Friday, October 30, 2009

The Lost Hours by Karen White

The Lost Hours by Karen White is quite the change of pace from my recent seasonal YA and middle-grade reading. But actually a very nice change of pace. I needed something different and my October book club fit the bill.

I've seen several of White's books reviewed on various blogs and they always seem to appeal to me when I read about them. I was excited to have the opportunity to finally read one.

White introduces the reader to Piper Mills, an accomplished competitive equestrian who is still recovering from a tragic fall six years earlier. She lost her parents in a car accident when she was six years old and was raised by her grandparents. Early in the book, her grandparents both pass away leaving her with her grandmother's angel charm necklace and a key to something unknown. She finds several things in her grandparents' house that lead her to wonder who her grandmother really was and what her story was. Piper follows a trail of clues to her grandmother's childhood friend Lillian, now an elderly woman with grandchildren and great-grandchildren of her own. Disguised as a geneologist looking into "someone's" family, she tries to delve into the past and figure out what could have torn these two woman apart and how all of that relates to the grandmother she knew and grew up with.

This book is told from three perspectives: Piper's, Lillian's, and Lillian's granddaughter Helen. It also goes back and forth between present day and what happened in the late 1930's between the two women. The past is told by using old scrapbook entries as the storytelling mechanism so it is never difficult to follow where you are or who is speaking at the time.

This book is very much about family relationships and "broken" people. I think just about ever character in this book has had something tragic happen to them in one way or another and they are still trying to heal and get to a better place mentally. Though, the book itself is not all together depressing. The thing I found most interesting is the backdrop of the late 1930's in Savannah, Georgia and the issues of race and segregation that were apparent. While I definitely wouldn't categorize this book as historical fiction, there are definitely elements here that would fit.

The pace of this book is quite slow, you have to have the expectation of that going in or you may lose patience. The prose is very lyrical and descriptive. So much so, that it's annoying is some spots (at least to me), but again, a nice change of pace from my current spooky reading. Flowers and gardening are a theme throughout the book as is the idea that women are the storytellers in life and we should and must pass down their stories to their daughters.

I'm not sure I've done a good job of making this book sound appealing. If you like lyrical stories about women and familial relationships, this is definitely the book for you! My book club seemed to like it overall, though it was quite slow for most people.

Other reviews:
J. Kaye's Book Blog, Bloggin' 'bout Books, Girls Just Reading, The Tome Traveller

Source disclosure: I purchased this book.

Picture Book Friday: Pumpkin Baby and Dangerous Alphabet

Although, Jane Yolen's Pumpkin Baby isn't really a "halloween" book, I'm throwing it up here because it has pumpkins in it and I need to get it reviewed. :-) It's been sitting on my shelf for way too long!

Boy, Jane Yolen sure is a prolific children's book author! I just searched Barnes and Noble because I was going to make the statement that "Pumpkin Baby is Jane Yolen's most recent published book." Good thing I checked that fact. Because according to the B&N website, this is actually no. 22 on her list. That is, she has 21 other books already out or coming out in the near future, including some very fun looking new "How Do Dinosaurs..." books!

Pumpkin Baby starts out with a three year old little girl imagining what a pumpkin baby might look like. Each year as she gets older, she imagines a new baby (cabbage baby, stork baby) until her mother has a new baby when she's six. The new baby is nothing like she pictured, but in a good way!

Very sweet book with fun adorable illustrations. Perfect for our house right now as we await arrival of Baby #3 in January. Though the entire book isn't about fall or pumpkins, there are several pages that illustrate both so it could nonchalantly be categorized as a "fall" book. :-)

Source Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review from Samantha at Penguin.

The Dangerous Alphabet by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Gris Grimly is just about the opposite of Pumpkin Baby. ;-) It was recommended to me by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings when I joined the R.I.P. IV Reading Challenge. This is definitely not a book for younger children. But I believe older picture book readers and in particular boys will get a real kick out of this, especially around this time of year. It could be paired quite well with Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex.

