useful to parents going through the struggle of the NICU, which I found very helpful in that, there was so much going on, you try to understand it all but let’s face it you don’t always do. PurchaseBreast Feeding Your Premature Baby by Gwen GotschMother's milk has been scientifically proven to help babies born premature in so many different ways. This book will walk you through those studies and explain how important it can be to try and breastfeed if only for a month. PurchaseBy Preemie Prints B[...]

In Honor of Memorial Day


America the Beautiful:O beautiful for spacious skies,For amber waves of grain,For purple mountain majestiesAbove the fruited plain!America! America!God shed his grace on theeAnd crown thy good with brotherhoodFrom sea to shining sea!O beautiful for pilgrim feetWhose stern, impassioned stressA thoroughfare for freedom beatAcross the wilderness!America! America!God mend thine every flaw,Confirm thy soul in self-control,Thy liberty in law!O beautiful for heroes provedIn liberating strife.Who more than self the country lovedAnd mercy more than life!America! America!May God thy gold refineTill all success be noblenessAnd every gain divine!O beautiful for patriot dreamThat sees beyond the yearsThine alabaster cities gleamUndimmed by human tears!America! America!God shed his grace on theeAnd crown thy good with brotherhoodFrom sea to shining sea!O beautiful for halcyon skies,For amber waves of grain,For purple mountain majestiesAbove the enameled plain!America! America!God shed his grace on theeTill souls wax fair as earth and airAnd music-hearted sea!O beautiful for pilgrim feet,Whose stern impassioned stressA thoroughfare for freedom beatAcross the wilderness!America! America!God shed his grace on theeTill paths be wrought through wilds of thoughtBy pilgrim foot and knee!O beautiful for glory-taleOf liberating strifeWhen once and twice,for man's availMen lavished precious life!America! America!God shed his grace on theeTill selfish gain no longer stainThe banner of the free!O beautiful for patriot dreamThat sees beyond the yearsThine alabaster cities gleamUndimmed by human tears!America! America!God shed his grace on theeTill nobler men keep once againThy whiter jubilee!     A Memorial Day Prayer:Eternal God,Creator of years, of centuries,Lord of whatever is beyond time,Maker of all species and master of all history --How shall we speak to youfrom our smallness and inconsequence?Except that you have called us to worship youin spirit and in truth;You have dignified us with loves and loyalties;You have lifted us up with your loving kindnesses.Therefore we are bold to come before you without groveling(though we sometimes feel that low)and without fear(thought we are often anxious).We sing with spirit and pray with couragebecause you have dignified us;You have redeemed us from the aimlessnessof things' going meaninglessly well.God, lift the hearts of thosefor whom this holiday is not just diversion,but painful memory and continued deprivation.Bless those whose dear ones have diedneedlessly, wastefully (as it seems)in accident or misadventure.We remember with compassion those who have diedserving their countriesin the futility of combat.There is none of us but must come to bereavement and separation,when all the answers we are offeredfail the question death asks of each of us.We believe that you will provide for usas others have been provided with the fulfillment of"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."    The Infantryman:The average age of the Infantryman is 19 years.He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country.He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm Howitzers.He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in[...]

HOT SPOTS in CA: The James Dean Memorial


James Dean billboard at the gas station, now a Texaco, where he filled up his tank for the last time. The situations that bring me around to certain celebrities are peculiar. True, it could be purely circumstantial-- the way I bounce from studying one person to another. Yet, I cannot deny that there is a strange sort of synchronicity in my life, which brings different subjects to the forefront at the perfect time. I say this only to set up the unity that I forged with James Dean over the past couple of months. Not to get too personal, but I haven't been myself lately. For various reasons, I have found myself stuck, confused... Let's face it, I've been a deer in headlights. Getting to the source of my existential dilemma has not been an easy one, but the feelings of immobility and sometimes abject fear have been difficult to cope with. Particularly for me: a Grau, for whom Stagnation is synonymous with Death. As such, in retaliation against my mental and physical paralysis, there has been but one thought echoing in my mind: escape. All I have wanted to do is open the door, take off running, and not stop; hop a plane to anywhere and not look back. But mostly, I've felt the urge to jump in the car, turn the ignition, and just friggin' drive. The feeling of motion, and most particularly motion without purpose or pressure, has been tantamount. I needed to get away. Thus, my road trip brain child was born. It is probably no surprise, considering my pedal-to-the-metal frame of mind, that James Dean (left) entered my thoughts. Thus, visiting the scene of his tragic crash site became item #1 on the itinerary. So, as I planned my getaway over the coming months-- which would include another visit to Hearst Castle, a trip to the Winchester Mystery Mansion, and a pilgrimage to poor Bettie Short's grave in Oakland-- I started re-boning up on my Jimmy info. Whereas, in the past, I had looked upon JD as a strange, otherworldly creature, one very different from  my all-too-grounded and responsible self, this time around I was able to find our commonalities. Strange as it sounds, driving brought us together. I could see his attraction to racing. In the same way that I love flying-- being in the air and completely out of control, and thus free-- I feel that at this juncture/crisis of my life, I can empathize with a racer's mindset. When all the world is crazy, when nothing is certain, when you can't shut off the pressure-filled voices in your head, there is a certain, profound beauty in being able to get behind the wheel and just drive, even if it's only in circles. These past weeks, I have even skipped my lunch break to simply drive-- not the best idea, gas prices being what they are-- but it relaxes me. And so, as the date for my trip grew closer, I was chomping at the bit to get in the driver's seat and get the Hell out of dodge. With my lovely mother serving as my co-pilot, I finally hit the open road on April 17, 2011. While all of my voyage would be enjoyable, it was the moments surrounding James that I will always remember. There comes a moment when researching all of these various people where I go, "Aha, I found you!" In keeping with the spirit of Hollywood's favorite speed demon, I found James Dean, thus, while gripping the steering wheel. Here are the locations were JD and I collided:To begin my journey, I took the I-5 North. Starting out around 10am on a Sunday, Ma and I were blessed with no traffic. Had I wanted to remain more faithful to Jimmy's drive, I would have veered onto the 99 North, which was the highway he took before the 5 even existed, but I stayed on the more modern course. After about 2 hours, I hit CA Route 46 and followed it West. Knowing that I was getting closer to the famous crash site, I started getting antsy. The area grew less populated as we passed through the small town of Lost Hills. A school, a few small shops, and a dusty field full of oil rigs&nbs[...]

Armchair BEA: Blogging Community Relationships


Today for Armchair BEA we are focusing on relationships in the blogging community. I have several stories to share about relationships because in the last almost 2 years I have had several wonderful experiences that I'd love to share!Unofficially, I have always loved getting items signed by their "makers": cds & t-shirts by band members & books by authors mainly. Well when I realized what a GOLDMINE I have in Quail Ridge Books (our local Indie bookstore) I definitely got to ramp up my number of signed items. While I am not on a first name basis with the staff there, they have started to recognize me for the sheer number of events I have attended there recently. They get to bring in some of the BIG names in not just adult book, but teens & kids books too. I have met Adrianna Trigianni, Beth Revis, & Ally Condie just to name a few. It's such a great resource!I have to say though, the best relationships I have discovered so far are the ones with authors. These wonderful people have so much talent & they are so patient with the fans that I can't help but admire them.Terra Elan McVoy (author of Pure & the newly released The Summer of Firsts & Lasts) is actually the author you have to thank for my blog. I met her in July of 2009 at a signing in a local library. I had read her book & was in love. I asked her honest opinion about blogging & what she thought about me & she strongly encouraged me to at least try it out. Without her nudge (as her book was one of the first I publicly reviewed) you might not be reading this at all. :)Rachel Vincent is a phenomenal author with a huge heart. She gives her loyal fans lots of sneak previews & even asks their opinions on things that end up influencing her writing! She has always been extremely courteous & helpful when working together on extensive projects (I hosted a Soul Screamers week celebrating her series & she really took an interest). Rachel is also an amazing cross-genre author who can write differently for her fans.Finally, Maggie Stiefvater is also one of my favorite newly-developed blogging relationship. I drove 3.5 hours to see her in Virginia & despite the smaller crowd turn out (this was a signing for Shiver, before it got big) she stayed the whole time, answered every single question we had, told hilarious stories & really made us feel like we were rockstars. She is extremely helpful & patient at signings & in communications. All around she's just fun. Not to mention she also believes in keeping her fans in the loop & enjoys creating exciting things for us to explore (her art, her music, etc).The other relationships that I have really come to love are the ones with fellow bloggers. I have had email conversations, met in person & really come to enjoy all the different types of bloggers that exist. There are moms & students, full-time workers & high schoolers & we all bring something different to the plate. Just to name a few, my best memories of blogging lie with these people (in no particular order):Zombiegirrrl from Crackin' Spines & Takin' Names (A pleasure to meet another local blogger)Cindy from Princess Bookie (she's so cool, she also runs Around the World Tours)Misty from Book Rat (I love her style!)Katie from Sophistikatied (This girl is so quirky, I love her panache!)Taryn from Super Librarian (We library people have to stick together!:) )So what are some of your favorite memories or relationships created through blogging or even just related to books? Share some stories with me![...]

Armchair BEA: My Interview with Julie of My 5 Monkeys


Today I am hosting an interview with Julie of My 5 Monkeys. She's a terrific mom to 4 girls & 1 boy and she still manages to find time to read & blog! Here's what she has to say:1. Describe your blog in three words. Fun, whimsical, positive2. How did you stumble upon book blogging? Did your blog start out as something else & become about books or has it always been book-centered?It started as a family blog but when I did some book reviews it slowly changed 2 years ago. I do post personal stuff about the kids once in a while. 3. Do you have a favorite book managing website? Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything…? What makes it your favorite? Goodreads because it is easy to add books that I want to read. 4. Which e-reader do you have & how does that compare to reading a print book? I have a Kindle but it doesn't always compare to holding a book in my hand. 5. Do you participate in memes (Friday 5, Waiting on Wednesday, etc)? Do you have a favorite? Well I do my own meme of Get to Know Book Bloggers and On Round 3. I participate in In My Mailbox by Krisiti and my own WOW is called Cover Lust. 6. What’s your favorite part about the book blogging community? The great friends I have made..let me tell you a story..last year about this time was BEA, and I had a list of must reads. I have made a dear friend when she shared with me some books that I had to read from BEA. 7. Have you ever met an author? What was it like? Did you go fangirl or stay calm & cool? I have met a local author and remained calm. 8. What does your family think of your blog? Do they ever help you with your reviews or layout? My kids love when I post about them.My daughter M helps with some reviews of middle school books. 9. If you could have known only one thing that you know now, that you didn’t know when you started blogging, what would it be?Social Media Experience -- I didn't know that I would have to have know all this to have a successful blog. It takes a lot of time to share and drive traffic to the blog. Oh Vlogging is fun , but I need do more of it.You can find her at you want to know more about me, be sure to visit Melissa at One Librarian's Book Reviews.[...]

Armchair BEA: The Best of 2011 (so far)


Welcome back! Today's topic is the Best of 2011. While this list is by no means comprehensive, these are my favorite releases I have read & the releases I look forward to most for the rest of the year.
Demon Glass (Hex Hall 2) by Rachel Hawkins
The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
XVI by Julia Karr

(image) Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Love Story by Jennifer Echols
Tris & Izzie by Meete Ivie Harrison
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

(image) But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles
Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Days by Anna Godbersen

What are some of your votes? Agree or disagree with with above? :D Let the debate begin!

Armchair BEA: Welcome Visitors!


(image) My cat Sophie & I reading Tale of Despereaux

Welcome visitors! My name is Laura & Tattooed Books is my haven for my book outlet. I'm in my mid-20s & married to a very supportive husband who helps my blog & its HTML-challenged writer. I have worked in libraries for the last 9 years & have spent the last 3 years of that in a public library as a Young Adult programmer. That's just a fancy way of saying that I plan the teen programs & work with the teen book collection.

95% of the books I review, authors I interview & giveaways I participate in are YA oriented. I love everything from paranormal/urban fantasy to realistic fiction in the YA genre. While YA is my main love, I do branch out occasionally to some adult genres like Sci-Fi/Fantasy or even a little Romance. Basically if it's a good book up my alley, you can bet I'm gonna read it & tell you my thoughts.

Feel free to poke around in my archives, grab my button, or visit any of my favorite bloggers! Be sure to check in for my Armchair BEA posts! I'll be Armchairing from home mostly. I do actually work in a library, so time at the computer there is reserved for business. :)


Possession by Elana Johnson


(image) Vi knows the Rule: Girls don't walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn...and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi's future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

From Goodreads

So, I couldn't really sum up this book very well, so I just used the summary from Goodreads. I never really got into this story. I read it, but only just to see what happened at the end. I was not a fan of the writing & the characters' actions & behaviors were quite foreseeable. It was a very cookie-cutter style futuristic, sci-fi piece that felt like a flop to me. I never became enamored with the characters & didn't find myself desperate to find out their outcome.

Vi was a decent enough character, a typical rebellious teen, with some side issues that cause her to scrutinize everything for the hidden meaning. Jag had more depth than I expected from his role, but still nothing compelling. I think the best thing he had going for him was the fact that the socio-economy/geographic populace he represents is completely misunderstood & being taken advantage of.

I think the most aggravating thing about this book was that it seemed, considering the lack of sufficient explanation, to expect the reader to already know how & why the things operated the way the did in the book. There wasn't really a lot of world-building or a chronicled chain of events leading to the present society. There was sufficient annotations, just no definitive overview.

I'm hoping this book will be revised before it hits shelves in June, but I'm not so sure. Has anyone else had the same reaction as me? Am I just expecting too much from the story?



Has Anybody Seen... James Dean???It is commonly accepted that James Dean appeared in only three films. Accepted, but untrue. One of James's first big breaks came when he was featured in the film Has Anybody Seen My Gal (left)? A bit part, his big screen moment amounted to him ordering a sundae from Charles Coburn. Hardly groundbreaking... In fact, after Dean's death, the film's star, Piper Laurie, had no idea that she had even been in a film with the late, great James Dean until it was pointed out to her. However, the film's other star, Rock Hudson, would remember Dean when they were cast together once more in Giant. Rock was not amused at the reunion, and (despite gossip to the contrary), he and James did not get along. Mutually threatened by the other's presence, Rock and James rarely conversed and constantly competed for the attention of Elizabeth Taylor, a friend to both. Perhaps it was a simple clash of egos; perhaps the more congenial Rock simply couldn't get around James's idiosyncratic behavior. But, perhaps Rock was a little jealous of the fact that the runt, bit player he once towered over had grown exponentially in popularity since Has Anybody Seen My Gal, and was now stealing scenes from him to boot!James also did a lot of television work, which isn't popularly recalled. His television debut came via an Easter special-- "The Family Theater: Hill Number One" (right). In it, he played John the Apostle. His first professional part on film and he was cast opposite both struggling actors and seasoned thespians alike, including Raymond Burr, Ruth Hussey, Roddy McDowall, Gene Lockhart, and Leif Erickson. A struggling nobody at the time, his fame would surpass them all within 4 years when he made Elia Kazan's classic East of Eden. But, he did get some notice at the time. His first foray into film acting also spawned his first small fan club, whose meetings he gladly attended! After all, the boy loved attention...After her days in the Hollywood limelight had faded, which was just fine with her, Jean Arthur (left) had some intermittent bouts teaching dramatics. One gig found her at Vassar in the spring of 1968 as co-instructor with Clint Atkinson. The odd-ball lady's teaching skills were often reported as sub-par, but her students normally fell under her spell nonetheless-- that is, after they realized who she was. In the days before Cable, DVDs, and Netflix, becoming familiar with celebrities of the glory days was not as easy as it is in present society. In fact, it seemed at times that Jean herself had forgotten her stature. The once famous screwball queen of Mr. Deeds Goes to Town no longer saw herself as anyone of import, and she  always remained humbled by other performers. Never recognizing her own talents, it wasn't uncommon for her to become tongue tied around someone she found truly gifted. For example, she once went to one of the plays Atkinson directed, "Miss Julie," and was so blown away by the lead female's performance that she forgot her own status and gushed: "It was just like watching a movie star!" It was a prophetic moment, for the young drama major Meryl Streep went onto a very healthy and groundbreaking cinematic career.Meryl, as she appeared in her Vassar days.Jean wasn't the only one responsible for accidentally spotting one of Hollywood's predestined diamonds in the rough. In 1944, actor Ronald Reagan (right in Knute Rockne All American) was already dabbling in politics and matters of state when he was made a Lieutenant of the army's First Motion Picture Unit. Coincidentally, he had the idea to boost the war effort by sending photographers out to take pictures of women doing their part for battle. As such, photographer Corporal David Conover was sent to Radioplane at t[...]

Waiting on Wednesday: Sister Mischief


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

And we're back! I've missed this series for the last little bit, but I'm glad to be featuring Sister Mischief by Laura Goode as my Waiting on Wednesday book. This July 12th release looks to be extremely promising. It is also something completely outside of my normal reading habits. Here's the basic gist:

(image) A gay suburban hip-hopper freaks out her Christian high school - and falls in love - in this righteously funny and totally tender YA debut, for real.

Listen up: You’re about to get rocked by the fiercest, baddest all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities - or at least in the wealthy, white, Bible-thumping suburb of Holyhill, Minnesota. Our heroine, Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) is a Jewish lesbian lyricist. In her crew, Esme’s got her BFFs Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm, the butchest straight girl in town) and Tess (aka The ConTessa, the pretty, popular powerhouse of a vocalist). But Esme’s feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini), a beautiful, brilliant, beguiling desi chick, are bound to get complicated. And before they know it, the queer hip-hop revolution Esme and her girls have exploded in Holyhill is on the line. Exciting new talent Laura Goode lays down a snappy, provocative, and heartfelt novel about discovering the rhythm of your own truth.

How EPIC does that sound?! I like all the elements I'm seeing represented in this novel. There are so many different components that I hope they will be able to mesh well together. Here's hoping! What are you waiting on this week?

Want Your Child's Name Written In The Sand or With Stones?


