Sunday, December 18, 2011

Review of Tell Me Something True

Synopsis in a Sentence: Gabriella, daughter of a famous movie producer, travels to her mother's homeland, Colombia, as she struggles to make sense of who her mother really was.

My Thoughts:
I really did not care for this book. I'm giving it only 1 star, but that might be slightly's probably more like 1 and a 1/2 or maybe even 2 stars.

I did enjoy reading about a country in South America, as I don't often read about this part of the world, and it was interesting to see how different their lives are there from ours. I also identified with Gabriella's feelings of devastation over the loss of her mother, as I also almost lost my mother at a young age. I thought her need to learn all she could about her mother was very realistic...don't we all want to know as much as we can about the ones we love while we have the chance?

Unfortunately, Gabriella finds out that her mother was not content with their well to do life in Hollywood, and had been going back to Columbia on pretense of visiting her family, only to actually be having an affair with a man there. Gabriella finds her mother's diary, and so we get to hear Helena's side of the story in her own words, which added a deeper layer to the novel.

Gabriella travels to Columbia, finding herself not ready for college yet, and stays with her mother's family, whom she doesn't treat very well, in my opinion. She also becomes involved in an unhealthy relationship with the son of a drug lord.

I'm just not sure if I saw any change or growth on Gabriella's part as a character, which is what I kept waiting for as I read. The end is left sort of a mystery as we aren't sure whether or not Helena was actually abandoning her family on her last trip to Colombia, where she died in a plane crash.

Overall, there were some interesting and thoughtful aspects to this novel, but not enough to really impress me or to read more from this author. I could see a teenager perhaps enjoying this book more, as it deals with a young lady trying to understand herself, her parents, and her place in the world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Review of A Discovery of Witches

Synopsis in a Sentence: Diana Bishop, a witch, whose ancestry traces back to the Salem Witch Trials, is a visiting professor at Oxford who meets a vampire and begins to stir things up among the magical races.

My Thoughts:
I read this book over Halloween actually (once again, I'm behind on my reviews!) and thought that it was a perfect book for the holiday! Spooky in some parts, but not scary...I don't really enjoy being scared!

Anyways, I'm giving this book 5 keys because even though it is a huge book, I raced through it very quickly...I couldn't wait to see what happened next in every scene. I've heard that some people are calling this Twilight for adults, and I could actually see that being true. The vampire in this book (which is the first book in a planned trilogy), Matthew Clairmont (don't you just love his name?!) is definitely as dark, and maybe even sexier than much lauded Edward Cullen! If you don't believe that can be true, read this book and you will find out that I'm telling the truth haha. In fact, (gasp) in some ways, I believe this author, Deborah Harkness describes and fleshes out her characters better than Stephanie Meyer. In other words, Matthew is sexy, tall, dark, handsome, protective, intelligent, charming, rich, and a little bit tortured...everything a good vampire should be lol!

I really loved this book and I felt as if the book began and ended well, but there are some slow parts in the middle. There isn't a lot of action that takes place, and the action which does happen feels a little bit forced. But, the premise of the story is so engrossing that you almost don't even notice the lack of excitement!

Diana Bishop, who is a witch but has decided to forsake her magical heritage after the death of her parents, is a visiting professor of alchemical history at Oxford in England. She happens to stumble upon an important manuscript while doing research...a manuscript that may hold secrets to the origin and survival of the three magical races: witches, vampires and daemons.

There are elements of history, time travel, science and yes, romance in this book and they all work together to really make the story come alive. The romance between Diana and Matthew was some of the best I've read in a long time. I'm looking forward to the next installment in the series which promises more action it seems...Check it out, you won't regret it! :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Review of the Anne series

Hi dear followers! Unfortunately, I have long been absent from the wonderful book blogosphere. I still love my blog and all of your blogs, but October proved to be an exceptionally busy month! I have been diligently working on my first book, among all of the other concerns and happenings of life :).

On to my review...Like so many other girls (young and old), I have always loved and been enamored by Anne of Green Gables! It's hilarious because I've actually used "Anne" as an icebreaker before! You mention the books or the CBC tv miniseries and you become instantly bonded in kinship with other women lol. There's just something about Anne, her spunk, her overactive imagination and her ability to always turn lemons into lemonade...not to mention her endearing love story with Gilbert Blythe! I know that characters such as Rhett Butler and James Bond have made women swoon over the years, but for me, Gilbert is the one I fell in love with! :)

Anyways, I recently re-read the entire Anne series, which is 6-8 books depending on whom you ask. The 7th and 8th books technically just focus on her children and their doings, rather than about Anne's life...therefore, I decided to only read the 6 books about Anne. Below, is a brief synopsis and analysis of these charming and enduring novels. I hope after reading this review, you too will be inspired to revisit this old friend. Enjoy!
All books written by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Anne of Green Gables:
In this book, quirky, daydreaming Anne Shirley comes from an orphanage to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Her antics are laugh out loud cute and funny, and while she drives Marilla fairly crazy, she ends up winning the hearts of everyone she meets.

I love all of Anne's girlhood dreams in this book. LM Montgomery so accurately portrays the adventures and daydreams that most little girls have and it's so cozy and charming to revisit those golden days of youth! Anne's friendship with Diana Berry remains one of the sweetest and most compelling stories of female friendship that I've ever encountered in literature. It makes us all want to have that "bosom friend."

Anne of Avonlea:

In this book, Anne grows up a little bit, but still has plenty of her endearing misadventures! Gilbert is falling in love with Anne, but while Anne learns to accept his friendship, does not yet care to have romance in her life. During the course of this 2nd novel, several new "kindred spirits" are introduced and Anne teaches for several years at the Avonlea school.

