TLC Book Tour ♦ Dream House by Valerie Laken

Dream House

What price will people pay to hold their homes and dreams together?

When Kate and Stuart Kinzler buy a run-down historic house in Ann Arbor, Michigan, they’re hoping their grand renovation project can rescue their troubled marriage. Instead, they discover that years ago their home was the scene of a terrible crime – and the revelation tips the balance of their precarious union.
When a mysterious man begins lurking around her yard, Kate, now alone, is forced to confront her home’s dangerous past. Hers is not the only life that has crumbled under this roof. This man’s family also disintegrated here, as the result of one brief act of rage that may haunt him – and this house – for years to come.

Book Title: Dream House Type: Trade Paperback 352 pages
Author: Valerie Laken Publication Date: January 2010
Publisher: Harper Perennial ISBN: 978-0-06-084093-8
Genre: Contemporary Fiction Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts  

Probably one of the most exciting things about buying a new house is the actual house tours. The buyer is a stranger walking into what was a home to the previous owners and envisioning how they will make it their own. What goes into the decision to purchase is how a particular house will become a home, because where a person lives is so much a part of their life. But how many prospective homeowners go to open houses and try to see what lives were lived in the house in the past? I’m guessing that not many do, even though houses are memory banks of lives, secrets, and history.

Kate and Stuart Kinzler have bought a house that they plan to completely renovate with the hopes that this process will also have a positive effect on their marriage which has started to fall apart. But after discovering their new houses’ history, it appears that their renovation project will be easier to complete than their own personal problems.

Eventually Kate finds herself going on with the house project alone, until one day Walker Price shows up and offers to help. Working alongside Walker, Kate will discover some of her houses’ secrets and learn that giving a house a face-lift does not erase the history it hides.

In Dream House there are a number of story-lines at work, that all play a part in how the novel concludes. Kate and Stuarts’ relationship plot was the one I was least interested in. I felt it had too much of a made-for-tv movie feel to it, and I was a little cynical. A couple experiencing marriage problems takes on a major project or change in order to fix things – it seemed like they were hoping that this project would take the pressure off their current issues. To me this is an obvious mistake, the only way to fix a problem is to face it head-on. Plus the stress and pressures that come with home renovation could only exacerbate their relationship headaches.

However, the relationships that Kate develops later on in the story with her new acquaintances, Walker and Jay, led to the meat of the story which I really enjoyed. The author uses their present interactions as a way to tell about the history of the house as well as the characters, and that is what made the story work well for me. I liked that things were revealed slowly as the story progressed, there were no shocking plot-twists or other gimmicks, the story just slowly (but satisfyingly) unwound.

I enjoyed Valerie Laken’s Dream House very much, especially how the past and present came together. Although some of the elements were predictable, the story was unique. At first I had hoped it would focus on the development of Kate, but in the end I found it was more about how a house can be many things for different people.  

Valerie Laken

About The Author

Valerie Laken’s work has appeared in such publications as Ploughshares, the Missouri Review, and the Chicago Tribune.
The winner of a Pushcart Prize, she teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Other TLC Blog Tour Stops

1-Feb-10: Stephanie’s Written Word
4-Feb-10: One Persons Journey
9-Feb-10: lit*chick
10-Feb-10: I’m Booking It
15-Feb-10: Devourer of Books

17-Feb-10: Educating Petunia
18-Feb-10: Dolce Bellezza
22-Feb-10: Wordsmithonia
25-Feb-10: All About {n}

TLC Book Tours Thanks so much to Trish at TLC Book Tours for giving
me the opportunity to host a stop on this tour!

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

Review / Read-A-Long ♦ A Wrinkle In Time

A Wrinkle In Time

It’s a dark and stormy night. Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are in the kitchen for a midnight snack when a most disturbing visitor arrives.
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger tells them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”
Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Book Title: A Wrinkle In Time Type: Trade Paperback 211 pages
Author: Madeleine L’Engle Publication Date: 1962
Publisher: Yearling ISBN: 0-440-49805-8
Genre: Youth / Fantasy / Sci-Fi Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts  
Time Quartet Readalong Seems slightly ironic that I am so very late in blogging about  the January book for the Time Quartet Read-A-Long … punctuality is my weakness, now if only I could figure out how to fold time backwards I’d be set!

