Friday, December 31, 2010

Death Du Jour

Death du Jour
Kathy Reich
384 pages
Rating: 4/5

Readers of Kathy Reichs's cool and clever first forensic thriller Déjà Dead will recognize the ironic voice of Tempe (short for Temperance) Brennan, the North Carolina-born scientist who winds up working at the Laboratoire de Médicine Légale in Montreal. Here she bristles at the conservative attitudes of some of her Canadian colleagues.

Despite the cold weather, Tempe's workload quickly becomes heavy: the bones of a long-dead nun now up for sainthood have been moved and tampered with; a deadly house fire turns out to be arson; and a university teaching assistant disappears after joining a cult. Tempe must figure out where (and why) all the bodies are buried in the hard Canadian ground. Her investigations take her home to North Carolina, and to a strange colony living on an offshore island.
--Dick Adler 

 My Thoughts:
As anyone who reads this blog regularly knows, I've lived under a rock called nursing school for the last couple of years.  Needless to say, these books have been out a while.  Bones has been popular and run six seasons already.  But I only found Kathy Reichs this year, so I will continue to gush about how much I love her and her character Temperance Brennan.  Perhaps there is someone else who has lived under a rock or just newly decided to explore the mystery genre.

I officially love Kathy Reichs.  I greatly enjoyed this second book of hers that I read.  The first book I struggled with the writing a tad.  I believe I got used to her way of writing, because I was not caught up in the writing at all.  In fact, I enjoyed it greatly.  Her way of describing forensic procedures took me under and I was cast under the spell of Tempe.  I simply could not put this novel down.  I went to the library the next day and squealed when I saw that the third book was in for checking out.  That was how much I enjoyed it.

I have read several reviews discounting their ratings due to the incredible number of "coincidences" that happened in the book.  Yes, the novel takes place in both Quebec and North Carolina.  The stories end up entwining, which could be a bit of a stretch of a coincidence.  But this did not bother me as much as it seemed to both other readers.  I guess I always find mysteries a bit too coincidental.  Of course the author is going to bring in clues that will end up fitting together - it's a mystery that has to be solved at the end.  And as opposed to other mysteries I've read, I didn't predict this one.  I did not know how they would fit together.  And I appreciated that everything did not fit together as snugly as a puzzle.  There were story lines and such that were not a part of the large mystery, and that made it have a more realistic feel to the novel being a story of Tempe's life.

The mystery basically revolves around several bodies found in a fire, with one having died by a bullet not by the flames.  Other bodies are found, and Temperance and her police counterpart Ryan are thrown together to solve the mystery.  We met another half of Tempe's family, Harry, her sister, and Katy, her daughter.  We are also introduced to more of Tempe's work.  As she divides her time between teaching and working with the police in Quebec, Reichs introduces us to several different cases that Tempe works on at once, some of which fit into the mystery and some that don't.  I enjoyed reading about her work, and I felt that I was transformed into the forensic anthropology world for a bit.

I don't want to go on in my gushing, as I am terrible about revealing spoilers.  But I will say that I loved getting to know further the characters is Tempe's life and Tempe herself.  The mystery had me stumped, and I loved getting lost in the forensic world for a while.  Anyone who loves mysteries will love Temperance Brennan, both in Deja Dead and Death du Jour.  I believe that this second novel could be read separately from the first in the series, but I enjoyed it greatly as a sequel.  I felt that the series is only getting better, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2011 Challenges

As many of you can tell from my previous posts, I have decided to participate in several challenges.  I made individual posts, but thought I would summerize my goals for 2011 here.  I have picked 4 challenges (it was so hard) to participate (and not overdo) for 2011.  My ultimate goal is to read 100 books, and the other goals are about how I will make up those 100.  I will keep up with my progress on my Challenges page.

100+ Reading Challenge: Read 100 books in 2011
Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge: read 16+ books more than 2010 (total of 62 books in 2011)
Support Your Local Library Challenge: read 50 books from my local library in 2011
E-Book Reading Challenge: read 20 ebooks on my Kindle in 2011

Anyone else participating in challenges this year?