This book was a little bit slower paced than Green Gables, with several random side stories, but overall, an excellent and heartwarming 2nd addition to the series.

Anne of the Island:

This happens to be my favorite book of the series! In this novel, spirited Anne attends Redmond College in Kingsport and begins to discover her love of writing. Several new characters are introduced including Anne's new friends Stella and Phillipa. Anne gains a suitor in this novel, much to the chagrin of Gilbert Blythe who is also attending college at Redmond! At the very end of the book, Anne realizes that it is, and always has been, Gilbert who she loves...*sigh*! :)

Anne of Windy Poplars:

This book is mainly comprised of letters written by Anne to Gilbert as they are engaged, but sadly, parted while Anne moves away to teach at an all girls school, and Gilbert begins attending medical school. The letters are sweet, touching and funny as she chronicles her newest misadventures in a new place. You can't help but feel (along with Anne) a little homesick for Green Gables and Avonlea, but it is fun to read about her experiences with teaching and growing into a graceful and happy woman.

Anne's House of Dreams:

In this book, Anne once again wins the hearts of all she encounters, including a sad young woman with a mystery behind her sadness. Here, Anne and Gilbert are reunited after several years of being engaged, are married and beginning their new life together in a small, cozy house at Four Winds Harbour.

I loved reading about Anne's newlywed bliss with've rooted for them to end up together for so long that it's a huge "Yay" moment when they finally get to settle down!

Anne of Ingleside:

This was perhaps my least favorite Anne book, but I didn't dislike it by any just focuses a lot on Anne's kids and has her giving up her writing. Anne (Mrs. Doctor Dear) and Dr. Blythe move into a huge, impressive mansion closer to town, which Anne names Ingleside. In this book, Anne is getting ready to have her 6th child and the rest of her children are all a fun mixture of Anne and Gilbert! By this novel, Anne has obviously changed a lot and is now a mother, but she remains a dear friend to all who read about her.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review of Something More

I wasn't a huge fan of this book. Sarah Ban Breathnach tries to sell to women that we have something "missing" and we need to fill up that hole inside of us. I definitely agree that women can give so much of themselves that we need to "rediscover ourselves," but Breathnach just seems to talk a lot about herself and her divorce in this book and presents her ideas in a rather rambling and jumbled way.

I'm only giving this one 2 keys, but Breathnach's other book (which I read several years ago), Romancing the Ordinary was actually one of the best self-help/inspirational books I've ever read! Breathnach's ideas of how to connect with our five senses in simple ways was very comforting and inspiring to read. She includes recipes in this book from making herbal tea to homemade facials and fun things to add to your bath. With this book, Breathnach really does make you want to fall in love with the simple pleasures of life!

I'm definitely going to check out her other books at some point, but I just wouldn't necessarily recommend Something More.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Synopsis in a Sentence: This is the real-life story of Jodee Blanco, who was ridiculed and bullied for years at school.

My Thoughts:
This was such an inspirational book, and one that I feel all parents should read, regardless if their children are being picked on at school or not. If your child is not being bullied, this book might help give you some information and resources on what to do if it does start happening.

Jodee is truly a heroine for what she had to endure during her teenage years, and she did it with a lot of grace!

My favorite part of the book is where she and her family take a trip to Greece (where their ancestors are from) and Jodee begins to finally come into her own. She realizes that their is this whole other world out there, filled with people who will treat her with dignity.

My least favorite part of the book is obviously all of the heart wrenching scenes of what the bullies did to her. Hard to read, but gives you a realistic portrait of how cruel some teenagers can be.

Sorry such a short review's been a busy week! :) Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ode to Nicholas Sparks

Hi dear followers...I first would like to say again that I haven't forgotten about any of you or about my book blog...I've just been really busy with "life" lately. As soon as things settle down some, I will definitely be going to your blogs for updates and to read your awesome reviews!

So lately, I've re-read two Nick Sparks favorites (A Walk to Remember and The Notebook). I've also read two of his newer ones (The Last Song and Dear John). They all seemed like summery type reads! I have always loved A Walk to Remember for its old-fashioned ambiance and the sweet story of love and hope over disease. However, I remember liking The Notebook more than I did this time around. It is a quick read, but I forgot about how totally sappy it is haha. I do enjoy the perspective of how Noah is an old man reflecting back on how he and Allie fell in love, but I found myself realizing that I actually like the movie version a lot better than the novel! In the film, their love story is fleshed out and given detail...for example, the scenes where Allie smashes ice-cream into Noah's face and when they eat pancakes for dinner at Noah's dads house. With poignant moments like this, we are able to understand how Noah pines for Allie after all the years. In the book, Sparks seems to "tell" rather than "show" how they fell in love. I was actually a little shocked even when I realized how he simply skips over their entire courtship and instead focuses on them getting back together years and years later. This is one of the only cases where I like the movie better than the book! I can still appreciate some of the romance and the ideal of life-long love depicted in the novel, however :).

The cover of The Last Song is haunting and beautiful and I actually read this book on a beach vacation! There is real sand in the book now as well as the sand depicted on the cover! Despite the cover, I found this book to be extremely dull to be honest. The sappy teenage romance is sort of cute, but it feels forced. I found out later that Sparks actually only wrote this book so that a movie could be adapted from it for Miley Cyrus to star in...this just kind of took the charm out of it for me. I did love the side story of the turtles hatching and being so fragile, trying to find their way to the sea. Also, the relationship between Ronnie, her brother and their father is a realistic and poignant one. I could have done without the teenage angst and silly romance, and been left with a great book about a father's relationship with his changing kids.

