Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's 2009! Or almost. It's a few more hours before that's official but I'm ready to move on. 2008 wasn't the best year but it could have been worse. I'm very blessed and I know it. I have a house to live in, a family who loves me, a job that's secure, friends who I love and there is always food on my table and a pillow under my head. Yes, it could be a lot worse. I wish New Years Blessings for all of you!

One thing I'm excited about is that I get to start my challenges tomorrow! Oh yes, I signed up for one more. . . The Casual Classics Challenge hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading. This one is great because it's exactly what I've been doing anyway. I wasn't sure I was going to continue with my classics but I figure since it's a challenge I'll do it. The goal is to read four classics for 2009. I've got two on my list from the A to Z challenge so that's easy.

First up is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm a fan of her writing but sadly have only read two of her books. I've read Pigs in Heaven and The Poisonwood Bible, which is one of my top five favorite books ever. I loved that book. I'm not sure I will start Animal Dreams tomorrow though. As much as I'd like to, I'm still working on The Stupidest Angel and want to get that finished. There are zombies at the Christmas party! I can't let that go unread!

I'm excited about 2009 and I look forward to the changes that are sure to come. I am very middle of the road politically and don't like to talk politics but I'm anxious to see what happens with our new President. It will be good to have a change. I'm also looking forward to getting my book edited. The plan is to start tomorrow on that one. We'll see how that goes. I'm also hoping to get a new puppy this year and I look forward to some sort of trip, although I have no idea what that might be. It's a brand new year! Enjoy the possibilities!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Teaser Tuesday -Dec 30

Today's teaser comes from The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog, by Dave Berry. I've just started this book so I have no idea of what exactly is going on. . . I'm guessing Christmas pageant? I'm a big fan of Dave Berry so I couldn't help but pick up this cute little novel to fill the gap between now and New Years Day when the challenges start.

From page 45:

At the first rehearsal, Mrs. Elkins gave us shepherds a big lecture about how she had not forgotten our behavior last year, and she certainly hoped there would be no incidents this year, because she would not want to have to call our parents, blah blah blah. I also got a lecture from my mom and dad, so I definitely didn't want to get in any trouble with Mrs. Elkins.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Musing Monday - Dec. 29

Today's Prompt. . .

How often do you recommend books to others, and who do you recommend them to? Do you only recommend books to your “reading friends” or to anyone you think might find the book interesting? What does it take for a book to make it to your ‘recommendation’ list?

I recommend books all the time. I tend to stick to those who I know actually read but occasionally I recommend books in conversations even when I'm not sure they'll pick up the book.

I tailor my recommendations based on what I know people read. I have a couple of friends that I will recommend just about everything. If I've enjoyed the book, I'm pretty sure they will too. I have another friend who I only recommend certain books to. She only likes certain types of books and I know that.

Then there is my mother. . . She's the one that created the reader I am today and she always has a book going, but she's fairly picky. Everything is "just ok". I'm waiting for her to tell me that she really loves a book. I'm very choosy about the books I loan her.

As for what it takes to make my "recommendation list?" That's hard. I suppose for the most part it has to be a book that stands out in the crowd. It doesn't have to be a great book, just something different and unique. I take personal responsibility for the fact that five out of the eight ladies I work with have read or are reading the Twilight series. I also passed around The Lace Reader and the Jen Lancaster books. There are some books that are just to bizarre to share though. . .

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

I've been reading The Tales of Beedle the Bard before bed. Nothing like a fairy tale to get you ready to sleep right? Well that was true about most of the stories. I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I admit it, I can even be a tad obsessive about it.

I was pretty excited about the Tales of Beedle the Bard and even pre-ordered it from Amazon.
I was a bit surprised that there wasn't a lot of commotion about this book. Maybe I just missed it.

The book itself is short, just 107 pages. There are five stories in the book and they are quite short. Each story is followed by commentary by Albus Dumbledore. That is by far the best part. Dumbledore was quite snarky and it made me laugh. The first story is "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot". This is a cute story about the importance of helping others. The second story is "The Fountain of Fair Fortune" and this was my favorite. It is a lovely little story about finding what you really want.

The third story was my least favorite. "The Warlock's Hairy Heart" was terribly disturbing. Not unlike some of the original fairy tales, this one was a bit bloody. If you are reading the stories to children, you might want to skip that one.

The fourth story was "Babbity Babbity and her Cackling Stump". It reminded me a bit of the story "The Emperor's New Clothes. But only at the beginning.
The fifth story is "The Tale of the Three Brothers" which is the one that should be familiar to all who've read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. This tells the story of the Hollows, the Elder Wand, Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak.

Overall, I'm happy with the book. It's a little extra for Harry Potter fans. It will go on the shelf next to the books. The only disappointment I have is that it's just a quick little read. I'm waiting for J.K. to take on her next real novel. I look forward to what she has in store for us next.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

I started reading The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore because it looked funny. It promised a "Heartwarming tale of Christmas Terror." I figured it would be different from all those sappy, sincere Christmas stories out there. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Scrooge. I love Christmas, I was just looking for something different this year. I got it!

From page 164

"Fruitcake?" Mavis said, offering a suspicious slice on a dessert plate to Gabe Fenton, who was drunkenly trying to convince Theo Crowe that he had a genetic predisposition toward the blues, using some impressively large words that no one but he understood, and periodically asking if he could get an "amen" and "five high," which, as it turned out, he could not.

What he could get was Fruitcake.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays to all my fellow Tuesday Teasers!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer

The Cinderella Pact, by Sarah Strohmeyer is a cute book. From the cover, to the title, to the love story, it appeared to be basic chick lit. I don't say that in any derogatory way. I love chick lit. I read it, I write it, I enjoy it. It's take the place of the good old fashioned bodice rippers and I have to say that for the most part it's a huge step in the right direction.

As for The Cinderella Pact, something was different. The normal formula was followed with a twist. Nola, the main character, was overweight. So were her friends. After the three friends were discriminated on because of their weight, the ladies decided to form the Cinderella Pact, which was to lose weight.

Each lady approached it differently. The book hit on topics such as gastric bypass, counting points at Weight Watchers, personal trainers, and falling off the wagon. I hadn't read a book, a novel at least, like this one before. You don't see overweight main characters too often. Even by the end of the book, she wasn't skinny, but she was healthier and that's the point.

There were a few different sub-plots going around. The Cinderella Pact itself was only one part of the story. Nola found herself in a situation at work that was her own fault really. Her attempts to get herself out of it were cute. She also fell for a mystery man named "Chip" who turned out to be the last person she expected.

Anyone who's tried to lose weight will relate to a good part of this book. Because of that I found it hard to read at times. Sometimes the things Nola was going through hit a little close to home. I think that's one of the reasons it took me so long to finish. Ms. Strohmeyer gave me a few nudges to make some changes in my own life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

New Books. . .

I was thinking in the shower about what I should blog about today. I had decided to brag about how I hadn't bought a new book all week! Then I went to Borders during my lunch break and well, you know how that goes. In the last week I've added three books to my shelf. I only bought one of them though!

My birthday was last Saturday and my parents gave me Baby Proof by Emily Giffen. It was one of those situations where we were at the bookstore, I had the book in my hand and my dad took it from me. I'm excited to read it as I've enjoyed the other books by Emily.

I also got Hello Cupcake, by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, which is a fantabulous book about cupcake decorating. My four year old neice loved the book. She spent a good amount of time going through it. I can't wait to try my hand at some of the ideas.

