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!

Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir by Margaux Fragoso *Review*

I finished this book just minutes ago and realize I have a huge headache. I believe it's from furrowing my brow so intensely in horror and disgust...

Tiger, Tiger is an incredible story but one not easy to read because of its subject content. At turns both sickening and fascinating, I found myself riveted even as I was repelled.

Margaux is a troubled seven-year-old girl when she meets fifty-two-year-old Peter. Saddled at home with a mother who suffers from mental illness and a controlling, egocentric father, visits to Peter's house are a vacation from rules-a carefree time of make believe.

Peter is the father Margaux wishes she had. The one who doesn't yell when she twirls her hair and doesn't criticize her for what she eats or what she says. Peter is patient with her and kind. He listens to her stories, admires her drawings, and plays with the paper ladybug set she makes just for him. And he takes pictures of her-lots of pictures. He singles her out and wants to spend individual time just with her.

The basement becomes their special place. While Margaux's mother watches movies or goes to the store, Peter teaches her how to Eskimo kiss, then fish kiss, then kiss long like adults do, then finally, the Bazooka Joe kiss- which is the kiss where they pass gum from her mouth to his. She doesn't like this kiss because their tongues touch and that's ishy.

By the time Margaux is eight, Peter tells her his birthday is coming soon. He knows she doesn't have money so he'll ask instead for a very special gift that won't cost her anything. The day of Peter's birthday, Margaux gets a tummy ache. She doesn't feel well at all. Her mother tells her if she's sick she can't go to Peter's house to celebrate his birthday. Margaux cries. She really wants to go but she's afraid she'll disappoint Peter because she hasn't bought a present for him...

Reading this story I was shocked by how little I understood about pedophiles and their behavior. I knew enough to know they don't all look like monsters and you can't pick them out of a crowd, but what I didn't realize was how slowly and insidiously they could worm their way into your life.

Margaux's mother, partly because of her mental illness, either didn't see or ignored the signs. Her father's suspicions he disregarded because drink, his job, or his girlfriend always seemed to come before his daughter.

Peter and Margaux's relationship went on for fifteen years. Their unusual bond was a hard one to break although both at times seemed like they wanted to. Margaux was all Peter had. And Peter? Well, he had been such a big part of her life for so many years she didn't know how to exist without him.

I have never read a book where the character's relationships with each other were so complex. Margaux had such a love-hate relationship with everybody involved it's hard to imagine how she could feel anything at all-and sometimes she didn't.

I know this book stirred up a whole gamut of emotions within me: terror, revulsion, violation, incredulity, distrust, dismay, fury...and the feeling that I had consumed an important book for Margaux to write and a significant book for me to read. 5/5 stars

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley *Review*

Flavia de Luce is quite the little busybody. It is the summer of 1950- and at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, young Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, is intrigued by a series of events: A dead bird found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Then, hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he makes his dying breath... Immediately enthralled with the mystery of murder Flavia decides to go about solving it. This eleven-year-old is a precocious chemist in the making who uses her scientific mind to follow the clues...and it sometimes gets her in trouble. Disparagingly looking down her nose at her two older sisters, for which she has no love, she sets out on her bike (which she has named Gladys) to begin her investigation at the library. Upon finding it closed "CLOSED? Oh Scissors!" she exclaims before coming up with this perfect thought that each book lover here will agree upon: "As I stood outside on Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No- eight days a week." And that's where I fell in love with Flavia. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie was a fun, fun book. I loved the way Flavia gets into trouble no matter what she sets out to do. In fact at one point in the story Inspector Hewitt remarks: "There are times Miss de Luce, when you deserve a brass medal. And there are other times when you deserve to be sent to your room with bread and water." There is not much I can say without giving away the mystery of the murder that is the center of the book. What I can say is if you read this book you will like it and you will absolutely adore wicked little Flavia! Author Alan Bradley shines as he pins down her scheming mind and sarcastic tongue and wraps the whole book up with a whole lot of humor that had me laughing out loud at her hijinks and predicaments. I would definitely read another Flavia de Luce mystery! My rating 4/5 stars!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Library Loot April 20th, 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.

My bookbag was a little light as I left the library this week. For one thing, I have way too many checked out now that I need to catch up on. And, I have quite a few reserved that just haven't come in yet. So without further adieu...

Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multi-million dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same.

I have thought about checking this book out for quite some time. I read enough non-fiction that I didn't know if I wanted to add another one or not. But this story has so many legal, ethical & moral questions that just beg to be explored I had to give it a shot.

So, that's it! That's the only book I came home with this week. You might scoff at my wimpy Library Loot week but I was actually quite proud of my restraint!

Have a good week all, and keep those pages turning!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Little Princes by Conor Grennan *Review*

Most children in America don't know how good they've got it. Fed three times a day in a comfortable heated home in which they stay with one or both parents, they are oblivious to how children a half a world away are living. Now, I realize we have poor and underprivileged kids right here at home in our own backyard, but even the majority of them are never exposed to what children in countries like Nepal live with.

Conor Grennan opened my eyes to the heinous crime of child trafficking. I had heard of it of course, but never really absorbed what it meant to these children and their families.

Little Princes tells the story of Golkka (even his name sounds evil) a notorious child trafficker who preys on the poor families in the far flung regions of Nepal and convinces them for a fee, which is usually most of their life savings, he will take their children out of harms way during the civil war that rages in their country and keep their children safe. And after receiving this exorbitant sum he demands, he does indeed take the children-and then sells them into slavery, thus profiting twice off these children, some of whom are only five years old.

These children were forced to work for up to twelve hours a day washing dishes to earn their keep in small, dark, lice infested rooms where they were underfed and malnourished until someone came along to rescue them.

Little Princes starts out as a story about eighteen children in an orphanage in Godawari who are really not orphans at all but children rescued from child traffickers. The book changes about halfway through to the story of seven children that Conor and another orphanage volunteer named Farid try to rescue from traffickers. They are literally hours away from doing so when Golkka learns of their plan and moves the children and they disappear again in Kathmandu, a city of one million people.

The search to find these seven children becomes an obsession to Conor. He is riddled with guilt. After all, he had promised the seven that he was coming for them and they would once again be safe. His days are filled with thoughts of what he can do for them. He knows he has to find them and reunite them with their parents but he doesn't know how.

The answer finally comes to him. He will start a non-profit agency to do exactly that. He spends weeks on the computer researching how to set up a non-profit organization and months raising money and planning a rescue mission to the Humla region of Nepal and finding a home to shelter these children until their parents can be found. Thus Next Generation Nepal is born.

Conor Grennan tells his story with such honesty, admitting that he volunteered at Little Princes for one selfish reason-to "impress people." Laying bare his feelings of ineptitude, weakness and fear, you can't help but fall in love with this man who is adept, strong, and brave. Conor, it is easy to see, is a very humble man. A few lines from the book clearly demonstrated this to me. After finding out one father had walked three days to make a phone call to his son he hadn't seen in three years Conor says-

"Having no children myself, I had completely underestimated the lengths to which a father would go for his son."

But what you don't know unless you read the rest of the book is the lengths Conor went to make this phone call from a father to a son possible. Written with a lot of humor, Little Princes was not the intense, depressing read I thought it would be and for that I am thankful. Too often books that are written about heavy topics such as these can be hard, emotionally, to get through. But Conor never lets its light-hearted tone underscore the seriousness of what is happening in Nepal and undoubtedly other parts of the world.

I thank God for people like Conor who can do the things I wouldn't have the courage to do. People who are risking their lives to make a difference in other's. I encourage you to read this book and I implore you to check out Next Generation Nepal's website and make a donation. No child should have to go through what Madan, Bishnu, Navin, Dirgha, Samir, Kumar, Amita, and so many others have went through. And if you want to impress people, tell them you made a donation and why. 4/5 stars

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? April 18th, 2011

It's 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 Little Princes and started Tiger, Tiger. Not much accomplished at all. This week I will be busy doing some spring cleaning and running a lot of errands getting ready to have Easter dinner at my house. But, I am on vacation again so I'm thinking I might be able to squeeze in some reading time. Here's what I'm planning: Finish Tiger, Tiger which is a memoir about a girl and a pedophile and the curious bond that they have. Start The Long Walk. In 1941, the author and six fellow prisoners escaped a Soviet labor camp in Yakutsk-a camp where surviving hunger, cold, untended wounds and untreated illness, and avoiding daily executions were everyday feats. Their trek over thousands of miles by foot-out of Siberia and through China, the Gobi Desert, Tibet, and over the Himalayas to British India- was a remarkable journey through some of the most inhospitable conditions on the face of the earth. This is a true story that inspired the film The Way Back starring Ed Harris and Colin Farrell.