Over at Kailana’s blog she is hosting a readalong that involves reading a book a month from Madeleine L’Engle’s Time series. January was the kick-off with Book 1 A Wrinkle In Time.

For some reason this is a series of books that I hadn’t read as a child (or that I cannot remember) so this was the perfect excuse for me to pick them up. I also hadn’t watched the television movie based on the books, which meant I had no real expectations going into the reading. With that said and after reading the first book, I’m not sure this is a series I would continue on my own. Not that I didn’t like A Wrinkle in Time, but I just didn’t love it either. This is one of those books where I’m more interested because of ideas within the story than the actual story itself.

What I did love about this book was the characters, or rather the mixture of personalities. This book features 3 children (Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin), as the main characters along with extended family (mom, dad, older twin brothers), a trio of helpful ladies/entities (Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which) various aliens and non-earth creatures, and the token villain – IT (person, entity, idea?)
I didn’t like all the characters, in fact I felt a strong dislike for some of them. But that I think is what made them so appealing. Just like in real life there will be people you just can’t relate to, as well as people that intrigue you. Certain things were really relatable about Meg and she was a girl who I tried my hardest to like or even understand, but found her to be a little too whiney and (for her age) naive. Charles Wallace on the other hand came across as a total void personality-wise, but his above-average intelligence fascinated me.

Of all the characters the otherworld creatures were my favorite, in particular Aunt Beast. She is from a race of non-humans on the planet Ixchel, these beings cannot see visually, but seem to be stronger mentally because of this. Last semester I had a creative writing assignment that required us to write a description of our campus for a visitor who is blind – Meg has a similar experience when communicating with Aunt Beast, and she discovers that the idea of a thing is sometimes more important and informative than its appearance.

Now just let me slip into my super-nerd glasses and tell you what I loved most about this book = the ideas! Time travel books are a tricky lot for me, I don’t only want to read about past times, future times or other worlds. I want a little bit of science on the side (factual or fictional) Why am I addicted to Donnie Darko? Because of the Tangential Universe Theory. And so when reading A Wrinkle in Time I became obsessed by the ideas of folding time and Tesseracts. (That little blue diagram on the side is a visual representation of a Tesseract or hypercube) To be honest I don’t understand a bit of what it actually means mathematically, but it led me on late-night web prowling sessions to try and obtain even a slight understanding. Hours of Quantum Mechanics, Quantum Physics and Time-Space theory reading later I’m still at a loss but I’m starting to get a taste of what the theories are hypothesizing.

And that is what made this book a winner for me. The actual story was good, but took second place to the ideas. I love books that make me think, that prompt me to seek answers. In that way I find that a book has made a lasting impression on me and that it was time well spent.

Madeleine L'Engle

About The Author

Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was the author of more than forty books for children, including the Newberry Award Medal winner A Wrinkle In Time and its sequels, A Wind In The Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters all available in Dell Yearling Editions. She lived in New York and Connecticut.

Other Reviews

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

TLC Book Tour ♦ The Cougar Club by Susan McBride

Cougar Club

A novel for women of a certain age who are hot and bothered by society’s double standards – champagne happy hours mandatory – cubs get in free.

They tell you that forty is the new thirty, but try telling that to the men you want to date. Kat Maguire is successful, good-looking, and single … so when the dating pool starts getting a bit shallow, she and her friends decide to go swimming in a different spot – a place where the younger men are. After all, guys have been dating younger women since the dawn of time. But Kat and her friends soon discover that no matter what your age, love and life still comes with its share of triumphs, heartbreaks … and yes, romance.

Book Title: The Cougar Club Type: Trade Paperback 336 pages
Author: Susan McBride Publication Date: January 2010
Publisher: Avon Books ISBN: 978-0-06-177126-2
Genre: Contemporary Fiction Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts  

To say that New York advertising executive Kat Maguire is having a bad day would be quite the understatement. At first she thought getting stuck without an umbrella, in a downpour, on her way to work for an important meeting with a client was the thing that would ruin her day. But less than a few hours later, sitting in a airplane wearing a soaking wet, dog-smelling suit she realizes a rain-destroyed outfit, losing her job to an age-prejudiced boss, and walking in on her younger boyfriend having cyber sex, ruined not only her day, but also her idea of how she expected her life to go.