Today I *had* to go to Borders because I needed to get one more gift for a family friend. I also had a coupon. Score! I ended up with The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore. That one's for me. I'd stick it in my stocking but I think I might want to try to read it in the next few days. I'll let you know when I go a week without getting a new book. It might be a while.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

There are two prompts up this week. I'm not sure if I was supposed to save one for next Thursday or not but I thought I'd answer both today. I doubt I will remember to do it next Thursday anyway. I'll be too busy playing with my new toys! And reading my new books! And spending time with my family!

Do you give books as gifts?

I do, but only to people who I know will appreciate them. I've given books I love to people who could have cared less. This year my mom is getting a book she's been looking for, Dad is getting a book he picked out himself, and my BFF is getting a book I've told her about and think she should read. I always give books to the kids in my life too.

To everyone? Or only to select people?

I think I answered this already! See above answer. . .

How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?

I love getting books. I have a bad habit of buying books myself though so most people won't get them for me. When they do, I always appreciate it. My dad usually gets me books that I have specifically asked for. I love that!

What is the best book you ever bought for yourself?

That's a hard one! I guess I am pretty happy that I bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone all those years ago.

And, why? What made it the best? What made it so special?

When the Harry Potter books first became popular I fell right into the trap. I bought the first book - in hardcover even - and fell in love. Yes, I confess, I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I'm still grieving over the end of the series and some of the characters. Buying the first book brought me into the world of Harry Potter and I've had some wonderful times reading the books, talking about the books, and sharing them with others.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Author Challenge

Since this is my first year blogging about books, I'm new to all these challenges. There are so many that seem so intriguing! I'd sign up for all of them if I thought I could. As it is, I am at about 45 books for the year now. That's the most I've read since I started keeping track. It's been a pretty good year for reading. I don't want to fail a challenge so this year I'm playing it safe. I'm committed to the A to Z challenge and I've signed up for the New Author Challenge. I think I'd better stop there.

The New Author Challenge is a good one for me because I have a bad habit of sticking to authors I know. It's good to have a list of authors we can count on though. I know that I can pick up a book from any of my favorites and have it be a good read. It's comfortable. The problem is, eventually I catch up to them and they need to start writing more! This is where new authors are good.

The idea of the New Author Challenge is to read a set number (you get to pick that number) of books by authors that are new to you. This doesn't mean the author has to be new to the industry, just someone you've never read before. I have 14 authors that are new to me on my A to Z list alone. Taking that into account, I'm going to try for 25 this year. How about you? How are you going to challenge yourself this new year?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Teaser Tuesdays -The Cinderella Pact

Argh! I'm still reading The Cinderella Pact! I'm not even that far along. It's pitiful. It's a good book - I'm enjoying it a lot - I just haven't had time to read. My normal lunchtime reading was cut in half last week thanks to errands being run and quick bursts of Christmas shopping whenever I got the chance. Hopefully I'll have a new book to tease next Tuesday.

From Page 114

Yes, it's true that at the New Jersey border I did stop off and get a Subway turkey sandwich, but those things are good for you. Look at that guy on TV who lost all the weight, though I read that he never ate a sandwich with cheese or mayo. Well, that's just impossible. What's the point of having a sandwich if there's no cheese or mayo?

In this part of the book, Nola has been trying to lose weight but after a disaster of a day with her sister she falls off the wagon. It's something I think most people who have ever struggled with weight can relate to. Rationalizing what we eat comes a lot easier than not eating it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Musing Mondays

This Mondays' prompt, I can really relate to.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading on the go…

I always like to have a book with me at all times – call it a nerdy grown-up security blanket – and rarely do I leave the house without slipping one into my bag (even if I KNOW I’m not going to have a chance to read it). Do you take a book with you? Do you take whatever book you’re currently reading, or do you have a special on-the-go book? And do you have a preference for a these types of book (paperback, hardback; short stories; poetry etc)?

I take a book everywhere. Almost. There are times I don't when I really regret not bringing one too. I have taken to buying purses that will hold a book because there are times I can't carry an extra bag.

It all started when I was growing up and had a shopper for a mother. I like to shop but I'm not a shopper of her caliber. I would spend a good period of time with my dad waiting for my mom to come out of the stores. I finally learned that a book was necessary. I still do that when I go shopping with my mom. Often I'll end up waiting in the car and when I don't have a book, it's not pretty.

I bring a book with me every day to work, knowing I can read at lunch times. I bring a book on road trips even when I'm driving. You never know when you'll get stuck in major traffic. I broke my own rule and brought a book to Disneyland this last time, carrying it around in my purse just in case I had to wait for something. I don't think I cracked it open though, There is just too much good people watching to be done at Disneyland.

As for what book I drag around with me? Usually it's whatever I'm reading. The only exception is major vacations when I try to leave the hardbacks at home. I also have a spare book or two in my car just in case I forget one. It's always important to have a back up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Yeah! It's time for Booking Through Thursday! Here is today's prompt:

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?
(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

1. No, probably not. I read on my lunch breaks when I can and I read before bed if I get into bed at a reasonable hour. Those are the reading times I can count on. I bring a book everywhere so there are occasionally times when I can pick up a book and read. Not as much as I want to but enough to keep to me happy.

2. If I had more time to read, I would probably still read what I've been reading. Mostly fiction to escape. I'd throw in the occasional classic too. I think the whole world should stop for an hour a day for everyone to read. When I was teaching, we had 30- 45 minutes of silent reading every Wednesday. I'd give the kids 5 minutes to find a book and a spot (they could lay on the floor, under a table, wherever they could be comfortable) and then they would read. I'd read along with them and I loved that short little time. It was a bonus!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A to Z Challenge

I'm really excited about the A to Z Challenge, which can be found here. I'm going for option B. The challenge is to read a book for every letter of the alphabet. It's something new and it's a good excuse for me to read some books that have been hanging on my To Be Read shelves for a while. I haven't yet decided whether to try to keep up my own challenge of four "classics" or award winners a year or not. Looking at my list, there are only two that I think can qualify. That doesn't mean I can't read two more after I finish my "Z" book.

If you look to the right ---> Somewhere in that direction, I've posted my list of what I've got so far. You'll notice that X, Y, and Z are empty. They won't be for long. I've done my research and I've got a list to work from. "X" is still the hardest as I don't think the book I've found that interests me the most is readily available. I'll have to check the library. Shocker I know, me at the library? Touching germy books? I might have to.

One of the books is a re-read. A Knight in Shining Armor was the first big "grown up" romance novel I read that I didn't have to hide from my mom! I was probably around 16 or 17 and my mother shared it with me. It is special purely because of that. She felt I was grown up enough to read something that was written for adults, and that she enjoyed. It felt good. It was also a good book but since it's been probably 15 years since I've read it, I am looking forward to reading it again.

Out of the 26 books that I will read for this challenge, I currently own 20 of the books. Two are books that I've been planning to get and read, and four are books I've found for this challenge. It will be a while before I get to X, Y, and Z so if any of you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear it. In the meantime, join the challenge!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Teaser Tuesdays - The Cinderella Pact

Today's teaser is from The Cinderella Pact by Sarah Strohmeyer. She's a new author for me and I haven't had a good chance to really get into the book. I started it when I was sitting in the airport over the weekend but since I was sick and running a fever at the time, I had a hard time getting going. It's about a woman and her two friends who make a commitment to lose weight. Hits a little close to home. . . *cough*

From Page 256

Nancy and I don't dare go into the "normal" end of Lord & Taylor or any major department store, however, for fear that we won't fit into the sizes they have, that we are without size. We picture the sales clerks pursing their lips as we exit the dressing room filled with pants that couldn't make it past our knees and the sales clerks politely but firmly directing us to "women's," one floor up.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Musing Mondays

Here is this Monday's prompt:

How long do you wait after finishing a book before you pick/start another one? How many books do you have planned ahead or do you pick up random books from your tbr pile (if you have one)? Do you review right away or keep reading and come back to it later?