I also hope to get a start on Thirteen Reasons Why. This one I checked out on audio once and never got around to it.

You can't stop the future . You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret is to press play.

Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead, he reasons. Her secrets should be buried with her. Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on the tapes- and that he is, in some way responsible for her death. All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town...and what he discovers changes his life forever.

I'm curious if anyone has read The Long Walk or seen the movie made from the book. I know a lot of you have read Thirteen Reasons Why, tell me what you thought of it!

(Sorry about this mess of a post. Sometimes I can not get Blogger to do what I want it to do. I still have so much to learn! Does anyone else have problems getting pictures where you want some times? Or the spacing to go right? GRR!)

Sunday Confessional April 17th,2011

I confess. I hate to clean. While other people spend hours tidying up and putting things away, I spend hours trying to figure out how to get out of it.

That's why I cringe at the thought of starting my Spring cleaning. I know it has to be done. And with Easter being next Sunday and me hosting the meal it has to get done soon! Luckily I am on vacation this week so I'll have time to do it. Time I would rather spend reading or roaming the blogosphere or just being outside and enjoying the nice weather that will surely come anytime soon. (I hope!)

What about you? Are you a neat freak or do you only pick up the clutter and leave the rest? What is your least favorite cleaning chore? (I HATE mopping the floors) Share with me, please tell me I'm not the only one!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Snapshot April 16th, 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.

While at the airport working on the Aviation Merit Badge for Boy Scouts, I snapped this pic of my son sitting in a Blackhawk helicopter. You can tell by his expression he was amazed at all the switches and controls in there!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson *Review*

Jane Margaux is nine when her heart is broken for the first time. Her imaginary friend Michael, who is there for her all the times her mother is not, has to leave. It's in his "contract". Imaginary friends can't stay with the children longer then that. So on her ninth birthday Michael leaves her alone and sobbing with the promise that she won't remember him at all tomorrow. That's just how it works.

But little Jane is different from all the rest of Michael's children. She does remember him and longs for his friendship all these years. Then one day, in the restaurant they frequented, where Jane's favorite dessert was coffee ice cream with hot fudge sauce, she spies someone at the next table that reminds her of Michael. The smile was unmistakable, he was as good looking as ever and he had the same amazing green eyes...could it be?

And the most important question. Was she going nuts, a little crazy, hopping off the deep end? Was he imaginary? Or as she had always suspected...real?

Sundays at Tiffany's is the story of a little lonely girl who grew up to be a big lonely girl who once again meets the perfect man. But this time will he stay?

James Patterson is always an easy read for me. His short chapters and writing style generally make for a book that I can move fairly quickly through. And like the others, this one did just that. But I really felt that this one lacked a little of the substance that I have gotten from his other books. If you are looking for a nice and easy love story you would probably really like this book. If you are looking for more depth and more thrills then pick up something else.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Library Loot April 13,2011

In the past when I went to the library I was like a kid in a candy store. I would grab off the shelves left and right- after all, they were "free!" Sadly, I would reutrn a good portion of those unread. Now I'm a little more sensible in how many I check out. While I still check out to many- they're "free!"- I am able to read nearly all I bring home BEFORE their due dates.

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.

Here's what I chose this week:

No drinking. No smoking. No cursing. No dancing. No R-rated movies. Kevin Roose wasn't used to rules like these. As a sophomore at Brown University, he spent his days drinking fair-trade coffee, singing in an acapella group, and generally fitting right in with Brown's free-spirited, ultra-liberal student body. But when Roose leaves his Ivy League confines to spend a semester at Liberty University, a conservative Baptist school in Lynchburg, Virginia, obedience is no longer optional.

"There," says Alice Hayward to Reverend Stephen Drew, just before her baptism, and just before going home to the husband that 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 parent's 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 to 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.

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project.

With humor and insight, she chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from pop culture about how to be happier.