A few Preemie Prints photography volunteers will be going on vacation this summer and we've decided to offer a creative art photography project to families! If anyone wants to have their little one's names written in the sands of Key West or with stones out in the mountains of the Rockies/Yellowstone/Snake River area, place an order today to be added to our list. The cost is a $5 dollar donation which will go toward the mission of Preemie Prints. You will receive a hi res JPEG image of your child's name that can be blown up and used for beautiful wall art.When you make your donation through paypal note your child's name, an email address to have your picture sent to, and the location you would prefer (either the beach or the mountains). That is all you have to do. All images will be emailed to parents by the end of June. This is just a little summer project for all of the NICU and preemie babies from the Preemie Prints group. At the end of June we will share the pictures with the group and create a slideshow to share with the rest of the "preemie world"!~God bless~Here is a link to a beautiful Australian based company called Names in The Sand. They create amazing images to memorialize children, friends, and family. Since a couple of our volunteers are going on trips we thought this would be a special project to offer to do for our families.So, if you would like to be added to our list for a similar style picture of your precious little one's name written in the sands of Key West or the mountains of Wyoming, we would feel honored and blessed to do this for you!Here is a picture from their website so you can see their beautiful work and a similar image of what you would be receivingClick the paypal button below to donate $5 to Preemie Prints and place your order to receive your image. You can also email to place your order or request more information. Have a blessed day![...]

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown


(image) Alex is a level-headed girl for the most part. As level-headed as she can be for a girl raised with the ghost of her long-dead mother & a scarcely present father. The most stable thing in her life has always been her two best friends Zack & Bethany. This terrible trio has been bonded together by their love for one another & their constant graduation-trip-to-Colorado planning.

They spend almost all of their waking time together, until new boy Cole shows up and sweeps Alex off her feet. In just a matter of weeks this budding romance turns into a full-blown relaitonship that consumes all of Alex's free time. But as their relationship moves forward, Cole becomes more & more possessive of Alex & even becomes extremely jealous of her relationship with Zack & Bethany. Things worsened quickly as Cole lashed out at Alex for the simplest things: missing his basketball practice, staying late at work to talk to her boss. Any little thing could upset him.

Alex starts to sees these changes, but thinks that things will get better if she can be better. A slippery slope begins to form & Alex doesn't know where it will end. She wants to best of both worlds with her best friends & Cole, but she doesn't know how to make it a reality; or if she'll make it through Cole's next temper-tantrum.

I must say that, despite having read the summary, this was not quite what I was expecting. There was a lot more depth to the story than an abusive boyfriend. The elements of Alex's mother's "mysterious" death, her devoted best friends, & her manager at her job all add something more to the story than I expected. All these things added more complexity to Alex & the storyline in general. Zack & Bethany were exactly what I would want & expect in best friends, especially ones together for so long.

While the story was compelling, the writing style was not at all like Brown's remarkable work in Hate List. This one was just told straight up with no intermittent articles. While there was some poetry written by the main character, it was not enough to break the flow. I think I would have enjoyed it more had there been some variance.

Overall this was an incredible book about a difficult subject that seems to be coming up more & more often in YA lit. Hopefully it is not in response to a growing trend among teenagers in general. Have you read Bitter End? What did you think? What do you think about the premise in general?

The Every Cry


p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 16.0px Times New Roman}p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 16.0px Times New Roman; min-height: 18.0px}p.p3 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 12.0px Times New Roman; min-height: 15.0px}p.p4 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; font: 12.0px Times New Roman}p.p5 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Times New Roman}p.p6 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Times New Roman; min-height: 16.0px}p.p7 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Times New Roman; min-height: 15.0px}p.p8 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 16.0px Times New Roman}span.s1 {text-decoration: underline}span.s2 {font: 14.0px Times New Roman}span.s3 {font: 12.0px Times New Roman}span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre} The Every Cryby Jeanna Plunkett“Mommy, why do you cry on every Easter?  When we are dyeing our eggs, you always have tears running down your cheeks.  How can anyone be sad at Easter?”Oh little one, my pregnancy with you was wrought with problems.  You don’t understand these big words now, but placenta previa caused mommy severe bleeding at 12 weeks.  Then, a horrible thing happened at 20 weeks:  my water broke.  That was just two weeks before Easter of 2002.  So, I spent Easter in the hospital.  In fact, it was Easter morning, just after your twin brothers left for church with Nana and Granddaddy all dressed up in their Easter suits, when Mommy got some really bad news.  Dr. Bailey did another ultrasound to take a peek at you and realized that my fluid level was critically low.  He couldn’t offer much hope that your lungs would be able to develop enough so that you could breathe.  He dismissed me from the hospital on that Easter Sunday of 2002 to go home and wait for labor to begin.  So, when I look across the table and see the excitement of Easter in your eyes and your little fingers busy decorating eggs, I cry tears of celebration.  Each Easter I celebrate that “….with God all things are possible!”(Matt. 19:26). When medicine and mankind can offer us no hope, Jeremiah 17:7 tells us, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.”  With God, there is always hope!“Mommy, why do cry on my every birthday?” The party was full of the laughter and squeals of excited children, so I didn’t even think he noticed. But, he did, and so, I explained, just as I had so many times before. Jamey, you were born on April 22, 2002 at 1:11 a.m.  With a due date of August 8, 2002, this meant that you came way too early.  You were what they call “premature” and the doctor referred to you as a “24-weeker.”  The tears that I cry each birthday are tears of remembrance of the first time that I saw you, my teeny-tiny little 1 lb 9.8 oz. miracle baby boy.  They are tears of remembrance for the eight weeks that you could not breathe without the help of a ventilator.  I cry tears of remembrance for the 87 excruciating days that we spent in the NICU with you, not knowing if we would ever get to bring you home.  Some of those tears are even tears of remembrance for the day that they told us we would be bringing you home from the NICU.  This was wonderful news, except you would still need an apnea monitor and nasal canula for months to come, so I cry over the disappointment and the stress of those months, too.  “Mommy, why do you cry every time they sing that song at church?  And I see you look at Daddy and he holds your hand every time they sing it.”[...]

MENTAL MONTAGE: Cruisin' for a Bruisin'


There are many key identifiers that can clue you into someone's personality: the clothes he wears, the type of dog he has, or the way he decorates his home par exemple. Even more key is perhaps, not so much the car he drives, but the way he behaves behind the wheel after he's turned the ignition. As such, it sometimes seems that lives of danger or tragedy are prefaced in a star's vehicular life. Here are a few tales of Cars vs. Karma. "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night."(I apologize. I published this on Thurs 5/12, but somehow it disappeared overnight. Here it is again. Sorry for the repeat)!!!James enjoyed whipping around town on a motorcycle when such vehicles were still seen as a novelty.Because of the way James Dean lived and because of the way he died, it is difficult to imagine him anywhere but behind the wheel of a car. In addition to his famous "chicken" race in Rebel Without a Cause, Jimmy also did a lot of racing in his private life. In accordance, he picked up more than a few tickets from the po-po, including one on the day of his tragic death: James was pulled over for going 10 miles over the 55 mph speed limit. After receiving the citation, he glumly accepted his error and conceded that he had better slow down, if not for his own safety, then to make sure that Little Bastard didn't get worn out before its first big race in Salinas. (Jimmy named his Porsche 550 Spyder "Little Bastard" because that's what his pal, stunt driver, Bill Hickman, called him. He in turn called Bill "Big Bastard"). Sadly, even though Jimmy eased up on his lead foot, he neglected to put on his seat-belt. Not too long after receiving his ticket, Jimmy was struck at the 41/46 junction when an opposing car came into his lane. This spot now bears his name in memoriam: The James Dean Junction.James checks out his car in preparation for his race.Up until this point, Jimmy had been invincible behind the wheel. His father, Winton, once remarked, when reminiscing about his son's early motorbike stunts, that "If he'd only fallen once, things might have been different." Yet, even as a child, while JD suffered the usual cuts and bruises, he always seemed to walk away from his daredevil feats unscathed. (The worst he was to suffer was losing his four front teeth while playing acrobats with friends in the barn. Even this, he shook off). His impenetrability was not pure luck, but the product of intense focus. A powerful driver, Jimmy seemed to be almost hypnotized when behind the wheel, always remaining perfectly in control and unruffled. Yet, James did suffer a minor catastrophe when driving in a Memorial Day race in Santa Barbara. Jimmy bent the rules by entering the race in the first place, for George Stevens had requested that he lay off racing during the filming of Giant. During the competition, James started out in eighteenth place. Before he could gain much ground, another Porsche swerved in front of him, cutting him off and nearly hitting his bumper. To avoid the collision, James stealthily veered his car to the side, where it luckily hit only hay bales. Dave Watson, who was watching, said that had it not been for Jimmy's ability, the accident could have been fatal. Luckily, "he didn't miss a trick." James pulled himself together and worked his way back into fourth place before he was forced to pull out-- his engine blew under the strain. Perturbed at his loss, James remained cool as a cucumber. Better luck next time, he thought. For now, he and his automobile exited unhurt.Wallace Reid (left) too had a knack for car racing. From an early age, and far before he'd acquired[...]

Mother's Day Bracelet Giveaway


Mother's Day Bracelet From Preemie Prints

Help us raise awareness about preemies by sending your friends and family over to "LIKE" our fan page Have them type "Happy Mothers Day to ________________" on our wall. They should enter YOUR NAME in the blank.

Whoever has the most Mothers Day Wishes receives the custom bracelet designed and created by volunteer preemie mom Sarah Doyle!! ♥ Happy Mother's Day!

Contest ends at end on Mother's Day at midnight!

Description of Bracelet:
Featuring clear and "baby" pink diamond cut round crystals, silver beads and clasp, as well as three sterling silver charms in the center linked together reading "Faith" "Hope" "Love". This can be adjusted to fit.

PERSONAL NOTE: Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?


James Dean represents the salt of the earth and the bitter pill of the American struggle in Giant.I didn't always understand the Western. It seemed too select, too geared toward a certain demographic, too cliched... In the modern day of Political Correctness, watching the token battles of Cowboys vs. Indians seemed a bit silly to say the least. I was never exposed to these films, thus my curiosity and appreciation for the genre remained dormant for several years, while I studied Noir, Musicals, Horror, etc. With a little prodding from Armando Jose Prats, (a man under whom I had the privilege of studying at the good ol' University of KY and author of Invisible Natives: Myth and Identity in the American Western), my eyes were finally opened to the beauties of the Western and its many versions of the American epic. Perhaps more than any other type of cinema, the Western epitomizes, glorifies, and translates the core of Americana, while other branches of the artistic medium are left to merely dissect its mutations. At long last, I "get" the Western, and having been awarded this second sight, I have too suffered a painful repercussion, for I witness in current society a compete dearth of like films. The recent remake of True Grit by the Coen Brothers, which was widely hailed and popularly ignored, and my recent reevaluation of James Dean's last film, Giant, made me start asking questions about this filmic fiasco. As such, pardon the following tangent:The Western is no longer comprehensible to modern audiences. Why? Because the Western by default investigates and poeticizes the American Frontier. Today, it seems like such a thing doesn't even exist, nor is it fathomable that it ever did. For those of us who came of age in the silver spoon era of the Internet, technology has become our frontier. We adventure and explore realms of megabytes, gigabytes, iPhones, iPads, faster connections, more RAM, etc, etc, etc. Our experience of human evolution is inseparable from the Computer's metamorphosis. I remember my family's first Apple computer. The thing was slow as Hell and black & white. Today, I can watch a living color movie on the Blackberry I hold in my hand. In this era, which is not about land, roads, or even outer space, our final realm of conquest is unseen to the naked eye. We travel on highways of signals and waves. We cannot make a physical pilgrimage across the microchips we depend upon; we travel only mentally. It is because of this that our appreciation of the Western has suffered. (Gary Cooper and Mary Brian in The Virginian, left)In the filmic terrain of the wild west, land is everything (as in The Massacre, right). Americana, the masculine identity, the establishment of country, and family roots are always dissected. This represents the very establishment of our country: people making a great and daring move to the unknown, staking their claim, and creating a foundation upon which to build a life. Land, the earth, and the eternal struggle of claiming it and building upon it: that was what the West was all about. Sadly, the treatment of the American Indian was rarely portrayed with accuracy-- somehow, when history was brought to life in technicolor, the Native who had been kicked off his land was the bully, and the white man with the steel toe boots was the innocent victim. (This philosophy was later brilliantly mocked in Little Big Man). However, the ideals, if not the facts, remain in tact. Today's civilization does not face the same cha[...]

Hiatus for a bit


(image) I'll be on hiatus for at least a week as I am going to visit my husband in Illinois (he lives in a small town across the border from St. Louis). We're starting to finalize our official move to the area in August/September of this year, so we're scouting apartments, checking out the surroundings & also just enjoying each others company. He moved to Illinois last May for a job after being unemployed here for a year & a half. Now that his employment is solidified, it's time for us to take the final steps to make it a real move.

Now, y'all may not know this, but I am a born & bred Tar Heel. I have lived in North Carolina all my life (minus the four months in France) & have enjoyed the best of this state. From our gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains to the soothing ocean waves, I have seen it all. My husband, on the other hand, was raised in Illinois (not but 15 minutes from where he currently lives) & is a Midwesterner at heart. We'll be making a permanent home in the area & it's a big step; one that this 24 year old hasn't ever had to make before. I'm a bit nervous, but excited at the same time.

So, I'll be on leave for a bit, but I've got some exciting reviews coming up like Bitter End, A Discovery of Witches, & Redheart. Keep your eyes out & I'll catch you on the flip side!




Hollywood's Favorite Rebel: James DeanJimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy... Why'd ya' do it? Over fifty years later, your absence still aches. The whole trouble with legends is that their reputation often eclipses their talent. Just as Marilyn and Elvis tend to disappear behind all of the hullabaloo said about them, so too has Dean become more of a symbol than a human being. I've often been asked, "What's the big deal? Was he really that good?" I reply with a resounding slap and a "You bet your sweet life!" Yes, he was good. My God, was he good. The legacy he left behind is the result of an astounding and almost electric talent, one that set him completely apart from his contemporaries, and history has maintained his power. When he died, many would draw comparisons between his death and that of Rudolph Valentino. The effect was equally profound. As my grandmother Mary Lou put it, "I cried my eyes out." So, to prove my point, ask yourself: What celebrity today would I mourn with a like passion were his life to be suddenly snuffed out? Go ahead, I'm waiting...Dean woos Julie Harris and the rest of America in his first breakthrough role in East of Eden.You see? James was special. While the eruption of the method actor was spearheaded by the dual force of Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift, Dean's effect was perhaps even more poignant simply due to his age. It was his youth more than anything else that set him apart. He wasn't that foreign adversary called the "adult"-- someone that kids merely dressed up and pretended to be-- he was the angst ridden young man that they were. He represented their transition: the awkward stage when adolescence strives to become maturity. He was the being we all once were, and whom we had to survive, to reach adulthood. His embodiment of the confusion, rage, and rebellion that was suddenly being awakened in the dormant nuclear family society was one that every teen in American could relate to. He gave adolescence a face and a voice. His performances were both loud and silent, carefully cultivated, yet intensified by sudden bursts of improvisation. While Brando is attributed with creating a physical energy that enveloped the atmosphere, and Clift is the man who more fully brought to the surface the complications of inner emotion, Jimmy was the most adept at using his environment-- becoming a part of it, tangling with it, and moving through it as his own organism. There is not one piece of film where he does not look completely at home, completely attached to his surroundings, even if he is pounding his fists against it. He rests his chin on a wall, rolls on the ground, casually plucks leaves from a tree, or soaks in a burst of oil from the very earth he is rooted to all with equal ease. Dean and Corey Allen prepare to play a game of chicken, because "You gotta do somethin'."Oddly, in his personal life, Dean seemed to be rooted to nothing and no one except his own mania. His eccentricities were merely a part of what made him so alluring. Just how calculated his manner was remains a topic of controversy. His psyche suffered an early fracture with the premature passing of his mother, whom he adored, when he was but 9-years-old. Just as Gable would endure the ongoing saga of the little boy lost after his own mother's death, so too would James seem to be on a perpetual quest for the severed maternal love for which there is no replacement. Despite the fact that he would mature under the care of his loving aunt and uncle on their Indiana farm, he too would feel the eternal burn of a[...]

Sylvia of Amaretto Flame takes over Tattooed Books!


Hi, all! My name is Sylvia and apparently I'm taking over this blog today to tell you a little bit about myself and my family. I am a character in Sammie Spencer's Amaretto Flame (the first in the Eagleton Coven series), and I'm a member of Eagleton Coven. Unfortunately, the story focuses on my coven sister Olivia and not me. *Grumbles*So Olivia did something you just. never. do. She made a big mistake, and our high-priestess Ivanna banished her to a human town for a summer. It totally SUCKED because the Venator (witch hunters that kill our kind) were actively attacking Wise Ones nearby. Since Olivia has this insane power, it's best to have her nearby if you're going to get attacked by a hunter. While she was in the human town, Olivia met Jackson Vance. I don't know what kind of guys YOU like, but Jackson is pretty dreamy. He's got this messy copper hair, amaretto-colored eyes, and ... y'all, he SINGS. I mean, I guess I understand why she sort of 'took a liking' to him. She made a few other human friends too, which is weird. I mean, Olivia is one of those people who opens up to no one other than the coven.Anyway, while she was there, we figured out that the Venator were hunting for a specific person, and the oracle helping us thought that person might be Everett. Everett is our coven brother and he's Olivia's very best friend. He's definitely her favorite. I mean, I don't care. Whatever. I'm just saying. So, she tried to come back to Eagleton to protect Everett but Ivanna refused to let her. We almost had a full-scale revolt here! I'm talkin' serious stuff.As she tried to figure out what the Venator wanted, Olivia stumbled onto a HUGE secret. I can't tell you because the other coven members are standing here with their magick fingers all pointed at me like they're going to turn me into a weasel or something. What I will say is that the secret put a serious kink in Olivia's plans. She then had to figure out how to save all of us, plus the human friends she had made. Let's just say that stuff got SUPER deep for a while. I want you to read the book, okay. I'm dead serious. You can get it on Amazon for your eReader and if you don't have one of those, download the Kindle for PC app they have there.You can also have a chance to win the book! The blog owner will choose one commenter to win it, and if you follow us on the whole blog tour and comment on each post, you'll have a chance to win other awesome stuff. Please follow us. I've never had a groupie before. If you want to find out more about Sammie Spencer, Melissa over at Were Vamps Romance is doing an interview with her today. Technically, that stop is not part of the tour, but you can comment and show Sammie your love there, too! Well, I've had a lot of fun chatting, and I hope you read about, all of us in Amaretto Flame!Most stops will have giveaways, and those who comment on EVERY stop will be enteredto win a HUGE prize at the end! Show your love! Visit the home blog.May 1 - Tattooed Books -Character Guest Post *BLOG TOUR KICKOFF* May 2 - YABound - Character Interview with EverettMay 3 - Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm - Character Guest Post + Character InterviewMay 4 - I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read - Review and Character InterviewMay 5 - Jagged Edge - Guest Post and GiveawayMay 6 - Diary of a Bookworm - Review and GiveawayMay 7 - Dark Readers - Review and GiveawayMay 8 - Kayleigh M. Books - Review + (To Be Determined)May 9 - Wicked Awesome Books - ReviewMay 10 - Aine's Realm - ReviewMay 1[...]