Dear John was actually a little bit of an exciting read. I read it pretty quickly because I wanted to see if John and Savannah ended up together. I found it hard to believe, though, how Savannah seemed so in love with John and he was like this massively hunky solider and then she suddenly decides she can't wait for him any longer. It just didn't seem to fit the personality Sparks initially gave her. Even though the ending is bittersweet, I found myself actually being moved by John's sacrifice, which I didn't expect to feel. Once again, I liked the movie version better than the book!

Overall, I loved A Walk to Remember, but I could have done without reading the others. It's a little sad because I really want to like his books, but they always just end up seeming a little too sappy, underdeveloped and unbelievable for my taste. I don't think I will read anything more by him for a long time unless I hear somewhere about a fantastic new one. Sad, but true! :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

While my town dries out of record-setting, epic flooding from Hurricane Irene, let me ask you:
What’s your book with weather events? Hurricanes? Tornadoes? Blizzards? Real? Fiction? Doesn’t matter … weather comes up a lot in books, so there’s got to be a favorite somewhere, huh?

My answer:

Interesting question! I actually do seem to crave certain genres/books during various seasons or even weather patterns during the year! In the summer, I lean toward chick lit, and other light, happy books...for example, I just re-read the entire Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. It was great re-visiting Anne and all of her spiritedness and just seemed an appropriate series for the summer! However, when it's raining outside and during the fall and winter, I seem to crave deeper and more complex reads. For instance, I hope to really delve into some good fantasy books this upcoming winter. Thanks for the question!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review of Imperfect Birds

Synopsis in a Sentence: A teenage girl, Rosie, spends the summer rebelling and exhibiting teenage angst against her mother, Elizabeth.

My Thoughts:
Wow, can I just say how much I completely hated this novel? Haha! Harsh, yes, but I have to be honest! This was truly one of the worst books that I have EVER read. Where do I begin in order to explain just how horrible it was?

Well, first of all, it had absolutely no plot. The entire book takes place during the summer before Rosie's senior year of high school and it's basically about her being a parent's worst nightmare. I suppose I might recommend this to the parent of a teenager in order for them to feel glad about what THEIR teenager is like, but that's about it.

Probably the worst part of this book, though, is that there's no redeeming quality or theme to it. Rosie's behavior finally deteriorates to the point where Elizabeth needs to send her to a youth wilderness camp for out of control kids. While there, Rosie seemingly learns nothing about how to improve herself and doesn't even come to an awareness of what got her sent there.

I kept waiting for something exciting, or even just interesting to happen, but it never does. There's nothing here to be shared or learned except that this book made me dread my future children becoming teenagers one day haha!

This book had has a beautiful cover, an intriguing title and was seemingly about the complexities of a mother/daughter relationship. However, in reality, it ends up only being a boring portrait of an incredibly spoiled and smug teenager.

Having said all this, though, I have read that author, Anne Lamott, has written such wonderful and witty memoirs, such as Traveling Mercies. I'm willing to read one of these and give her another chance, but I'll never read another one of her novels.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometimes I feel like the only person I know who finds reading history fascinating. It’s so full of amazing-yet-true stories of people driven to the edge and how they reacted to it. I keep telling friends that a good history book (as opposed to some of those textbooks in school that are all lists and dates) does everything a good novel does–it grips you with real characters doing amazing things.
Am I REALLY the only person who feels this way? When is the last time you read a history book? Historical biography? You know, something that took place in the past but was REAL.

My answer:

I love reading history books, you are not alone!! I think it's important for people to read about others doing interesting and great things so that they can be inspired and encouraged by them. Also, they say that learning about history helps us not to repeat the mistakes of the past!

Right now, my hubby and I are listening to 1776 by David McCullough on audiobook. It's fascinating to hear a detailed, true-life account of the Revolutionary War. I kind of feel like history books are like fantasy books...they really take you out of your own life and mind and truly transport you to another place.

So overall, not my favorite genre, but one that I definitely indulge in now and then :).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reviews of two non-fiction books

Hi friends! Sorry I haven't posted on here in awhile...the last couple of Summer weeks here have been busy! Hope all of you are enjoying August!

Lately, I've read these two non-fiction books, and they were very quick, interesting little reads!
Faith Journey Through Fantasy Lands was an e-book, which I read on my Nook. The writer, who is the head of some religious education programs, lives in Dayton, OH where is which I am originally from! In this book, he analyzes the Christian themes behind the three most popular fantasy stories ever written: Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I love reading anything that has to do with any of those stories, and so I thought I'd give this one a try! It was a little bit repetitive, but it also hit on a lot of deep truths about these fantasy stories.

B.O.O.B.S was a compilation of stories about women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer in multiple stages. As my mother suffered with and eventually became a survivor of this disease, I have always been eager to read about other women's experiences. This book definitely puts a human face on this horrible illness. The bravery of these women illuminates how hope and friendship can turn something terrible into something that can be survived and that can even bring blessings.

Give them both a try if you're in the mood for some quick, thought provoking non-fiction!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

My answers:
I'm currently reading a book called B.O.O.B.S by Ann Kempner Fisher. My mother had breast cancer at a young age, and so I'm always interested in reading about other women's experiences with this disease. The title stands for: A Bunch of Outrageous Breast Cancer Survivors!

I recently finished reading The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. A book about food and friendship!