I wrote a bit about the first question last week actually. I don't wait too long to start a new book but I do need a little while to process what I've just read. I can't put one down and pick up the next in the same breath but if I were to wait an hour or so, I'm much more prepared to read the new book. The only exception would be a series. It's easy to jump right into a series where you already know the characters and what's going on.

The next question is a little tricky. Sometimes I know exactly what I'm reading next and sometimes I sit in front of my book shelf and think about it. Right now I know exactly what I'm going to be reading next. I just got The Tales of Beedle the Bard and am anxious to get that read. I also committed to the A to Z challenge so I will have that list starting in January. It will be pretty structured for a while. That's a good feeling because I know I'll get some books finished that have been sitting on my shelves for a while.

I try to review within a few days of finishing the book. It's easier when it's fresh. I also journal the book as soon as possible. This way I can keep track of the dates accurately.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts

I actually want to take a minute to go back over the other two books in this trilogy. I wish I had taken the time to re-read them before reading this one as I had forgotten a few things. Fortunately I was able to figure it all out.

On Dec. 23, 2007, I finished Blood Brothers, the first of the trilogy. As that was before this blog, I was only making a brief journal entry at the time. I said "Great. Another good start to a new trilogy. Scary, sweet and a little weird but I enjoyed it."

May 13, 2008 I finished The Hollow, the second book. I said "Wow! Intense book - I had dreams about it. Another good addition to the trilogy. Can't wait for the third."

So that brings me to Dec. 6, 2008 (yesterday) when I finished The Pagan Stone. In my journal (which I still keep) I wrote "Scary! Good end to the trilogy. I didn't relate to Gage or Cybil but I liked the series. Glad it's done though!"

That pretty much sums it up. I'm glad this series is done. Not because I didn't like it, I loved it, but because it was scary. It made me uncomfortable and I didn't like the subject matter. Here's a quick synopsis -don't worry, no spoilers.

Three boys who are not biological brothers are born on the same day. They are best friends, beyond friendship, more like true brothers. On their tenth birthday they camp out at a place in the woods called the Pagan Stone. They slice their wrists and become blood brothers. What they didn't realize was that by doing a blood ritual in that spot they would unleash a demon that had been imprisoned there for a few hundred years. The demon possessed the town for a week before going dormant for seven years. Every seven years it comes back for seven days and the boys -now men - fight it as best they can.

In the months leading up to their 31st birthday, three women come to town. One comes for work, another because she's led there, and the third is pulled in by the first woman. The three men, now joined by three women (convenient) know that this is the year the demon must be stopped.

The first book was Cal and Quinn's story. I related to them the best. Cal was the hometown boy. He was on the town councils, ran the bowling alley, and had ties to the town from the very beginning. Quinn was the paranormal writer who came to town to investigate and research what went on every seven years.

The second book was Fox and Layla's story. Fox was the boy raised by free love hippies who rebelled and became a lawyer. He stayed in the town as well and made a home and law practice in the Hollow. Layla was brought there almost in a dream. She quickly teamed up with Quinn and the men, knowing that somehow she was a part of it all.

The third book was Gage and Cybil's story. Gage was abused by his alcoholic father growing up and had very little use for the town. He passed through now and then but he never set up a home anywhere, choosing to travel where his poker games took him. It was only the coming "seven" and his brothers that brought him back. Cybil was Quinn's best friend and a master at research. She was brought into help and quickly found herself a vital member of the six person team.

My only problem with these books was the subject matter of the demon. I don't like it. I try not to read books or watch movies where there is an ultimate evil force like a demon. They scare me. It's that simple. I couldn't read these books at bedtime, but I couldn't put them down at the same time. The characters saved this trilogy for me. It's one of Nora's best gifts, creating wonderful, likeable characters.

Do I recommend them? Yes, for those who don't mind a little bit of horror mixed in with their romance. I'm sure there are scarier books out there, I just don't choose to pick those up. I'll hang on to them, maybe read them again, and maybe share them with a few friends.

Smitten by Janet Evanovich

I promised I would finish two books this weekend and I did. I went on a short business trip that left me lots of time to sit around the airport and read. Unfortunately I was accompanied by a cold and didn't feel all that great. My last layover pretty much consisted of me trying to conserve the few tissues I had and staring into space waiting for the flight to board. I hate being sick.

The first book to review is Smitten by Janet Evanovich. Cute! Ok, I think I use that word for all of her little romances but they really are. I enjoyed this one because there was a bit of a realistic situation.

A single mom buys a "fixer upper" and decides to try her hand at construction in order to learn how to fix her own home. She gets a job mostly out of pity and just her luck her boss is single, handsome, charming and drives a motorcycle! Lizabeth (I'm not sure what happened to her "E") fights her attraction to Matt because she is trying to make it on her own. She's also concerned what kind of an influenced the tattooed Harley rider might be on her boys.

Add Elsie (her goofy great aunt), a food obsessed dog, a neighborhood flasher, and a prissy ex-husband to the mix and you've got a fun story. Again, not a prize winner but all in all, a good way to pass the time.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Favorites

Here is today's prompt: 5 for Favorites

1. Do you have a favorite author?

Probably the most consistently good author that I read is Nora Roberts so I'd go with her. She never lets me down with a good story and great characters.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

No, I don't read the books she writes as JD Robb. I'm sure I haven't read all of the short romances that she's written either.

3. Did you LIKE everything?

Pretty much. The one JD Robb book I picked up I couldn't get into but I'm not saying I didn't like it. I just haven't had a chance to try again.

4. How about a least favorite author?

I like nearly everything I read because I'm picky about what I buy but I suppose I didn't like the two Gregory Maguire books I read. I wouldn't say he's my least favorite but I wasn't thrilled.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

See question 4. I really wanted to love his books. Just couldn't.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Starting a New Book

I tried and tried to find a weekly meme for Wednesday. Trying to come up with my own topics is hard! I haven't had a lot of time to read in the last week *sob* so I don't even have any books to review. When I get back from Vegas I'll have at least two though. Or at least that's the plan.

I thought I would discuss the occasional difficulty of starting a new book. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. You know that feeling of complete connection that sometimes you have with a character or set of characters? Sometimes I end a book and have found myself so involved with the characters that I almost grieve a little. There's a bit of a mourning period. I can't just put down one book and pick up the next. It doesn't work like that for me. I need time to process.

Then again, I need to read. Often when I pick up that next book, I have a hard time getting going. The characters seem unfamiliar (they are) and if it's a different author, the rhythm of the words are different. It's one of the reasons that I like to read a series of books. I know that I can pick up a Stephanie Plum book at any moment and fall back into the rhythm with Stephanie, Morelli and Ranger almost instantly. The characters are comfortable and friendly. It's a nice feeling.

I'm looking at that list of books I made yesterday for the A to Z challenge and wondering how I'm going to handle all the new authors and new books. Not all are unfamiliar but there isn't a Stephanie Plum book on that list yet which tells me that I'll be making new friends in 2009. That's not a bad thing.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

I'm currently reading The Pagan Stone by Nora Roberts. This is the third in a trilogy and I really love the characters but the book freaks me out! I can't read it before bed. Bad things go through my head. I'm reading my light and fluffy Janet Evanovich books before bed!