Infant Massage


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Where do you get book news?


I don't claim to be an aficionado on anything, but I think I have a decent handle on a few great places to look for upcoming books. Obviously no one's omnipotent, but some of us have a better idea of where to look than others. Of course you can always stalk publisher websites, trolling for the newest catalog release and read authors' blogs & websites; but for the best bang-for-your-buck, my go to favorites are:

Book Divas A wonderful community for discussion, giveaways & interviews!
Book release dates at YA Lit
Shelf Awareness A daily e-mail newsletter (but you can also just look at it online) whose motto is "Daily enlightenment for the book trade." You'll find a plethora of articles about all sorts of book-related things. This is more for book sales than strictly upcoming releases.

Your local library is also a great place to find out about upcoming releases!! Most libraries order their books a few weeks to a few months in advance. As such, they can make really snazzy newsletters with the book information in them so that you know what you want to reserve before it's even released! This is my library's upcoming teen release page.

While my list is quite small, I'm always on the lookout to expand my sources. While I am on Twitter, there is so much going on that I tend to miss a lot of things because I can't possibly read every tweet. While it may work for some people, that option is kind of out for me.

What are some of your favorite places to look for upcoming book releases? Any favorite blogs, feeds, newsletters, websites, etc? Fire away in the comments!

Noise in The NICU


As developmental care in the NICU continues to become a stronger force the high noise levels are coming into question. In my research I've come across the following article that confirms this is not a new idea, "Like libraries, hospitals used to be considered quiet zones. In her 1859 book "Notes on Nursing," Florence Nightingale railed against unnecessary noise, calling it "the most cruel absence of care." The article states that hospitals use to be quiet zones but as technology rapidly advanced so did the noise. It is proven that premature babies in a NICU environment have lower stress levels, thrive, and have a shorter recovery time when they get optimal rest and uninterrupted sleep. Although a baby may not "wake up" by opening their eyes and looking up at the world around them, when beeps are constantly going off their brain patterns reflect this stress. In addition to non stop beeps you get the occasional voice that may be a little on the noisy side, crying babies who may be "rooming" in, and the loud (to the preemie anyway) tapping on the incubator. All reasons why private rooms are proving to be most beneficial for developmental care. I came across another website that sells NICU noise meters. These things are selling! The website states that, "Noise from visitors and staff is best dealt with using a device such as the SoundEar as it is not influenced by the complicated human perception of noise". This makes sense and it seems to be a simply way to keep the noise under control.Neonatal units, like most hospital environments, tend to be very poor acoustically due to hard, reflective surfaces. Beds are often closely spaced, visitors can talk loudly (especially the younger ones) and staff have to work quickly and move equipment about. Add to this the incubators being opened and closed, occasional tapping on the lid and items dropped accidentally and the noise levels soon become unpleasant for the baby. One of the biggest culprits is the alarm, which is clearly essential, but as the background noise levels get higher the alarm has to be louder still. A quieter background allows for quieter alarms. Another article states that, "current literature supports the theory that neonates, particularly premature infants, are not sensory deprived but receive a bombardment of large amounts of stimulation. This stimulation is often noxious in nature and contributes to "overload." This article written in 2011 continues on to explain a study conducted where the NICU staff was educated on noise reduction and forced to change their speaking habits to be lower. In addition monitors were turned down and clipboards were not allowed to be placed on or near incubators. When comparing the data from before the study and after, they found the decibels decreased from an average of 70 dB to 68 dB in the NICU environment. Although, this is only 3 points it represents a 50 percent reduction of perceived noise intensity to a sick baby. These are great results. They continue on to state, "clearly, there are obvious benefits of reducing noise in the NICU. Decreased noise helps to improve infants' physiological stability and growth, the inci-dence/severity of hearing loss may be reduced, as well as long-term perceptual difficulties. A quieter, more nurturing NICU environment helps support the development of a well-regulated infant behavioral state. Moreover, noise reduction can promote infants' bonding with relatives and extend p[...]

MENTAL MONTAGE: Who's Your Daddy?


Adoption seems to be a popular sport among today's celebrity elite. Sometimes a famous lady or gent has simply gotten impatient while waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right and decides to start a family on his or her own. Other times, a svelte actress may opt to visit the orphanage to protect her figure instead of having babes the ol' fashioned way. Then, of course, there is option three, wherein certain celebs become invested in a strange, maternal gluttony-- a la Mia Farrow or Angelina Jolie-- and keep adding to their litter like bitches in heat without the heat. (I suppose all the extra nannies help). Adoption in Hollywood is not a new phenomenon, however. Joan Crawford accrued a tally of four lucky (if you ask the younger two) or unlucky (if you ask the elder two) tots, and Cecil B. DeMille had only one legitimate daughter (Cecilia) before adding on another three, due to his wife's charitable love of children and alleged distaste of the marital bed. This brings me to the point of today's segment: those mysterious, adopted children who suspiciously resemble their new parents. Coincidence? Perhaps. But Scandal is much easier (and  more fun) to believe and, in Hollywood, almost always true.Cecil ponders: how am I gonna pull this one over???Returning to Cecil, he had an older brother, William (left), who was also a director. The two were very close and mutually respected each other. While Cecil went on to be a much more famous and powerful man in the business, he still looked up to and admired his big bro. Perhaps this is why, when Bill ran into a little trouble, Cecil was all too ready to offer his help. See, William had married Anna George in 1903. This, however, didn't stop him from having a few extramarital dalliances, including one with writer Lorna Moon. This affair led to the birth of a son, Richard, in 1922. In order to save his marriage and to save the child from an unknown fate, William asked Cecil to adopt the child as his own, so at least William could watch him grow up. Cecil agreed to the request, since he had already adopted two other children, John and Katherine DeMille. Cecil was known for having trysts of his own, most particularly with writer Jeanie Macpherson, actress Julia Faye, and secretary Gladys Rosson, though aside from Julia he never dabbled with his actresses, sensing the danger it would cause on the set. For this reason, Cecil held no judgement against his brother, and took on the task of raising Richard and supporting Lorna until her death of tuberculosis in 1930. It was publicly stated that the child was abandoned and left inside Cecil's car and that he took it in. This and Cecil's own checkered romantic life raised many eyebrows, and it was often incorrectly speculated that Richard was his own child. The only two people who supposedly knew the truth were the two brothers. Cecil kept the secret until after Bill's death, when, as agreed, he told Richard about his true parentage. This brought forth a rush of understanding on Richard's part, who, though always treated with the same love and tenderness as the other kids, suddenly understood both his uncanny feelings of somehow being "apart" from the rest of his family and his strange attachment to his mysterious Uncle Bill. However, it never changed his relationship with CB, who continued to treat him as his own son.A sudden and questionable [...]

Waiting on Wednesday: What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I am anxiously awaiting the newest novel by Sarah Dessen: What Happened to Goodbye. It is scheduled for release in just 2 short weeks on May 10! The synopsis is rather mysterious.

(image) Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?

From Goodreads

I have to admit that not long ago, I was an anti-Sarah Dessen reader. Her books sounded very flippant & far too romantic for my tastes. I am obviously proof that our reading habits change. The first novel of Sarah's I ever read is still by far one of my favorites. Along for the Ride was deeper than I thought it would be & so much more than I expected! This newest book seems to have some of the same qualities. Mclean sounds like a very self-sufficient kind of gal with a "let's make this work" attitude. I'm quite anxious to see it live up to my hopes!

What are you waiting on this week?

2011 Teens' Top Ten Reading Challenge!


The Teen's Top Ten nominees have been announced & there are some very exciting nominees this year. First, a little history. Every year, YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association) polls 16 book clubs around the country about what books they think should make the list of the best teen books published in the last year. The nominees are announced on Support Teen Literature Day during National Library Week in April & the voting takes from late August to early September. The winners are announced during Teen Read Week, which will be October 16-22 this year & have the theme Picture It @ your library.This year there are 25 nominees that teens (12-18) can vote on between August 22nd and September 16th. If you want more information on any of these events, please visit the YALSA website.The 2011 nominees are:Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James PattersonBefore I Fall by Lauren OliverBehemoth by Scott WesterfeldBlessed by Cynthia Leitich SmithCrescendo by Becca FitzpatrickDrought by Pam BachorzI Am J by Cris BeamI Am Number Four by Pittacus LoreLies by Michael GrantLove, Inc by Yvonne CollinsMatched by Ally CondieMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsNightshade by Andrea CremerParanormalcy by Kiersten WhiteRed Moon Rising by Peter MooreSisters Red by Jackson PearceThe Clockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareThe False Princess by Ellis O'NealThe Iron King by Julie KagawaThe Lost Gate by Orson Scott CardThe Sky is Everywhere by Jandy NelsonYou Killed Wesley Payne by Sean BeaudoinZombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black & Justine LarbalestierHex Hall by Rachel HawkinsDemonglass by Rachel HawkinsSee some familiar names up there? That's because in order to be nominated, the book has to have been released within the last year, so some of them have been out for a bit. Because I like to read as many of them as possible so that I can recommend them to my teens during the summer and fall to gear up for voting, I thought it would be fun to make it into a challenge to see who else would like to join me! Since I'm (sadly) over 18, I can't vote, but I still feel like a part of it all when I read the books. There are 3 different levels to the challenge. Wallet: Reading 1-8 booksFrame: Reading 9-17 booksCanvas: Reading 18-26 books Get it, "Picture It" & picture sizes? I'm a dork, I know. The deadline is September 16th as that is the last day of voting. I will be giving away a prize pack of books to one lucky person in each category. Simply sign up using the Mister Linky below. Your post should contain a link back to the challenge, your level choice, and the books that you've read to complete the challenge. Since some of these books came out in 2010, if you have already read the book, you can still consider it in the challenge. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REVIEW THE BOOKS IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED, you simply have to keep your post updated once you've read the book. Many of these books can fit into other challenges that are in the blogosphere like the Debut Authors Challenge hosted by The Story Siren or the 111 in '11 Reading Challenge hosted by Life is Short, Read Fast.There will be book pack prizes for completion! If you complete the challenge by September 16th then you be entered to win a prize pack of books. There will be 1 winner in each category. Please let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!P.S. No you don't[...]

Invincible by Sherrilyn Kenyon


Invincible is the second book in the Chronicles of Nick series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. As such, there may be spoilers in this review for the first book Infinity.So after saving the world from the nerd-induced, zombie-apocalypse Nick Gautier was really hoping that his life could go back to normal. Or, at least, as normal as a mostly human teenager's life can be. With all the new abilities he's learning, Nick is finding it harder & harder to determine who to trust. His mysterious Uncle Ambrose is a little too close for comfort, his life-defending demon Caleb has a nasty temper & even Death himself is teaching Nick new tricks, at a cost unknown to Nick.Despite all these new preternatural events going on in his life, including the discovery of just how many of his classmates are "unique", Nick still has his real life mess to deal with. His overly-protective mother just started a new job at the local preternatural bar Sanctuary & decides to move them out of their crummy condo & into a nicer place. Also, Nick finally gets to go on a date with new girl Kody. The most mundane thing that happens to Nick is the new football coach picks him to rejoin the team. Or at least, Nick thought it was mundane. The new coach is weird in a different way. He wants Nick to steal personal items for him or else. And with teenage boys from his school dying left & right, Nick is tempted to do as he's told. But this Cajun's got a fightin' streak in him that a UFC fighter would envy.This book picks up exactly where Infinity left off & hits the ground running. Since there isn't much back story to rehash, we can step right back into the action with Nick. He's learning to harness his powers & rein them in because they seem to be getting him in trouble everywhere he goes. I have to say that I liked watching Nick grow in both his human & preternatural forms. He got to experience some very human firsts (first date, first kiss, first torn-between-to-things, etc) that I think are key in teenage development. I would have worried had he gone much longer without those experiences. He is also learning to channel his powers & control them rather than the other way around. He also learns a lot about himself, like his potentials & his weaknesses, that I think will become a greater part of the story as we move forward.The writing style continues to be very fluid & amusing with just the right amount of humor & wit. While it seemed a bit predictable (not in what necessarily was going to happen, but in how it would all play out) I still enjoyed the ride & I think that is what makes this such a wonderfully pleasant read.Pick it up & take a peak (after you read Infinity of course) & let me know your thoughts![...]

Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon


Nick Gautier is one of the cockiest, most smart mouthed 14 year old in all of New Orleans. Or at least he thinks he is. The son of a teen mother & death-row inmate, Nick hasn't hasn't had the easiest of lives, but that doesn't change this Cajun's fiery attitude. He would lay his life down to defend his mother & wants nothing more than to become the man worthy of her praises.Unfortunately there are things lurking in New Orleans that have always been on the periphery, that are now attracted to Nick like bees to honey. Every crazy creature from every horror movie ever created, and some new ones to boot, are coming after him & his friends. Some of them have been sent for nefarious reasons & others are renegade agents accidentally created by a nerd trying to avoid being bullied.As Nick sinks deeper into the new New Orleans, he's learning more about himself & his friends than he ever expected. Those closest to you are your most dangerous enemies & strangers' kindness always comes with strings attached. Can Nick hold his ground or will he have to give an inch to gain a mile?While I must admit that overall I did like this story, there is absolutely no denying that this book was written by someone accustomed to writing adult, romance novels. Nick Gautier is one of the more intriguing "human" characters in Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters series. As such, he was created in an adult world. Despite the fact that she is now going back & writing his back story for teens, she can't very well change his lineage as it already exists. Therefore, Nick's mom is a Bourbon Street stripper & his father is a homicidal death row inmate. There are also some phrasing choices & references that some more reserved readers may cringe at, but nothing overly imposing.All that being said, I really loved the feeling of New Orleans in this book. Sherrilyn really captures the city's majesty & essence while also managing to capture the more struggling side of life. There is something about a "Cinderella" story, rising to greatness from the lowest depths, that I find truly compelling & masterful. Sherrilyn manages to combine all of these elements together in a truly astounding way that is still so very relative.My absolute favorite character in this story is Bubba. A backwater, zombie-hunting, Oprah-watching redneck who owns a computer repair/gun shop, he is a main source of information on the preternatural & Nick's unofficial guide while he's learning to navigate in this new dark world.A fun read, with creative flair, Infinity is the beginning of a series I intend to keep an eye on.One last thing, if you've never checked out Sherrilyn's website, you really should. She has so much information on all her series & characters. Be forewarned though, since there is some crossover between the adult & teen series, there are spoilers in the adult profiles. The niftiest part I found on Nicky's profile was his 10 Things to Know About Me: 1. I was born standing standing up and talking back2. Cajun born and bred3. My fave haunts are Mulates and Cafe Du Monde where my mom takes me after work.4. I live for Zydeco and good gumbo.5. I really want a gaming system, but we can't afford it.6. I don't like authority and it doesn't like [...]

HOT SPOTS in CA: Hollywoodland


Don't mind if I do...The thing about Hollywood is that it's very much alive, even while being haunted. In truth, despite all of the sordidness and usary, the hypocrisy and superficiality, you kind of can't help loving this city. I guess what it all comes down to is that, while I myself often can't stand what Hollywood currently stands for, I still marvel at what it was built upon. Vision, integrity, imaginiation, grit, artistry, beauty, determination-- these things all came together inexplicably when man embraced his latest invention and found himself encroaching on modern genius. This is why Hollywood will forever have my heart, and while I cynically enjoy driving down the paved streets in need of serious repair, past the electric lights pointing me toward the nearest bar, strip joint, or medical marijuanna emporium (which are sprouting up everywhere like... weeds), there is something equally yet contradictorally invigorating about the open landscapes and unknown wildernesses that indicate what once was-- the Hollywood that Cecil B. DeMille stumbled upon in 1914 after he overruled AZ as the shooting locale of The Squaw Man.Original Stone Gate at the Hollywood Entryway.The real estate development venture known as Hollywoodland still exists. This is a fact that I myself did not know. I assumed that whatever properties had once been established by Harvey and Daeida Wilcox had long since been demolished and buried beneath the latest architectural ventures Los Angeles has had to offer. However, on a whim, and with a little luck from Living Social, I encountered a tour meant to take me on a narrated hike around the Hollywood sign. Twenty bucks later, I found myself walking up Beachwood Canyon into a small, tucked away neighborhood known as Hollywoodland. My jaw dropped, my eyes bulged, and I very nearly kissed the pavement beneath me when my brain accepted what my eyes were seeing, but I stilled myself for fear of frightening the other hikers. Site of today's Hollywoodland Realty. Yes, H-land is still very much alive, and despite the array of modern cars lining the streets, it remains very much untouched by time. Upon entering the stone entryway, complete with turrets and a large clock, one will see the Village Coffee Shop (great Eggs Benedict, left) and the local market, where a scene from Invasion of the Body Snatchers was filmed. A few small shops and private businesses greet the eye, and then a slew of streets take one up into the hills above Hollywood. Of course, there have been modern renovations and new homes built, but many of the buildings are reminiscent of or actually are the original structures regimented by the original neighborhood rules: homeowners were once given a choice of French Normandy, English Tudor, Mediterranean Revival, or Spanish Revival styles of design. Example of classic architecture and original supporting stone walls.When walking up Ledgewood, one can get pretty close to the notorious Hollywood sign, and on the hike up I was too able to spot an interesting bit of property known as The Garden of Oz. Since Frank Baum was an early resident in Hollywood, and his The Wizard of Oz went onto become one of the greatest films of all time, it makes sense that there be a little tribute to him. I'm not sure[...]

