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.