I think I'll read a few Nicholas Sparks books next...I know he's had a few new ones out in the past couple of years. I'm in the mood for some sappy romance!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Review of The School of Essential Ingredients

Synopsis in a Sentence: A group of varied people come together to learn about cooking and life in this slim novel.

My Thoughts:
This was such a sweet, charming little book...I liked it better than I thought I would! The owner of a small, intimate, and quaint restaurant, Lillian, gives cooking lessons every Monday night to a group of eight people. The group's lives end up intertwining during the course of this novel.

We learn about Lillian's history and love for food, as the novel unfolds. Each chapter is dedicated to the other members of the group and we learn about what is going on in each of their lives. Every Monday night, Lillian has the class members create a new dish and I was excited each time to read about what they would make! My mouth was definitely watering during this book!

What I loved most: The dishes that the students create are not simply about food...they end up having some symbolism for the character's lives as well. For example, the creation of a spicy tomato sauce ignites a romance between two of the characters! Several foods remind Lillian of her mother and her childhood. I love the idea of food having meaning to us and impacting our lives, rather than just something we consume every day!

What I liked least: A few of the characters were a little bit boring, perhaps, and many of them had cliche type dilemmas. The book wasn't very unique I guess, but it was a charming, fast read and I loved the descriptions of all the food and what it ended up meaning to the characters as I mentioned above!

3 stars

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

My answers...

I'm currently reading The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. A sweet, charming and slim little novel about an eccentric group of people whose lives intertwine when they all take a cooking class together.

I recently finished reading Blackveil by Kristen Britain. I can't wait for the next installment in this fantasy series, but it probably won't be out for another 2 years! :(

I think I'll read a couple of non-fiction books mother is a survivor of breast cancer and I like to read about other women's experiences with this type of cancer. There is a book called B.O.O.B.S by Ann Kempner Fisher which looks promising.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book review of Blackveil

Synopsis in a Sentence: In this fourth book of the series, the main character, Karigan Glad'heon fulfills her duties as a messenger to the king by going on a quest to help stop the evil of their enemy, Morhaven the Black.

My Thoughts: I love this fantasy series! I have been devoted to this series since the first book, Green Rider. Unfortunately, while this author is extremely talented, she takes about 3-4 years in between each book...and so sometimes I can't believe I've been reading this series since high school! These books are actually the reason I wanted to begin a book blog because I wanted to share my love of this series with other readers and hear their thoughts on the books.

Ms. Britain's writing reminds me of J.K. Rowling's writing style...which is high praise, indeed! They are both able to not only write a great story, but to actually make that story come alive. As you read this book, you just almost feel the world (Sacoridia) Ms. Britain has created. Reading books is wonderful of course, but sometimes you end with just feeling as if you read a cute story. But when you find a book where you actually feel as if you went on the adventure yourself and that this other world might be real...that is magic! This feeling doesn't happen to me very often...but it happened with this series.

In summary, this series is about a girl, Karigan who through a set of circumstances and a mysterious "calling," gets caught up in an adventure which eventually leads her to the capital and the King. She finds out about the Green Riders, who work as messengers and scouts for the King and each of them has their own special magical "ability." Karigan realizes that her calling is to join them, and she eventually becomes a Green Rider. All four books are her subsequent adventures in helping to quell the dark forces (Morhaven the Black and his comrades) which threaten their land...typical epic fantasy type stuff, but so special and magical as I mentioned above.

Having given the series much praise...I do have to mention one incredibly frustrating subplot to the books, something which many of her fans are driven crazy by, including me! The King (Zachary) and Karigan fall in love, but are not able to be together for a variety of reasons. The romantic tension between them is one of the best relationship plots I've ever's almost unbearable, but highly interesting watching them struggle with their feelings for each other. I would absolutely love to see them eventually be allowed to be together and many fans agree with me (check out Amazon reviews), but others feel as if they are on two different paths and would be better off marrying certain other characters.

Overall, I would recommend this series to anyone. I love the genre of fantasy, but I've been delving into other genres for the past couple of years...this is really the only fantasy I've read since Harry Potter, Twilight and the Inheritance Cycle. I hope to return to the genre soon and really get into it again. I might start with The Game of Thrones as I keep hearing great things about the HBO series they've adapted from those books!

What I loved most: Everything. The author herself is kind of unique as well...I'd love to meet her in person one day. She was actually a former National park ranger who eventually published Green Rider and has since become a full time writer (although this hasn't seemed to help with her getting the books out any sooner!) She's supposedly single and lives in a log cabin in Maine. I'm always checking out her website for updates on future books!

What I liked least: The romance between King Zachary and Karigan is a little bit torturous and it's made worse by the fact that the series is ongoing and there's little hope of it being resolved anytime soon. It's a huge cliffhanger and it sometimes makes me wish I hadn't discovered this series until all of the books have come out!! Ahh!!!!

4 stars

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:
"And she remembered Mornhavon, the incorporeal darkness that had invaded her mind and body. "Why me?" She had meant to shout, but it emerged as a whisper."

from the book, Blackveil by Kristen Britain, p. 179

I love this fantasy series! The heroine, Karigan is very likable and is multi-dimensional...vulnerable as well as strong and brave. This book is the fourth book in the series...but be warned, the author takes 3-4 years to write each book and it drives her fans crazy! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Synopsis in a Sentence: Juliet Ashton is a writer living in London during the aftermath of World War II who finds love and the inspiration for her next book on the British isle of Guernsey.