Waiting on Wednesday: Memento Nora by Angie Smibert


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I am very interested in the April 28th release of Angie Smibert's first book Memento Nora. It's being billed as a fantastical dystopian debut.

(image) Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

Memento Nora website

This is a slightly different take, but it reminds me of XVI. XVI focused on consumerism & technology where this book seems to focus on consumerism & selective memory. It seems to be a very streamlined society that solves all its problems for its citizens. Those who do not confomr are in danger from the get-go. I hope it lives up to its promise. What are you waiting on this week?

Preemie Print Stories: Sarah and her babies (Jaxson, Joaquin, Cole, and Wyatt)


My name is Sarah; I am a single mother of four of the most beautiful little boys I have ever seen. And if you think its tough being a single mom of four, it was even harder getting them here!It starts with Jaxson Gordon; born 12/11/07 at 36 wks and 2 days yet still only 4 lbs and 0.5 oz. at Madigan Army Medical Center. At 2 months I found out he had a single-umbilical artery which they knew would cause growth restriction, but then at 5 months I was diagnosed with an extreme case of pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure had been creeping up all along, (which was odd as I never had high BP before) but I went into pre-term labor this time and was hospitalized. After 24 hr urine they found my protein counts well over 500. They bumped up my blood pressure meds and started doing weekly ultrasounds and after 3 of them told me I needed to have an amino done because they feared Jaxson may have trisomy 18 otherwise known as Edwards Syndrome. Very Scary, and painful I might add! Thank god the tests came back negative, however Jaxson wasn’t growing as he should and my blood pressure kept going up as well as my protein counts. I was put on bed rest, at 32 weeks and hospital bed rest at 34 weeks. December 10th I started getting really sick, I had horrible headaches that wouldn’t go away, I was seeing spots, and to dizzy to stand up alone. They decided to induce me and 17 hrs later I hadn’t really progressed at all and my blood pressure kept getting higher and higher. I felt like I was in a state of shock (later diagnosed as on-set eclampsia) and suddenly Jaxson dropped his heart rate to 50! They flipped me over on all fours immediately and ran me to the O.R. for a c-section. They knocked me out and took Jaxson. When he came out he was blue and wasn’t breathing-I praise God I was out for that because even the thought of him like that makes me sick. When I woke up from surgery all I wanted to do was see him, and they said I needed to try and get up and walk down there. I got up, went numb, turned white and passed out. Upon awaking from that, they kept insisting I try again but I was in so much pain it hurt to breathe! Meanwhile I’m gushing blood and still nobody will inform me of how Jax was doing! (My husband was in Iraq-I was 3000 miles from home and all alone). They were convinced my pain wasn’t that bad and made me get up again. Again I passed out. They ran tests and I had bled out- WAY too much! I received several blood transfusions and finally 2 days after he was born I felt well enough to go down and see my son. (God forbid they roll the bed down there for me to see him!) He was doing fantastic! Such a little fighter! It was love at first sight! He only spent 2 weeks in the NICU but that was long enough for me! Now my little man is 3, and very advanced for his age! He is so impressively smart everyone who meets him is amazed! Next comes Joaquin Richard born 6/8/10 at 30 wks and 4 days at 3 lbs 10 oz at Aurora Bay Care Medical Center. With Joaquin I was 2 months along when I started seeing a specialist for early onset pre-e. I felt lousy, always with pounding headaches, seeing spots, and my vision started to go as well, I couldn’t see 10 feet in front of me w[...]

Support Teen Literature Day & Rock the Drop!!


Yay for Support Teen Literature Day & Rock the Drop! Be sure to drop a book (preferably a "Banned Book") in a public location with the Operation Teen Book Drop logo on it.As I stated on Tuesday, the best part of today is the announcement of the Teens' Top Ten nominees. And they are as follows:Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James PattersonBefore I Fall by Lauren OliverBehemoth by Scott WesterfeldBlessed by Cynthia Leitich SmithCrescendo by Becca FitzpatrickDrought by Pam BachorzI Am J by Cris BeamI Am Number Four by Pittacus LoreLies by Michael GrantLove, Inc by Yvonne CollinsMatched by Ally CondieMockingjay by Suzanne CollinsNightshade by Andrea CremerParanormalcy by Kiersten WhiteRed Moon Rising by Peter MooreSisters Red by Jackson PearceThe Clockwork Angel by Cassandra ClareThe False Princess by Ellis O'NealThe Iron King by Julie KagawaThe Lost Gate by Orson Scott CardThe Sky is Everywhere by Jandy NelsonYou Killed Wesley Payne by Sean BeaudoinZombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black & Justine LarbalestierHex Hall by Rachel HawkinsDemonglass by Rachel HawkinsThat is an impressive list. Congratulations to all the nominees & a double congratulations to Rachel Hawkins who managed to get both her books on the nominee list! Again this year I will be hosting a Teens' Top Ten reading challenge. The details will be up early next week, but if you really can't wait until then to a chance to win a prize, then enter the Purple Daze giveaway here![...]

NOW, THAT'S FUNNY: Animal Edition


Gloria Grahame and an elephant friend in The Greatest Show on Earth.Cecil B. DeMille was a great animal lover. With a deep appreciation for mother nature and all of its inhabitants, it is no wonder that he filled so many of his films with a hodgepodge of creatures. Whether feeding the deer at his beloved "Paradise" or marveling at the beauty and surprising elegance of the elephants in The Sign of the Cross and The Greatest Show on Earth, CB was always in touch with his "wild" side. However, not everyone had the great adoration for animals that Cecil did, which has inspired the following humorous human vs. animal tales:Male and Female was all about nature: human nature at is most animalistic and survivalistic, (with a little sex, of course). For this reason, when it came time to shoot his lavish fantasy sequence with Thomas Meighan (right) and Gloria Swanson, DeMille was determined to make things as natural and authentic as possible. One scene required the imagined King (Thomas) to subjugate the femme fatale (Gloria). To accentuate this act, DeMille wanted to use a large cat to imply Tom's great and brutal machismo, i.e: He wanted a live leopard slung over Tom's shoulder. (Pause for Tom's gulp). Meighan was not exactly ecstatic about this idea, especially as he watched the animal handlers unsuccessfully trying to knock the cat out with chloroform in order to make such a stunt possible. After witnessing the enormous cat hiss and growl for some time, the pacing inside its cage suddenly stopped. (Did I mention that the animal had been scheduled for extermination because it had already killed a man? CB chose to let it live and sick it on his actor instead). Shaking, with beads of sweat running down his temples, Tom obligingly slung the cat over his shoulder and went through his scene. However, before he was through with his actions, he felt the leopard stirring. Certain that he was about to be maimed, it took every ounce of control for him to get through the next few seconds without dropping the leopard and high-tailing it out of there! However, he pulled through. When he communicated his fears to DeMille he received little sympathy. In his own macho way, DeMille surely responded with something akin to, "What's the big deal? Are you a man or a mouse?!"Gloria and a dangerous prop: the jury is still out on who is truly the more dangerous...Gloria Swanson was also on the receiving end of CB's outlandish animal requests. For her part in the film, she was to enter the lion's den. Literally. Cecil was intent on getting a shot of her lying on the ground with a lion's paw on her back. Gloria's eyes bulged but she was a tough cookie, plus CB indulged in a little bribery to get her to cooperate. Thus, Gloria found herself on her stomach with nothing separating her from the dangerous beast but a piece of canvas. When the lion roared, she would later recall feeling its vibrations through every inch of her body. Yet, she remained cool as a cucumber and believably dead. After the quick shot, Gloria arose with dignity and suddenly found herself in tears, the stress of the situation finally coming to the surface. CB was proud o[...]

Waiting on Wednesday: Die for Me by Amy Plum


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm really excited to be waiting for the May 10th release of Die for Me (Revenants #1) by Amy Plum. I think my favorite part, currently, is the fact that the summary is when in first person. I believe that to be a statement about the character & about the author's writing style.

(image) My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I'm fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family's—in jeopardy for a chance at love?

From Goodreads

So, as many of you know, I am a Frenchie at heart, so this book naturally sings for me. I am looking forward to seeing the world building because, with extremely pre-established settings, there is always a chance of failure to capture the essence & feeling. I am also hoping to see what "destiny" she has in store for this dreamy-eyed French boy. What are you waiting on this week?

NICU and Preemie Photography Service Areas


Brazos ValleyWacoFort HoodSan AntonioAustinHoustonKingwoodRichmondKaty SugarlandSyracuse, NY (as of May 2011)VermontDartmouth, NH Columbus, OHPortland, Albany, Salem, ORPreemie Prints photography service areas are expanding. Please contact us by emailing to schedule your NICU or home session with one of our professional photographers. If your area is not in our list please contact us anyway. We are growing daily and may have added a photographer in your area recently. These sessions are a free gift to you. You will receive 25-40 professionally edited pictures on a disk that you are free to print your photos from. [...]

Music Therapy In The NICU


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National Library Week: Teen Literature Day!


Thursday is a very special day during National Library Week. Thursday is Support Teen Literature Day!! This is a relatively new "day" during National Library Week and rightfully so. Support Teen Literature Day highlights that the literature written for young adults isn't just for teens & can't be confined to one specific genre. Young adult literature provides so much to its readers ranging from heart-wrenching realistic fiction to in-depth, finely tuned paranormal series. The writers for this genre are even more amazing because they range from struggling college students to mom's with a knack for verse.The absolute BEST part about Support Teen Literature Day is that the nominees for Teens' Top Ten. Teens' Top Ten is a whole other set of crazy fun where teens get to vote on their top ten favorite books from the pre-determined list. Last year's winner was Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins. I hosted a Teens' Top Ten challenge last year. I learned a lot & have decided to continue it this year. This time I'm hoping to get some really great prizes for my wonderful participants. Be sure to keep a look out for more information on that front.Also, readergirlz coordinates & hosts Operation Teen Bookdrop. They have donated books to underfunded schools & given them to hospitals for teen patients. This year they are asking that you DROP the book in a public location so that others can find it. I intend to get rid of several of my ARCs & personal copies I no longer need. If you live in the Raleigh, NC area, be on the lookout. You just might score a special treat!So go out & celebrate your library! If you need any hints on how, click here. If you can't celebrate your library, then at least celebrate the blogging library workers & librarians below:Super LibrarianBook LoveOne Librarian's Book ReviewsGoddess Librarian[...]

We Wear Green For Preemies!


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I've Been Stamped!!!


Many thanks to Danielle of Filmes, Filmes, Filmes! for giving me the "Blogger Friend" stamp! It is always nice to know that the information I share is being enjoyed. I appreciate you all for continuing to read. Have a great weekend!!!

XVI by Julia Karr


Sixteen isn't so sweet anymore. Nina is terrified of turning sixteen because of what it means to society. She'll be branded with an XVI tattoo proclaiming her status as a sex-teen. While she'll be allowed to have her GPS removed so the government can't watch her every step, Nina is truly concerned that her best friend is obsessed with following what all the media says is the best way to act, dress & behave. Nina's mom had always been a little on the cautious side, encouraging Nina & her sister Dee to explore other alternatives to the government-supplied media.When her mother is brutally murdered, Nina is entrusted with a very heavy secret. All that was once true in her world is now just an elaborate lie to help uncover the real truth behind the government-sponsored Female Liaison Specialist service. It is compulsory for lower-tier girls (like Nina & her friend) to apply to this program; but it is far from what it seems. With the help of several friends, including the dashingly handsome Sal, Nina discovers that, despite her mother's murder & her father's death before she was born, she has never been alone.I absolutely loved this book! There was so much going on all the time that I couldn't put it down. The characters are very well written & have appeal for both guys & gals. Nina is such a strong person, despite her weaknesses, I really wanted her to succeed. She had such a good heart & really only wanted what was best for everyone that it was hard not to root for her. I can't imagine what I would be like if my life was turned completely on its head. She maintained her focus on protecting her little sister & fulfilling her promise to her dying mother. While some of her actions were misguided, I think it gave her a human-like quality. No one is perfect.I also really enjoyed her friends. They were all so diverse, representing not only different ethnic groups, but also different tiers within the story. They all seemed to help put together the overall image of the setting. Let me tell you, this 2150 Chicago was so different from today that I couldn't even fathom living in a society where you are constantly bombarded with advertisements, the media controls your life, you are completely subservient to the government with absolutely no real freedoms... There was just so much to absorb.My favorite part of this book was the writing. Julia Karr makes this book so easy to read, but you have to work to get the whole picture. She doesn't start out by telling you everything that has changed from present day to the book's setting. As the story moves forward & we learn more about our characters, we also learn more about the setting. The best example I can give you is that one of the guys plays a musical show at a club. When asked what kind of music, he responds with zydeco from New Orleans. Someone says, from where? The character explains about how New Orleans was wiped out by a series of monstrous hurricanes several decades earlie[...]

MENTAL MONTAGE: Rollin' in the Dough


Ginger Rogers, head to toe in gold, in Gold Diggers of 1933.Movie Stars and Money. Moolah. Bread. Gravy. Greenback... Whatever you want to call it, it always seems like celebrities have it. And lots of it. While many of us have to count every penny before going on an edited shopping spree to the ever glorious Target (Tar-jay to the upper crust), the exorbitant expenditures of modern entertainers with their private jets, sprawling mansions, and golf-ball sized engagement rings makes one both a) fiscally insulted and b) green (as cash) with envy. But whatever new car Diddy's rolling in or whatever designer gown is draped over the elegant Ms. Kidman at the latest awards show, today's divas have nothing on silent film spenders. Even in those early days, it was all about the Benjamins. Moreso, it wasn't the size of the bank account, but how one used it to advertise his or her own fame and stature. The early flood of cha-cha-ching and the resulting birth of American royalty created the still present trend of glorious, outrageous, unapologetic, economic narcissism. Here are a few of the earliest examples:Cecil B. directs yet another lavish scene in Cleopatra- (Claudette Colbert stands center stage).It should come as no surprise that Cecil B. DeMille be counted as one of the Kings of Coin. His films themselves were so lavishly produced and luscious to the eyes that one can only imagine the coronary Adolph Zukor must have had each time he looked at a budget estimate. In fact, despite the money that CB's movies earned at the box-office, most of them were still considered failures because they couldn't recoup the production costs. But with an eye for detail and an unwavering loyalty to (exaggerated) authenticity, DeMille spared no expense when it came to his films. He wanted what he wanted, believing that his audiences deserved the best, and that is what he gave them. In The Affairs of Anatol, for example, Wallace Reid had the distinct pleasure of filming a scene wherein he got to destroy $30,000 worth of furniture, including original Louis XVI chairs and a grand piano. CB wouldn't accept cheap props; it had to be the real deal. He also added strange, costly mandates to his productions. Anne Baxter would recall that Cecil had all of her necklaces specially "heated" before they were placed on her skin during The Ten Commandments (left). This was not a stipulation she required, but one that Cecil saw to on her behalf-- he wanted her treated like a Queen since she was playing one. Between Gloria Swanson's submergence into an expensive tub in Male and Female and Claudette Colbert's illustrious milk bath in The Sign of the Cross, CB too started a craze for opulent bathrooms. However, his own house guests were often disappointed to find that his private bathroom was rather plain.Anne Baxter in one of her temperature controlled necklaces in The Ten Commandments.But CB was not always modest in his[...]

Waiting on Wednesday: But I Love Him


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The book I'm featuring today is very close to my heart & something I think needs to be handled with delicate care. But I Love Him by Amanda Grace (real name Mandy Hubbard) is set to be released May 8th and is centered around an amazingly intelligent & centered girl who falls for a great guy. And then he changes.

(image) Tonight was so much worse than anything before it.
Tonight he didn't stop after the first slap.

At the beginning of senior year, Ann was a smiling, straight-A student and track star with friends and a future. Then she met a haunted young man named Connor. Only she can heal his emotional scars; only he could make her feel so loved-and needed. Ann can't recall the pivotal moment it all changed, when she surrendered everything to be with him, but by graduation, her life has become a dangerous high wire act. Just one mistake could trigger Connor's rage, a senseless storm of cruel words and violence damaging everything-and everyone-in its path.

This evocative slideshow of flashbacks reveals a heartbreaking story of love gone terribly wrong.

I have a feeling that this is going to be an emotional & rocky book to read, but I think it will give a voice to those wonderful young ladies wondering if what's happening is normal. I am a mood-reader by nature, and while I don't think I'll ever be "in the mood" to read this, I look forward to seeing how the author portrays this story. What are you waiting on this week?

Author Interview & Giveaway: Sherry Shahan with Purple Daze


Today I'm happy to present an interview with the amazing Sherry Shahan! She is the author of the phenomenal YA novel Purple Daze. Without further adieu:1. Purple Daze is a very unique concept, combining personal accounts with historical events & context documentation as well as verse. Did you choose to write the story this way or is this just how it came out?While cleaning out a closet, I found an old shoe box filled with letters from a friend who was in Vietnam during the mid-1960s. I spent hours rereading the gut-wrenching accounts of his physical and emotional nightmare. I can’t believe I kept his letters nearly 50 years.Since his letters inspired Purple Daze, I decided to use that form of expression for his character. At the same time, I started writing character sketches about other high school friends. Once I began scribbling, I was living in a constant flashback. Bam, bam, bam. Memories slammed me twenty-four-seven.During a later draft, I ran across factual events that I wanted to include. In 1965, for instance, the Pentagon authorized the use of Napalm B in Vietnam. That year the FBI launched an all-out campaign to discredit Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. These entries are juxtaposed against musical references, such as concerts and the story behind Arlo Guthrie's song,“Alice's Restaurant.”2. What parts of yourself, if any, do you see in your myriad of characters?It’s not a coincidence that Cheryl’s name is so close to my own. Like Cheryl, I used to crawl out my bedroom window at night to meet friends. Sometimes six of us would pile into a car and hit the streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles. We’d walk around at 2 A.M. for no particular reason. During the Watts Riots we drove the freeways looking for a break in the National Guard barrier. We wanted to see the fires and devastation up close. We were such adrenaline junkies.In one of Ziggy’s pieces, a teacher discovers a hot dog wearing a condom. Yep, that really happened.ZiggyMrs. St. Johns faints in Home Economicswhen she opens the refrigerator and seesher Oscar Mayer wearing rubbers.I mean, grow up!3. You’re well versed in writing for several different types of audiences, from small children to adults. Was there a change in your writing style for your YA novel?Most contemporary YA novels are written from the point of view of a single character. But I wanted my readers to be as close to Phil (in a trench Viet Nam) as to Cheryl (in a high school classroom). I wanted them to have access to the private thoughts and feelings of all six characters.Each character demanded his or her own story arc -- with a clearly defined beginning, middle, and end -- yet I had to weave each story smoothly into the whole. It was quite a challenge.Because of this unconventional story form, white space played a significant role in shaping emotional content.PhilMick has no class,treats Ziggy like trash.I don’t know why s[...]