Now Kat is on a plane headed back to her hometown of St. Louis in hopes of starting over in a place she has always loved. Kat does have doubts as to how she will pick up the pieces and begin again – especially because of her age, but she is determined to finally find happiness. Plus, by returning home she will be able to reconnect with her two best friends, Elise the happily married dermatologist, and Carla the successful and very famous local news anchor.

What she doesn’t expect upon her return is to see that her friends are also unhappy with the current state of their lives. However, the reunion of this trio of friends will help all three women to face their problems, and with the support of one another they will try to reinvent themselves into the women they have always dreamt of being. 

At first I thought that The Cougar Club would be the typical fluffy, chick lit novel, but within 20 pages or so I realized that was not the case. While it is a light and at times very funny story, it is by no means fluff. The three main female characters of this book are in their forties, and although I am still in my thirties I felt a connection to them. Kat, Elise and Carla were all very natural characters whose thoughts about themselves, each other and life I could relate to. All three women were facing certain struggles in their lives, and they were issues that the average woman is likely to encounter or at least be familiar with. Issues such as the way that society views women as they pass from their twenties through into their forties, the cultural focus on youth, the opinions concerning older men dating younger women versus older women dating younger men – basically the ideas that when a woman hits a certain age she must do everything possible to appear younger or else she will be discarded and replaced with a newer model.

The subject of female friendship was also extremely well done. I enjoyed seeing how these women rebuilt their friendship and it really highlighted for me the importance of maintaining closeness with your true friends. This was perhaps the best part of the story for me, I found it refreshing to read about how healthy it can be for women to remain close throughout life, to provide support to one another, and most importantly to just let loose and have fun together. Overall this was a terrific book that I plan to pass along to one of my own close girlfriends, and I will be looking forward to checking out more from this author in the future.  

Susan McBride

About The Author

Susan McBride knows how to spin a good story. She got her ideas for her mysteries while she was a sorority pledge at the University of Texas, watching the Dallas debutantes practice their curtsies in study hall. She got her idea for The Cougar Club by wondering what happened to those same sorority gals twenty-five years later. The author of the best-selling young adult series, The Debs, Susan currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her much younger husband.

Other TLC Blog Tour Stops

01-Feb-10: Cindy's Love of Books
04-Feb-10: The Winey Mommy
08-Feb-10: My Overstuffed Bookshelf
15-Feb-10: This That and the Other Thing
17-Feb-10: Stacy's Books

18-Feb-10: All About {n}
22-Feb-10: Clever Girl Goes Blog
23-Feb-10: Simply Stacie
24-Feb-10: My Reading Room
25-Feb-10: Write Meg

Thanks so much to Trish at TLC Book Tours for giving
me the opportunity to host a stop on this tour!

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

Graphic Novels v.5 ♦ Scott Pilgrim = NPZR*

Today’s Graphic Novels post is going to highlight a series that I have fallen ass over teakettle for, Bryan Lee O’Malleys’ Scott Pilgrim! *As the title states Scott Pilgrim = NPZR (“Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot” a combination of all the awesomeness of everything!)

So far I have read 5 of the comic volumes, am anxiously awaiting number 6, and I’m in a fan-girl frenzy for the upcoming movie based on the series. Oh and it’s also gonna be a video game! ♥Squeee♥

Scott Pilgrim’s
Precious Little Life
Volume 1

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Vol.1)

Everything Is Totally Sweet

Scott Pilgrim’s life is so awesome. He’s 23 years old, in a rock band, “between jobs,” and dating a cute high school girl. Everything’s fantastic until a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. But the path to Ms. Flowers isn’t covered in rose petals. Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends stand in the way between Scott and true happiness. Can Scott beat the bad guys and get the girl without turning his precious little life upside-down?