My Thoughts:
Can I just say how much I absolutely love and adore this book?! It is cute, charming, and interesting with an eccentric mix of characters that truly come alive off the page. Lately, I have been very interested in stories about WWII as my Grandfather was a vet of the war and I'm actually writing a book on the subject as well! :) This book was a great choice to put me in the right frame of my mind for my really evokes the time period of the 40's so well. It is very easily one of the best books that I've read in the past couple of years!

I loved the main character of Juliet. She is a struggling writer who is trying to figure out what the next chapter of her life should be now that the war has ended and she has entered her thirties. She receives correspondence from a man living on the island of Guernsey which was occupied by the Germans during the war and essentially cut off from the rest of the world. Eventually, she begins to correspond with other residents from the Island and learns about the book club they began during the war to maintain a sense of connectedness, fun and normalcy during their Occupation. Juliet finally visits the Island and finds not only a new home...but inspiration for her next book and love as well!

What I loved most: The endearing characters come alive and feel like your friends by the books end. Also, this novel is told completely in the form of letters which is a nice change of pace. Finally, it's worth reading just to figure out the meaning behind the unique title!

What I liked least: I wish there were more descriptions or scenes of the actual book club. It is talked about a lot and is the reason the characters were able to keep their morale up during the war, but there aren't a lot of actual meetings described.

5 stars!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
I am currently reading Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society! I absolutely love this book...I've been very interested in WWII stories lately and this is such a great one.

I recently finished reading The Shack by William P. Young. This is such a moving story of a man finding the healing he needs after the murder of his little girl.

Hmm...not sure what I'll read next! Probably a book called Blackveil by Kristen Britain. This is the fourth book in an amazing fantasy series...I'll be excited to share my review of it with all of you!

I also wanted to mention briefly that I haven't been as active on this blog as I would like to be. The book blogging community is amazing and I've been so blessed to become a part of it, but I have been very busy lately with attempting to write my first book! Stay tuned...perhaps someday my efforts will pay off...fingers crossed! :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Review of The Shack

Synopsis in a Sentence: A man tries to solve the mystery and find forgiveness and healing after the murder of his little girl.

My Thoughts:
This book was given to me as a Christmas present a few years ago and I wasn't sure if I would like it or not. I'm a little bit of a scaredy cat and I knew it was kind of a murder mystery story. But it ended up being so much more than that! It is an amazing story of faith, forgiveness and healing after a horrible event.

The story begins when a father takes his kids on a camping trip and the unthinkable happens: a serial killer stalks and then kidnaps his little girl. An image that is haunting me from this book is that the little girl was wearing a red sundress when she was taken and the killer left his calling card: a ladybug! How creepy is that?! The writer, Young, evokes such a vivid image with the color red here, though. In fact, this book was so well written and realistic seeming, that I thought for the first half of this book that this was based on a true story!

Several years after the abduction of his daughter, Missy, Mack receives an invitation from GOD (of all people haha) to return to the place where his daughter may have been murdered to spend a weekend in healing.

God turns out to be a warm and loveable black woman who is an amazing cook. This may seem an unexpected medium for God to appear as, but it really works in the book. I kind of feel that one of the themes of the book is that God is in everyone and God can manifest Himself to us in many ways and through all kinds of people.

Read this book to see if God helps Mack to heal from his devastating loss! This book is touching and will help you to heal and understand the reasons behind the tragedies of your own life.

What I liked least: The first part of the book is a murder mystery and is very fast is a little hard to transition between this and the second, slower and more philosophical half.

What I liked most: At the very end of the book, Mack gets to see his daughter one last time as the way she used to be...isn't that what we all wish for when we lose a loved one? To see them full of life one last time and to tell them we love them?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Book Review of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Synopsis in a Sentence: This heartbreaking, yet inspiring memoir chronicles the final days of Professor Randy Pausch, who is dying of pancreatic cancer.

My Thoughts:
Wow, what an incredibly moving and emotional story! What really struck me as I read this book was just how brave and " full of life" Pausch remained even toward the end of his battle with terminal cancer. He just had a good attitude until the end, and wanted to focus not on himself, but on how his situation could help and inspire others.

Your heart literally breaks as you realize that he will be leaving behind his beloved wife, and his three young children. Now that he has been gone several years, I find myself incredibly curious as to whether his wife remarried and how his kids are doing! I plan on trying to find their website after posting this :).

Even though Pausch died at a relatively young age, he had an amazing opportunity that few of us will ever have...the chance to write a book and leave a legacy that has ended up inspiring thousands, if not millions.

What I liked least: You will go through at least an entire box of Kleenex while you read this!

What I liked most: I love that his "last lecture" didn't focus on dying, but instead he talked about achieving your childhood dreams and remembering the person that you used to be. I love this angle that he took...wouldn't life be a little bit better if we all just focused on being happy and a good person rather than focusing on death and the future so much? Lots of food for thought in this book! Finally, I also liked reading about the days he spent realizing HIS childhood dream of being a Disney cool is that?!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Month of July Giveaway!

A giveaway for a book that I love will be held once a month on this blog. You can easily find this post again by looking under Current Giveaway on my left sidebar.

I am giving away one (1) copy of this book.

To read a synopsis of this book, click here.

Here is what you need to do to win!


If you could run away and join the circus for a day, what would you love to do while there?

Only one comment per person!

You may add an additional entry if you post about my giveaway on your blog (include the link in your comment).

Please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win.

You must be a follower of this blog in order to participate in this giveaway.

Contest is open to my international followers :).

A winner will be chosen through

A post announcing the winner will also be written.