E-Book Reading Challenge



This challenge is my last one for 2011 as of right now.  I figured 5 would be a good number.  I decided to participate in this challenge as I bought a Kindle for my graduation present, and I've been ashamed as to how little I've used it.  So I'm making it a goal of mine to use it more.  I do love reading from it, I just am not in the habit of looking to my Kindle for books to read.  Hopefully 2011 will change that.  The challenge is hosted by The Ladybug Reads this year.  I'm choosing to do the "Obsessed" level (just because I have a thing about goal being rounded) so I will be attempting to read 20 books on my Kindle this year.  [Which means that Amazon.com gift certificates are perfect gifts for me (hint, hint, family...)]  Official details and the link to sign up are below.  Anyone else joining me in using their lovable ereader?

Challenge Guidelines:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:

-- Curious – Read 3 e-books.
-- Fascinated – Read 6
e-books.
-- Addicted – Read 12
e-books.
-- Obsessed – Read
20 e-books.

3. Any genre counts.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1, 2011 and lasts until December 31, 2011.

6. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post about the E-Book Reading Challenge. Include the URL so that other participants can join in and read your reviews and post.  Sign up here.

Support Your Local Library Challenge



I have been looking for this challenge the last couple weeks, and I'm so excited to have found it this morning as I have been working on my challenges.   Book Junkie's Bookshelf is hosting it this year.  I just stumbled upon my library a couple of weeks ago, and I am so excited to have found that it is wonderful!  I love libraries, and I love that this challenge is all about loving on libraries mostly by actually using them.  Being broke and limited on space, I think it's perfect!  I'm going to do the "Jumbo Size" which is reading 50 books from the library.  As my entire goal of reading is 100 books, I figured it would be good to have at least half of those from the library.  Anyone else joining in this challenge?  It's wonderful being a library goer, and this could be the year you decide to save some money and check out the library.  Official details and links to the sign up are below.

Details:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Just create a post for the challenge and link to your challenge post in the linky below.
--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post.

2. There are four levels to this challenge...Pick your poison:
--The Mini – Check out and read 30 library books.
--"Fun" Size – Check out and read 40 library books.
--Jumbo Size – Check out and read 50 library books.
--Mega Size – Check out and read 51+ library books.
(Aim high. As long as you read 30 by the end of 2011, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – basically any book counts just as long as it is checked out from the library. Books MUST be checked out like with a library card, books purchased at a library DO NOT count.

4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

5. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st 2011 and goes thru December 31 2011.  Sign up here.

100+ Reading Challenge


I've seen this challenge throughout the year, and I really wanted to participate in it for 2011.  So I am making it a goal for my reading habits this year.  100 just seems like a prestigious number.  I'm sure as a child I read just as many books, but it seems like an accomplishment now that I am an adult.  So here I go!  I will keep this page updated as well as on my Challenges pages.  Below are the official details as well as the link to the sign up page at My Overstuffed Bookself.



DETAILS:
1. The goal is to read 100 or more books. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Posting on GoodReads or wherever you post your reviews is good enough.

2. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Manga, Graphic Novels, Library books, Novellas, Young Reader, Nonfiction – as long as the book has an ISBN or equivalent or can be purchased as such, the book counts.  What doesn't count: Individual short stories or individual books in the Bible.

3. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.

4. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2011. Books started before the 1st do not count. You can join at anytime.

6. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to your post where your books will be listed. Include the URL to this post so that other viewers can find this fun challenge. If you’d prefer to put your list in the sidebar of your blog, please leave your viewers the link to the sign up page. Again, so viewers can join the challenge too.  Sign up here.

 Books Read in 2011:
1.  (none so far - 2011 hasn't started yet!)

Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge 2011


Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

As it is that time of year, I have been working on my different challenges that I will be participating in.  I've included the links to those hosting it as well as the various details.  Though I would love to participate in a million and one challenges, as I love them, I have decided to take it easy this first year of challenges, to see how the year goes as well as not get too overwhelmed keeping up with blogs, reading, challenges, as well as that pesky little thing like real life.  Well, here's the first of just a few.  Wish  me luck!

I saw this challenge quite a bit ago, and I believe it's perfect for me.  I am always attempting to do better, and I thought it would be a good thing for me to continuing on my love of reading.  I have chosen to do the "I'm on fire!" level.  Maybe a bit ambitious, but seeing as how technically I only read half the year this year, I think I can do it!  I counted up on Goodreads my books for this year, and I got 46.  My actual goal is 100 books.  Hopefully, I'll make it!    Anyone else being competitive against themselves this year?

