Monday, July 25, 2011

I've Moved!

If you're looking for me here, you've come to the wrong spot. Please update your blogrolls to this: By Book or By Crook, come visit and subscribe so you don't miss my reviews on Faith by Jennifer Haigh and The Headhunter's Daughter by Tamara Myers coming up later this week!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a chance for all to share what they accomplished reading wise last week and what your reading plans are for the upcoming week. Join in with Sheila at Book Journey so we can see what you are up to!

I just got a nook a couple of weeks ago as an anniversary gift from my husband and I am so excited to start using it. BUT, I still have three books checked out from the library that are bordering on overdue so that is where my attention will be focused this week.

First up, Faith by Jennifer Haigh:

It is the spring of 2002 and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.

Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of a maelstrom, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him and his reputation. What she discovers is more complicated than she imagined.

Her strict, lace-curtain-Irish mother is living in a state of angry denial. Sheila's younger brother Mike, to her horror, has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself.

As the scandal forces long-buried secrets to surface, Faith explores the corrosive consequences of one family's history of silence-and the resilience its members ultimately find in forgiveness.

Then, if I can stay out of the lake long enough during this super hot and humid week I will also start The Headhunter's Daughter by Tamara Myers:

In 1945, an infant left inadvertently to die in the jungles of the Belgian Congo is discovered by a young Bashilele tribesman on a mission to claim the head of an enemy. Recognized as human-despite her pale white skin and strange blue eyes-the baby is brought into the tribe and raised as its own. Thirteen years later, the girl-now called "Ugly Eyes"-will find herself at the center of a controversy that will rock two separate societies.

Young missionary Amanda Brown hears the incredible stories of a white girl living among the Bashilele headhunters. In the company of the local police chief, Captain Pierre Jardin, and with the witch hunter's wife, the quick-witted Cripple, along as translator, Amanda heads into the wild hoping to bring the lost girl back to "civilization." But Ugly Eyes no longer belongs in their world-and the secrets surrounding her birth and disappearance are playing them all in far graver peril than anyone imagined.

So, that's my week in a nutshell. Now I'm off to see yours!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Snapshot June 18, 2011

Alyce from At Home With Books hosts a weekly meme called Saturday Snapshot. To participate all you have to do is post a photo taken by you (or a friend or family member.) Please make sure it is clean and appropriate for all eyes to see and leave a direct link to your post at the Mr Linky on Alyce's blog.

Last October three of the Boy Scouts in my patrol were working on their lashing skills. My husband helped them cut down a few small trees and they lashed together this clothesline to hang dish towels and the like on.

Last weekend the Boy Scouts were back for another Backyard Campout and the same clothesline had withstood the winds and snows of a Minnesota winter. But look at it now...!

How does that happen? The tree has been cut down for almost 8 months! We were all amazed. We were careful not to let any of our wet swimsuits and towels break off the branch that is now growing. I'm excited to see how big it will get and how long it will live with no water supply.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Carpal Tunnel Got You Down?

I am going to be taking a little reading vacation. I am currently trying to get through The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It's a good book, not fast moving by any means, but very interesting. The problem with the book is not its content, but its heft. I have the hardcover 369 page edition of this book and the weight is proving too much for me.

I am having a flare up of my carpal tunnel. Several years ago I was diagnosed with the syndrome and told I should prepare for surgery. Well, I hate doctors and I hate medical bills even more so I've kinda been putting it off...for 11 years. Most of the time I do okay, but when it flares up I can't hold a book for more than 15 minutes before my hands go numb and sleep is pretty much non-existent until the braces I wear at night start doing the trick again. So for a few weeks I will have no more reviews to post. maybe now is a good time to get back into audio books?

What do you think? Is it time for me to bite the bullet? Have you had the surgery? How long does it take to heal and was it really worth it?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian *Review*

"There," says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just after her baptism, and just before going home to the husband who will kill her that evening and then shoot himself. Drew, tortured by the cryptic finality of that short utterance, feels his faith in God slipping away and is saved from despair only by meeting with Heather Laurent, the author of wildly successful, inspirational books about...angels.

Heather survived a childhood that culminated in her own parents' murder-suicide, so she identifies deeply with Alice's daughter, Katie, offering herself as a mentor to the girl and a shoulder for Stephen-who flees the pulpit to be with Heather and see if there is anything to be salvaged from the spiritual wreckage around him.

But then the state's attorney begins to suspect that Alice's husband may not have killed himself...and finds out that Alice had secrets only her minister knew.