The winner has 48 hours to respond, or another name will be chosen.

A brand new book will be shipped to you from the Book Depository.

Giveaway ends on July 31st at noon Central Time.

Good luck!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hi dear followers! Sorry I'm so late in announcing the winner of this month's giveaway...Hubby and I took a daytrip and we only recently got home!

Anyways, the winner of the book Dewey by Vicki Myron (chosen by is Darlene from Darlene's Book Nook. Congratulations!!! Also, thank you so much to everyone who entered...I loved reading your wonderful stories of the special pets who have touched your lives. Check back tomorrow evening for the announcement of my July giveaway!!

Darlene said... 4

Oh, I want to read this book! My feline soulmate is my dearly departed Tigger, who died in 2006.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Synopsis in a Sentence:
An elderly man (Jacob Jankowski) revisits his days living with a circus as he wastes away at a nursing home.

My Thoughts:
In short, I really enjoyed reading this book! I love when you happen to stumble upon a book that is truly unique...unlike anything else out there. When I heard the movie was going to be coming out for this, I really wanted to read the book first. The film was enjoyable, but there is so much rich detail in this novel that they just didn't have time for in the movie version.

This book utilizes flashbacks in an expertly drawn way...many years after the fact, Jacob reminisces about his stint spent working as a vet on a failing traveling circus. The use of these flashbacks, and the fact that we get to see Jacob as a young AND old man gives his character a depth that it just wouldn't have had otherwise. Also, Sara Gruen's clear and concise writing style really helps you to visualize every scene in this book.

The love story that develops between Jacob and Marlena (who does the Liberty Horses act) is both sweet and complicated at the same time. In many ways, Jacob emerges as her hero and saves her from most likely being killed at the hands of her abusive husband.

In some ways, even though this story is told from Jacob's perspective, the main character and "star" of the show is Rosie the elephant. She and Jacob form an unlikely friendship and she teaches him a lot about life and love by the end. Any animal lovers out there be warned though...there are some scenes in the book which describe animal cruelty and those parts were hard to read and watch in the movie! Rosie is so loveable though, and you find yourself savoring the pages where Gruen writes about her.

This book kinda has everything...history, mystery, animals, and a love story. I would definitely recommend it to anyone whose looking for something maybe a little bit gritty and unique to read next!

What I liked least: While I loved getting to know the elderly Jacob and delving into his flashbacks, Gruen portrays him as kind of a bitter and grumpy old man. It's understandable that he might feel this way as he is now confined to a nursing home after living such an exciting life, but I guess I wanted to see him recounting more of the life lessons he's learned and relishing the joys of his past.

What I liked most: I loved reading about all of the vivid historical depictions of a Depression era circus. I adore anything vintage and it was enthralling to read about sequined costumes, quirky circus acts and characters, and just Depression era life in general. I also liked the fact that this was very different than any other book I've read before...definitely took me out of my comfort zone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Literary Blog Hop
I'm new to the Literary Blog Hop! It's hosted by The Blue on the pic above for more info and to join in :).

Should literature have a social, political, or any other type of agenda? Does having a clear agenda enhance or detract from its literary value?

My answer:
I think sometimes having an agenda can detract from my enjoyment of a book, but not always. Sometimes an author's agenda is simply for the reader to have fun and to enjoy themselves and I don't mind that type of agenda at all :). I really love it when books have deeper meanings and clear themes...such as The Lord of the Rings being about good vs. evil and fighting for a higher purpose. Sometimes authors write books in order to bring attention to their plight or to the plight of others and this is very noble...such as Elie Wiesel and his book, Night. He wants to encourage us to never forget what happened during the Holocaust and to make sure it never happens again.

I don't know if I'm really enjoying the influx of books lately written by seems like they talk enough in their movies and in public...not sure why they need to write about their observations and lives as well haha! However, I do like a few of them...Tina Fey for instance...her book might be cute to read.

Overall, I enjoy books with messages to convey, as long as those messages aren't stupid, self-serving or vindictive. Books should help us to reach and become the best people we can be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To play along:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser”sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser:

I spin to face her. "No! I don't! I don't understand anything anymore. Not a damned thing. Would you care to enlighten me?" Her eyes open wide.Her mouth forms an O. Then she buries her face in her hands and bursts into tears.

from Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen p.215

Monday, June 20, 2011

Book Review of The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

Synopsis in a Sentence: Helen Keller details the hardships and lessons of her life in her own words in this inspiring autobiography.

My Thoughts:
First of all, I think it is so amazing that there is such a thing as autobiographies and that certain famous or influential people have decided to write them. Helen Keller is such an inspirational person in history and it's so wonderful that we have a record of her journey with this book. I like biographies too, but there's just something more "moving" about an autobiography.

What I really loved about this book was Helen's descriptions of her childhood. Before her teacher, Anne Sullivan (as inspirational a figure as Helen herself) came into her life, Helen was literally lost in the darkness. She hated herself, the world and everyone around her. In other words, she felt incredibly sorry for herself...which is actually understandable! If I was deaf, blind and mute, I would probably feel the same way! Can you imagine only having the senses of taste and touch?? Anyways, Anne is able to actually teach Helen how to read and write. Read this book to learn about TWO amazing heroines, and read it especially if you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself about anything!