The trilogy is very good. It involves three men who unknowingly release a demon who terrorizes a town every seven years. They are preparing for the next "seven" while bringing three women (convenient) into their little group and into their lives. Each book focuses on a different set of characters. This is Gage and Cybil's story.

From page 190:

It leaped again, and as it slammed its fists into the air, the bloodstone exploded into dozens of fragments, into clouds of dust. The boy screamed, in triumph now, even as the blood ran from it.

Ok, too close to bedtime. . . that boy is freaky!

Musing Mondays

In my quest to find something. . . anything to write about, I found another weekly prompt! Woo! Here is my first Musing Monday:

With the holiday season now upon us, how does it affect your reading? Do you have more, or less, time to read at Christmas? Do you read Christmas themed/related books?

As a rule, I feel as if I read less during the holidays. I know that I fully intended to read a lot over the Thanksgiving break but barely read fifty pages. One of my biggest reading times is at lunch. During the month of December I'm often running here and there during my 45 minutes of lunch break.

On the other hand, I usually make at least one trip out of town and unless I'm driving, that's a good chance to read. This year I am taking two trips and I look forward to a three hour layover in an airport this weekend so that's prime reading time.

As for reading holiday themed books, sometimes I do but not usually. I have a couple of Christmas books on my shelf. I might go ahead and read them but I'm not opposed to reading them in July if that's when the mood strikes.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - Being Thankful

Today's Prompt:

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.

Now, you may have noticed that the global economy isn’t exactly doing well. There’s war. Starvation. All sorts of bad, scary things going on.

So–just for today–how about sharing 7 things that you’re thankful for?

This can be about books, sure–authors you appreciate, books you love, an ode to your public library–but also, how about other things, too? Because in times like these, with bills piling up and disaster seemingly lurking around every corner, it’s more important than ever to stop and take stock of the things we’re grateful for. Family. Friends. Good health (I hope). Coffee and tea. Turkey. Sunshine. Wagging tails. Curling up with a good book.

So, how about it? Spread a little positive thinking and tell the world what there is to be thankful for.

I hope all my fellow Americans had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did. It was nice and quiet with just the core family members (less drama this way. . . ). It's been a hard year for me and I'm glad that 2008 is coming to an end. I am however thankful for several things. I'm sure I can list seven!

1. My family, specifically my parents. They are the greatest parents and friends that a girl could ask for. I'm blessed to be their daughter and I'm blessed to have them in my life every single day.

2. My friends. I don't know what I'd do without my friends. Dina is always a phone call away and she's ALWAYS there for me whether it's to listen or make me laugh. Allison is just an e-mail away and she is my sounding board. For everything. She's my real blog. She knows all. Lynda, Teri, and Marianne make work bearable, so I'm thankful to them as well.

3. My dog. I lost my Oreo last month but I can still be thankful for her. She made me laugh, made me cry, and made me content. I miss her every day.

4. My house. I'm so blessed to have one. With so many people losing their homes to foreclosures, fires, floods, hurricanes, etc., I'm very fortunate.

5. My writing. Writing has been the most satisfying thing I have done in a long time. I'm still not convinced its any good, but it sure is fun to do.

6. My books. I've read 45 books in 2008 so far. That's a record! They are my escape and are so necessary. I'm so thankful every time I look at my shelves.

7. My Tivo. I know it's a bit off kilter with the rest of the very sincere list, but I really do love my Tivo. It's changed everything for me!

Hope all of you are blessed this holiday season!

Love Overboard

I sped through another quickie by Janet Evanovich. She'd better start writing those again, because I've only got a few left to read. Love Overboard was a fun one. It follows the same formula, but it had a good plot.

Stephanie is a former cop who takes on the roll of cook for a week long cruise on a sailing ship. She's just there for the week and she meets Ivan, the captain. He's everything a romance novel man should be, good looking, charming, funny, helpful, etc. . . I'm sure there were bulging biceps as well.

Ivan falls in love quite quickly and is determined to keep Stephanie in his life long after she leaves the ship. It's got a little bit of a ghost story, some wacky friends, and a sweet romance. Again, if you need a quick read, pick up any of the Janet Evanovich romances. Lots of fun.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Manhunt by Janet Evanovich

Ok, the title alone makes me giggle. Manhunt. Not a terribly subtle title, but a terribly cute book. Of these quickie romances, this one is my favorite so far. I love the pace of these books, which is fast. They are barely over 200 pages. That's nice after reading some big long books this year.

Manhunt is about a woman who trades her New Jersey condo for a cabin and hardware store in Alaska. She thought she got the raw end of the deal as her cabin didn't even have plumbing or electricity. Help comes in the form of a super hunky (and rich!) neighbor. Instant attraction and denial keeps the book moving along. She's looking for a husband, he's not looking for a wife.

It's a comedy at heart. There are no surprising twists or turns, but it will make you smile. You know just what's going to happen in the end but that's ok. It's fun to read how they get there.

Next up for me is another of these quickies. I'm biding time before the new Nora Roberts book The Pagan Stone comes out on Tuesday. It's the third in a trilogy, and I'm itching to get my hands on it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I finished Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortinson and David Oliver Relin today, on the way home from Disneyland. What a contrast of worlds. I was riding north on these crazy busy freeways surrounded by cars. Once I hit Ventura, I was able to look out and see the Pacific Ocean out the left window, and huge buildings out the right. Between Ventura and Santa Barbara I noticed how green things were even though we'd had little rain. There are houses right on the beach with palm trees and sunshine. It was a really lovely day for a drive.

After closing the pages of Three Cups of Tea, I was a bit humbled by what I have. I have an education, clean clothes, lots of food, telephones, satellite TV, computers, a car and countless other things that I feel are necessary. They aren't. They are necessary to me and millions of other people but could I live without it? Sure, all but the food. I'd survive. I'd keep breathing.

Greg Mortinson is an American hero. Really and truly. You should all read this book. Three Cups of Tea is about Greg Mortinson and his attempt to change the world. After a failed try at climbing K2, he found himself lost in a village in Pakistan. He was humbled by the kindness of the town and shocked at what he saw. The children only had a teacher a few days a week and yet would still go to "school" which wasn't even a building, just a clearing. Greg promised that he would be back to build a school.

He only needed a little over $12,000. Not that much when you think about how much a school would cost in the United States. He had nothing. He was barely getting by, sleeping in his car and trying desperately to raise the money for the school. Through a series of fortunate events, he went back to Pakistan and started his journey. Eventually he helped co-found the Central Asia Institute and has currently built over 78 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I had no interest in reading this book because I thought it was about Middle Eastern politics and I'm not a political person. My beliefs fall directly toward the middle of the conservative and liberal spectrum. I was also worried that it was a religous book that would conflict with my Christian faith. It wasn't. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book was more about the people, and that's what I wanted to read about. I've been touched and moved by this book. I recommend it highly and urge you to look around you, be blessed by what you have and say a prayer, to whatever God you pray to, that people like Greg Mortinson be allowed to continue their missions.
For more info on the book or the Central Asia Institute, click on the picture of the book.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teaser Tuesdays

Today's teaser comes once again from Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Yes, I'm still reading it. The biggest surprise for me is that I'm enjoying it! It's worth a read, really!

From page 168:

The fourth and fifth days trickled past, marked only by changes in the quality of light leaking in through the shutters. At night, short, fierce bursts of automatic weapons fire echoed outside the compound and were answered with stuttering retorts from the gun tower.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Today's Prompt:

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?
If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

I'm a buyer. I've mentioned before about my germ issues with library books and it's true. Another reason I tend to avoid libraries is the pressure! It's very stressful to get a book finished in time. If I don't finish, I have to go back and re-check the book out. Sometimes you can't even do that! Sometimes the books are only allowed to be checked out for a week because of the waiting list. That's a lot of stress for someone like me who is not a terribly fast reader.