Secrets of Eden is haunting in its complexity. Chris Bohjalian writes his novel in such a way that only tiny pieces of information escape a little at a time. Important clues as to what has happened so you know what is coming up...but yet you don't. Because Bohjalians twisted course coils and snakes its way around to make you wonder if you knew as much as you thought you did.

Secrets of Eden is a compelling and disturbing look into the lives and deaths of Alice and George Hayword through the eyes of three very distinct characters; Stephen Drew, their pastor, Heather Laurent the "angel" author, and Katie Hayward, their teenage daughter. Each person voices their fears and suspicions about what probably happened that night and who most likely was involved. In Bohjalian's way, however, you don't find out what happened until the very end. As in the very last line.

But don't go thinking you can pick this book up, flip through the pages to find that last line and read it before you read the book in its totality. Not only would that be cheating, it would be cheating the author and yourself of the brilliantly flexuous way your mind will need to work to absorb this evocative thriller. 3.5/5 stars

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Snapshot May 14th

Alyce from At Home With Books hosts a weekly meme called Saturday Snapshot. To participate all you have to do is post a photo taken by you (or a friend or family member.) Please make sure it is clean and appropriate for all eyes to see and leave a direct link to your post at the Mr Linky on Alyce's blog.

Happy Fishing Opener from Minnesota- the Land of 10,000 Lakes!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Library Loot May 11th, 2011

Library Loot is a weekly event co hosted byMarg from Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and Claire from the Captive Reader that encourages bloggers to show what great books they were able to check out from their local libraries. I love this event because I see books that I know are readily available now not something I will have to wait weeks for to come out.

I only have two titles that I checked out this week because a few in my TBR pile are a little bit lengthier and deeper then normal. Of course I do still have my fair share requested from the library that have not come in yet! the two I chose this week are:

Haunting Jasmine-Divorcee Jasmine Mistry is intent on restarting her life when she gets the chance to do just that. A call from the past brings her home to Shelter Island, a green dot in the middle of Puget Sound, to run her beloved aunt's bookstore. The familiarity is heartening-the rocky beaches, pewter skies, country boutiques, and above all, Auntie's Bookstore, nestled in a quaint Queen Anne Victorian, and believed, not incidentally, to be haunted.

With that knowledge, Jasmine embarks on a mystical journey, urged along by her quirky family, guided by the highly emotional spirits of long-dead authors, and moved to heal her broken heart when she unexpectedly falls in love with an enigmatic young stranger. He knows about blurring the lines between reality and illusion. He opens new doors between truth and fantasy. In redefining the meaning of everlasting love, he urges Jasmine to reinvent herself in a place she calls home. All she has to do is close her eyes and say yes.

13 Little Blue Envelopes-Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket. In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat. The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist. Because of envelope 4, Ginny and her artist, a playwright/thief/bloke-about-town called Kieth, go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous-though utterly romantic-results. Ginny isn't sure she'll see Keith again and definitely doesn't know what to think about hm. Could the answer be in the envelopes?

Ginny doesn't know it, but adventures in Rome and Paris are in envelopes 6 and 8. the rules are that she has to open one at a time, in order, so perhaps it isn't surprising that she discovers things about her life and love one by one. Everything about Ginny will change this summer and it's all because of 13 little blue envelopes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Saturday Snapshot May 7th, 2011

Alyce from At Home With Books hosts a weekly meme called Saturday Snapshot. To participate all you have to do is post a photo taken by you (or a friend or family member.) Please make sure it is clean and appropriate for all eyes to see and leave a direct link to your post at the Mr Linky on Alyce's blog.

My son's Boy Scout troop took part in a community service project last weekend in Wadena, Minnesota. Last summer an F4 tornado took out part of the town, lots of trees, and the high school. Replant Wadena 2011 was a huge community effort to replace the trees that were lost. Boy Scouts from all over the state spent the weekend digging holes, planting trees and bushes and wrapping the new trees to guard them against critters. It rained on our tents the whole night before and it was windy and rainy most of the morning but together they planted over 2500 trees! I'm so proud of the hard work they did to help a community that was not even their own! As a Scout they learn what it means to be a good citizen, and this past weekend they put it into practice.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo *Review*

I'll admit. I am a very skeptical person. It's not that I don't have faith, I believe I have a lot of it. The times in my life I have gotten on my knees and asked, believed and received are numerous. But when I am looking at a book written by the father of a then four-year-old who claims he met relatives in heaven he had never seen or heard of before, a father who is faced with more medical bills then he can pay, all I can think of is what a great way to make some money and save himself from bankruptcy!