Each month she tackled a new set of resolutions: give proofs of love, ask for help, find more fun, keep a gratitude notebook, forget about results. She immersed herself in principles set forth by all manners of experts, from Epicurus to Thoreau to Oprah to Martin Seligman to the Dalai Lama to see what worked for her-and what didn't.

Her conclusions are sometimes surprising-she finds that money can buy happiness, when spent wisely: that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that "treating" yourself can make you feel worse; that venting bad feelings doesn't relieve them; that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference-and they range from the practical to the profound.

Have you read any of these? Let me know honestly whether you liked them or not!

The Post in Which I Amend a Book Rating...

I am starting to realize it's not a good thing to write a review immediately after reading a book. Up until now that is what I have tried to do- write a review while it's still freshest in my mind. But I've come to the conclusion that like good chili, it's best if I let it simmer all day, bubbling around in my mind.

A week ago I wrote a review on Room by Emma Donoghue. I liked the book and I gave it a 3/5 star rating, but I fear I did it an injustice. Since reading the book I have not been able to quit thinking about it.

The longer I ruminate on Room the better I like it. It is a very thought provoking book. So thought provoking in fact that I decided to nominate it for our May book club read because I wanted to explore this novel with others and hear their opinions on it. Luckily it made it's way through the vote up against other great sounding reads so I will get the opportunity to hear what my fellow Bookies opinion of the book is.

My amended rating? I'm moving it from a 3 star book to a 4 star book. It didn't initially blow me away like a 5 star book needs to do, but it is definitely 4 star material.

I'm interested in your thoughts. Do you write posts on your books right away or do you let them brew for a while? And have you ever changed a rating either up or down on a book you've read or reviewed?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

brave girl eating: A Family's Struggle with Anorexia by Harriet Brown *Review*

The demon's voice has come again. "Why are you doing this to me?" it screams in a high pitched voice, tongue flicking in and out like a serpent. This was not Harriet's daughter speaking. Kitty wouldn't say this, this was Not-Kitty, the part of her daughter that would take over when her caloric intake would drop to low.

brave girl eating like the subtitle clearly spells out is about how a whole family struggles with anorexia. How it takes over each and every waking moment of their day. How Harriet, Kitty's mother has to be the food police and sit with her daughter while she eats to make sure she's eating everything set before her. How Kitty's dad Jamie has to be near her for an hour after every meal to make sure she doesn't escape to the bathroom to throw it all up. About the Brown's other daughter, ten-year=old Emma, who has to listen to the fights and the begging and the pleading to get through every meal and how she misses out on so much because of her parent's need to not let Kitty out of their sight.

As a treatment option the Brown's chose FBT, Family Based Therapy, instead of sending their daughter away to an inpatient clinic. What they chose was a much harder option but one with significantly higher recovery rates, almost 90 percent! They had a good support team behind them but the struggle was all their own. Harriet was consumed with fitting in as many calories in every meal as she could, "refeeding" their daughter, sometimes as much as 4,000 calories a day to get her up to a target weight and then being able to back off a little and let Kitty have a little control over her eating habits.

Kitty was diagnosed at the age of fourteen. At eighteen and very close to her target weight they let Kitty go away for a bit to prepare for college life. In one month she lost fifteen pounds, had relapsed, and had to return home. Kitty is still not recovered from the disease. She doesn't feel hunger and maybe never will, but Kitty's family is determined to stick by her because that's what families do.

brave girl eating is a fascinating novel about a mysterious disease. And when I say fascinating I don't mean this definition: a feeling of great liking for something wonderful and unusual. I mean this definition: the state of being intensely interested (as by awe or terror). Awe of what this horrific disease can do to the mind and the body, and terrified of every seeing it rear it's ugly head in somebody I love.

This heartbreaking novel was a real eye opener to me. Aside from a couple of chapters filled with a little too much research and studies on weight gain and loss it moved fairly quickly. I would rate this book 3.5/5 stars.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? April 11, 2011

It's 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!

I didn't get quite as much read last week as I had hoped but as Meatloaf sings (much better than I) "two out of three ain't bad."

I finished Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and Sundays at Tiffany's. Still on my list for this week is Little Princes.

The only other book I am adding for this week is Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir

One summer day, Margaux Fragosa meets Peter Curran at the neighborhood swimming pool, and they begin to play. She is seven; he is fifty-one. When Peter invites her and her mother to his house, the little girl finds a child's paradise of exotic pets and an elaborate backyard. Her mother, beset by mental illness and overwhelmed by caring for Margaux, is grateful for the attention Peter lavishes on her, and he creates an imaginative universe for her, much as Lewis Carroll did for his real-life Alice.