Another reason I buy books is because I enjoy having that full bookshelf. It's fun to pick out the next book to read, having lots of choices.

I rarely regret buying a book (although there are a few exceptions). Yes, I work hard for my money and no I don't make much, but I almost figure books as much a necessity as a tank of gas. I don't keep every book, I donate them to libraries, I give them to friends, and I pass them on. Yes, buying books are a luxury but so is Internet access, cell phones, satellite TV, and my expensive moisturizer. I'm not giving those up either. All that being said, I do have a book budget. I try to keep it under $50 a month. It works for me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich

I finished Thanksgiving last night. I'm digging these quick Janet Evanovich books as bedtime books. They are light and fluffy and don't make my head spin when I'm trying to sleep. I'm glad I have several more to read. I'm also sharing them with my mother who is enjoying the quick reads as well. She's a much faster reader than I am so I have to stay a few ahead of her!

Thanksgiving is a cute book. It's one of the 9 fluffy romances that are being re-released. Thanks to a wayward rabbit, Megan Murphy, an artist, meets Patrick Hunter, a pediatrician. Sparks fly of course. When a young single mother leaves her baby boy with Patrick and who she thinks is "Mrs. Hunter", Meg and Pat are forced to work together to take care of the baby with their competing schedules.

The book takes place around Thanksgiving which is only a catalyst to get both families together to start planning the wedding. The only problem is Patrick isn't sure he's ready to get married and Megan doesn't want to get married. Ever.

It's not going to go on any "best of" lists but if you are looking for a book to read on the long drive to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner, this is a good one. Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving a few weeks early!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

I'm late getting this in. Again. I tell you, this working all day thing really stinks.

The teaser today is from Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It's a very different book than I am used to reading and it isn't what I planned to read next, yet here I am, completely enthralled. The book is about a man who after a failed attempt to summit K2 ended up in a small village in Pakistan. The kindness of the people, touched him in such a way that he promised he would build the town a school. The book follows his struggle to keep his promise and go beyond what he ever expected.

From Page 229:
Lowe's message echoed throughout the mountaineering world. "A lot of us think about helping, but Mortenson just does it," says famed climber Jack Tackle, who donated twenty thousand dollars to help CAI establish the Jafarabad girls' elementary school in the Upper Shigar Valley.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

I decided to re-read The Tale of Despereaux since it had been several years since I first read it and the movie is coming out in December. When I was teaching fourth grade, I regularly bought books for the classroom. Occasionally I would preview the book before putting it on the shelves. I still don't know why I ordered The Tale of Despereaux but it never made the shelves at school after I read it. I've treasured it ever since.

It's a very sweet story about a mouse, a princess, a rat and a servant girl. It's a children's book and yet I highly recommend it to everyone. Despereaux is a very small mouse with large ears who lives in the walls of a castle. He doesn't quite fit in with his mouse family and is a disappointment to everyone. One day he meets the Princess Pea who's mother had died after an unfortunate encounter with a rat. Through the different "books" we are introduced to Roscuro the rat, Gregory the jailer, and Miggery Sow, a servant girl who has had a very unfortunate life.

Mig wants to be a princess, Despereaux wants to be a knight, Roscuro wants revenge, and the Princess Pea wants a bowl of soup. I won't tell you if they get what they want. You'll have to read and find out.

I enjoyed this book as much the second time around as I did the first. If there's any problem with it, it's the slight distraction when the reader is addressed. There are several times when you the reader is asked questions about what a word means or if you remember parts of the story. It's not a horrible thing, just a little distracting at times. Don't let that stop you. You'll enjoy this little book, you really will.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Shelves

I have three bookcases that I use for books. I need quite a few more if I'm honest, I just don't have the room. My little house can't handle much more furniture. Each one serves a different purpose and I really am not happy with how it's organized.

In my living room I have a nice new tall bookcase that I love. It's functional and it's visible and it's just right. It has five shelves. The top shelf holds my most favored books of the moment. Currently it is holding the Lord of the Rings trilogy (told you I'd love it when it was over), the Twilight series, the Harry Potter series and The Tale of Despereaux. Nothing else will fit. Some of those books are big!

The second shelf from the top holds all my travel books. My Frommers guides, my Hawaii for Dummies book, my nifty little maps, and a few others. I don't like this shelf because it looks messy. Some of the books are outdated and some just need to be purged. I have about six books on Hawaii alone and as I have no immediate plans to go back, I'd probably be fine getting rid of a few.

The third and fourth shelves contain my "to be read" books. These two shelves are full of James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and a whole assortment of others. I love these two shelves because they are full of possibilities and remind me that I'm in no danger of running out of books. I love picking a new book to read from one of these shelves. Sometimes I sit on the floor and stare at them. It's an illness.

The bottom shelf is not just books. It's the toy shelf for when my niece comes to visit. I've got children's picture books and a big toy box that fits neatly into the large bottom shelf. I like this one too because it serves a good purpose.

My two other bookcases are in my bedroom and they are a mix of old and new books. I can't stand it. The disorganization is driving me crazy. One shelf has books that I've been meaning to read for years and yet I never even consider them when I look for a new book. It's very frustrating for me. I just don't know what to do with them. My goal this weekend is to go through them all (again) and try to purge some. Really, books should be read and they aren't doing me any good collecting dust. Somebody, somewhere will enjoy them.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Today's Booking Through Thursday prompt:

What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”

I don't remember too many books received as gifts lately. I think that most people just assume I'll buy them for myself (which is true). There was a relative of a relative who used to give me very lovely classics. They were children's classics that had gorgeous covers and illustrations. I remember getting Grimm's Fairy Tales, Black Beauty, Heidi, and a couple of others that escape my memory at the moment. I loved having them on my shelf because they were so pretty. I'm not sure where they are but I know they are around. They could still be at my parent's house.

Another that comes to mind is a book called The Genuine, Ingenious, Thrift Shop Genie, Clarissa Mae Bean and Me by Beverly Keller. I haven't read it in years but it was given to me by my Girl Scout leader for Christmas a long time ago. I always felt that book was special for some reason and even though there are some negative feelings along with the giver, I still have warm fuzzies about the book. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I definitely need to find it too.

Books are wonderful gifts, and should be given more often.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King, By JRR Tolkien

I have officially finished Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King! Officially! ** I can't believe it's over. I'm kind of sad. Well, not really. I'm quite happy to be moving on to other things.

JRR Tolkien was a literary genius in how he created his world. He didn't just place characters in a fantasy land, he came up with time lines, family trees, Middle-Earth history, and a whole language. It boggles the mind. I am a struggling writer -struggling to get the words out -and I have no idea how someone can do what he did. I find myself lost in thought, plotting my own characters, but they live in the real world. I wonder how Mr. Tolkien spent his day. I'm sure there's info out there on his life, I just haven't pursued it.

A few posts back I mentioned how reading the trilogy was torture for me but at the end of every book, I loved it. That continued to be true. I was sad that it was over. I wanted to continue with life in the Shire. I want to know more about Merry, Pippin and dear Sam. I didn't quite cry, but I came close.

Let me gush over Sam. For one thing, he was masterfully played by Sean Astin in the film. Genius casting there. The last half of this book was Sam's story. It had started out as Frodo's. Frodo had the ring, it was his job to destroy it, and everyone else was supporting. By the third book, Frodo was lost. The ring had taken him away and he was but a shell. The story was told through Sam's eyes and it was beautiful. Sam was the one who kept them going. His devotion to his Master Frodo is as lovely as any tale of friendship there is.