Details:
  • Runs January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011 (books read prior to 1/1/11 do not count towards the challenge). You can join at anytime. You can sign up on The Book Vixen’s blog.
  • The goal is to outdo yourself by reading more books in 2011 than you did in 2010. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. Nothing is set in stone; you can change levels at any time during the challenge.
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio).
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are fine.
  • You can list your books in advance or list them as you read them. It is not required that you review the books you read for this challenge but feel free to do so.
  • Post this reading challenge on your blog so you can keep a list of the books you’ve read for this challenge. Please include a link back to this post so readers can join the challenge too.
Levels:
  • Getting my heart rate up: read 1-5 more books
  • Out of breath: read 6-10 more books
  • Break a sweat: read 11-15 more books
  • I'm on fire! : read 16+ more books

Fall Into Reading: Wrap Up Post



Fall Into Reading has officially finished (well, it finished on the 20th, but being under the weather has made me a bit late).  Makes me a little sad.  It has been a challenge I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in this fall.  As the leaves have changed and the air grew colder, I snuggled and read, got to know my fellow bloggers and readers, and fully enjoyed taking this fall to read for fun.  I want to thank Katrina at Callapidder Days, who hosted the challenge, and I can't wait to participate in the next challenge she hosts.  Katrina posted a few questions as suggestions for a wrap up post.  So I thought i would include those here as well as the final list of the books I read this fall.


Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not?
I didn't finish all the books on my reading list, unfortunately.  I had no idea how many books I would have time to read, so I picked a random number and created my list from there.  Apparently I was a little too ambitious.  But that's ok.  Now, I know better.  As I am planning my challenges for next year, I am glad to know my limits and know where to challenge myself.

Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?
I tried to stick to my original list, but since I found other books along the way, I decided to just include them in my number.  About halfway through I figured out that I wasn't going to finish my list, so I gave up on my goal of the list and just tried to reach my goal of the reading 50 books.  I actually didn't reach either, but my number was closer because I included all the books I read.

What was your favorite book that you read this fall? Least favorite? Why?
Ah, I have to pick a favorite?!  Well, I'm not sure I could narrow it down, but some of my favorites were: Death Du Jour by Kathy Reichs, Evermore by Alyson Noel, and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.  My least favorite was probably One Reckless Summer by Toni Blake.  My favorites were all novels that captivated me and touched me for one reason or another.  My least favorite - it was simply annoying to me.  I hate reading and skimming ahead just so I can say I finished the book.  When I stop reading for fun and just keep reading to get to the end of the story, that's when I know it's not a book for me.

Did you discover a new author or genre this fall? Did you love them? Not love them?
I discovered many new authors this fall: Alyson Noel, Kathy Reichs, Dean Koontz, Sarah Dessen, Sherryl Woods, Jane Porter, etc.  In fact, most of the novels I read this fall were from new-to-me authors.  I can't say I found a new genre, as young adult fiction and mystery have always been present for me.  I just never really dove into them like I did this fall.  But I found some great authors, some new on the scene, some older, but either way I am excited to keep reading from these new favorites of mine.

Did you learn something new because of Fall Into Reading 2010 – something about reading, about yourself, or about a topic you read about?
I learned a lot about different reading habits.  I have never stopped to think that others might read differently than me, and I find that incredibly fascinating.  Who knew that some people read books completely cover to cover?  And to find out that many people feel it's ok to not finish books?  (that helps me remember that reading is for fun, not have-tos).   I also got to have a good look at my own reading habits, which helps me predict books and posts for my blog as well as know how to predict my participation in challenges in the coming year.

What was your favorite thing about the challenge?
I believe my favorite thing about the challenge would be the weekly questions.  Though I wasn't able to participate each week, I greatly enjoyed Katrina's questions and getting to know other bloggers and readers.  Plus, it was a wonderful way for me to keep track with my progress and have a sense of accomplishment.  I look forward to Katrina's next challenge.