White Paint and Other White Necessities


I have to admit a secret of mine...I am a white SNOB - okay now you know my innermost secret. I use only white candles, white dishes, white towels, white flowers (although I have been known to buy colored tulips), and white sheets. Nothing is more classic than white. White dishes set off the food on them perfectly. I cannot have a good sleep on anything other than white sheets, and white candles and white towels are absolute. In interiors I love how white highlights good architecture, and any object in the room that has "good bones." White walls are a good backdrop for objects d' art and paintings that are placed in the room - white walls give focus to the lines of the items that are juxtaposed in front of them.  Painting a room white can make it have surprising depth. When I design an all-white room I use several different shades of white to bring out the architectural details, or I layer the space with strong forms in different tones and textures of white and then use some strong color contrasts to outline and bring the white into focus. My all time favorite white color is - Benjamin Moore paint Cloud White. It is a very soft white and easy to live with. It has a chameleon effect - taking on the colors of what is set next to it and changing in tone at various times of the day. Not every white is snow white. Try using whites tinted with: ivory, cream, antique white, and palest beige, blue and yellow. An interesting fact on the popularity of white is that Benjamin Moore has over 140 whites to choose from.  To maximize the light in a room I chose a paint with a semigloss finish rather than the latex matte finish more usual on walls. The "chalkier" matte finish absorbs light; the semi-gloss is more reflective. Some of my favorite whites I use are are from Benjamin Moore: Cloud White, Simply White, Ballet White, White Dove, White Linen and Designer White.               Photo Credits 1, 2 MLK Studio via All the Best 3 JK Hotel Milan 4 David Schefer 5 Helen Hennie 6 Trevor Tondro 7 ,8,9 Jennifer Post 10 Ptithabibi Morocco, Towels PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about lifestyle and WHAT'S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel. 2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™ [...]

Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan


I'm using the Goodreads blurb because my summary gave away too much & I really wanted to leave the content as a surprise. The way the novel unfolds is much more eloquent & enrapturing than any summary I could devise.Purple Daze is a young adult novel set in suburban Los Angeles in 1965. Six high school students share their experiences and feelings in interconnected free verse and traditional poems about war, feminism, riots, love, racism, rock 'n' roll, high school, and friendship.Although there have been verse novels published recently, none explore the changing and volatile 1960's in America— a time when young people drove a cultural and political revolution. With themes like the costs and casualties of war, the consequences of sex, and the complex relationships between teens, their peers, and their parents, this story is still as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.From GoodreadsThis book blew me away! I thought that I had read all the different versions of 1960's youth portrayals & that this would fall under the category of "been there, done that, got the t-shirt." I'll be the first to admit, I was way wrong.We are introduced to the six main characters who are all loosely related to one another & who all represent different movements (for lack of a better word) from this time period. We have feminism, drug use, anti-war protesting, draftees serving in Vietnam & a whole slew of other things. These teens are at the most pivotal points in their lives where they are branching out of the "safety" of their parental homes & really discovering who they are & what they are willing to fight for in their lives.The 1960s was a turbulent era because the youth were going in divergent directions. Specifically, this book takes place in 1965 (after the assassination of JFK) & so these teens we're following have experienced a great trauma & are insecure in regards to the future. Not only are they experiencing social & political upheaval, but even the music is "dangerous." Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix... just to name a few. Watching these teens choose their own paths based on their personal experiences was mesmerizing. And never fear if you aren't a history buff, there is more than enough context clues & subtle hints to help you understand what's going on.Simply put, this book is profound. It will challenge what you think you know about an adolescence during this time & help you to understand why it is such a pivotal time in this nation's history. A tremendous read, I can't wait to buy a finished copy. I leave you with a song dripping with history. title="YouTube video player" src="" allowfullscreen="" width="480" frameborder="0" height="390">ARC kindly provided by the author.[...]

A Preemie Prints Story: Jessica and JD


I have 4 kids. Marrisa is my 11 year old daughter, Katie is my 6 year old step daughter, Viola is our 1 year old daughter, and our son Jonathan who is 6 weeks 5 days old today March 24, 2011 (36 weeks 5 days adjusted). I have worked in the Radiology department of the hospital where I delivered my son for the last 7 years.   Jonathan was born at 30 weeks. He was 2 lbs 13 oz. and 14 inches. At his lowest weight 2 lbs and 4 oz. Four days before JD was born I was at my regular doctor's appointment. I had a UTI and was placed on Cephalexin. Two days later I was having lower abdomen pain and some bleeding. I went to labor and delivery. They did a urine culture again, which came back that of course I had an infection. An ultrasound of my kidneys was done to check for kidney stones. I was told the pain was from the UTI. I wasn't having contractions so I was sent home with bed rest. The next day was pretty uneventful. The morning of the day I had delivered was fairly quiet. I was having very slight pain, but not as bad as two days prior. Around 4 that evening the pain started to come a little more consistent. At 4:30 I called my boyfriend and told him I thought maybe he needed to get home. He was out of the house with the kids so I could rest. The pain kept coming and going. Around 5:30 is when it started to get intense. So I got changed and we headed back to labor and delivery.  Unfortunately no one was around to watch the kids, so he dropped me off thinking I would just call him when they were getting ready to send me home again. The minute I was hooked up to the machines I knew Jonathan was coming. The amount of activity going on around me was crazy. My doctor happened to be out of town that night, so the head of the department (who had just delivered a c-section and hadn't left the hospital yet) was there. She asked a lot of questions about my previous visit to labor and delivery and didn't seem too happy. My friend Teresa came in to do my ultrasound. I was told she saw his eye very far down. Jonathan wasn't due for another 10 weeks my mother, who was going to be in the delivery room with me, was 2 1/2 hours away and because Lauren was trying to find someone to watch the kids he wasn’t there. Teresa asked me if I wanted her to stay. I immediately said yes and was told “Good because you don’t really have a choice. She never left my side the whole time. She was wonderful and my angel through this quick process!! I got to Labor and Delivery at 6 pm. JD was born at 6:38 pm. Lauren got back to the hospital without the kids at 6:45 pm. Needless to say he was shocked to find his son had arrived 10 weeks early.  At 11:00 that evening the transport arrived to take my son to a hospital with a NICU. At this point I still hadn't seen him. At 11:40 pm they came in with him in t[...]



Cecil B. DeMille- Director and Renaissance Man.That's right, this time around I chose to feature a director. Not just any director-- the director. The name DeMille still has a powerful resonance and serves at times as the very definition of Hollywood itself. This makes perfect sense, being that ol' CB was one of the founding fathers of this luxurious place we know as La La Land. And trust me, luxury has everything to do with it.While DeMille was an artist and craftsman, working behind the scenes in the original days of Hollywood-- back when orange groves and pepper trees lined the major through street of Prospect-- at heart he was a showman. In fact, he studied acting first, attending the same school at which his father-- a playwright-- had once taught: The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (ring any bells?). Taking the brains of his father, the passion of his mother, and the flamboyance of family friend David Belasco, young Cecil matured from a curious and ambitious youth into a vivacious and unstoppable entrepreneur. He took odd jobs in the theatre circuit-- writing plays, directing, producing, even acting-- all of which he could perform ably, but it wasn't until a partnership with Jesse L. Lasky and Sam Goldwyn brought him into the cinematic world that his life was forever altered-- and our world as well. His first directorial effort, The Squaw Man, made with the help of Oscar Apfel, is still historically cited as the first full-length feature film made in Hollywood.Jesse L. Lasky, Adolph Zukor, Sam Goldfish (Goldwyn), Cecil and Albert Kaufman- Founding fathers of Famous Players-Lasky.The match was struck, and the fire in DeMille was ignited. He would work without even stopping for breath from 1914-1959. Forty-five years worth of dedication, drive, passion, and vigor would inevitably leave behind a legacy of unparalleled celluloid glory. After his contemporaries, including hero D.W. Griffith, disappeared into obscurity, DeMille always marched on, his energy for his work kept alive by the devout love of his craft. As the times changed, DeMille may not have exactly changed his own style, but he allowed it to expand, pushing the envelope further and further each time with respect to his artistic capabilities and his aesthetic extravagances. He loved movies, and he watched them as much as he made them, keeping up with the latest directors, the latest techniques, and the newest innovations. Over time, he fell into the immaculate cliche he had contrived for himself, that of the egotistical mouthpiece of God. His epic religious features, meant to strike the fear of a higher power into his viewers, too allowed them to indulge unapologetically in their sensual sides. While every film preached a lesson of love, brotherhood, and humility be[...]



The time has come for some more cinematic "What ifs." Hope you like the latest lot:Judy Garland, wondering where her latest part went...Toward the end of Judy Garland's MGM career, there were many roles that were snatched out from under her. Or rather, several roles that she let slip away. As her disenchantment with the studio's slave-driving and her own personal and substance abuse problems increased, her work became less consistent-- in quantity if not in quality. Judy missed out on an opportunity to re-team with Fred Astaire in The Barkleys of Broadway. After their success in the triumphant Easter Parade, MGM was looking to put the duo back together again, a gig that both stars were looking forward to, since they got along swimmingly-- or should I say dancingly? (Interestingly, Gene Kelly had originally been slated to star in Parade, but his injured ankle called Astaire out of retirement). Sadly, a reunion for Fred and Judy was too not to be. Judy was still worn out from the previous film-- pale and gaunt, she lacked the energy to fulfill her obligations. In the end, it was Ginger Rogers who was called upon to take back her place as Fred's most famous waltzing partner. This would be the first time the two had appeared together since 1939's The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle. A decade later, they were still a sight to behold (see left). It would be the last movie the famous pair made together, ending an 10 picture winning streak.In 1949, Judy was also slated to star in Annie Get Your Gun, however there were several strikes working against her. She had recently and admittedly separated from her husband, Vincente Minnelli, and the realization of his true sexual tendencies was a crushing blow to her feelings of security as a woman. In addition, the film's director was to be Busby Berkeley, an arch nemesis who had driven Judy to the brink of collapse in her earlier, childhood roles. Judy too disliked the frumpy wardrobe (right), which further inhibited her already enormous physical insecurity. Judy's response was to arrive late or not at all. In addition, her health was poor as a result of the temporary electroshock therapy she was undergoing. As her weight dropped and her hair began to fall out, her one coup was having Berkeley replaced with her friend Chuck Walters, but even he couldn't save Judy. She was offered an ultimatum by the studio-- show up on time, or you're fired! Judy left in a huff and Betty Hutton, everyone's favorite, loud-mouth mug, stepped into Annie's stirrups. It remains her most famous role.Betty Hutton, guns blazin'!Errol Flynn is remembered as America's Favorite Swashbuckler. It seems that this Tasmanian Devil was destined for fame, for the beginning of his career was guided by a po[...]

Falling Under by Gwen Hayes


(image) Theia is sure she's seeing things. Burning men do not just fall out of the sky & scrumptious boys do not materialize into real life from your dreams. Or do they? Despite her father's constant haranguing & controlling demeanor, Theia has managed to balance her life quite well. She may not have all the liberties & freedom that most of her contemporaries enjoy, but she does well enough. That is until he shows up.

Haden is all smolder & no pomp. In her dreams his words beg her to go back to her world, but his heart & eyes plead with her to stay. By day, he appears flippant & indifferent to her. Despite his divergent behaviors, Theia feels consummately drawn to him. She wants to defy her father & fulfill her own wishes, but Haden is definitely hiding something. Despite protests to the contrary, and her own conscience screaming "bad idea", Theia falls under...

So, this was different. I must admit that I only read about half of this book because I became so disinterested in the characters & subject matter. Honestly, I was kind of put off from the beginning when a burning man is described in detail & then creepy ghouls & figures are sprinkled throughout Theia's dream world with Haden. Something about this whole thing just didn't sit right with me. Maybe had I pressed forward there would have been an adequate explanation, but I just couldn't force myself to do it.

I felt like this was one of a thousand other "paranormal" books that have popped into existence with a meek "heroine", a mysterious, brooding heartthrob, & vapid friends. Honestly, the three main friends had less girl drama than I am accustomed to in these kinds of books, but I was appalled at some of the other things they went on & on about.

If you like traditional, run of the mill paranormal YA books, then this should fit the bill. For me it was just a big let down.

What did you think about it? Did I just not make it far enough to appreciate the overarching storyline?

Provided by Around the World Tours

A Preemie Prints Story: Carissa and Makena


My name is Carissa and this is the story of my little miracle Princess Makena! I got pregnant unexpectedly at 30 years old. I was super happy to add to our little family of three. I remember just being so anxious to find out what we were having. My pregnancy started off with lots of all day sickness. I was super sick everyday!! Of course I figured it was just morning sickness and I tried all the home remedies to cure my upset tummy. I believe I was about 16 weeks along or so when I noticed I was getting this pain in my upper right side,it felt like it was under my ribs. I also had some breathing issues and had to be in the hospital over night due to my oxygen level being too low for a pregnant woman. My doctor told me over and over it was just because baby was putting pressure on my lungs and that I was carrying high so that was where the pain was coming from. I went on like normal...working, taking care of the family and exercising during those months. We found out that we were having another little girl and of course I started buying everything I could! I was still getting sick most days, but I was surviving.  I had a doctor appointment at about 27 weeks along. We went through the normal process like every other appointment but this time they told me my blood pressure was a tiny bit high. I guess they didn't see a problem with it and I scheduled my next appointment for 29 weeks to take some tests and talk about when to schedule my c-section. I had a c-section with my first daughter so we were just gonna do the same with Makena. A few days; later in the middle of the night, I woke up in pain. My right upper side was really hurting me. I tried a bath and tried to just sleep through it but nothing helped. I finally woke my boyfriend up and said I had to go to the hospital. My mom came and got my older daughter and we checked into the ER. Since I was 27 weeks they sent me up to labor and delivery. They admitted me over night to watch me and run tests.  My blood pressure was still high and after being there 24 hours they said the proteins in my urine was very very high. My doc came in and said it seemed like I had pre-eclampsia and I was going to deliver this baby girl early. Our local hospital is small and doesn't have the ability to care for a pre term baby or a high risk pregnancy so I was transported to Eugene about an hour away. I remember how scared we were and I kept praying I could make it until 30 weeks at least. I begged God to keep me and Makena safe and to let me keep her inside me as long as possible. Once we got to Eugene they had me on best rest with low stimulization. They had me watch videos about the NICU and had a NICU d[...]

A Preemie Print Story: Holly and Anquan Jaden


My son AnquanJaden was born at 25 weeks. He was born Oct. 15,2010 and was due Jan. 24,2011. He weighed 1lb 15ozs, at his lowest he went to 1lb. 7ozs. My husband and I were so excited about having our first son together. I was going to the doctor twice a week because I have high blood pressure problems but the baby was fine. Well October 10, I went to my ob/gyn because I was having bad pains they said everything was fine. The following Thursday I was getting ready to leave the house, I thought I went to the bathroom on myself because it wasn't a gush like the other times, so I never thought it was my water breaking. The following morning I was sick and throwing up and thought that was why I was cramping. My oldest child and I went to Walmart and went to the bathroom. When I wiped I felt something sticking out of me, I thought it was an arm well it was really his leg I ran out screaming and crying.  I got to the hospital; my son was breech and they did an emergency c-section. When they pulled him out he was crying and that was the best day of my life. I got to hold his hand before they shipped him a hour away to a hospital with a NICU. The following evening the doctor called to talk to me and she said that he wasn't going to make it through the night because he was bleeding badly into his lungs. Most people stay 3 days after a c-section I was out in a day so I could spend what the doctors thought was his last few hours. I just prayed and cried.The next day they did another x-ray and couldn't figure where the blood had went. The next few months was crazy, from having a little blood around his brain to him getting a staph infection. We were praying he would be home by Christmas; but we thank God he wasn't, because Dec.26 after being off the breathing machine for almost a month he had a bad Brady spell where they almost lost him. They re-tubed him and everything.  Not even a month later, almost a week before his due date, he was coming home Jan.18 weighing 6lbs 3 ozs. He is doing great at 5 months and a little over 10lbs, although he now has Bronchiolitis and RSV, I'm so thankful and blessed that God allowed me to get to know great doctors and nurses and trusted me enough to be a great mom to a wonder micro preemie miracleWe want to thank Holly for sharing her story with all of us at Preemie Prints and wish continued success and good health for little Anquan Jaden now and in the future.[...]

Help With Infant Reflux & Colic


After reading through their website this product really seems like a great idea for newborns suffering with reflux. I know from experience that reflux is a common preemie issue and how terrible that it can be on both baby and mom. There are many great products that seem to be marketed to help with the issue, but the Res-Q is the first of it's kind being used by many NICU's already and can be used at home. I'd love to know if any of our readers have any experience with it!Here is a small description from their website and a picture:The RES-Q Infant Wedge is the first reversible orthopedic FDA class 1 device for babies with reflux (colic) which promotes musculoskeletal alignment in both tummy and back-lying positions.Hospital ApplicationsBenefits of the RES-Q Wedge as observed by NICU nurses and therapists:The (NICU) developmental wedge provides proper boundaries and positioning.Improved reflux symptomsIncreased O2 saturationsDecreased episodes of apneaDecreased occurrence of bradycardiaDeeper sleep statesShorter hospital staysFor a great resource for practical solutions for reflux and colic and to purchase this product visit Polywog's website at: www.pollywogbaby.comTo learn more about the Res-Q Wedge visit their website at:[...]