After reading this book, my viewpoint has changed...somewhat.

Colton Burpo's father, a small town pastor in Nebraska, tells the story about Colton's miraculous visit to heaven during emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix. Colton was a very sick little boy, but there was never any mention by the doctor that Colton had "died" on the operating room table, nor is there any medical proof that he had. But Colton can accurately describe what his parents, in two separate rooms in the hospital, were doing when he floated out of his body.

Colton does not tell his parents immediately what happened. Instead, over the course of months and years little snippets of revelation comes out. Finally piecing everything together and checking what their son says against what is written in the Bible, things a four-year-old can not possibly know, they come to believe that a miracle has indeed occurred. And I believe too.

What I am still a little skeptical about, however, is whether or not little Colton was led to any of the answers he gave when he was questioned by his father. Todd Burpo admits he may have asked a few leading questions when he first started examining what Colton was saying, but after realizing he was doing so made sure he asked open ended questions instead. I'm not so sure about that. A few conversations throughout the book still made me feel he was leading Colton down a particular path to get the answer he wanted to hear.

That said, there are definite descriptions of heaven and of Jesus himself that were not forced out by leading questions. Spoken simply, like a four-year-old would, Colton talks about what Jesus looked like, and how he had "markers" on him. It takes a little bit of deduction to figure out what "markers" would mean to a preschooler. Asking where the "markers" were, Colton points to the palms of his hands and the tops of his feet. The family, not being Catholic, were not exposed to the crucifix, or the crucified Christ, more often seeing only the cross hung in their church and home. It stuns Todd that Colton was so specific about where the "markers" were.

This book should give anyone who is on the fence about whether there is truly a heaven real hope. And without hope for a wonderful afterlife filled with beautiful colors, visits with our dearly departed family members, and hugs from Jesus what are we truly living for? 3.5/5 stars

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? May 2nd, 2011

I had a terrible book reading week last week. I pledged to read 2 books and instead I only got about 50 pages into the first! This week all that will change because I'm on vacation!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a chance for all to share what they accomplished readingwise last week and what your reading plans are for the week. Join in with Sheila at Book Journey so we can see what you are up to!

This week I WILL finish In the Woods by Tana French. I have put Love Has a Face on hold since that one was from my own bookshelf and a couple in my TBR pile need to get back to the library. So instead I will be reading:

The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

In the third trimester of her pregnancy, Baltimore private investigator Tess Monoghan is under doctor's orders to remain immobile. Bored and restless, reduced to watching the world go by outside her window, she takes small comfort in the mundane events she the young woman in a green raincoat who walks her dog at the same time every day. Then one day the dog is running free and its owner is nowhere to be seen. Certain that something is terribly wrong, and incapable of leaving well enough alone, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the dog walker's abrupt disappearance, even if she must do it from her own bedroom. But her inquisitiveness is about to fling open a dangerous Pandora's box of past crimes and troubling deaths...and she's not only putting her own life in jeopardy but also her unborn child's.

And Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren't expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed-a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy's trip to heaven and back.

Colton, not yet 4 years old, told his parents he left his body during surgery-and authenticated that claim by describing exactly what his parents were doing in another part of the hospital while he was being operated on. He talked of visiting heaven and relayed stories told to him by people he met there whom he had never met in his life, sharing events that happened before he was born. He also astonished his parents with descriptions and obscure details about heaven that matched the Bible exactly, though he had not yet learned to read.

With disarming innocence and the plainspoken boldness of a child, Colton tells of meeting long-departed family members. He describes Jesus, the angels, how "really, really big" God is, and how much God loves us. retold by his father, but using Colton's uniquely simple words, Heaven is for Real offers a glimpse of the world that awaits us, where as Colton says, "Nobody is old and nobody wears glasses."

So that's my reading week! What does yours look like?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher *Review*

A girl you knew, a girl you had once kissed, has just committed suicide-and you're one of the reasons. How does that make you feel?

For Clay, one of the main characters in Thirteen Reasons Why, it makes him feel fearful, sickened and morose. Clay Jensen has just received a package at his front door with no return address. He opens it to find seven audio cassettes. Curiously he inserts the first tape, presses play...and hears the voice of Hannah Baker, a girl from school who had just killed herself.

Hannah shares with her listeners the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Thirteen people who set off a chain of events that Hannah could not recover from. Actions and words that made her feel smaller, laughed at, used and insignificant.