Books Read in Fall 2010:
1. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baronnes Emmuska Orczy (review)
2. Sooner or Later - Debbie Macomber
3. Evermore - Alysson Noel (review)
4. The Snow Bride - Debbie Macomber (review)
5. The Inn at Eagle Point - Sherryl Woods (review)
6. Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
7. She's Gone Country - Jane Porter (review)
8. Twenty Wishes - Debbie Macomber (review)
9. Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs (review)
10. The Sparkling One - Susan Mallery (review)
11. Under Her Skin - Susan Mallery (review)
12. Masquerade - Melissa De La Cruz (review)
13. One Reckless Summer - Toni Blake (review)
14. A Whole New Light - Sandra Brown (review)
15. The Rose Red Bride - Claire Delacroix (review)
16. The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen (review)
17. The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger (review)
18. Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz (review)
19. Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
20. On the Steamy Side - Louisa Edwards (review)
21. Blue Moon - Alyson Noel (review)
22. Just Listen - Sarah Dressen (review)
23. Christmas Wishes - Debbie Macomber (review)
24. Home for the Holidays - Debbie Macomber (review)
25. Home for the Holidays - Johanna Lindsey (review)
26. Anne of Green Gables- L.M. Montegomery (review)
27. A Cedar Cove Christmas - Debbie Macomber
28. Death du Jour - Kathy Reichs
29. Poison Study - Maria V. Snyder
30. Girl v. Boy - Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout
31. The Perfect Christmas - Debbie Macomber (review)
32. The Christmas Dog - Melody Carlson

Thanks again everyone, and can't wait to participate in another challenge again soon!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Reading Challenge Update

All About {n}

As I have been working on my Fall Into Reading Challenge wrap up post, I thought I would have an update post regarding my Holiday Reading Challenge.  I've truly enjoyed reading many Christmas books, as it has been getting me in the Christmas mood (especially since I haven't put up my Christmas tree yet).  I linked to my original post.  I still have a few from that list to read, but I've also added to my list since I've joined the library.  I took full advantage of their Christmas fiction pamphlet, and I have checked out several Christmas books each time I've gone.  I cannot believe Christmas is six days away!  I haven't even gotten all my presents bought (it helps that I'm not celebrating Christmas with the family until January - I can cheat a little).  But I have been celebrating through my reading.  I linked to my reviews.  I can't wait to keep reading and sharing with you guys the fun Christmas stories I've found!

Christmas Books Finished:
  1. Christmas Wishes by Debbie Macomber
  2. Home for the Holidays by Debbie Macomber
  3. Home for the Holidays by Johanna Lindsey
  4. The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber
  5. A Cedar Cove Christmas by Debbie  Macomber
Books Still to Read:
  1. The Christmas Blessing (Christmas Hope Series #2) - Donna VanLiere
  2. The Christmas Promise (Christmas Hope Series #4) - Donna VanLiere
  3. The Gift: A Novel - Richard Paul Evans
  4. There's Something About Christmas - Debbie Macomber (if I can get it from the library)
  5. The Christmas Dog - Melody Carlson
  6. An Irish Christmas - Melody Carlson
Anybody else having fun with Christmas reads?  It's such a wonderful time of year.  I've been so blessed to even have snow this year (not that Bennett was very appreciative)!  I'm hoping for a white Christmas (my first), but who knows what will happen. 

A Cedar Cove Christmas

A Cedar Cove Christmas
Debbie Macomber
256 pages
Rating: 3/5

Mother-to-be Mary Jo Wyse arrives in Cedar Cove on Christmas Eve, searching for her baby's father. David Rhodes had said he'd be in town. But he isn't. Which leaves Mary Jo stranded, pregnant and alone. And there's no room at the local inn.…So Grace Harding brings Mary Jo home to her nearby ranch. She and her husband, Cliff, have a houseful of guests, but they offer her a room over their stable (currently sheltering the animals—including a donkey and a camel—for Cedar Cove's Nativity pageant!).
When Mary Jo goes into labor that night, a young man named Mack McAfee, a paramedic, comes to her rescue, just as her brothers—the three Wyse men—show up in town. The people of Cedar Cove join them in celebrating the birth of baby Noel. But no one has more to celebrate than Mack. Because this Christmas brings him faith, hope and love…

My Thoughts: 

I went against my usual code of not reading series out of order soley with this book because it was a Christmas book.  I have to say that I shouldn't have because  I didn't enjoy the novel as much I think I would have had I been familiar with Cedar Cove. 