The Dangerous Alphabet follows two children and their pet gazelle through the depths of a crazy underworld filled with monsters, animals, and pirates as they face a macabre alphabet adventure. Grimly's illustrations are utterly imaginative and you can't stop looking at them. Every time I take a look, I see something else. Each letter page seems to have an object or items in the picture that starts with that letter (ie: an apple for A, a snake for S, an x-ray for X). You and your child can have fun looking for all the things that represent each letter. Also, several pages of the book contain illustrations or early drawings of the actual pages of the book as well as one where a ghost is reading a copy of The Dangerous Alphabet to a group of children.

I say this book is not for young readers for the simple fact that many of the illustrations show children chained up or being dragged off by monsters. Definitely not appropriate for the preschool sector, but perfectly enjoyable for adults and older children.

Source disclosure: Borrowed from the library.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Picture Book Thursday: Bear-ly There by Rebekah Raye

Today we're featuring Bear-ly There by Rebekah Raye on Picture Book Thursday.

Raye has written a wonderful story with a great message about enjoying nature but not interfering with it.

Bear-ly There tells the story of a curious bear just awake from hibernating all winter long. He begins to forage and discovers that bird seed and grain found in human backyards provide quite a tasty treat. While he seems to leave animals alone, he creates quite a mess all over the neighborhood. Charlie and his family are afraid the bear will go after their pet geese. Other neighbors want to call animal control or shoot the bear themselves. While Charlie does not like the bear visiting his yard, he does some research and learns that there are things people can do to keep the bear from wanting to come into their yards. Charlie is more concerned about the bear staying in his natural habitat in the woods and finding his food there.

Charlie posts his newfound knowledge in town for all his neighbors to see. Eventually, the bear decides it is more interesting to stay in the woods. Every now and then Charlie still gets a glimpse of the bear just on the edge of the woods. But the bear always stays where he belongs.

I really like the message in this book. I like that instead of taking an active approach to getting rid of the bear like many of the adults in the neighborhood wanted, it was much better for the bear if the humans just took steps to direct him back to his home in the woods. Such a nice, gentle approach to the problem. And I like that Raye is showing a child can learn this information and pass it on to adults.

Raye also illustrates this book with wonderfully artistic drawings. As I always seem to say about Tilbury House books, the artwork is so great! The images are so much more realistic and artistic from many children's picture books which feature cartoon-ish images (not that I don't like those too). It's refreshing to have some more realistic images sometimes.

About the Author:
Rebekah Raye is an artist beloved for her bird and animal paintings and sculpture. Her warm, expressive work is derived from her affinity with the natural world around her at her studio and home in East Blue Hill, Maine (where she had a bear visitor not too long ago). She illustrated Thanks to the Animals by Allen Sockabasin and is the author and illustrator of The Very Best Bed. Rebekah shares her skills and her love of art in workshops for adults and children and makes frequent school visits. You can learn more about Rebekah at

This post is part of the Bear-ly There book blog tour! And you can read more about the book at Nature Moms tomorrow!

The author has graciously offered to contribute some of her beautiful wildlife artwork (see samples of her work here), in addition to the signed books Tilbury House will be giving away. So the publisher will be giving out a total of 10 fantastic prizes during the tour!

Blog Comment Prizes
Tilbury House will draw 9 lucky winners from all of those who leave comments on the participating tour posts from (October 16-30) to win one of the following prizes:

- A set of four art cards (2 sets available)
- A signed wildlife art print
- An original sketch from Bear-ly There
- An original sketch from The Very Best Bed
- An original sketch from Thanks to the Animals
- A copy of Bear-ly There, The Very Best Bed, or Thanks to the Animals, signed by Rebekah Raye
Winners will be announced on Oct. 31, US/Canada addresses only, please.

Twitter Prize
Everyone that participates in the Twitter Book Party, and/or posts anything about the tour using the hashtag #BearlyThere from October 15-30 will be entered to win a complete set of Bear-ly There, Thanks to the Animals, and The Very Best Bed, all signed by Rebekah Raye. Winners will be announced on Oct. 31, US/Canada addresses only, please.

So again, this contest is through the publisher, not this blog. Please leave comments here to be entered. And the publisher is will announce (or contact you) if you are a winner.

Source disclosure: I received a galley copy of Bear-ly There from Sarah at Tilbury House to review as part of the book tour.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton

I first discovered this book by reading a review of it at Wrighty's Reads. Wrighty so thoroughly convinced me I HAD to read this book, I immediately checked the library website and saw they had a copy. I went that morning to check it out!