Reading this book made me think back to my junior high and high school years. Were there times I ignored people when I should have said hi? Times when I should have reached out instead of pushing away? Did I ever become part of a chain of events in somebody else's life? God, I hope not. And if I did- please know that I am truly, truly, sorry.

Jay Asher's debut novel is an excellent view into the life of a teenager on the edge of despair. A teenager who with one kind word could have had a shot at life. I loved this book and have encouraged my sixteen-year-old son to read it. I want him to understand how powerful an encouraging word or a small act of kindness can be in the life of someone who so desperately needs it. 4.5/5 stars

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cul-de-Sac by David Martin *Review*

Donald Growler didn't do it. And he's trying to kill everyone who says he did.

So begins David Martin's frightening and mysterious Cul-de-Sac, a suspense-filled triumph of degradation, desperation, and deceit. The scene of the crime is a humongous, dilapidated mansion in Maryland known as Cul-de-Sac, once the scene of a grisly murder, which Paul and Annie Milton are trying to renovate. When Growler-toughened by years of jail time served for a crime he didn't commit-begins stalking the young, attractive couple, Detective Teddy Camel is summoned.

Camel, once known as the Human Lie Detector, is officially retired, forced out for having broken as many departmental rules as homicide cases. But as a favor to Annie-his onetime lover- Camel reenters the fray and uncovers a trail of corruption and death leading all the way to the society's elite. How Camel tracks down Growler, untangles the real story behind his hideous vengeance, and finally discovers the secret prize all the players have furiously sought makes for a novel of unforgettable twists and psychological insights.

Gives you the chills doesn't it! It's been a long time since I have read an honest to goodness suspense filled page turner, and this one would definitely qualify. I started reading this one afternoon after I had put ribs in the oven to slow cook for 3 hours. Usually I am eagerly awaiting them coming out of the oven, falling off the bone, hunger pangs having beaten against my stomach for a good hour of their cooking time. I was literally shocked when the oven's buzzer went off!

This was a fast paced, albeit a little squeamishly violent, book that I could not put down. This book is rated solidly at 4/5 stars and probably would have rated higher had my stomach not flip-flopped at some of the gruesome images. Those who know me, know that I give only 2 or 3 books a year a rating of 5 (yes, I'm that tough,) so this is, after all, a pretty darn good book!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 4/25/11

Monday! What Are You Reading is a chance for all to share what they accomplished readingwise last week and what their reading plans are for the week. Join in with Sheila at Book Journey so we can see what you are up to!

Last week I finished:

1. Tiger, Tiger

2. Thirteen Reasons Why (review coming)

3. The Long Walk (review Coming)

This week I go back to work after a week's vacation so I will have a lot of catching up to do. Hopefully I will still have time to do some reading. The books I will be reading this week come from my own bookshelf! I try to get to at least one down from those dusty ol' shelves once a month and this month I went for broke and grabbed two. After all, our book club's charity book sale will be coming up in a few months and I have to have something to contribute!

Three children leave their small Dublin neighborhood to play in the surrounding woods. Hours later, their mother's calls go unanswered. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children, gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, Detective Rob Ryan-the found boy, who has kept his past a secret-and his partner Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of a twelve-year-old girl in the same woods. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him, and that of his own shadowy past

Born without her left hip and leg, Michele Perry is no stranger to seeming impossibilities. So when she arrived in war-torn southern Sudan, with little more than faith in God's promises, she did what everyone told her was crazy: She opened a home for the orphaned children in guerrilla warfare territory.

With a deft pen, she recounts unforgettable stories that capture the stark realities of caring for more than one hundred little lives in the middle of a war zone-and the love and mercy of God she's found there.

Well that's it for this week. I hope the rest of you have a super week planned!

Sunday Confessional April 24, 2011

I confess. It's Easter Sunday and I would much rather be spending time with my family then writing a blog post, so that's what I'm going to do. I hope everyone has a very blessed Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Beginnings April 22, 2011

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

My opening lines come from The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz:

It was about nine o'clock one bleak November day that the key rattled in the heavy lock of my cell in the Lubyanka prison and the two broad-shouldered guards marched purposefully in. I had been walking slowly round, left hand in the now characteristic prisoner's attitude of supporting the top of the issue trousers, which Russian ingenuity supplied without buttons or even string on the quite reasonable assumption that a man preoccupied with keeping up his pants would be severely handicapped in attempting to escape.

I loved the opener of this non-fiction book because it took me immediately into the story without having to go through pages and pages of introducing characters and setting up the storyline. I'm a little more than halfway through and I'm still loving it!