My favorite quote from the book: "The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or heard, but can only be felt by the human heart" ~Helen Keller

I truly love reading about incredible women. Here's a list of other women whom I've read books about in the past couple of years:

Princess Diana
Sarah Palin
Elizabeth Edwards
Eleanor Roosevelt
Anne Frank

Women I plan on reading books about in the future:

Mother Teresa
Hilary Clinton
A Ladies of Liberty book I have which tells about women who helped pioneer America
maybe Marilyn Monroe

What women living or dead have inspired you? :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's that time of the week again to explore other awesome blogs and make new bloggy friends! Here is a unique new hop that I came across...Have a great weekend, everyone! :)

With the advent (and growing popularity) of eBooks, I’m seeing more and more articles about how much “better” they can be, because they have the option to be interactive … videos, music, glossaries … all sorts of little extra goodies to help “enhance” your reading experience, rather like listening to the Director’s commentary on a DVD of your favorite movie.
How do you feel about that possibility? Does it excite you in a cutting-edge kind of way? Or does it chill you to the bone because that’s not what reading is ABOUT?

My answer...

Wow, this is a very relevant question to what has been going on in the world of books/reading! Thanks for the question :). Well, I do have a Nook Color that my husband sweetly bought me as a Christmas present and I can't lie, it IS great! I've read a few books on there, but lately, it seems like I've been on a spending spree with paper books at the bookstore :). While my Nook is very trendy and convenient, I still like paper books better overall. There's just something about holding a book in your hands, smelling the musky scent of the pages etc...I will probably always prefer "book" books!

I have heard lots of people say that soon, libraries and bookstores will disappear and everything will be online and electronic. While this may eventually happen and while I admit some new technology is cool and even amazing, I will definitely be one of those people who will be loyal to the old-fashioned way!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review of The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Synopsis in a Sentence: Dr. Peck uses case studies and evidence to guide individuals to a better life and understanding of themselves.

My Thoughts:
I don't think I'm going to rate this book with my keys as it is hard to give a self-help/inspirational book a rating. First of all, The Road Less Traveled is a non-fiction inspirational classic. I had heard about it for years before I finally decided to pick it up! I even read once that Princess Diana referred to like a Bible. Dr. Peck gives a lot of wonderful and straight forward advice on life's ups and downs...I think he and Dr. Phil should meet because they would probably become best friends haha! While some of his advice can get a little bit rambling and abstract, he still knows how to get you to really examine your own life and inspires you to make changes where needed. I thought it might be easiest to break down the main points of this book in a bulleted list so all of you can decide if it's something you'd like to add to your TBR pile or not:
  • Having discipline and taking responsibility for your life leads to happiness.
  • Balance is the key to a life well-lived.
  • Love is the motive and energy behind all of the good things that we do.
  • Laziness and indifference are the opposites of love.
This is kind of what the book is about in a nutshell. There's obviously a lot more depth and detail to it than this, with lots of case studies to back up all of his advice. I love reading case studies because you get to read about other people, their struggles and sometimes, how they are able to overcome stuff.

I have to admit that I was a little bored and confused for some of this book...but when reading the last couple of chapters, something just kinda "clicked" for me, and I understood what he was trying to say. Living a life full of love is the only way to true happiness.

Favorite quote from the book:
"To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time. God has been with us all along, is now, and always will be." from p. 281

I also love the title of this book! Does anyone know Robert Frost's poem of the same name? It was my quote in my senior yearbook of highschool!

"In a wood, two roads diverged...and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference..." ~Robert Frost

Happy reading everyone!

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's Friday again and time for the Hops! Have fun everyone! :)

This week Parajunkee asks us:

The magic book fairy pops out of your cereal box and says "you and your favorite character (from a book of course) can switch places!" Who are you going to switch with?

My answer:

I would have to say Jo from Little Women! First of all, I love the setting of the book (New England) and I love that Jo gets to be a part of New York City in its fledgling cool is that?! Also, she has an incredibly supportive and loving family...I've always wanted to have more sisters to hang out with. Finally, she is a writer and ends up publishing a book about her family and my dream is also to be an author!

This week Crazy for Books asks us:

Who is the ONE author that you are DYING to meet?

My answer:

If I could meet an author who has passed away, it would be J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame. He seemed like a very wise and intelligent man and I would have loved to just have had a conversation with him about where his inspiration for these books came from!

If I could meet a living author, it would probably be Kristen Britain who has written the Green Rider fantasy series. I will be doing a review soon of her 4th book, Blackveil. If I had the opportunity to meet her, I would try to convince her to let Karigan and Zachary end up together...the romantic tension in that book is driving me nuts! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

All things being equal (money, space, etc), would you rather own copies of the books you read? Or borrow them?


I would rather own them, which, can sadly amount very quickly to a small fortune! I like the feeling of knowing I can read it at my own pace or take it wherever I want, without worrying about when to return it or the possibility of it becoming damaged. Being a girl, I know I'm supposed to love shopping for clothes, jewellry, shoes etc...but I actually don't really like shopping. To me, it's stressful...but there is one thing I do love shopping for and that's BOOKS! Bookstores are my favorite places on Earth and I can spend hours just meandering around with a chai tea latte in hand!

Having said that though, I do love libraries too and my childhood library is still a place I adore going to...very peaceful and smelling of wonderful books.

My hubby and I hope to amass a large library at our future, permanent house one day...and with the way we buy books, we are well on our way!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

My answers...

I'm currently reading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. I've heard so many good things about this book over the years. It really has become a self-help/inspirational classic! I'm getting some good advice from it on how to become more of the person that I wish to be.

I recently finished reading A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. An inspiring read but was hard to get through at times due to the terrible real life story of abuse and neglect of a child.

I think I might read a book about Helen Keller as I love reading about inspirational and strong women! I'm pretty sure that she wrote an autobiography so I'll have to look into that soon.