After three years, I've completed the trilogy and met a goal. It feels good. The books can sit on my "Favorites" shelf and truly be favorites. On to the next book!

**Not including the freakishly long appendix. Not reading that. Nope.

Back to the Bedroom by Janet Evanovich

First, let me get this out of the way. . . 13 more pages! I am almost done with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I couldn't be happier about that. I have full anticipation of finishing it tonight.

Ok, now for Back to the Bedroom. This was my bedtime book. I only read it at night if I had fulfilled my LOTR chapter requirement. It was my law. I didn't read every night either so it took me a while to read even though it was a relatively short book and a very fast read.

Janet Evanovich wrote nine short romances pre-Plum. She explains this at the front of all the re-released books that have been coming out at regular intervals. I think she realizes they aren't brilliant but that they are a fun quick read.

I've read at least two, possibly three of the nine and I have several waiting on the "To Be Read" shelves. I think I might read Thanksgiving next. It seems to be the time for that.

Back to the Bedroom is about a very busy woman, Kate, who has no time for anything beyond work and chores. Her neighbor, Dave is the exact opposite. He's got nothing but time and he's all about having fun. Obviously they are attracted to each other. When her house sustains damage in a freak incident, Kate and Dave get closer as he tries to help her out by hiring construction workers, and allowing her to stay with him.

Through a series of events, which are at best disjointed, the couple grow close, fall apart, grow close, fall apart, and eventually get their happy ending. It's not a great book. The plot is weak and the characters are cliche. That being said, if you are a fan of Evanovich, it's worth reading if you have the extra time. It was cute.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Today's prompt is one after my own heart!

Are you a spine breaker? Or a dog-earer? Do you expect to keep your books in pristine condition even after you have read them? Does watching other readers bend the cover all the way round make you flinch or squeal in pain?

Oh goody! I can discuss this one. I love to keep my books in the best condition I can. If I read a hardcover, I immediately pull off the book jacket and keep that safe while lugging the book around with me. It's much easier to keep a hardcover in good condition don't you think?

With my paperbacks, I am a little less careful. I would prefer to keep them looking good but sometimes stuffing them in bags or purses causes a bit of wear. I can tell if I've read a book by looking at it's spine. There is usually that tell-tale bend in the middle. I don't think this can be helped!

I do not like to see other people bend the cover back. I don't know why they would do that! The book never goes back on the shelf the right way and won't stay closed laying on a table! I don't dog-ear either. I have quite the collection of bookmarks. Every time I grab a new book to read, I grab a book mark to go with it.

So. . . bottom line. My books are usually neat and tidy and if you borrow my books, I'd appreciate you keep them that way!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Let's Do Some Critical Thinking!

In order to stop the boring LOTR updates (chapter 9 done by the way), I thought I would compare the book to the movie. . . just a little bit. Obviously I can't compare the whole book. Frodo and Sam haven't even appeared yet. I don't want to pick apart scenes - Denethor did not throw himself off the wall - but I find it quite interesting what Tolkien did.

It's been two years since I read Fellowship so I can't even remember the set up on that one. I do remember that The Two Towers was broken up into books, just like The Return of the King. I had forgotten that and once again was asking "Where's Frodo?" before realizing that his story would come later.

What I'm trying to say is that The Return of the King is broken into two books (and then a massive appendix). The first book deals with Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gadalf, Pippin, Merry, Faramir, Eomer, and Eowyn -to name just a few. The second book is about Frodo, Sam and Gollum, and what happens after they destroy the ring.

All through this first book I've wanted to know what's going on with Frodo. Obviously time will overlap once I start the next section. It's an interesting way to write. I don't think I'd ever be that ambitious but I admire Tolkien for it.

I don't think I've made much sense. At least I had something to say!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Teaser Tuesday!

Shocker! I'm actually getting this teaser in before the sun sets. That hasn't happened in a while. I'm still reading The Return of the King *sigh* but I'm making progress.

From page:291

So it was that near the end of a wild and wet evening in the last days of October the five travellers rode up the climbing road and came to the South-gate of Bree. It was locked fast; and the rain blew in their faces, and in the darkening sky low clouds went hurrying by, and their hearts sank a little, for they had expected more welcome.

The Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien

Monday, October 27, 2008

LOTR Update! (Again)

Well, I have completed chapter 5. It was a nice short chapter. I'm moving right along and on schedule. Rohan just rode into battle. There is a huge lack of Legolas in this book. He just follows Aragorn along. He should have his own book. Which of course should have it's own movie. Which of course should star Orlando Bloom. Just a dream of mine. I don't have much else to report. I don't have any other book news.

I did see the TV trailer for Twilight for the first time today. It looks good. I know that it won't live up to what I've built in my mind, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it anyway.

Hope you had a book filled weekend! Here's a LOLCat for your enjoyment:

Friday, October 24, 2008

LOTR Update

I just wanted to report in on my The Return of the King progress. I've read 2 1/2 chapters! If I read a chapter a day (meaning I have to finish chapter 3 tonight) I will finish on November 9th. I'm sure you are all on the edge of your seats so I'll be sure to check in regularly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Here is today's prompt:

Got this idea from Literary Feline during her recent contest:

“Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.”

Ok, let's see. . . That's hard! I feel like I need to choose characters that everyone knows! I've read a ton of romance/chick lit in my life so there are plenty of couples to choose from.

Here's a few:

Stephanie Plum and Joe Morelli. I like them as a couple because I like the way Joe treats her. She's awful to him but he'll declare his love anyway.

Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. This is a couple that will be together through eternity. Literally. I think the idea of some supernatural pull that is forcing them together is what I like about them. Edward is overprotective and old fashioned. Bella is whiny and stubborn. They should never get along. Their love for each other seems to transcend the boundaries of humanity. Bella came into her own as a vampire and it was at that point they were on equal footing.

Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. I think that the reason I see them as a couple is because Ginny was able to provide Harry with what he wanted most in his life. She not only gave him a family, but gave him her extended family. He finally had parents, brothers, sister -in -laws and someone who loved him exactly for who he was. Ginny knew Harry's faults and insecurities but loved him anyway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

High Five by Janet Evanovich

I'm finally getting a chance to review the books I read on vacation. Yeah!
In reviewing High Five, I should address the rest of the Stephanie Plum series because I don't think I've ever reviewed any of them on this blog. I read the first book last summer on my Alaska cruise. I bought it for my mom as a Christmas gift because I thought she might like to start a new series and I wanted to read it too. My mom read it and really didn't care for it too much. I think her view jaded me a bit so I decided that I didn't really care for it either.

Until I left the book on the ship and couldn't stop thinking about it.

I started thinking that it was actually a pretty funny book. Morelli was just plain hot and really Stephanie is quite a character. Maybe I really did like the book! Yeah! I did like the book! I went out and bought Two for the Dough and Three to get Deadly. After reading book two, I really liked the series and requested the rest for Christmas. Now I'm picking my way through them, alternating between other books because I don't want to run out of Stephanie Plum books. That would be horrible. It's nice to have so many books in a series to look forward to.

High Five starts out with Stephanie trying to catch a little person who failed to appear at his hearing. This man happens to be quite irritated with her and it doesn't go well. She's also looking for her uncle who has disappeared. All the favorite characters are there. Grandma Mazur is always fun. She's one of the best characters in the series. Morelli is still hot, Ranger is still hot and I'm really anxious for Stephanie to pick her man. Lulu is the faithful friend as always. Stephanie manages to get one car blown up and another one stolen, so she's back with her Buick.