I thought this was a cute retelling of the Christmas story in a modern sense.  The different ways the characters are portrayed made me laugh, with the Wyse brothers creating the most giggles.  Though predictable, it was a fun read.

Though this was a cute novel, I have to say that I did not enjoy it as much as other Macomber books I've read.  I got frustrated with the side stories, and I was highly confused at times about the many people involved from Cedar Cove.  It was one of those books that I just kept reading and skimming at times because I wanted to get to the end of the novel to find out the rest of the story.  I did enjoy the "love story" (or beginning love story) between Mary Jo and Mack.  They seemed cute together, and I wondered at the time if Macomber will write another story about the two. 

Overall, I thought it was a cute story.  I feel that I didn't enjoy it as much as I could, but I think that's my fault for reading something out of order.  Those who love Macomber and Cedar Cove will thoroughly enjoy this fun retelling.  It was a great reminder of the true reason for Christmas, as well as the hardships a young mother like Mary went through.  I would recommend it to anyone who reads the Cedar Cove series or who won't mind some side-stories.  It's a good romance story, perfect for this time of year.

The Perfect Christmas

The Perfect Christmas
Debbie Macombe
232 pages
Rating: 4/5

What would make your Christmas perfect?For Cassie Beaumont, it's meeting her perfect match. Cassie, at thirty-three, wants a husband and kids, and so far, nothing's worked. Not blind dates, not the Internet and certainly not leaving love to chance.
What's left? A professional matchmaker. He's Simon Dodson, and he's very choosy about the clients he takes on. Cassie finds Simon a difficult, acerbic know-it-all, and she's astonished when he accepts her as a client.
Claiming he has her perfect mate in mind, Simon assigns her three tasks to complete before she meets him. Three tasks that are all about Christmas: being a charity bell ringer, dressing up as Santa's elf at a children's party and preparing a traditional turkey dinner for her neighbors (whom she happens to dislike). Despite a number of comical mishaps, Cassie does it all—and she's finally ready to meet her match.
But just like the perfect Christmas gift, he turns out to be a wonderful surprise!

My Thoughts:
This Sunday afternoon as I listen to Christmas carols on Pandora and snuggle under a quilt on the couch, my Christmas spirit was complete as I read this fun Christmas romance by Debbie Macomber.  I have to admit that I was not expecting anything extraordinary, merely a romantic comedy with cute-but-cliched lines and a predictable plot.  However, this novel surprised me in that it captured my heart, made me laugh, and plunged it's way into the forefront of my Christmas favorites.

I have to admit that this novel is easily my favorite Debbie Macomber book so far.  I loved the characters, laughed with the mishaps, grunted with frustration over bits of stupidity, and sighed with happiness over the story ending.  I'm not sure that there was particularly something that made this novel stand out, but it captured my heart and made me smile this Christmas. 

Cassie is a fun, lovable character that, in fact, reminds me a bit of myself.  At 34, she decides to make a giant leap of faith and go to a matchmaker to find her perfect match.  She seems to take funny mishaps in stride, love her family and friends, and opens her heart to those around her.  I enjoyed reading about her journey for love.

The few small characteristics that annoyed me were not majorly present in the plot and became an afterthought for me.  Mainly, my biggest frustration would be the characters insistance on a perfect Christmas.  To me, Christmas cards hardly are an accurate representation of a person's life.  And I never can grasp the concept of looking for perfection in things, as I think they never exist.  If one goes into a relationship looking for the perfect mate, to me, it seems that you are giving yourself an out for when it fails because you did not put enough effort into it.  But that happens to be a personal pet peeve.