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher


Vera is extremely cautious of the water-wasting boy she sees on the road. It's not normal (or legal) to waste water in such a manner. She approaches the boy & so starts the journey of a lifetime.Vera and her older brother Will live in what used to be the Mid-West, but is now known as the territory of Illinowa. The Great Panic, due to drastically reducing water supplies, tore the United States & other countries to shreds. Now everyone scrambles to save up ration cards in order to obtain potable water from the government. Many people are sick, and some are even dying, from the lack of water & the illnesses that stem from that situation.Kai is alone on the main road outside of Vera's home when she sees him wasting water on the road. He is the son of a very important water-seeker, so he doesn't have to go to school & he has all the water he'll ever need. These two form a tredipatious friendship based in after-school snacks & dreaming of far away lands & times in abundance with water. Vera even finds herself wishing to be more than just friends with him over time.Everything changes though when Kai's bodyguards are murdered & Kai is kidnapped. Vera & Will race off to help him, encountering pirates, fighting environmental terrorists & even rebelling against corrupt government water companies. All in the name of the main life-force on this planet.The Water Wars was... different. I feel kind of ambivalent about the whole book. There were definitely parts I liked, mostly based in the writing style & descriptions; and there were parts, like the fantastical nature of the story, that just didn't jive with me. I felt like I kept getting glimpses of how this world should be set up, without every really getting the whole picture. All I kept picturing were desert towns instead of a nation that has been through complete and total upheaval. Part of that might have to do with the simple fact that I couldn't tell where we were in relation to today. There were definitely references to today's society & pop culture to identify eras, but no definite knowledge of how long it took the country to devolve so far.I must say that I really enjoyed the different groups we encounter in this book. The pirates were my favorite because they weren't at all on my radar of expectations. The environmental terrorists were fascinating to delve into simply because the leader was honest that their work isn't always what's best for the planet. I thought that made a real statement about their self-awareness.Overall the characters were self-containing and quite predictable. I found that reassuring given [...]

HOT SPOTS in CA: The Brown Derby


The easiest go-to for young lovers on date night has for some time now been the tried and true "dinner and a movie." However, if one happened to live in Hollywood in the glory days, occasionally this age-old ritual transferred to "dinner and a movie star." La La Land was, during the prime studio era, jam-packed with restaurants and eateries frequented by the glitziest faces in the biz. Chasen's, Googie's, Miceli's, The Cafe Trocadero... The list goes on and on. However, the most infamous of all these places, and the one that seems to come up as a reference in almost any Hollywood bio you read, is the The Brown Derby.The original Derby at 3427 Wilshire.Shaped like a hat and situated at 3427 Wilshire Blvd, the first branch of this illustrious food chain would open up in 1926 across the street from The Ambassador Hotel. It is said that the hat motif was the brain-child of co-owner Richard J. Cobb, who was once told by partner Harry Samborn (ex-hubby of Gloria Swanson) that if a restaurant was run well, the food could be "served out of a hat and you'd still make money." Cobb took this literally, and now that the duo had a hook for their diner, they set up shop-- or hat rather. Soon enough, business was bumping. While celebs like Mary Pickford and Bebe Daniels had more than a few meals at this branch, The Brown Derby didn't become synonymous with Hollywood until another restaurant was opened at Hollywood & Vine at 1628 N Vine Street in 1929. This eatery was not shaped like the famous hat, but it bore the same moniker, and since it was located in the midst of movie central, it became the go-to place for celebs and fans alike to grab a bite . Sometimes, actors would appear at the restaurant in wardrobe, because there was too little time on their lunch break to change. This restaurant is also credited with establishing the phenomenon of telephones at every booth, so that business could be conducted more efficiently by dining execs-- a tactic picked up by future eateries and clubs such as 21.Hollywood Brown Derby at Hollywood & VineIt was also at the Hollywood branch that the infamous "Wall of Fame" would be begun by a Polish artist, whose name was allegedly so hard to pronounce that he was referred to only as "Vitch," (first name Edward).  He started what was to become a restaurant trademark by offering to draw people's caricatures for a bowl of soup. His keen eye for accentuated facial features and his ability to capture the essence of a famous face in but a few broad strokes made him a celebrity of his own, and soon cartoonish, [...]

Waiting on Wednesday: Purple Daze


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

(image) Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan came out yesterday. This phenomenal book is so entrancing that I read it in under 24 hours. There was so much to soak up from the time period to the characters, but it was such a fast read. The blurb really condenses it well.

Purple Daze is a young adult novel set in suburban Los Angeles in 1965. Six high school students share their experiences and feelings in interconnected free verse and traditional poems about war, feminism, riots, love, racism, rock 'n' roll, high school, and friendship.

Although there have been verse novels published recently, none explore the changing and volatile 1960's in America— a time when young people drove a cultural and political revolution. With themes like the costs and casualties of war, the consequences of sex, and the complex relationships between teens, their peers, and their parents, this story is still as relevant today as it was 45 years ago.

From Goodreads

I've got lots of fun stuff coming up with this book so be sure to check back for more information. What are you waiting on this week?

A Preemie Prints Story: Alex & Braeton


I am a Mom to 4- 2 miscarriages,and 2 preemies-one became an Angel a little over 3yrs ago...My 3rd pregnancy was going good I thought as I made it past the the 2nd trimester and I was excited to find out I was having a boy. We knew the name all along "Alexander" as we were going to name his older sister Alexandria before I m/c. I was working for a very demanding, in-sensative Dr who made my job & life very stressful. After a heated meeting I became so upset-I got sick and could not eat. I did not feel Alex move the rest of the day. I called out the next day and still hadnt felt him move. I developed a migrane,started throwing up like the excorsist and literally gained 20lbs overnight. Something was telling me to call my Dr and I didnt want to seem over dramatic. I kept thinking "my appt is in 3wks..It can wait" I thought maybe I just needed to get out and get some fresh air. I went to get lunch and visit my husband at work...I couldnt eat more than a bite. He urged me to call the dr,so I did. He asked me to come right in....and I did,by this time I was lethargic. I was immediatly sent to L&D -I was only 24wks and still clueless to how serious things were. Alex was born 2days later when I went into total kidney failure. He weighed 1lb 10oz and didnt make a sound, but he was alive. I got to breifly see him before they rushed him to the awaiting NICU here at St.Louis Childrens Hospital. I remember touching his tiny finger and saying "Stay strong Mommy loves you" I got a call later that night saying they didnt expect Alex to live thru the night. I prayed that night-hard all night. I was hours away from being put on life support myself as my organs were shutting down. I prayed to God "just make me stronger so I can see him again and give him my love" Alex survived the night and many more with me by his side everyday....until his little body couldnt fight anymore and he went into liver/organ failure and was bleeding internally. We had to say "good-bye" to him 2 days shy of 4 mths.Two days after Mothers Day that same year, I found out I was unknowingly pregnant again. I had Alex's little brother Braeton at 34wks and he weighted 4lbs 5oz and this time we heard a cry. That was music to our ears & dad & I just started laughing, then crying in the delivery room. Braeton (aka "BUG") was born with Pierre Robin Sequence and co-arctation of the aorta. He was in the NICU 4mths and had atleast a dozen surgeries. He has a few coming up including a 3rd heart. Bug just turned 2 in Dec and althought he is still[...]

Overprotected by Jennifer Laurens


No one could possibly feel more like a circus-performing animal than Ashlyn. She may be a very talented musical composer, with Hollywood aspirations, but she's shackled in her father's gilded world. She is beyond frustrated & wants to do something wild & forbidden just to prove her point that not everything is a threat. Unfortunately because of one teeny, tiny kidnapping incident when she was a child, her father has forced her to keep a "companion" (bodyguard) with her whenever she leaves the house.The last companion was fired for getting too "comfortable" with Ashlyn & her father knows just how to fix that. He hires Colin, a childhood "friend" a few years older than Ashlyn as her companion in the hopes of allowing her to feel less constricted. To Ashlyn, Colin is anything but a friend. As children he mercilessly teased & tormented her. Now that he's back in her life, she's quite terrified of him, but in a different way. Now she's terrified of what she's capable of since every time she feels him close to her she wants to do things that she has only read about in her romance novels.Can she really trust herself with Colin & if it comes down to it, will he protect her no matter the cost?So...this book really gives everything away on the back cover. Other than the minor details surrounding her amazing musical talents, this really is a cut & dry "star-crossed lovers" story. Now don't get me wrong, Colin is definitely dreamy & I really liked his & Ashlyn's interactions. Everything was just too perfect for me throughout the novel though. Everything was so convenient & just happened to play out just right for this story to unfold. There was a sense of improbability that I just couldn't shake. So many things defied my capacity for suspending belief in what is supposed to be a realistic fiction (maybe just a romance?). I guess in the end it was just too put together for me.The author's writing is right on the mark & she really has a way of capturing the essence of the music such that I've not truly experienced before in book form. That would have to be what salvaged the book for me, I could only suspend my realism so much, but the writing was well crafted. I look forward to more books by this author.ARC graciously provided by Around the World Tours[...]

Developing News: Are NICU's Overused in Texas?


Texas Tribune article is below, I encourage you to read it if you are a Texas preemie mom for more information regarding Texas NICUs and the possible need for guideline implementations to curb the high costs. We will wait to see how this situation develops in the coming months, after their studies are conducted, to see if there actually is a need to combat inefficient and unnecessary NICU use in Texas.In the article a prominent Texas Children's neonatologist agrees there is a problem. The number of NICU babies have spiked dramatically in the past years and the reasons may not be "all natural" he said. We are in contact with the senators and Doctor mentioned in this article so we can stay on top of any new studies and developments for our Texas preemie moms. We are based in Texas and will be an investigative and strong voice for you when it comes to anything dealing with NICUs or preemies.  Judging from the numbers there are reasons that are worth investigating and from this article that is all I can see happening. Hospitals will not be turning babies away from the NICU even if they are a late pre term baby who needs to be there. I know from having two preemies costs are out of control totaling somewhere around $50,000/per baby for one month. So if NICU babies are increasing at this rate it is worth investigating to find out why.  Below is the article, I would love to have your feedback as this is a very new and developing story. We don't have a lot to go on at this point so it is hard to take a stance. I am just adding it to this blog as a "developing story".[...]

River Marked by Patricia Briggs


This is book 6 in the Mercy Thompson series. Therefore there are MAJOR SPOILERS in this review for the series. You have been warned.Mercy is no stranger to trouble. It seems to follow her everywhere she goes. Even, on her honeymoon. After barely surviving some serious fae magic, Mercy & Adam, the Alpha of the Columbia Basin Werewolf Pack, decide that it is time to take the next step in their long-awaited romance & get engaged. Mercy is in the midst of wedding planning, with everything really starting to get to her when Jesse, Adam's underestimated teenage daughter, innocently suggests that they get hitched early. After this "elopement," the happy couple decide to camp in a newly established, but not yet open to the public, campground to test it out for the fae owner.Of course nothing could be that simple in a world where vampires love Scooby Doo motifs & fae can be mechanics. On the very first day they notice that something is different. Mercy sees her father's ghost dancing on their campground & they save a terrified man from the "monster" he has been injured by & is currently hiding from. It turns out that this man is not the only to fall victim to the river. Something is stalking & killing people with no real pattern. The police are stumped & the Native Americans aren't really talking. Striking a cord with the newlyweds, they embark on a turbulent journey filled with revelations about local Native American powers, what one will really do for life& love, & how much of who you are is determined by your family.I love this series so much! Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman has to be one of my all-time favorite characters. Between her demeanor, her sass, her humor, & her complete dedication (to a number of things) she just rocks my world!All that being said, I must admit that this is definitely not one of my favorite books in this series. This being the sixth book, I honestly felt like it was a filler story. There was very little personal action taking place to move the story forward, but at the same time the action wasn't directly related to the characters' actions. This time the trouble came looking for them & they did something about it. It was engineered action that felt kind of forced, although it allowed the reader to gain a deeper appreciation & understanding of Mercy's family history & why she is what she is.The writing was definitely on par for what you expect in a Mercy novel (witty[...]

Ottomans, Benches, Foot Stools


Ottomans have become a favourite of mine to use in family/media rooms and dens. I like using them for several reasons. First and foremost they serve as the indispensable coffee table. I like to make mine with tight tops and rather flat as opposed to padded with a pillow effect. This way you can set things on top of them without worrying about them toppling over. Secondly you can comfortably set your feet on them and be in a semi-reclining position to watch TV, read or maybe even fall asleep. Thirdly I can have them made any size to fit the requirements of the room. This is a real benefit because large coffee tables are hard to find. In the space below the ottoman is made out of deep chocolate brown faux Ostrich. This family has two young daughters and they use the ottoman to color on and do their craft projects and have snacks. Spills can be wiped up easily, and the deep brown faux ostrich adds and a nice textural interest and makes a dramatic center focal point for the room.    This ottoman is large by ottoman standards 5 feet by 3 1/2 feet. It is covered in Holly Hunt, Hair on Hide Leather, in a creamy butterscotch color. It was made long so 3 people sitting on the sofa could all put their feet up on it, and I made it deep enough to that there was still room at the back for the inevitable books, magazines, remote controls and trays for snacks and drinks. It also doubles as extra seating for parties. What coffee table has that much versatility?   The Ottoman in this penthouse I had made in charcoal gray Beacon Hill "Pashmina". It is soft and luxurious like a Cashmere blanket and makes a nice warming contrast to the leather sofa. It sits on top of the same color of Belgium wool area carpet. Facing the sofa is the view with the TV hung and framed between the windows. Where else do you put the TV in a room that is all windows & view.   PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about lifestyle and WHAT'S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel. 2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™ [...]

Hope Through Photography


Hi! My name is Amber Collier. I'm a preemie mom and the founder of Preemie Prints. Our mission is to support NICU families through a unique system that offers hope. We strongly advocate for you and encourage story telling through photography as a coping mechanism. We encourage moms and families to photograph their preemies each and every day capturing the journey they are facing together as a new family. We encourage families to start a preemie file with us sending us pictures and updates along the way. At one point during the NICU stay or once a family is home we will come in and offer a complimentary professional photography session by one of our experienced network volunteers. All edited images will be provided back to the family on a disk for printing. Once the NICU journey is over we will compile the photos, from admittance to arrival at home, and create a beautiful DVD Storybook Slideshow. This Storybook Slideshow will be something that you can watch for years to come, a way to one day tell your child about what they went through or a family member about your child, and with this memory item you will never forget the courage you gained and obstacles you overcame together as a family.

To join our preemie network and start your preemie file with us email

A Preemie Story: Brianna


My name is Brittany Robinson. I wanted to share the story of my daughter’s birth with you. Before I start I want to give you a little background information about my husband and I. My husband and I have been together for 8 years now. We got married in the 5th year in 2008. He is in the United States Army and he promised me that he would marry me when he came home on leave from his tour in Iraq..and we was the best day of my life. We decided that we weren’t going to have kids for 5 years so we could enjoy the married life and get settled. We moved to his duty station which was Fort Lewis, WA and started our life together. I loved the army life and being the spouse of a soldier. Brian went away for a month for training and I missed him like crazy and had a lot of time to think about things. I started thinking about how precious life is and that I wanted my grandparents to see my children. So that night I told Brian I wanted to try getting pregnant when he came home and he agreed. We tried for a few weeks and there was no luck..I started getting down in the dumps so I decided that I needed to pray more and ask god to bless me with a child..I prayed a million times a day..every second I had.. whether I was at work or at home. Then we found out that Brian would be deploying in a few months and that made me want a baby even worse but I had no luck. So on September 13,2009 I kissed my soldier goodbye and headed back home to NC to be with my family. Well 10 days later I found out I was pregnant and my husband and I were very happy and couldn’t wait to meet our child. My pregnancy was very rough from start to finish. I was sick the whole time and very miserable. When I was 6 months pregnant they made me start coming to the doctor once a week due to my fluid being low. On April 3rd I was getting ready for bed when the pain kicked in. I didn’t want to wake up the whole house because the next day was easter. Not to mention I had went to the emergency room with my sister a million times with false labor..I just tried to get the pain to ease but at 3am I had to wake everyone up because I was bleeding and had to get to the hospital. After several tests they decided to put me in a hospital room. They started doing an ultrasound and being pregnant and all I had to go pee. So I went to the bathroom and the bleeding had started again but worse..I came o[...]

Special Annoucement: Invincible: Book 2 of the Chronicles of Nick


A special sneak, peek for my bookish friends. Invincible is the next book in the Chronicles of Nick series by Sherrilyn Kenyon. For fans of her adult Dark Hunters series, this will sound familiar because this is Nick Gautier's actual life story, it's just marketed to teens. I really like this series & feel like a dork that I haven't reviewed the first book (Infinity) yet, but I promise to rectify that situation post haste! Without further adieu, I give you the sneak peek!

"Nick Gautier's day just keeps getting better and better. Yeah, he survived the zombie attacks, only to wake up and find himself enslaved to a world of shapeshifters and demons out to claim his soul.

His new principal thinks he?s even more of a hoodlum than the last one, his coach is trying to recruit him to things he can?t even mention and the girl he?s not seeing, but is, has secrets that terrify him.

But more than that, he?s being groomed by the darkest of powers and if he doesn't learn how to raise the dead by the end of the week, he will become one of them..."

The New York Times-bestselling with over 19 million books in print, Sherrilyn Kenyon is renowned the world over as "the reigning queen of the paranormal genre that she pioneered long before the world had heard of Twilight."