In time, he insidiously takes on the role of playmate, father and lover. Charming and manipulative, Peter burrows into every aspect of Margaux's life and transforms her from a child fizzing with imagination and affection into a brainwashed young woman on the verge of suicide. But when she is twenty-two, it is Peter-ill, and wracked with guilt- who kills himself, at the age of sixty-six.

Told with lyricism, depth, and mesmerizing clarity, Tiger, Tiger vividly illustrates the healing power of memory and disclosure. This extraordinary memoir is an unprecedented glimpse into the psyche of a young girl in free fall and conveys to readers-including parents and survivors of abuse-just how completely a pedophile enchants his victim and binds her to him.

Wow! I didn't realize until now that these two intense books where stacked right next to each other on my TBR pile! Maybe I should restack my pile to make sure a light comedic book is up for next week. Looks like I'll be needing it!

Sunday Confessional April 10,2011

I confess. I love a good thunderstorm. And while a violent, windy, booming thunder and cracking lightning type of storm may strike fear in the hearts of some- I relish them. So when I heard one was in the forecast for last night I got a little chill. I was excited.

At my home I have two covered decks where I can sit outside safe from the rain and the hail and watch as the rain pours down and the sky lights up around me. I can rock on my porch swing and feel the cool, damp air wrap its arms around me. I can safely enjoy watching God at work.

Last night, however, proved to be a disappointment. I was inside when I heard thunder rumble in the distance. A few minutes later I could hear the first drops of rain on my skylight. Ooooh, this is it, I thought. With ears perked I listened for more...(crickets chirping) and held my breath and waited...(silence.)

Last night's "storm" was a bit of a disappointment. But I will keep waiting. Another one can't be far behind this one. And as long as everyone's safe and the storm doesn't spawn a tornado I will keep enjoying them.

Your turn to confess. Do thunderstorms give you a thrill or do they strike chills down your spine?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Snapshot 4/9/2011

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.

It's finally getting nice enough in my neck of the woods and get out an do some bike riding. This week I have posted a picture of a bike I saw a young man riding downtown last summer and I had to stop him and ask if I could take a picture of it. This is a project he has been working on for several years. He sends away to California for these gold parts he has put on this bike. He still has more to do but it is looking close to completion. More then the bike though- was the way he rode it down the sidewalks with his nose in the air looking for all the world like he "owned" it, you know what I mean? lol He was a great! And by the way- isn't the spare tire on the back awesome?!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

There are No Accidents: In all Things Trust in God by Father Benedict Groeschel with John Bishop *Review*

After the impact of the car shattered his body on the evening of January 11, 2004 the hospital trauma-unit staff offered little hope that Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.FR., would survive. Then the news spread. And the prayers began.

There are No Accidents is a book in two parts. The first part of the book is a lengthy interview Father Benedict did with John Bishop before his accident. In this section Father Benedict gives his opinion on the state of the Catholic Church in society today as well as his opinion on such topics as 9/11, abortion, atheism, clergy and the sex abuse scandal, Mother Theresa, and the poor.

The second part of the book is reflections from Father Benedict while he was recovering for months in the hospital and, later, in the nursing home. He reflects on subjects like gratitude, progress, hope, keeping faith , visiting the sick, and death is never far away.

I found this quiet, simple, humble man to be quite profound in his wisdom. One thing he repeats throughout the book is- "No plans, be led." He speaks about not making plans because if you start making plans you start thinking they are God's plans. Instead, just let him lead you to whatever he wants you to do,

He talks about always knowing what God wanted him to do. He was seven-years-old when he decided he was going to be a priest! He watched as one of his teachers, Sister Teresa, everyday after school would go a deliver a tray of steaming food to an old lady on the top floor of a tenement building in a poor neighborhood in Jersey City. He was curious to see what this old lady looked like so he snuck up the fire escape of the building one day and peeked in her window. Three inches from his face was the face of the "wicked witch" from Snow White! He was so frightened he scrambled down the fire escape, ran to the church, threw himself down in front of the statue of Our Blessed Mother and prayed. He asked "How come the witch doesn't kill Sister Teresa?" Then he said to himself, "Maybe it is because Sister is nice to her. And if people were nicer to witches, maybe they wouldn't be so bad." Even at the age of seven, he was quite the thinker!