Author: Bryan Lee O'Malley Publication Date: July 2004
Publisher: ONI Press Type: Paperback 168 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel (teen) Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts
So this first volume in the series was pretty much character introduction to Scott Pilgrim. The reader learns that he is a 20-something slacker who shares a very-cramped apartment with his friend Wallace. Scott also loves video games and practicing with his band Sex Bob-omb. There is also lots to learn about Scott’s circle of friends/acquaintances, who come off as a very realistic group of people as there are many different vibes between certain of them. They are all unique in their own way, and you can tell that unknown histories between some of them have an impact of the social group as a whole. The biggest impact in this volume is the addition of Ramona Flowers, a girl who Scott dreamt about and then discovers is an Amazon delivery girl. Scott falls for Ramona hard, and the only thing standing in the way in Scott’s 17-year-old girlfriend (o.O) and Ramona’s 7 evil exes (O.o)

This was definitely a fantastic series opener for me, I loved the mixture of the realistic slacker life-style and the fantastical ninja/evil-exes/dream-girl aspect.

Scott Pilgrim
vs. The World
Volume 2

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World (Vol.2)

How Does He Do It?

Scott Pilgrim has two girls on the go. When he’s with Knives Chau, he feels like he can erase his past and start over. When he’s with Ramona Flowers, he‘s ready to accept all that, grow up and move on. But like all adult relationships, Ramona comes with baggage – in her case, seven evil ex-boyfriends, showing up one by one to challenge Scott for the right to date her. What happens when Knives and Ramona meet? What happens when Scott’s own ex-flames get thrown in? How will Scott deal? Which girl will he choose? And why, oh why, can’t the past stay past?

Author: Bryan Lee O'Malley Publication Date: May 2005
Publisher: ONI Press Type: Paperback 200 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel (teen) Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts
Scott Pilgrim is perfectly okay with having to fight a bunch of evil ex-boyfriends in order to date Ramona Flowers, but he’s a little nervous about breaking off his relationship with 17-year-old high school girlfriend Knives Chau. But first a flashback to Scott’s high school days where we learn a little more about Scott and more interesting (for me) was the back-story of Sex Bob-ombs drummer Kim. I loved learning about Kim and Scott’s history because it made their interactions in the present-day narrative more clear. End flashback, and Knives is more than a little pissed at being dumped. Which sets up the perfect opportunity for a Ninja-style fight between Knives and Ramona in (are you ready for this??) the Library! And of course we cannot forget that Scott must face-off against another of Ramona’s evil exes. But just when things start to become somewhat normal again Scott gets a phone call from one of his exes Envy … and things are not looking so hot for Scott Pilgrim.

Scott Pilgrim
& The Infinite Sadness
Volume 3

Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness (Vol.3)

Things Keep Happening

Scott Pilgrim’s new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers, has made his life slightly more complicated. She’s got 7 evil ex-boyfriends, and they’ve been showing up one by one to challenge Scott for the right to date her. Boyfriend #3, Todd Ingram, comes with extra baggage: he’s currently dating the former love of Scott Pilgrim’s life! Envy Adams broke Scott’s heart a year and a half ago. Now she’s back for more, along with her evil art-rock band, The Clash at Demonhead. She’s getting Scott’s band to open a show in two days – just enough time for Scott to fight Todd, get over Envy, keep Ramona happy, fend off the advances of demented ex-girlfriends, and practice that new set list. Right??

Author: Bryan Lee O'Malley Publication Date: May 2006
Publisher: ONI Press Type: Paperback 192 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel (teen) Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts
Volume 3 follows the story directly from the last, after a phone call from his ex-girlfriend Envy, Scott tries to get control over his emotions. But first another flashback. This time the reader is treated to Scott’s university history when he and Envy were an item. At that time Envy was known as Natalie and was pretty much a quiet wallflower type. But she went on to become a successful rocker, and broke Scott’s heart in the process. Back to the present, Envy and her band (which includes one of Ramona’s evil exes) is back in town. This volume is full of fighting, revelations and fun. Although Scott and Ramona’s romance is still the main focus, the supporting characters are still evolving with stories of their own.