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Nostalgic Friday: Charlotte's Web


Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.And we're back! It's becoming harder & harder to find books for me to talk about on this feature because they are becoming harder to locate. I don't remember everything I have ever read, so I'm starting to run out. If you would like to contribute a "Nostalgic Friday" post, just email me at tattooedbooks AT gmail DOT com. I would be more than happy to feature a guest post. On to this week's book.Charlotte's Web by E.B. White has got to be one of the most iconic chapter books from my childhood. This 1952 story is rich with humor, positive character traits, & a unique story. I remember reading this book out loud to my grandmother when it was her nap time. You read that right, my grandmother would take afternoon naps & I'd read her a nap time story like she read me a bed time story. I never made it more than a few pages before I fell asleep too, so I'm not sure how much she ever really heard of the story. :)Fern is a born & raised farm girl. She holds no false pretenses about where her meat or eggs come from, but when she finds out that her father intends to kill the runt of the new pig litter, she feels compelled to act. After promising to take care of the little piglet, she names him Wilbur & places him in the barn with some of the other farm animals.This is where to story diverges from the normal human path & the animals take over. Wilbur isn't the brightest piglet in the world, getting into some trouble with some of the other barnyard animals, but he does find a friend in a verbose spider. Charlotte manages to capture everyone's attention with her message of "Some Pig" adding a mysterious quality to Wilbur. The little pig grows up & is eventually featured at the local state fair, but he learns a hard lesson as Charlotte informs him that she will one day leave him.As a child I read this story & just thought that it was a really cute talking animal story. I didn't really put it together that I was learning things about friendships[...]

Mercy Thompson Series Mini-Reviews Part II


So I'm back with next next two installments in the Mercy Thompson Series Mini-Reviews. If you missed the first part from Tuesday, just click here to catch up.In this post you will find a very brief synopsis with my thoughts on the fourth & fifth books in this series. Naturally as we moved from one book to the next, there are spoilers, so be aware if you don't want to ruin the series for yourself, steer clear now.Bone CrossedYou would think after barely surviving the attacks of a demon-possessed vampire that Mercy would decide to take it easy for a while. Although she plans to do just that, by spending more quality time with the ever-tempting werewolf Alpha Adam, some people have other plans for her. Marsilia, the Vampire Queen of the local coven, wants a nice coyote hide to replace her coven member. Since Mercy seems inaccessible to her, she'll go for the next best thing & poke at Mercy's weak points: those closest to Mercy. Can Mercy protect everyone? Who will make the ultimate sacrifice to save another?This book was intense from the get-go. There is almost no room to breath because there is so much going on with the vampires hunting Mercy, her strained relationship with her new roommate/old boyfriend Samuel, & the tenuous relationship with Adam. Magic is flying all over the place & it was difficult to just enjoy the story. Reading it twice allowed me to get just the facts & then go back & re-read for more of the minutia. A wonderful book, despite my reading hardships. Side note: of all of them, this one is my favorite cover.Silver BorneVampires, fae & demons are nothing compared the an uncontrolled wolf. Mercy was raised by Bran the Marrok (the Alpha to end all Alphas of the werewolves) & grew up in a pack. This affords her a deeper understanding of not only the people, but of their wolves too. When it becomes painfully obvious that Samuel, Mercy's old flame & the son of Bran, is losing the battle with his wolf, she knows she has to do something to protect him from being declared a danger & forfeiting his life. Unfortunately since she still seems to be holding an extremely powerful fae relic, they aren't making her duty as Samuel's friend any easier. Things have been worse, but they'll also been a lot better [...]

MENTAL MONTAGE: Ladies in a Man's World


The ultimate female objectification: Jane Russell and her assetsadvertised in a 3D movie.The battle of the sexes reached a fever pitch with the advent of cinema. Exploring gender roles on the silver screen was one thing, but it was the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that would take on much greater precedence in the history of He vs. She. The business of movie making, in a way, opened up a Pandora's Box of sexism, for as young ingenues came out to a land offering dreams-come-true and limitless possibilities, the consummation of ambition and corruption gave birth instead to what has commonly become known as "the casting couch." Sadly, it is not a myth. Hollywood itself, particularly in the early pioneering days and the apex of the studio system, was a glorified and gorified representation of a patriarchal society gone haywire. With large, wealthy businessmen and moguls holding the reigns and beautiful women running amok, it didn't take long for the well known game of quid pro quo to begin. As studio magnates got more and more powerful, their manipulation of the system, bloated egos, and inflated sensibilities of entitlement, resulted in a cat and mouse game, wherein more than one girl became the reluctant prey. In the eternal battle, many Virgins were sacrificed to the great Gods of Fame, Fortune, and Celluloid, but Rebels too came out swinging with a vengeance. Here are their stories.LB at his throne of power.MGM: "the dream factory." On the screen, it churned out delicious masterpieces for the eyes and imagination. Off camera, however, this iconic studio was a complete nightmare. Louis B. Mayer knew the business, he knew money, and he likewise knew how to cash in on his audiences. Yet, despite the fact that his job was to provide mass entertainment for the human soul, he seemed to lack one of his own. One of movieland's greatest hypocrites, he scolded his stars for their indecent behavior, while personally committing countless acts of debauchery and malevolence. In addition to controlling every aspect of his stars' lives-- his livestock-- spying on them, tapping their phones, intercepting their private letters and wires, he too abused his power physically. Some women, such as the strong Luise Rainer, never played into his trap [...]

Waiting on Wednesday: Viola in the Spotlight


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.Today I am very excited about the April 5th release of Viola in the Spotlight, the soon-to-be-established-as-amazing sequel to Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani. Check out the blurb!Viola is finally where she belongs—back home in Brooklyn, where there are no khakis or sherbet-colored sweaters and people actually think her yellow flats are cool.But her BFFAA, Andrew, has started acting weird around her, and a new boyfriend has her friend Caitlin ditching her every chance she gets. When Viola’s roommates from Prefect Academy show up for a visit, she starts to wonder—is Brooklyn where she wants to stay? When a tragic event shakes everyone’s world, Viola realizes it’s not where she belongs that matters—it’s who she’s with that really counts. From GoodreadsAfter the loads of fun & character-changing events in the first book (my review here) this one seems to be taking a more somber tone. Viola will face some tough decisions in this book & I'm actually not certain how things will turn out. Here's hoping it's all for the best! What are you waiting on this week?[...]

Mercy Thompson Series Mini-Reviews Part I


Before I delve into my review of the latest installment in the Mercy Thompson series, I thought I would go back & give you mini-reviews of the other books. I absolutely adore this series & have found that it really influences what else I am likely to read. Originally, this was quite far out of my comfort zone (an adult book, in the sci-fi section) & I really didn't think I would like it, but my friend convinced me to read it anyway. I'm not sure how I've managed NOT to review these until now, except to say that I have tried to keep the adult books reviewed on this blog to a minimum because I feel that there are plenty of books in YA to read & that moving over into the adult section of reading is something that I have put off for quite a while.In this post you will find a very brief synopsis with my thoughts on the first three books in this series. Naturally as we moved from one book to the next, there are spoilers, so be aware if you don't want to ruin the series for yourself, steer clear now.Moon CalledMercedes Athena Thompson isn't your typical female mechanic. Not only is she currently fixing a vampire's van while working in a Fae's auto repair shop, she's also living next door to the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack. Did I forget to mention that she can also shape-shift into a coyote at will? Thought so. Well there you have it, Mercy's life all tied up in a nutshell. Too bad there are some people who don't really like the company she keeps. When the Alpha is injured & his rebellious teenage daughter kidnapped, it's up to Mercy to save the day. Now if only that didn't involve so much flying fur.This was a great jump start to the series. Despite the relatively delicate world that these creatures all share, there is a very simple readability to the content. So much seems to be going on between setting descriptions & character building that I was truly surprised to find myself not overwhelmed with information. Mercy has accepted her reality & really wishes things wouldn't change, but she's ready to do what needs to be done with little regard for her own safety. That's the kind of heroine I can get behind.Blood BoundPicking up where she [...]

SIDS Research


Low Production of Serotonin in the Brainstem a Likely Cause for SIDSDoctors closing in on mysterious cause of death in infantsBoston, Mass. -- Taking the next step in more than 20 years of research, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have linked sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) with low production of serotonin in the brainstem, based on a comparison of brainstem samples from infants dying of SIDS compared to brainstems of infants dying from other, known causes.The findings, published in the Feb. 3 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, may give a concrete approach to identifying babies at risk for SIDS, the leading cause of death for infants between 1 and 12 months old in the United States.In the brainstem, serotonin helps regulate some of the body's involuntary actions, such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure during sleep. The researchers, led by Children's neuropathologist Hannah Kinney, MD, believe that a low serotonin level impairs the function of the brainstem circuits that regulate these activities, putting a baby at risk for sudden death from stresses such as rebreathing carbon dioxide when sleeping in the face down position.The future goal of this work is to devise a test to identify infants with a serotonin brainstem defect early, and to develop preventive treatments that would correct the serotonin deficiency.In 2006, Kinney and colleagues showed that SIDS is associated with abnormalities in the number of cells and receptors related to serotonin in the brainstem, but it wasn't clear whether SIDS may be caused by overproduction or underproduction of the chemical.In the new study, the team measured the levels of serotonin and tryptophan hydroxylase, the enzyme that helps make serotonin, in 35 infants dying from SIDS and two control groups (5 infants dying acutely from other causes, and 5 hospitalized infants with chronic hypoxia-ischemia (insufficient oxygen supply to tissues). Tissue samples from the brainstem were obtained from autopsies and provided by research partners at the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office in California.Compared with controls, the serotonin levels in the lower brainste[...]



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My Vision of Heaven


A beautiful door, sunshine, a pea gravel garden path! 
Photo Credit

PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about the world of interior design, architecture, lifestyle, and travel.
2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning


I have discovered a lovely new paranormal/urban fantasy book series to devour! The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning has a lot in common with some of my other favorite leading ladies, Mercy Thompson & Faythe Sanders, because she herself is not technically human & she fights things (completely against her will) that definitely aren't human. Yet she is totally rocking! And while, just like the Shifters series, it is technically considered a "romance" book, so far there is more action & adventure than sheet-romping. Without further adieu, I give you Darkfever.MacKayla Lane has a very easy going life. Pool lounging & occasional classes by day & bar tending at night have afforded her that luxury. While living at home still, she does have greater aspirations for her life. They may not be as high as those of her currently-studying-in-Ireland sister Alina, but Mac can hold her own. Her sun kissed world is shattered though when the Irish police call to inform Mac & her currently-on-an-extended-vacation parents that Alina has been murdered.At first Mac, like any caring soul, is blinded by grief, though that doesn't last long. When she finally receives a perplexing & mysterious voicemail from her sister the day she died. This settles Mac's mind to travel to Ireland & help the police hunt down Alina's killer. Fortunately while living at home she has been able to save up quite a little nest egg & will make it on her own. Despite the police labeling this a "no leads" case (meaning they have no evidence, witness, or even a suspect), Mac is determined to see justice brought forth on Alina's behalf. At first Mac spends a lot of time orienting herself, analyzing just how far her money will get her & what she needs to do to accomplish her goal; but weird things keep happening to her. She seems to suffer from double-visions as well as having a knack for getting in trouble with little old Irish ladies. They keep telling her not to give herself away & to have some survival instincts.It's not until she meets Jericho Barrons that she realizes ju[...]

Book Highlight: Prayers from the NICU


Prayers from the NICU is a brand new book I just stumbled across. It is absolutely beautiful and truly inspired by God. Here is the link for you to purchase the book through Tate publishing. They also have an E-Download option which is very useful for moms in the NICU right now, so they don't have to wait for ship time.Watch Trailer For BookPrayers from the NICUA Mother's Devotionalby Jeanna J. Plunkett"One day, these difficult times will be a memory and this daily record will be precious to you and your child.The birth of a child should be such a wonderful time, but when a child is admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, it is terrifying. NICU days are full of fear, confusion, and pain. Prayers from the Neonatal ICU was written by Jeanna Plunkett, a mother who spent a total of ninety-seven days in the NICU, first with her premature twins and then again with her critical one-pound preemie, Jamey. This chronicle of Jeanna’s experience contains inspiring stories of Jamey’s fight for life as well as inspirational passages from Scripture. This touching volume also contains a personal prayer journal that will help readers record their day-by-day concerns as well as their family's progress. Prayers from the Neonatal ICU is an inspirational devotional full of a mother's love for her child and the Father's love for us. Join author and mother Jeanna Plunkett for a journey of pain, growth, and promise through Prayers from the Neonatal ICU."212 pages - $13.99 (paperback)[...]

HISTORY LESSON: "The [Songs] That [Almost] Got Away"


Joots prepares to unleash her golden voice.Judy Garland's singing career is indivisible from her acting career. When one hears the name "Judy Garland," it is likely that one will immediately conjure up images of her in the midst of song. With a powerful voice matched by a powerful personality, it is no wonder that the tunes Judy gave us over the course of her career are still ringing in our ears. Some of the most popular songs in film history, and perhaps of all time, were first christened by Joots. Her sad and endearing rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" from Meet Me in St. Louis has caused it to become one of the holiday's most beloved melodies, and her duet "How About You?" with pal Mickey Rooney in Babes on Broadway can bring a round of smiles to even the most maudlin of occasions. However, some of Judy's most popular hits almost never came to be. Now that they are a part of our cultural and musical repertoire, history and life in general would seem incomplete without them. Here a three stories about three impromptu tunes.1) "Over the Rainbow" is unarguably the most memorable moment from 1939's The Wizard of Oz. For generations, this film has maintained its endearing hold on the public via the tune that every human being, whether young or old, can relate to. We all still dream, still hope, and still possess some corner of our hearts where our youthful innocence takes harbor. Song writer Richard Arlen, one of MGM's greatest musical workhorses, had no idea how memorable his song would be when he wrote it. He got the idea when he stopped his car outside Schwab's Pharmacy on Sunset Boulevard and was hypnotized by the brilliant colors of the electric sign. When he teamed up with lyricist E.Y. Harburg, his inspiration took shape in a melody that would transcend time and send little Dorothy Gale (right) all the way to the mystical land of her imaginings: Oz.But, "Over the Rainbow" almost didn't make the cut! After the initial previews in June of '39, the studio heads at Metro w[...]

Waiting on Wednesday: Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1)


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.This week I am stoked for the March 29th release of Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter. The first in the Shadow Falls series, this promises to be spellbinding & illuminating. Check it out!One night Kylie Galen finds herself at the wrong party, with the wrong people, and it changes her life forever. Her mother ships her off to Shadow Falls—a camp for troubled teens, and within hours of arriving, it becomes painfully clear that her fellow campers aren’t just “troubled.” Here at Shadow Falls, vampires, werewolves, shapshifters, witches and fairies train side by side—learning to harness their powers, control their magic and live in the normal world.Kylie’s never felt normal, but surely she doesn’t belong here with a bunch of paranormal freaks either. Or does she? They insist Kylie is one of them, and that she was brought here for a reason. As if life wasn’t complicated enough, enter Derek and Lucas. Derek’s a half-fae who’s determined to be her boyfriend, and Lucas is a smokin’ hot werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past. Both Derek and Lucas couldn’t be more different, but they both have a powerful hold on her heart. Even though Kylie feels deeply uncertain about everything, one thing is becoming painfully clear—Shadow Falls is exactly where she belongs…From GoodreadsI know it sounds a bit like Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (which I adored & you can read about here), but it's got room to spread its own wings. Depending on how Kylie handles herself, this book could be a really great addition to the paranormal/fantasy school vibe that I seem to dig (Harry Potter, Hex Hall, House of Night, etc). Here's hoping! What are you waiting on this week?[...]

A Glimmer of Hope


When I opened the blinds in my office this morning this is what I saw….could you hear me clapping my hands? I even did a little dance around my desk……. so happy, so happy. For those of you who live in Vancouver, you will understand. For those of you who live in more southern locations, you will think I have totally gone crazy. Yesterday I found myself on the internet looking up SAD to see if this was my problem, but today I know that I am just missing the sunshine. These beautiful crocuses that I planted last fall are my reminder that spring it is just around the corner! How strong and hardy they are pushing their way up and through the rocks. A testament to our northern spirit.

(image) A view of the crocuses from my office window.

PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about lifestyle and
WHAT'S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel.
2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™

Meet baby Aara...a miracle born at only 24 weeks


I just wanted to write a short little post about baby Aara, since I know a lot of you have been praying for her! She is a miracle baby born at 24 weeks on January 9th, 2011 weighing only 610 grams (1 lb 6 oz). I met with her mom recently to offer support and deliver a NICU gift bag. We had a wonderful visit and she emailed me yesterday with an update that Aara now weighs 2 lbs. 11 oz. We are so happy she is gaining weight! She is now at 58% oxygen and her saturations are in the 90s! The birth announcement I just made for her family is below. I will offer up my services for other families with preemies, who may be in need of a birth announcement for their early bundle of joy too. I wanted to attach it so you all can see what a little tiny adorable miracle she is and continue to keep her in your prayers.

Spotlight: Mothers Milk Bank Austin


"We are actively looking for newdonors right now and any outreach efforts are helpful. Once their ownbaby's needs are met, moms of premature babies make excellent milk donors,since the majority of our patients are premature babies as well. Theirmilk is so perfectly suited for the tiniest patients."-Whitney MusitanoMothers' Milk Bank at Donor milk is a hot topic these days! The Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin is providing donor milk to hospitals all over. So much research has been done on the advantages of breast milk for premature infants that I think it is important for moms to consider this alternative. When and if your Doctor prescribes donor milk consider turning to this organization. Also, if you are a mom blessed with a large milk supply they are always looking for donors![...]

Spotlight: Dallas Preemie Parents


Here is a short blog post from the founder of a new organization in the Dallas area. After being connected with her I felt like we both are headed down similar paths with our organizations. If we have any Dallas area fans I recommend connecting with this great organization. Having a premature baby is a life changing experience that we know all too well. The overwhelming feelings that parents go through in the first few weeks of having a preemie are joyful and scary. Many times people close to the family do not understand all that it entails having a preemie. We understand and have experienced it ourselves. Dallas Preemie Parents was founded in early 2011 with the hopes of touching the lives of our preemie parents in the area. Dallas Preemie Parents offers monthly parent support groups and monthly NICU grad playgroups (post RSV season). We strive to provide local resources for parents of premature infants and team up with other organizations that support families of preemies. Jacqueline NeylandPreemie Mom/Founder of Dallas Preemie Parents[...]

Did you deliver at a hospital with a NICU Level III?