All in all, it's a fun read. There are many laugh out loud moments. Janet Evanovich has a way with her characters and since there are so many books to read, I look forward to reading them. Good book. Good series.

Woo! Chapter 1 Done!

Yeah, I finally finished Chapter 1 of The Return of the King. I just wanted to share that. Only 18 chapters to go.

Gosh that's pitiful. It took me 1 1/2 lunch breaks to finish one chapter. I might just have to *lose* my book.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

Today's Teaser comes from The Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King, by JRR Tolkien. You can read my post below about how this book is a challenge for me. I love it, but it's a challenge. I tend to like my books more set in reality.

From pg. 245:

"Frodo and Sam could go no further. Their last strength of mind and body was swiftly ebbing."
I am only on page 11 (stop making fun of me) but I know exactly when this occurs thanks to those glorious movies. How much do we love Sam by the way?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Here We Go Again

A few years back (I think I've mentioned this. . . ) I started a quest to read four classics/award winners/notable books a year. I chose four because this was the torture inflicted me in High School. One nasty book report a quarter for four years. That's sixteen books that I really didn't want to read. I can remember a few of them too. . .

Wuthering Heights -Oi. I chose this because I was all grown up and thought that all smart girls read Bronte. Uh huh. I don't remember much about this book except I hated it.

The Scarlet Letter - This promised a bit of scandal. Puritan scandal yes, but still scandal. It was all right.

On the Beach - This was one that I chose that wasn't on the list. I had special permission and I really liked it.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Incredible book. Really

A Separate Peace - I had to read this in college too. It was good.

The Color Purple - Ok, that was eye opening to a 16 year old.

Catcher in the Rye - I so did not get this book. I thought I did but I've since learned differently.

Then came the cop outs. . . First the plays.

The Glass Menagerie
Streetcar Named Desire
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Yes, Tennessee Williams was a good friend of AP English.

Then the short books:

The Red Pony - Don't remember this at all, other than it was short.
The Little Prince - It's a freakin picture book! I think this was the most popular book on the list. Every one of my friends read it.

Anyway, I got really off track. It's my blog, who cares? The point is, I have a desire to read some of the great books that got away. I'm still doing a poor job of it but at least I'm trying. Not too hard, but I'm giving it a shot. A little one. I started this in 2006. That year I read:

The Three Junes by Julia Glass- A National Book Award winner
The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander - A Classic
Crispin and the Cross of Lead by Avi - Newberry Winner
Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien - Classic

In 2007:

Angels Fall by Nora Roberts-Quill Romance of the Year (cop out #1)
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory- Notable Book ??? (cop out #2)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling- Notable Book (cop out #3)
The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien- Classic


A Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis -Classic
Prince Caspian by CS Lewis - Classic
The Kite Runner - Notable Book

That leaves one more. Have you noticed the lack of Tolkien in 2008. Yep. I've got one more to go in the Rings trilogy. It's officially been started and it will be complete. I dread this. A lot. Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan. The Hobbit is one of my favorite books ever, I've read that one a few times. I've just never had a good time reading the Lord of the Rings books. After I finish each book I marvel at the story which is just brilliant but it's pure torture while I'm in it. I'm not good with the big fantasy books. The names and places and languages just mess with my head. I'm going to attempt Eragon at some point in the near future because my BFF tells me I need to. We'll see. In the meantime, I'm going to finally finish the Lord of the Rings. It should be fun. The good news is my book has Viggo on the cover. I can always stop and stare at him when I need a break.


On Saturday I went to a book sale at a local library. You all know my issues with library books, but I don't have as big a problem when I buy used books. Oh I wipe them with Clorox wipes and everything but I tend to be ok with them. I managed to get 14 books for $18! Yeah! Sure I might get some dread disease from a previous reader but they were cheap! Woo! Really, I had no expectations. I ended up with one James Patterson, 3 new authors and 10 Janet Evanovich (Some written with Charlotte Hughes) books. Who knew she had written so many that I haven't read? I just love a prolific author.

Maximum Ride: The Final Warning, by James Patterson

I just finished the fourth book in the Maximum Ride series. The Final Warning is a quick -nearly pointless read. That being said, I suppose I'm glad I read it. I'm a romantic at heart so I'm all about Fang and Max getting together. These books are written for young adults though so I'm just going to have to settle for a few kisses. I picked up the first Maximum Ride book a few years back -all by accident. Really.

A friend was pouring through James Patterson's Alex Cross books. I wasn't terribly interested in them (still aren't) so I didn't give it much attention. She got my attention when she mentioned a book about kids with wings. She talked a bit about the book and it peaked my interest. I'm not sure how much time went by but I decided to get the book. The book I was looking for was When the Wind Blows but I found Maximum Ride instead. It wasn't a bad thing at all because it was a fun, action packed read. So was the second book.

The third book was when I started to lose interest. I don't know what happened but it seemed to get pretty tedious. Bird kids get captured. Bird kids escape. Bird kids get captured again. Throw in a talking dog and now a normal malamute for a little comic relief. Yeah, I love Total. Nothing wrong with a snarky dog.


This fourth book was pretty weak in my opinion. There is a message -and it's an important one - about global warming but the message doesn't come across very clearly. In the middle of an expedition to Antarctica, instead of learning of the work the scientists are actually doing there, the focus is on Max's jealousy, Angel's desire for a penguin, Total's crush on Akila, and then the whole capture thing. Thank goodness for that hurricane or the Uber-Director would have won.

I'm all for saving the world. I've made changes in my own life to try to be a good steward of this planet we live on. I think that bringing the problems of climate change, renewable energy, and alternate fuel sources to the young adult audience is a great thing, but I don't think this book did much other than making people aware of the words being thrown around. It was a page turner like always but it wasn't like I didn't expect them to escape in some way. I was bored. What kind of title is Uber-Director anyway?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Shack by William P. Young

I finished The Shack last night and I have to say it was one of the more unique books I've read this year. I enjoyed it to a point. I'm going to warn you in advance that there may be a few spoilers ahead but they won't give away the whole story.

The Shack starts with a man enjoying a camping trip with his three youngest children. This part of the book was the most "novel" like. What I mean by that is that this is where there plot and storyline really take center stage. We are introduced to Mack and get a sense of who he is as a man and as a father. His role as a father is a key point in this book. He's a good one. His role as a son is where he struggles. He struggled with his earthly father and he struggles with his Heavenly Father.

During the camping trip, tragedy strikes when his youngest daughter, 6 year old Missy, is abducted and thought to be dead. Through his struggle to recover from his loss, and what a loss it is, he begins a period of his life he calls The Great Sadness. One day he receives a note in his mailbox inviting him to the shack where they found Missy's bloody dress. The note comes from Papa, which is the name Mack's wife has for God.

Mack goes to the shack and there has the most incredible experience of his life. He meets God in the form of the Trinity. God the Father appears to him as a "big black woman with a questionable sense of humor." Jesus appears as a Middle Eastern working man -a carpenter of course. The Holy Spirit, well, she's something else. She's a very insightful "Asian looking" woman who Mack can not fully focus on. Through their time together, they discuss the state of the world, the meaning of the Trinity, forgiveness, judgement, relationship, and any number of deep thoughts.

This was a book that I couldn't read for long without having to close it and think. The majority of the book was conversations between Mack and the various persons of God. There wasn't much plot toward the end of the book and it became more teaching tool than novel. The author made some good points. He took a fairly liberal view of Christianity and I appreciated that. I have found over the years that my own relationship with God has changed and I think more and more that God isn't as judgemental as common Christian thought lets on. I can't see Him abandoning any of His children just because they mess up.