Casting Spells is a delightful book about Chloe, the owner of Sticks and Strings, a yarn shop in Sugar Maple, Vermont. Though, everyone in town is somehow part of the paranormal world, humans/visitors to town only see "normal" things. They do not see anything out of the ordinary. This is all part of the protective spell that Chloe's mother and the entire female lineage of her family have put on the town. As long as the spell and the Book of Spells is passed down to another direct female family member, the town will keep its secrets and the inhabitants will be safe from the clutches of evil.

All of this seems like it will be put to the test when it appears that Chloe will not gain any magic powers from her family (she's only half-witch, her father was a human). And she has no children to pass the Book of Spells down to. Isadora, a fairy with an evil plan, is after the Book of Spells in order to take control and bring Sugar Maple to another realm. When a visitor to town winds up murdered, the state sends in a cop (Luke MacKenzie) to investigate. Chloe cannot deny the magnetism (and many sparks that fly) between the two and just as she feared she would never have magic, her powers begin to blossom.

Can she really be falling in love with a human? Will she make the same mistakes in life as her mother? Can she figure out what exactly is the Book of Spells and will she be able to save it from the clutches of Isadora? You'll have to read the book to find out!

What grabbed me about this book? Oh gee, I don't know. Could it be that it had to do with not only knitting, but a whole town of witches, vampires, fairies, trolls and more?! Yes! For some reason I really enjoy paranormal books, especially ones about witches. After reading Wrighty's review, I just HAD to read it. Casting Spells is actually billed as a paranormal romance, which normally would send me running in the other direction, but this little town and all its fantastic characters, plus the lack of too much romance (thank god!), make for a fun read. Especially around this time of year. I absolutely LOVED all the knitting references in this book. I was familiar with several of the yarns discussed and all the talk about the knitting projects just fueled my desire to continue reading. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Tips for Knitters found in the back of the book by Barbara Bretton and a couple other authors along with links to their knitting blogs.

The story is told in first person from both Luke and Chloe's viewpoints. Here are a couple of fun quotes:
In one of Luke's chapters:
"I stepped deeper into the store, past a polished maple worktable piled high with pointed sticks and scissors and things that would never make it past airport security. The place smelled of lavender and licorice and a hint of mint. Lots of magazines with sweaters on the cover were stacked in more piles on one side while an equal number of unfinished knitting projects were stacked on the other. I noted a ball of something blue and fluffy and picked it up. I squeezed it and the price tag jumped out and I quickly put it back down again. For one ball of yarn? This was worse than crack. Get addicted to this stuff and you would be living in your minivan." (page 76)

And from Chloe's point of view:
"Who are you?" I demanded and probably not in the friendliest tone of voice. For the record, I don't wake up each morning brimming over with the joy of life. The joy of life pretty much arrives around the same time as my third cup of coffee and the fourth round of my latest sock-in-progress." (page 79)

I have to say if you are a knitter, you may enjoy this book even more than others, just because you will be familiar with the terminology and yarn discussions. But these are not overpowering and I believe anyone can really enjoy this one.

And the great news is, this book is part of a series! Laced With Magic is now on bookshelves so you can rush right out and read that one too. I picked it up at the library this morning. Though, I'm disciplining myself and I have to read two other books I've had waiting around before I can get to it.

Highly recommend this one!
Here's the book trailer:

The future of paper books?

Today's Shelf Awareness newsletter was chock full of articles on e-readers. Barnes and Noble announced their version, the Nook, will debut at the same price as the Kindle. There was yet another article discussing Kindle's international reader:
As Amazon launched the international edition of its Kindle, Retail Week considered whether e-readers "will bring about bookshops' demise, or if the world of print will prove resilient."

I sincerely hope the world of print never actually goes the way of cassette tapes and 8-tracks. BUT, you never know. And all this new e-reader technology makes me a bit nervous. While I'm normally a gadget girl and love the latest television, iPod, and photographic equipment, I love the feel of a book in my hands. I've considered the idea of purchasing an e-reader just because I'm drawn to the technology of it. I'm not a snob about the idea of an e-reader. I see it's value, especially as a travel companion, or for magazines and newspapers. But I don't really travel that often (at least by anything other than car--where books are still quite appropriate), and I don't really read magazines and newspapers anyway. So I haven't taken the plunge.

