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!