This book may not be a favorite of mine, it grew tedious at the end, but it made me think. I can't fault it for that. For that alone it was worth reading.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Today's prompt is very interesting:

Avid readers know all too well how easy it is to acquire books — it’s the letting go that’s the difficult part. … During the past 20 years, in which books have played a significant role in both my personal and professional lives, I’ve certainly had my fair share of them (and some might say several others’ shares) in my library. Many were read and saved for posterity, others eventually, but still reluctantly, sent back out into the world.

But there is also a category of titles that I’ve clung to for years, as they survived numerous purges, frequent library donations and countless changes of residence. I’ve yet to read them, but am absolutely certain I will. And should. When, I’m not sure, as I’m constantly distracted by the recent, just published and soon to be published works.

So, the question is his: “What tomes are waiting patiently on your shelves?“

Oh yes. I've got some of those books. I've got a lot of those books actually. I have a whole bookcase that is full of books I never even look at anymore but intend to read. Occasionally I'll skim through and purge but it's rare. At one point I was embarrassed by all the bodice ripper covers on some books (thank goodness that trend seems to be over) and got rid of those. I just couldn't imagine carrying one around with me!

The ones I hang on to that I fully intend to read -really- are a lot of the classics. I'm trying to read four classics/award winners/notable books a year. This is not to say that I only read mindless fluff, because I don't. I do however want to expand my literary horizons. I've got some Jane Austin novels waiting for me to read, and I still haven't finished all of the Narnia books. My mother belonged to some book-by-mail club and the books are all relatively short romances. I keep them around with the thinking I can grab one when I need it. Of course I never do. There's too much else to read! At one time I wrote about my fear of running out of books. I suppose that will never really happen. Time to go dust that bookshelf. . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Teaser Tuesday!

Yes, I missed two Tuesdays but I'm back on track now. Today's teaser comes from The Shack by William P. Young. This is a very interesting book. As it is Christian Fiction, it will probably turn a lot of people away. I think that it should be given a chance though. It's very unique. I'll write more once I'm finished but for now here is your teaser from page 179. Jesus is talking to Mack during a very difficult time in Mack's life.

"As well-intentioned as it might be, you know that religious machinery can chew up people!" Jesus said with a bite of his own. "An awful lot of what is done in my name has nothing to do with me and is often, even if unintentional, very contrary to my purposes."

This is an interesting quote. I'm not to this point in the story yet so I'm unsure of the context. Just by reading that line, I think I get the point though. I have to agree that I think Jesus is probably quite turned off by some of the religous fanaticism that uses His name. No wonder a good chunk of the population are turned off by Christians. I could go on but that's not the point of Teaser Tuesdays. I'll leave it for another time.


So, I've been neglecting this blog. Again. I really don't want to. Honest! I'm all about the writing and sharing and reading of blogs. It's just been a helluva couple of weeks. I went on vacation! Woo! Finally! I was on a Canada/New England cruise for a week and spent a couple of pre-nights in New York. It was great. I read four books during the cruise (ok 3 1/2) but still, I read a lot. It was a port intensive cruise so I didn't have as much reading time as I would have liked. I'll get to reviewing those books soon. Promise.

Last Sunday I lost my little dog Oreo. She was almost 12 and it was her time to go. It didn't make it any easier and I'm shocked that I'm not crying while writing those words. She'd been a part of my life for almost 12 years. A huge part. She was my baby. I'll post a tribute to her at some point but it's too raw right now. It's too recent.

Anyway, I've been struggling to get back into routines, let alone find time to blog. I'll be back later with my Teaser Tuesday entry.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

Here's today's topic:

What was the most unusual (for you) book you ever read? Either because the book itself was completely from out in left field somewhere, or was a genre you never read, or was the only book available on a long flight… whatever? What (not counting school textbooks, though literature read for classes counts) was furthest outside your usual comfort zone/familiar territory?
And, did you like it? Did it stretch your boundaries? Did you shut it with a shudder the instant you were done? Did it make you think? Have nightmares? Kick off a new obsession?

Wow, tough question. Since it says no textbooks, I can't describe the horrors of my Statistics text. Too bad, it ended up as a prop under a broken couch.

One book that I was surprised by was The Three Junes by Julia Glass. It was a National Book Award winner which is why I bought it. I was trying to impress people by reading good literature! It was one that I wouldn't have picked up if I really knew what it was about. There is one scene in that book that I will never forget and one character who I felt was incredibly heartless. The biggest thing for me was that it opened my eyes about AIDS - again.

There was a time, when the disease was in the headlines all the time. Characters in movies and tv shows dealt with HIV and AIDS, but it seems that it left my radar for some reason. I have not been personally touched by the disease, which may be why it wasn't in my mind. About the same time I read The Three Junes, I saw the movie Rent (I wasn't able to see the stage show) which deals with the same topic. It seemed that I was being given the opportunity to see things differently through this book and that movie.

So while that book wasn't my favorite, it was a moving story that ultimately taught me to be a little more compassionate, a little more tolerant and a bit more aware.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Teaser Tuesday

Another Tuesday rolls around and I can't seem to get my teaser in before 10 pm. Oh well, at least I'm doing it. I'd like to mention that I am currently reading High Five by Janet Evanovich. I have all of her books and I read them at various times during the year. I always enjoy them and can count on them being a ton of fun. I don't want to read them all at once because then I'd be sitting around waiting for her to write more. So yes, I'm behind the rest of the world but that's all right. I'll have plenty to read.

From page 185 comes a lovely quote from Grandma Mazur. How much do we all love Grandma? Seriously? She's awesome!

"I guess that's where I heard of her. There's lots of people in that seniors' club, and I don't go to the meetings all the time. I can only take too much of old people. If I want to see loose skin I can look in the mirror."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

High Five

I went to Google a picture of the book High Five by Janet Evanovich. I ran across this cat. It made me smile. Enjoy!

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

I finally finished The Lace Reader. Whew! What a ride that book was. First off I want to say that I did enjoy it very much. That being said, there are a few comments I'd like to make. First of all I picked up this book because I had read good reviews. I don't know anyone personally who has read it. I'm glad I did pick it up because now I get to share it with some friends.

This book takes place in Salem, MA. Most of us have heard the stories of the famous "witch" trials that took place. I've never been to that part of the country but I will be visiting Boston next week, which isn't far from Salem. It's about a woman, Towner, who is in her early 30's but for some reason I kept wanting to age her. I felt that she had to be older than me. In reading the author's notes I see that the time frame for this book was about 1996. This would make sense as it would make Towner older than me now. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense but it does in my head!

Towner comes home for the first time in many years because her great-aunt (the relationship is still not entirely clear) is missing. She has to face her mother, her aunt, and the memories of her twin sister for the first time. Towner is haunted by her past, including an abusive uncle who is now an extreme religious fanatic, starting his own witch hunts. Her old boyfriend is still around causing minor trouble for her burgeoning relationship with the town detective.

The twists and turns in this story were what kept it moving. Just when I'd figure something out, I'd be shown the opposite was true. Of all the characters, I enjoyed Rafferty the most. He was the detective, hopelessly infatuated with Towner even though he knew the truth of her past. He knew more than I as the reader did. I couldn't relate too much to Towner as I've never been in such emotional turmoil for such a long period of time.

This novel is full of clever writing and a very vivid setting. I really have quite the image in my head of Yellow Dog Island and surrounding areas. I have a few questions though! Wouldn't it be great to sit down with the author sometime? I'd post my questions but I don't want to give anything away. I'd love to hear what you think!