All in all, The Perfect Christmas was a heart-warming, fun Christmas story.  It did not annoy  or frustrate me as some other Christmas stories do.  It was a fun lovestory.  I enjoyed the subplots, even though I predicted them accurately.  I loved watching the love story come to life.  And I connected with Cassie as a character.  I thought there was a good amount of character development and the plot wasn't overly detailed from the characters' pasts.  I honestly can't say exactly why I loved this novel, but it's my favorite Christmas novel.  I plan to add it to my shelf of books to read each Christmas.  I lost myself in the story for a couple hours, and I emerged with a smile on my face.  I would recommend it to anyone who loves romance novels and is looking for a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays
Johanna Lindsey
352 pages
Rating: 3/5

Facing eviction and worse at Christmastime Larissa Ascot is forced to accept shelter from a charming earl, Vincent Everett, the Baron of Windsmoor, who has been secretly scheming her family's destruction. But the highborn rogue is bewitched by Larissa--most unfortunate since the proud beauty despises him. But Christmas is a time for miracles.Left to handle the rumors other family's bankruptcy and impending eviction, Larissa Ascots wishes for a merry Christmas seem to be in peril for the first time in her sheltered life. A charming would-be "benefactor,"Vincent Everett, the Baron of Windsmoor, has offered to shelter Larissa and her young brother. But more than Yuletide spirit seems to have inspired the baron's generostity.From the moment he first set eyes on Larissa, the highborn rogue was bewitched. And now that she has taken up residence in his home, he aches with wanting her-a most unfortunate state of affairs, since the proud beauty obviously despises him . . . and since Vincent has sworn to seek a righteous vengeance on the Ascot family.

My Thoughts:
I read this book for my Christmas Challenge.  I received it in a goodreads swap.  I just picked it out because it sounded good.  It was my first book of Johanna Lindsey. 
The book would be what they call historical romance.  It was set in the 1800s, and I enjoyed the time period.  I found some of the historical stuff to be probably not accurate, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.  I also enjoyed the idea of the story - a sweet girl breaking down the walls of a cold-hearted lord.  The characters seemed a little underdeveloped, but they connected well, making it a fun story.

Unfortunately, there was one part of this book that made me enjoy it a little less.  It's a personal pet peeve of mine.  I appreciated the tack that Lindsey used in writing the love scenes, but I hate it when the girl gives it up too early.  I guess I wanted her to be strong and make him change first.  Perhaps that is an old fashioned but I hate it when a guy makes a scheme and the girl does exactly what he wants her to do.  I'm not sure how I would have written the book differently, but it really annoyed me.  I can understand how it worked into the plot well, but it wasn't want I wanted.

Alright, pet peeve moment over, I did enjoy this book.  It was a fun Christmas read, and it did not end the way I imagined it would.  I gave it a three because I enjoyed the plot, but there were parts of the book I didn't like and I probably won't read it again.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fun romance books  and is looking for a light, fun Christmas read.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays
Debbie Macomber
384 pages
Rating: 3/5

Home for the Holidays is a combo book made up of two previously published Debbie Macomber books: The Forgetful Bride and When Christmas Comes.

The Forgetful Bride
Caitlin Marshall's trying to go home to Minnesota, but at the last minute she gives her airline ticket to a stranded soldier. So Cait spends Christmas with Joe Rockwell, who was a childhood friend -- and is still a terrible tease, claiming that Cait's his wife. Oh, sure, they were "married" in a pretend ceremony when she was eight, but now Joe wants to make their "marriage" real!

When Christmas Comes
Emily Springer trades her Leavenworth, Washington, home for Charles Brewster's Boston condo. Then Emily's friend Faith comes to visit her in Washington -- and instead finds Charles, a complete stranger and a curmudgeon, to boot. His brother, Ray, meanwhile shows up at Charlie's place, only to discover Emily living there. But through all the mix-ups and misunderstandings, among the chaos and confusion, romance begins to emerge . . .

 My Thoughts:
I read this book solely for the purpose of my Christmas Challenge.  There is nothing like Christmas romance to put you in the mood for Christmas.  And no one writes a fun Christmas story quite like Debbie Macomber.

Both novels in this book are fun, lighthearted romance stories.  It put me in the Christmas spirit, but they weren't wonderful literay reads.  I read the entire book in one afternoon and had some laughs from it.  It's perfect for a snuggle up with a blanket and hot chocolate and a book, but I wouldn't put it on a literature syllabus or have a group discussion around it.



The Forgetful Bride was a fun novel about Caitlin, who is "in love" with one guy but actually falling in love with another.  I'm sure all of us girls have made a fool of ourselves over a guy before, who so obviously does not like us (but we don't see that until after the episode is over).  I felt for Caitlin, because I could see the plot unfolding but I knew she would not get it.  I loved Joe who weaseled his way into her heart.  I enjoyed Joe's antics, and their story made me laugh several times.  I felt embarrassed for Caitlin, which made me just want to read the book faster.  It was an enjoyable story, but probably one I won't reread even during Christmas time.