I just really hope all this e-technology and book price-slashing doesn't eventually push the publishing world to abandon print all together. I know everyone is struggling, newspapers have shrunk. And I have to admit I read most of my news online, just because its more convenient and I feel like I'm saving a tree by not having all that paper around the house (though I recycle it anyway). While I also know that trees are cut down to create the paper books are printed on, I'm somehow more okay with that. ;-)

I also think about my kids. I absolutely LOVED disappearing into the world of a book as a child. I was known to spend a whole weekend curled up somewhere in the house reading away. I somehow can't picture doing that with an e-reader. And my kids are already bombarded by so much technology and stimuli in their environment from television, to computer games, to video games, to using Smart Boards at school (even in preschool!). I think it's fantastic for them to take a time out from all that visual stimuli and sit down with a book, pouring over the pictures and words.

Just felt the need to ramble on this topic this morning. :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

YA Weekend: R.I.P. Challenge Books

October is a fun month to read creepy books. Halloween and Autumn just put me in the mood for mysteries and thrillers.

I've had my eye on Bad Girls Don't Die by Kate Alender since I first noticed it in the blogging world last spring. From the reviews I read, it sounded so deliciously creepy.

High school student Alexis goes along with her life in typical teenage fashion, trying to fit in with the "Doom Squad" and but not quite feeling like they are really her crowd. She's not entirely sure where she fits in. She also has a fairly dysfunctional family with a workaholic mother, a dad who doesn't really seem to be involved much, and a younger sister Kasey who borders on quite weird. Kasey seems overly obsessed with her doll collection, even at age thirteen. Kasey has been ostracized by her friends and Alexis starts to see things are getting a little out of control. But Alexis can't quite figure out what Kasey's deal is. Bad Girls Don't Die evokes a few memories of The Exorcist. ;-) Actually, I'd be curious to know if the author got a bit stuck in the middle of the book. I felt the first half had one feel or tone to the story and then all of sudden with help from an unlikely friend Alexis figures out what's going on and the second half of the book has a much different feel to it. I actually liked the first half of the book better. The sort of mystery of it all. And the second half felt like I was reading a movie script...predictable and contrived. But overall, I enjoyed this quick YA read and would recommend it to anyone looking for something creepy to read. I would have LOVED this book as a teenager. Sidenote: I ended up reading the second half of this one night, in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. THAT made it even more CREEPY! Shockingly I was able to go back to sleep when I was through and didn't have freaky dreams.

Though I have the novel Coraline on my bookshelf and was hoping to knock it off my TBR list and get one of my bookshelf books read. It's been sitting there for over a year now. I actually decided to read the graphic novel version instead. I've been in the mood for a graphic novel lately and this just seemed to fit the bill. About half way through, I was thinking to myself that I probably wouldn't read the novel after reading the graphic novel, because I felt like I would simply visualize the comic people in my mind instead of whatever I would have conjured up myself from Gaiman's descriptive writing. However, by the end of the graphic novel, I do believe I would like to read the novel as well. This story was just as creepy as Bad Girls Don't Die. I'm actually surprised that a graphic novel creeped me out just as much as novel. I think it was the Other Mother. Man, she was just awful! I highly recommend either version of this story for a fun Halloween read and I'm sure the movie that came out last year is just as good.

Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn is a middle-grade mystery that I have seen reviewed several places around the book blog world. The reviews only mildly peaked my interest. It wasn't until passing it on the library bookshelf that I decided I wanted to give it a try. And even though I've already read my four books for the R.I.P. IV Challenge, I figure why stop just because I hit FOUR. I also have a copy of Hahn's The Doll in the Garden sitting on my bookshelf. If that is as good as this one, I think I might have to delve into that one soon.