Scott Pilgrim
Gets It Together
Volume 4

Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together (Vol.4)

It’s Summertime

But who can relax? Welcome back to Scott Pilgrim’s nightmarish little existence. His relationship with Ramona Flowers is sweeter than ever, but he’s still got girl troubles, seven evil ex-boyfriends still want to kill him, and worst of all, now she wants him to get a job! Scott Pilgrim Volume 4: Now with more kicks, punches, rock & roll, subspace, half-ninjas, experience points, samurai swords, girly action, and laughable attempts to seek gainful employment.

Author: Bryan Lee O'Malley Publication Date: October 2007
Publisher: ONI Press Type: Paperback 216 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel (teen) Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts
Scott Gets It Together is a rather hopeful title for this volume, but even as Scott gets a job, moves into his new place and finally decides he really loves Ramona … other things are happening that aren’t quite so organized. Sex Bob-omb is recording their very first single which is good, but the bad thing is that the band members are losing morale as practices become fewer and farther between. Scott is also being stalked by a mysterious samurai-wielding stranger. And he realizes that not all of Ramona’s evil exes are going to be ex-boyfriends. As if that weren’t enough Ramona seems to be doubting how serious Scott was with an old friend of his that has come to town and joined in with the crowd.

Scott Pilgrim
vs. The Universe
Volume 5

Scott Pilgrim VS. The Universe (Vol.5)

The World Is Not Enough

Why did he have to turn twenty-four? Why do robots keep trying to kill him? Why is the band falling apart? Why is Ramona acting so weird? Why won’t those brilliant and deadly Japanese twins leave him alone? See Scott Pilgrim learn the answers inside ... or die trying!

Author: Bryan Lee O'Malley Publication Date: February 2009
Publisher: ONI Press Type: Paperback 184 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel (teen) Purchase: Amazon

My Thoughts   
A lot happens in Volume 5, including Scott battling the next two evil exes who are twins who specialize in robotics. But the majority of the action seemed to be setting things up for an ultimate showdown in the next (and final?) volume. Questions about Ramona’s strange metaphysical travels, her glowing head and the mysterious man named Gideon from her past are all brought to the fore-front. This isn’t to say that Volume 5 wasn’t an enjoyable read, but it definitely left me wanting (desperately) to find out all the answers.

I’ve attempted to keep my comments about the individual volumes as vague as possible in order to not spoil anything. The Scott Pilgrim series is one that I highly recommend to all readers, I think there is something to be appreciated by everyone.

My only worries now is whether to watch the movie asap when it comes out or wait until Volume 6 of the comics is released. Although from the web-searching I’ve done the movie apparently will have a different ending from the written series, I’m still pondering.

Links of interest: Bryan Lee O'Malley's website, Scott Pilgrim's home on the net, and the Scott Pilgrim Movie blog.

About The Author
One of the extra bonuses I loved from the Scott Pilgrim series was that each volume offered a different about the author blurb with artwork from the author.

Volume 1 ♦ Bryan Lee O’Malley has been alive since 1979. He currently lives in Toronto. He plays some guitar and keyboards, but is pretty bad at bass. His first book was Lost at Sea. His second book is this one.

Volume 2 ♦ Bryan Lee O’Malley was born in London, Ontario. His only goal in life was to become rich. At the time of this writing, he is not very rich at all. The Scott Pilgrim series is his life’s work, after which he plans to retire to a house by the ocean and eat smoked salmon for every meal until his death. He currently lives in an apartment somewhere in Canada with Hope Larson and two cats.

Volume 3 ♦ Bryan Lee O’Malley (born 21 February 1979) is a Canadian cartoonist and occasional musician. He lives in the wilderness with Hope Larson ( and three cats, and has an extremely great website at

Volume 4 ♦ Bryan Lee O’Malley has been alive since he was born and will live until he dies, which will probably be pretty soon. His dying wish will be the wish that he hadn’t wasted his best years drawing this book. His epitaph will be whiny and narcissistic.

Volume 5 ♦ Bryan Lee O’Malley was made in Canada. This is the first book he has ever completed on schedule. He was 29. It was awesome.

Other Reviews
Books & Other Thoughts

Sophisticated Dorkiness -- Volume 1
Stuff As Dreams Are Made On -- Volume 1,2,3,4,5
The Written World -- Volume 1

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.