When Christmas Comes was a fun light story that reminded me of the movie The Holiday.  I enjoyed the two parallel stories, but I have to say that I did not get the chemistry between the two relationships. It seemed almost forced, and I might have enjoyed it more if there was more subtlety within the dialog and character development.  I also felt that the story was told from two many perspectives.  Perhaps if it was only told from Emily and Faith, instead of added several other minor characters in it.  I guess it seemed like there was a whole story that was smashed into a small novel, instead of having it develop in the details.


Overall, I really enjoyed these stories as a Christmas fun.  But I won't read them again, and I probably won't remember the plots or characters in years to come.  It was an enjoyable read, but did not impact me much.  I felt that the stories could have used more (or better) development.  I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fun, Christmasy read without much thought needed.

Fall Into Reading: Questions (9)





Callapidder Days is currently hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge.  It is a self-set challenge in that each participant sets a goal for his/herself of the number of books to read during the fall season (Sept. 22-Dec. 20).  Then the participants post about the novels and progress as much or little as they want with a wrap-up post at the end.  I have set a goal to read 50 books this fall.  You can read the full list here.  Callapidder Days also hosts a weekly question about Fall Into Reading, as another way for us to connect and such.

I can't believe that Fall Into Reading is almost over.  I gave up on finishing my list, especially since I sorta went MIA from the internet for several days.  But I have finished several books over the last couple of days, and I simply decided to include all books I read during this fall in my 50 books challenge.  I have had more fun that I could imagine doing this challenge, and I especially loved the weekly questions - as I felt they were a lot of fun and helped us get to know each other a little better.   I never really guess that people would read differently than me, but there are so many different ways to read.

Katrina decided to have several questions this week as a closer.  I will answer them all and try to be brief.  :)

1. Do you write in your books?
I have to say that sometimes I do write in my books.  It's a habit that I inherited from high school when I was studying literature and wrote notes in my books.  Now most of the writing I do is in classics when I'm attempting to really read and study the book.  I love to go back and reread my books to see the different notes I've written.  My handwriting and thoughts in high school were so cute.

2. Can you read in the car?
I can read in the car sometimes.  Sometimes it gives me a headache, but most of the time if I get to reading, I forget about the headache and get involved in the book.  I used to read all the time in the car when I was a kid.  We lived 30 minutes from everywhere, so most of my reading was in the car.  Now it's mostly when I'm on a road trip and someone else is driving (otherwise I listen to audiobooks).

3. Does the rest of your family enjoy reading?
Actually, my entire family loves to read except my brother.  We tease him about it mercilessly.  The family joke on Christmas is that we got him a book, as that's his idea of the worst present idea ever.  I learned to love to read when my mom started reading to me and my siblings as a child.  I'm grateful that my dad, sisters, and friends continued on with me and encouraged my love of read.

4. What’s the longest you’ve gone without reading?
Whew, a hard one for me.  I have to say that I've probably gone at least six months to a year without reading books for pleasure.  School did that to me in college, as I read so much nursing material that when I was off, all I wanted to do is sit on the couch, be a bum, and watch tv.  Now the most I go is probably just a day or two.

Normally I include something about my progress on Fall Into Reading, but I am going to save it for my final post.  I wanted to thank Katrina and everybody involved for making Fall into Reading so wonderful.  I truly enjoyed it and I can't wait until next year's challenges.  I got to meet some awesome people, and get to know many awesome people, new friends and old.  I'm excited to read everyone's wrap up posts!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery
298 pages
Rating: 5/5

When Marilla Cuthbert's brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty redheaded orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, "But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl." It's not long, though, before the Cuthberts can't imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables--but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan. Somewhere between the time Anne "confesses" to losing Marilla's amethyst pin (which she never took) in hopes of being allowed to go to a picnic, and when Anne accidentally dyes her hated carrot-red hair green, Marilla says to Matthew, "One thing's for certain, no house that Anne's in will ever be dull." And no book that she's in will be, either.
--Emilie Coulter (review of an abridged version)

My Thoughts:
I grew up watching the movies Anne of Green Gables.  It was a family favorite, and there were many years when my sisters, mom, and I would fold laundry and spend a whole day together watching all of the movies in a marathon.  And to this day, Anne, Marilla, Matthew, Diana, and Gilbert all lay close to my heart.  However, it wasn't until this past week when I found the book in my library that I was able to say that I've read and loved the books as well.  To anyone who loved the movies, I say, "Go read the books.  They are just as wonderful and even more entertaining."