In Closed For the Season, Logan and his family move into an old rundown house in a new town and quickly learn that it is referred to as "the murder house". The previous owner, Mrs. Donaldson was murdered because she discovered someone embezzling money from The Magic Forest, the local amusement park. Logan meets a brainy and precocious boy next door named Arthur. The two pal around and decide to try and solve Mrs. Donaldson's murder running into the rough and tumble of the town as well as the hoyt-y toyt-y (hmm....spelling on that one?). The boys soon learn they don't know who they can trust, but they persevere and try to solve the mystery.

This book is a very fun middle-grade mystery. It actually reminded me a bit of a Nancy Drew book (or I suppose Hardy Boys--though I never read any of those. The Hardy Boys were mentioned in passing by one of the characters in this book.). Just an old-fashioned kids-stumble-upon-a-mystery-and-try-to-solve-it book. I really enjoyed this one and I think the middle-school version of me would have loved it!

These would be books #3, 4 and 5 that would work for the R.I.P. IV Reading Challenge! Yay! I completed a challenge! And this was a great one! I plan on doing it again next year, assuming Carl plans on hosting it again. :-)

Source disclosure: I borrowed all of these books from the library.

YA Weekend: Luv Ya Bunches

I had a lot of fun reading Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle. I first saw this charming book listed on Shelf Awareness awhile back and the cover is what caught my eye. I loved that the four main characters were so multi-cultural; that this book could appeal to a very wide range of girls no matter what their background is.

Luv Ya Bunches is the story of four fifth-grade girls: Violet, Katie-Rose, Camilla and Yasaman. They are each dealing with their own friendship issues: Violet is the new girl in school and not sure where she will fit in; Katie-Rose comes off a little strange and a bit goofy, she's obsessed with video and film; Camilla is the third girl in a three-girl "mean girl" clique and not so sure she's really a "mean girl" or that she cares that much about popularity; and Yasaman, whose nickname is Spazaman around school, is shy, a wallflower (always good for eavesdropping), and great with computers. Yasaman creates a social networking website just for her and her friends. Now, she just needs to find some friends. And this is the year for it! Each of these girls are desperate in their own way for new friends and happen to find each other.

Even though this book is middle grade fiction geared specifically at 4-6th grade girls, I found the characters to have a ton of personality and depth. Each of the four main characters had their own personality traits that again would appeal to a large group of girls, either as someone they identify with or someone they would like to be. There's a great storyline about friendship and what is truly important. Also deals with the issue of "mean girls" and popularity. The story is told in alternating chapters with each of the four main characters having their own voice and story. Myracle has also incorporated the technology of today into the book through instant message conversations as well as film script style storytelling. These stylistic components are sure to appeal to girls in this age range.

A real winner and a perfect gift for the tween on your book shopping list! Also good for any reader who really enjoyed Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree and Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love. Though this was a little bit fluffier then the Emma-Jean books. I think Luv Ya Bunches will definitely appeal to Emma-Jean readers.

Other blogger opinions: I'm Booking It, Welcome to My Tweendom, My Reading Room

Here is a link to a fun author interview with Lauren Myracle.
And the book trailer:

Source disclosure: ARC sent to me by Laura Mihalick from Abrams Books through a Shelf Awareness galley request.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Few Words About the FTC and Blogging

I have about 50 book blogs in my Google Reader and I've found one topic that keeps popping up in recent weeks: the new FTC guidelines and bloggers. The main issue is whether bloggers receive any monetary compensation for endorsing a product/service on their blog. And mainly the FTC just declares that "bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service." I usually do this anyway. If I receive an ARC or review copy of a book from a publisher, I tend to thank whomever sent it to me. I will continue to do that and in addition, will simply put a "Source disclosure" at the end of each book review either stating whether the book was purchased, borrowed (library), or received as a review copy.

In general, our book review policy is as follows:

1) We always give our honest opinion about a book. Even if we don't thoroughly love the book, we always try to find some redeeming quality to it and will never simply trash a book. We also tend to only accept review copies of books that we believe will be of interest to us or fall within the general topic categories of our blog (cozy mystery, children's fiction, YA fiction, adult fiction and mystery).

2) We attempt to review books in a timely manner, but can make no guarantee a book review will be published before a release date.

3) We receive nothing in return for any of our reviews whether our opinion of a book is positive or negative.