I enjoyed this short read of Father Benedict's. I found his insight after his accident to be very revealing of the way he lives his life every day, as one that is truly happy, loves to serve others, and is totally devoted to God. I rate this book 3/5 stars.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Library Loot April 6-12

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.

This is what I checked out this week:

It is 1875, and Anna Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and and outcast, Anna Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family's polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.

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 observes...like 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.

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."

That's what came home in my book bag this week. What came home in yours?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue *Review*

Jack is 5. Mr. Five now since he's just had a birthday. It's now time for Jack to grow up and find out there is more to the world then just Room. He doesn't understand anything about the world since he's never seen it, only on TV which he thinks each channel is a different planet, it's all fantasy. He was born in Room and besides his Ma and mean Old Jack, that's all he's ever seen. He's comfortable there...it's his home.

But Ma yearns for the life she had before Room. The life her JackerJack has never seen. And one night she comes up with a plan...

Room was a very unique story. I really enjoyed reading about the life Ma had created for her and Jack within the confines of an 11 x 11 room. The importance she placed on cleanliness so they wouldn't get sick, the Phys Ed they did so their bodies wouldn't atrophy, the games she invented and the stories she told to keep their minds sharp. She loved Jack immensely- he was all that she had.

Made up almost entirely of dialog, Room is a quick read once you finally get the rhythm of the way Jack speaks, as it is him that is telling the story from his own perspective. For the creative way Ms. Donoghue chose to tell Jack's story I give this book 3/5 stars.

**My friend Sheila from Book Journey has a great review of this book as well, with a Spoiler Button page to fully discuss the book without giving things away to those still reading it. Check it out here!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hello! I'm a newbie here! I have fun following this meme weekly but I have never participated. My schedule is crazy and I'm lucky if I can post once or twice a week. BUT, I was on vacation this week and even though I was gone Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday when I finally got around to reading I finished 4 books in 4 days! AND had time to schedule some future posts! I am so psyched about that! Can you imagine what I could accomplish if I didn't have to work?

That's right, absolutely nothing!! lol

Anyhoo- as I understand it It's Monday! What Are You Reading is a chance for all to share what their reading plans are for the week. Join in with Sheila at Book Journey so we can see what you are up to!

I will be going back to work ...Boo! And even though I won't be getting through 4 books in 4 days I do plan on reading these:

I just started this this morning and I'm loving it. Very cute and quirky!

This one is a book club read and I heard it's a quick read so I just might be able to get to this next one-

I've heard great things about this and until a few days ago it was halfway down my reading pile. I will not finish this one, but I should get a good start.

So that's my week! Now I'm going to go visit yours!

Sunday Confessional April 3, 2011

I confess. My bookshelf is a mess. Weighted down with books, not in any order, some vertical, some horizontal with no more room to cram another book. Not one! Am I compulsive book buyer? Not really. At least not anymore.

Several years ago I snapped up any book I could find. Book sales? I was there all three days. Rummage sales? A perfect way to get them cheap. Birthdays? I asked for gift cards to the local book store. But lately, nah, not so much.

Why then, considering how many books I read, are my bookshelves sagging in the middle? It's because I don't read my own books. You darn book bloggers are making me "see" books I have to read! Books I might not have considered in the past but you, yes YOU, make them sound oh so good. It's terrible! I see a book that you gave a great review to and I hop onto my library's website to request it. I can't see buying any more when I have so many left unread at home. Besides, a due date makes me get to them that much quicker.

So how do I solve this unsightly mess in my bedroom? I have made it a goal this year to read 1-2 books off my own bookshelf each month. I take them down from the shelves, dust them off and insert them into my TBR pile. So far it's working. Eye Contact reviewed a couple of weeks ago is one of these and Cul-de-Sac (review scheduled) is another. At this rate I might actually have 5 or 6 to bring to our annual Book Club book sale later this year!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Snapshot April 2, 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. Was searching for something on the ground when this bird started making a terrible fuss. It was then that I noticed the eggs she was protecting. (You can see them in the photo right behind her legs.)