What is everyone else reading right now?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

•Grab your current read
•Open to a random page
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser: "The soldier cannot run because the gun is pointed at his back as well as his front. But the individual trying to grow can always retreat into the easy and familiar patterns of a more limited past."

from The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck p. 148

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Review of A Child Called It

Synopsis in a Sentence: A little boy must deal with extreme abuse and neglect at the hands of his mother.

My Thoughts:
This was a book that was fairly hard to read and to finish. Abuse of any kind is terrible, but when people abuse a child, it is just awful and there is no excuse whatsoever for it. In A Child Called It a little boy (David) is subjected to horrible mistreatment by his parents (mostly by his mother). He is forced to sleep in the garage or the basement, denied food and is even burned. His alchohlic mother (if you can even call her a mother) verbally and physically abuses him, and even attempts to kill him with a knife at one point.

However, this book is not simply a depressing story of abuse, and I think that is why it's become so popular. The little boy, Dave, is miraclously able to not just survive the torment, but allows it to mold him into an imaginative and caring human being. This book is also a fascinating study of what makes human beings "tick" and how we are able to endure anything with God's help.

What I liked Least: Reading about Dave's monster of a mother is tough at times...some of the stuff she lowers herself to is shocking. You find yourself really wanting to know what her motives are for doing the things she's doing, but she never answers the question "why?"

What I liked Most: I loved reading the ending of the book when he was finally rescued and taken away from his awful home. It renews your faith in humanity when people fight for Dave to have a better life!

Dave Pelzer has written two sequels to this about his struggles as a teenager and then one about his life today as a man. I read both of those books as well and I'm glad I did because they give you a sense of closure as to how the sad little boy, Dave, finally found happiness!

Friday, June 3, 2011

It's friday and time once again for hopping around to old and new favorite book blogs! Have fun!

Parajunkee asks us this week...

What are you doing to prepare for an upcoming zombie apocalypse and/or the return of Mel Gibson to the silver screen? (Both of which could be terrifying.)

My answer: Well, first of all, I wasn't aware that a zombie apocalypse was coming, so I guess it's good to be forewarned (haha!). I don't really have any suggestions for preparing for something like that...Don't you need to stab them right in the heart to kill them? Wait, maybe that's how you kill vampires! As for Mel Gibson, I feel sad that such a great actor decided to go off the deep end. I have to be honest and say that I probably won't go to see any more of his movies...however, I still feel that Braveheart and Passion of the Christ are probably 2 of the best films ever made.

Crazy for Books asks us this week...

Share your favorite post from the last month and tell us why it’s close to your heart!

My answer:

I guess I don't really have a particular favorite. Every book I read is special in some way, and so therefore, each review I do will hopefully showcase that "special-ness." Thanks for asking, though! Have a great weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Month of June Giveaway!

A giveaway for a book that I am currently reading will be held once a month on this blog. You can easily find this post again by looking under Current Giveaway on my left sidebar.

I am giving away one (1) copy of this book.

To read a synopsis of this book, click here.

Here is what you need to do to win!


Has there ever been a special animal who touched your life?

Only one comment per person!

You may add an additional entry if you post about my giveaway on your blog (include the link in your comment).

Please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact you if you win.

You must be a follower of this blog in order to participate in this giveaway.

Contest is open to my international followers :).

A winner will be chosen through

A post announcing the winner will also be written.

The winner has 48 hours to respond, or another name will be chosen.

A brand new book will be shipped to you from the Book Depository.

Giveaway ends on June 30th at noon Central Time.

Good luck!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Congratulations to Wall-to-Wall books for being chosen by as the winner of my first giveaway!!! She has won a brand new copy of the book, Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg!!

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 30
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Wall-to-wall books said... 24 You have to move on. It is hard but you have to make yourself. You just do one day at a time. Today will be a little better than yesterday and tomorrow will be even better. I am also a Christian so my faith in God and prayer helps me. I am not alone as long as I have Jesus.

forevereading at gmail dot com

Congrats!!!! I will be contacting you shortly! Also, thanks to everyone who entered...I loved reading all of your wonderful comments. Please check back tomorrow as I will be announcing a giveaway for the month of June!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Synopsis in a Sentence: In this self-relevatory memoir, Elizabeth Gilbert leaves her marriage and sets out on a quest around the world to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life.

My Thoughts: Eat, Pray, Love is a very good and unique book, for the most part! I feel like most women would be able to identify with Gilbert's inner conflict and even with some of her wanderlust...perhaps not to the point where you leave your significant other and set off on a self discovering journey, but in the way that women sometimes need to remember who they are outside of their day to day life.

In this memoir, Gilbert travels to three distinct places around the globe to find peace within herself and a greater understanding of who she is. She first goes to Italy, and this was my favorite section of the book. Gilbert simply lets herself rest and indulges in all of her five senses...your mouth practically waters as you read about the amazing pasta and pizza she eats!

The chapters where she is in India and learning to pray, do yoga and center herself are fascinating, but starts to get a little repetitive and boring after awhile. Her descriptions of Bali, the third location she journeys to, bring the beautiful paradise to life, but she ends up meeting another man while she's there and becoming infatuated with him. It kinda seems like it defeats the whole purpose of the book a bit...she goes on this quest to figure out who she is as an independent woman, seperate from a man and then ends up right back where she started haha! Overall though, a very descriptive, fun and enlightening read.

I know this book is a few years old...has anyone else read it and what did you think? Have you read the sequel, Committed?