4) We do not sell any of our books whether they are ARCs or already published. We tend to keep most books because we LOVE to be surrounded by them. If we decide to part with a book either because we didn't love it, it's a duplicate, or for some other reason, we tend to pass it along to fellow book lovers through a giveaway on this blog, simply lend/give it to a friend, or we mooch it on

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Book Club Snippets

I haven't been very good about reviewing my book club books the last several months. I think that's because most of them were just "meh" for me and I didn't feel like writing a long review for a blah book.

The Associate by John Grisham has been touted as a return to the style he was first known for with The Firm and The Client. It has been awhile since I've read a Grisham novel. I think The Summons was the last one I read. I have such high expectations when something is compared to any of Grisham's earlier works. This one was mildly interesting but no where near as good as The Firm for me. It would make for a good beach/vacation read though.
Source disclosure: Book purchased

Billie Letts also wrote Where the Heart Is. I have not read that book, but have seen the movie a number of times. I wasn't sure what I would think about this book going into it. Shoot the Moon is the story of a stranger coming to visit a small town to learn about his roots. Is he who he really says he is, the grown man who once was a baby that disappeared from the town decades earlier? Nick moves from feeling like an outsider to realizing perhaps he is finally home. This was an average to good read for me. The "mystery" of what happened to Nick kept me intrigued. The romantic angle to the book seemed quite unrealistic for me. But I'm not usually too into romantic story angles anyway. :-) If you're just looking for a light quick read with just a little depth, this would be a good one.
Source disclosure: Borrowed book from a friend

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen can be characterized as Southern Fiction. Catherine Grace grows up the preacher's daughter in the small town of Ringgold, Georgia. The book starts off with Catherine Grace as a child and moves through to adulthood. She leaves Ringgold and has to come back when tragedy strikes. I have to admit this was a DNF (did not finish) for me. I got to about page 50 and just couldn't take the Southern preacher talk anymore. My book club thought it was all right though and some liked it pretty well. Again, I imagine this might be a good vacation/car trip book.
Source disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Testimony by Anita Shreve was our September book. Again, this was a rather fast read thanks to short chapters. And again, this one fell a bit short for me. Each chapter featured a different character's voice rotating through the story. True to its title, the book starts after an tragic event of date rape (or was it?) at a New England prep school. The characters go through the aftermath of the event telling where their lives at now. What Shreve did accomplish was writing an impressive array of different character voices. If you didn't have the chapter title, often you could tell which character was speaking just by the tone of the section. Though Shreve did an interesting job with the character voice, I felt she had TOO many characters. We had everyone from the main participants in the event to the lunch lady, the liquor store clerk and more. Some people just didn't seem to be needed to tell the story. I also felt that the ending didn't fully satisfy my curiosity about what really happened. I wanted to know more about the girl and her motives. It was never made clear if she really was taken advantage of, or if she just worked the situation to make it appear she was taken advantage of so she wouldn't get into trouble. I sort of wanted to know more about her. My final thought on Testimony is that I felt like she was trying to mimic Jodi Picoult's style of switching character voice, but in this case I felt like it didn't work as well as Picoult. On one good note, this was a good book club book because it provided a LOT of discussion.
Source disclosure: Received book from Hachette. I won a copy in a book blog giveaway.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

BBAW Contest Wrap-up: The Winners!!

Thank you to EVERYONE for checking out our blog during BBAW! It was so fun to hear from so many of you and explore some new blogs as well!

Here are the winners for our daily contests:

Day #1: Fearless Fourteen
Wanda (Manitoba, Canada)

Day #1: Mating Rituals of the Northern America WASP/The Chocolate Lover's Club Brenda in Michigan

Day #2: Evil at Heart
holdenj (Minnesota--actually practically down the road from me! What a coincidence)

Day#2: Simon Bloom books
GBK Gwyneth (This cracks me up because Gwyneth is my neighbor!)

Day #4: Testimony (2 winners)
Pippirose (Ontario, Canada)
Cheryl (Ontario, Canada)

Day #5: The Associate
Belinda M (Winnipeg, Canada)

Day #5: If Your Kid Eats This Book.../Smart Mama's Green Guide
Holdenj (another one for you!)

Stay tuned! I'm going to have a fun Autumn Giveaway starting November 1st!