There was an article posted today regarding transporting pregnant women in premature labor to hospitals with the highest-level neonatal intensive care units. The Cincinnati Children's Hospital study shows that transporting moms before giving birth to her baby greatly increases their babies' odds of surviving.Quoting from the article, "Very low birthweight babies born at less than 32 weeks' gestation are less likely to suffer severe complications if they're born at a hospital with a Level III NICU than if they're transported to such a facility shortly after birth, according to a study in today's Pediatrics." I am wondering how many of our preemie moms delivered at a hospital with a Level III NICU and how many had to be transported after their birth? The study states that the ambulance ride is where a baby may suffer more severe complications like brain bleed, or intracranial hemorrhage, as well as body temperature regulation even with assistance. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends very low-birthweight preemies be delivered at hospitals with Level III NICUs. The study states that educating obstetricians and nurses on the advantages of transferring moms to NICU level III's is the best thing to do and best case scenario for all parties involved.  Blog post adapted a story which can be read at:[...]

Breathless Reads Author Visit


5 YA Authors, several bloggers & some seriously amazing books!On Friday, February 25th I was fortunate enough to be in Raleigh at the Breathless Reads book tour stop at the always fabulous Quail Ridge Books & Music. This was the final stop in the tour & as such, several bloggers from all over showed up to attend the fabulous talk & signing. Unfortunately my iPhone didn't seem to record any of the discussion (I am not pleased & have since fixed the bug), so I only have marginal notes.What I know for certain & don't need a recording to tell me is that these women are fun, creative, disciplined, & inspiring. They ranged from first time authors, to seasoned pros & from school teachers to mothers. They hold many titles & responsibilities, but the main thing they have in common is their incredible ability to spin a magnificent tale.There was a teacher & assistant from a local school who read off questions that the authors answered in rounds. There were so many things being asked from "how many books did you have to submit before being published & what advice do you have for aspiring writers?" to "what is your main character's favorite book?" Since I don't have all the answers to all the questions, I will highlight some that stood out to me.Nightshade's main character Calla's favorite book is Watership Down.Beth Revis finds adult books boring & predictable. YA books are so intense & fulfilling because they are filled with the characters' "firsts." First heartbreak, first personal challenge, first kiss, etc.All the authors seem to either write what they know (so write characters like themselves) or they write the opposite of what they know (penning characters who are the antithesis of themselves). Not to mention, be wary of having crossed these ladies, you may end up in one of thei[...]

Steve Jobs on Design



I love this quote by Steve Jobs.
What do you think? Is good design more than just looking pretty?

Join the discussion by leaving a comment.

Photo Credit

PATRICIA GRAY INC is an award winning interior design firm writing about lifestyle and
WHAT'S HOT in the world of interior design, architecture, art and travel.
2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™

Waiting on Wednesday: Double Feature!


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.Today you're in for a treat as I'm featuring two books that came out yesterday because I think they are equally promising & I feel like a complete dolt for not mentioning them earlier. Illegal by Bettina Restrepo & Burn Bright by Marianne de Pierres are polar opposite books, so I know they will appeal to divergent audiences.Into a world of wild secrets and deadly pleasures comes a girl whose innocence may be her greatest strength.In Ixion music and party are our only beliefs. Darkness is our comfort. We have few rules but they are absolute . . .Retra doesn’t want to go to Ixion, the island of ever-night, ever-youth and never-sleep. Retra is a Seal – sealed minds, sealed community. She doesn’t crave parties and pleasure, experience and freedom. But her brother Joel left for Ixion two years ago, and Retra is determined to find him. Braving the intense pain of her obedience strip to escape the only home she’s ever known, Retra stows away on the barge that will take her to her brother.When she can’t find Joel, Retra finds herself drawn deeper into the intoxicating world of Ixion. Come to me, whispers a voice in her head. Who are the Ripers, the mysterious guardians of Ixion? What are the Night Creatures Retra can see in the shadows? And what happens to those who grow too old for Ixion? Retra will find that Ixion has its pleasures, but its secrets are deadly. Will friendship, and the creation of an eternal bond with a Riper, be enough to save her from the darkness? From Goodreads A promise.Quinceañera.A promise that we would be together on my fifteenth birthd[...]

25 Week Old Miracle Baby


Here is a story of a NICU mom and her 25 week old miracle baby she calls her "rock star". Sharing your journey may inspire hope in a mom facing a similar situation now or remind a mom of her previous experience and the courage she gained. This beautiful story is worthy of sharing...

We would love to share your personal story with others. So if you feel like typing please send your story to us! 

Vicente Wolf and Inuit Art in Vancouver


I had the pleasure of spending time with Vicente Wolf on his trip to Vancouver where he spoke at the Buildex convention. Albarosa Simonetti had put together an itinerary of Native Art Galleries and we spent the afternoon looking for Inuit dolls made of Caribou antler for Vicente’s private collection. As well as showing Vicente the sights of Vancouver we had lots of time to talk about design, travel, photography and share stories. Patricia Gray, Vicente Wolfe, Albarosa Simonetti at Buildex Vancouver Patricia Gray, Vicente Wolf at Inuit Gallery Vancouver Inuit Caribou Antler Dolls These Inuit dolls carved from Caribou antler which is a renewable resource, shed by the animal annually, have the arms and legs attached with sinew. Their antecedence is in ancient Inuit history, and were often the only toy that a small girl would have. They are absolutely charming in their simplicity. I would not have known about them were it not for Vicente’s passion for collecting. Vicente Wolfe Collection of Inuit Dolls in his Montauk home Top 2 photos: Albarosa Simonetti Photo 3 Photo Credit Bottom Photo Credit[...]



America's Eternal Sweetheart: Judy Garland.The contradiction between the real and the reel life has always been stark. Still, despite the fact that we know that our stars and the drama and extravagance of the cinematic world are glamorized, we somehow come to identify a screen persona as the person herself. Judy Garland, therefore, remains a bashful, awkward, yet enchanting innocent. She represents the eternal, hopeful child within us, and her voice echoes the power and passion dwelling inside even the most silent or insecure of vessels. She was the Hollywood ugly duckling who blossomed into a beautiful swan, emerging as the personification of our own transformation of self-conscious youths to (hopefully) secure adults. Her humility in her roles and the profound grace of her musicality have made her eternal-- the girl unanimously loved and forever remembered. She is the only performer with the ability to gain our trust and carry us far and away, even over the rainbow. In front of the camera, Judy was at her best, but oh how different the tale of her personal life. As delicate and lovable as her Betsy Booth was, just as dark and tormented was her true nature. Judy Garland was ever-lovable. Frances Gumm, however, was plain shocking.With good pal and constant collaborator, Mickey Rooney,as Betsy Booth in Love Finds Andy Hardy.A career in performance was almost inevitable for little Frances. Her father, Frank, who was said to have had an angelic, entrancing voice of his own, was notorious as an entertainer, singer, and theater manager. Her mother, Ethel, was an ambidextrous and driven, if not equal, talent who often played the piano while he[...]

The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor


Regina Bloomsbury is just your typical Beatles fangirl. Except that she's not a child of the 60's. Regina is a Millenial child who's parents' love of all things Beatles transferred to her at birth. She even named her own band The Caverns after the night club where the Beatles got their start. Unfortunately Regina's fab four isn't so fab. Actually, Julian (guitar) is frustrated with Regina & Lorna (bass) & Danny (drums) just quit because they don't think that Regina can get them the real gigs they've been aching to play. So frustrated, embarrassed & depressed, Regina seeks sanctuary in her Beatles laiden home. She even makes a wish that her band were as famous as the Beatles.The next morning Regina wakes up to a whole new world. The Beatles has ceased to exist (or rather, never existed at all) & instead The Caverns are playing all their music. More specifically Regina is singing their songs as her band's own music. It turns out that Regina's "fairy godmother" made her wish come true. For one week Regina Bloomsbury gets to be as famous as the Beatles because her band has replaced them in history. At the end of that week, her band is slated to play the Grammys. If she decides she wants to stay in this alternate life forever, she can do just that. Or she can go back to being Regina Bloomsbury, nobody from Twin Oaks.So here we go on a whirlwind tour in the life of a very famous person. She's meeting new people, being chased by rabid fans, still crushing on Julian & yet dating an actor. Regina is overwhelmed because she is just thrown into all this with no history behind it all. She needs to get her head together, figure out how they shot to stardom, [...]

Winners from The Vespertine Week!


I want to give a big thanks to everyone who came by during The Vespertine week here at Tattooed Books! A very special thanks goes to Saundra Mitchell for writing such an amazing book & offering up such wonderful help & guidance during this process.

On to the winners! Your item will be shipped out within the next week. Please let me know if you do not receive it by March 18th (some winners are international, therefore the extended date).
Pendant: Zombie Girrrl

Signed Book: Savs

Bumper Stickers:
Alyssa D
Rachel Y
Anne A
Karen W
Sara L
Stephanie (IN)

Again thank you for everyone who helped make this a success!

Do's and Don't For Medical Professionals


I came across this article when researching information for you. This is a great list of what you should expect from nurses and medical professionals in a NICU. I remember wondering at times what I should or shouldn't do or say in the NICU when dealing with the staff. I wanted to be as involved as possible, but I also didn't want to get in the way of my baby's care. Towards the end I was extremely comfortable as most people are, but it would have been nice to know early on what behaviors were expected from the NICU staff, what was permissible, what I could ask or do without feeling intimidated. Feel free to print this out, keep it with your information, and use it when you need it. Remember you are in a unique emotional situation and parenting your baby in a NICU is very important for both you and your baby. I hope this list gives you a boost.The Do's and Dont's of NICU - for Medical ProfessionalsThe experience of parenting a premature infant in the NICU is often overwhelming. Although the health of our baby(s) is our greatest concern, in the day to day life in the NICU, it is the little things that medical professionals do that make a difference. Preemie parents from all over the world came together ( to create a list for nurses and doctors that will help them understand the intricate needs and desires of parents and families. Please feel free to print this list and give it to anyone who may benefit from it.Please Do...Do: Ask me what I like to be called. I may or may not want to be called "mom." I would like to be called by my first name.Do: Send me a Polaroid of my baby when I [...]

Casting of The Vespertine


Welcome back to The Vespertine Week at Tattooed Books! Today I'm featuring something new that I've never tried before. When I did a Soul Screamers week I created my very first music playlist for a book. This time I decided I would try my hand at casting the main characters. I only chose four as this is my first time & I didn't want to overdo it. After presenting my case & giving you two options, feel free to use the poll to choose who you think would fit the part best!Zora Stewart is described as having a heart-shaped face, with bisque skin, small freckling & colorful cheeks. My choice actresses are:Kate Mara or Kaili ThorneAmelia van den Broek,as the narrator, is never really described in detail, but I pieced together her likeness by comparisons. I'd say she had a petite frame with a rounder face & darker hair & mesmerizing eyes. Naturally I chose:Alexis Dziena or Ashley RickardsThomas Rea is described as rather tall, with a lean frame. The best I could determine for his hair was that it glinted in the sunlight (telling me sandy brown) and that it was a bit shaggy. I played it safe with these two:Liam Hemsworth or Gregory SmithFinally, Nathaniel Witherspoon (sigh...) is the rogue of the group. He is described as an artist, with a sculpted jaw, thing lips & a relatively flat nose.My favorite guys for the part are:Patrick Fugit or Gaspard UllielSo now you get to way in on your thoughts! You can vote below, or if you don't like the options, leave a comment with your thoughts! Thanks for stopping by & be sure to enter the giveaways [...]

SPIN Program And Crib Cards


UC San Diego Health System has launched a new program called the SPIN (Supporting Premature Infant Nutrition) Program. Their mission statement reads, "To create a Center of Excellence in neonatal nutrition focused on the provision, analysis, and research of human milk to improve nutritional and neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm babies." Their website includes many useful tools for parents and NICU staff about making milk, pumping, logs for moms, maternal education hand outs, crib cards, and milk recipes.

One of my favorite finds on the website are the crib cards guiding a new breastfeeding (pumping) mom from step 1: skin to skin contact through step 5: Getting ready to go home. The cards make the entire process easy to understand for an emotional and tired new preemie mom. The cards could be attached to an isolette or handed out by NICU nurses. We will be including these cards from the Spin Program in our binder of information contained in each NICU gift bag.

Download Crib Cards Here:
For more information visit their website at



In the larger-than-life land of La La, one would expect every interaction between celebrities to be as dramatic and cataclysmic as on the big screen. Sometimes, they are, but mostly they are just downright comical. Here are a few of the most infamous and entertaining tales of movie star meetings:Young ingenue, Marilyn Monroe.When Marilyn Monroe was a young, hopeful starlet just starting out in Hollywood, she used to make the rounds at various cocktail parties and shindigs. Sometimes, this was merely part of the job description-- being paid to smile at executives while handing out cigarettes-- and other times it was part of her ploy to meet as many important people as possible and get her name and face out there. Well, her gorgeous face did catch the eye of many men, one of whom was so taken with her that he asked her to sit down beside him on the staircase, where he was getting sloppy drunk. After introducing himself in the distinguished and sardonic voice that she recognized, Marilyn told him her name as well. He then surprisingly asked her to marry him, to which she politely answered "No." He took the rebuff admirably, responding that he understood her hesitancy to marry an actor for "An actor is not quite a human being-- but then, who is?" Then, he passed out right next to her in an abrupt snore. Ironically, Marilyn would meet George Sanders again when they performed in All About Eve together, one of her big career-boosting films. In it, they would share another scene on a staircase.Marilyn [...]

Victorian New England


Good day ladies & gentlemen! I am very pleased to bring you some background information on the lovely setting of The Vespertine. I will be focusing on Victorian society in general & also commenting on Victorian society specifically in New England.A young lady could aspire to no higher station than that of a dutiful wife & engaging mother. These ladies were expected to be well-bred, mild-mannered, capable in matters of the home, involved in charitable pursuits & virtuous. Women of stature were not to work outside of the home, but some of the middle class women would work as seamstresses or laundresses to made ends meet at home. As Lynn Abram reports, "...the ideal woman at this time was not the weak, passive creature of romantic fiction. Rather she was a busy, able and upright figure who drew strength from her moral superiority and whose virtue was manifested in the service of others."At home, women were expected to maintain a tightly run household. Many affluent families filled their time with social dates, well-prepared meals (either made with their assistance or by the help), neatly groomed children & charity work. Maintaining a home was a full-time job in and of itself, so many women could still find themselves over-loaded with tasks. It's interesting to note that, "It is a fallacy that most middle-class women were able to afford sufficient servants to allow them to spend their lives in idle leisure. Most middle-class households had just one servan[...]

Rare Form Of Hearing Loss In Preterm Babies


Pre-Term Babies At Higher Risk For Rare Form Of Hearing LossWednesday, February 23rd 2011February 19-23, 2011, Baltimore: National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported scientists will be presenting their latest research findings at the 2011 Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO).Selective Inner Hair Cell Loss in Premature InfantsSelective loss of key sensory cells is possible sign of auditory neuropathyIt’s well known that premature babies have a higher risk for hearing loss, but what’s been unclear to this point is the reason why. NIDCD-funded researchers from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard University, and Universidade de Sao Paolo, Brazil, set out to find the answer by conducting a postmortem examination of the temporal bones—the part of the skull that houses the inner ear—of 50 infants from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital in San Jose, Costa Rica.They found that in four out of 27 pre-term babies—eight ears in all—the sensory cells that help amplify sound vibrations, called outer hair cells, appeared healthy, while the sensory cells that convert those vibrations to electrical signals that travel to the brain, the inner hair cells, were preferentially destroyed. Conversely, in the 23 full-term NICU babies, only one ear out of 46 ears showed this selective inner hair cell loss.The findings are surprising, since outer hair cells are very delicate and most hearin[...]

Angel Care Monitor Giveaway


Preemie Prints is giving away an Angel Care Monitoring system to a deserving family ($120.00 value). My twins were sent home on pulmonary heart monitors and after they were taken off we moved to the angel care monitoring system. This monitoring system monitors sound and movement. If your baby stops breathing for 15 seconds the alarm will sound. Please read more about the monitors here. I love this monitor and have recommended them to new moms ever since finding out about them. It gives me peace of mind to actually get some rest at night. Since we highly recommend them, one of our donors has graciously donated two systems to us. We are so very appreciative of his donation and thank him! We received our first monitor yesterday and are ready for our first giveaway.If you meet the following criteria please contact us and share your story about why you would like this monitor. We will choose a deserving family in the next two weeks and deliver the monitor to you. Thank you for participating and cheers to restful sleep and peace of mind...1. Are you a new parent of a preemie in the Brazos Valley, Houston, or Waco area?2. Are you close to being discharged or recently at home?3. Have you joined our network?4. Would you like an angel care monitoring system for your baby but due to the financial constraints of having a premature baby and spending time in a NICU have not been able to purchase one? If you answered yes to all [...]

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vespertine


Waiting on Wednesday recognizes that we as bookies pine for books. This post is about what I am impatiently waiting for right now. It was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.Obviously since this is The Vespertine week on Tattooed Books, I'm featuring the namesake book for my Waiting on Wednesday. Harcourt Children's Books has slated this wondrous book for a March 7th release & I for one cannot WAIT to get my hands on a finished copy.It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.From GoodreadsObviously I've already read this fantastic book and you can check out my thoughts here. I must admit that, as far as historical fiction in YA goes, this makes the top of list along with[...]

Making Your Own Wedding Cake Is Fun And Exciting


Your wedding day is the day you never forget. Getting ready for it is another memory you will not soon forget as well. While there are those stressful times during the planning of this special ceremony, the fun and excitement you feel will prevail. The most fun and exciting parts of the preparations you might enjoy is making your own wedding cake.Start your plans ahead of time so you do not have to be stressed at the last minute. Check recipes to make sure you have all the ingredients you will need. Make sure you know the flavor you want for the cakes while also thinking about the best tasting icing as well. These are two of the most important decisions about this project you have to make.Many people have recipes for their favorite icing. However, you can visit a bakery shop to get some great selections ready to use. While at the bakery, make sure you get the square pans you may need for creating the unique masterpiece. The baker can help you in choosing the right ingredients and let you know if you are missing an important part.One way to help you remain organized throughout the planning of your ceremony is by making check lists. This is especially true for the ingredients and items needed for making cakes. You should look through online websites for the exact type of cake you would like to have. This will help you to know the pans to get, whether squar[...]