Now, perhaps your childhood wasn't "enlightened" with the hopes, dreams, and mishaps of Anne Shirley.  So I will start at the beginning, so to speak.  The books, and later movies, of Anne of Green Gables revolve around a red-headed orphan named Anne (Ann spelled with an -e).  An elderly brother/sister combo mean to adopt a boy orphan to help around the farm, and Anne is sent instead.  By the time they could send her back, both Matthew and Marilla are unable to remove her from their house (and hearts).  Able to talk a mile-a-minute, make up ridiculous imaginative stories, and find herself in many mishaps that you can't help but laugh at, Anne found her way deep into the hearts of Matthew and Marilla, so that by the time a year has gone by, both of them can't imagine the time before she came.

What makes me love Anne of Green Gables so much is the fact that it is a simple story about the upbringing of an orphan.  Anne is special in that she is honest and kind-hearted and always speaks her mind.  But there is not great tragedy or drama that this book revolves around.  It's about the comic nature of everyday life on Prince Edward island.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good drama.  But Anne of Green Gables is so relateable to people.  Who cannot remember some great idea we once had to make ourselves more beautiful, handsome, pretty, or skinny - and it backfired into something like green hair?  Mine was cutting my hair - it made me look like a boy.   But just as we laugh with Anne on her mishaps, we can cry with her heartache, and smile with her success.  L.M. Montgomery writes such a beautiful story that comes alive before your eyes.  And I enjoyed it so much that I didn't sit down and go, "What wonderful writing!"  I could just imagine the scenes and laugh at the descriptions, and by the time I closed the back cover, I was amazed by the awesome writing.  Writing that did not give light to itself, but created a beautiful story that you could get lost in.

Anne of Green Gables is one of my all-time favorite novels.  I found it in the young adult fiction section, which surprised me because I've never thought of it as a "children's book."  I believe that it is a wonderful story that everyone (especially all women) can relate to.  If you are like me, and hadn't read Anne of Green Gables in your childhood, I would recommend reading it as soon as you can get your hands on it.  It's a refreshing, wonderful story that warms your heart.  Personally, I can't wait until I visit my mom in January and we spend an entire day in our pjs watching Anne.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Enquiring Minds Want to Know (9)


Each week Dollycas's Thoughts hosts the meme "Enquiring Minds Want to Know." She posts questions for us to answer each week in order for us bloggers and readers to get to know each other beyond our books.  Check out her's and others answers here.

1. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Biggest pet peeve.... you mean I have to choose?  I'll narrow it down to two.  First, and probably my biggest, pet peeve is general laziness.
The caption under this picture was, "not my job."
But, because I work in the health care profession, simply saying "not my job" generally means that someone else will have to do it.  Perhaps it is only a glass of water or answering the phone, but sometimes that phone call is to say that someone is having a fatal rhythm.  It just bugs me when I work in the serving profession and no one is serving anyone but themselves. 

The other pet peeve I have is unreadable handwriting.  I know that doctor's handwriting is a common joke among lay people, but try being that nurse that tries to read that handwriting.  Can't wait until we go to computer documentation.  :)


2. Do you shop online?
I do tend to shop online for some different things.  It mostly just depends on my mood.  The only exception to that is Christmas.  I love wrapping presents, so if I buy it online, I have it shipped to me so I can wrap it.  :)

3. Have you ever traveled by train?
Unfortunately, no.  It is a big dream of mine though.  I've looked into a train that goes across Canada, and I think that would be a lovely vacation.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fall Into Reading: Questions (8)







Callapidder Days is currently hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge.  It is a self-set challenge in that each participant sets a goal for his/herself of the number of books to read during the fall season (Sept. 22-Dec. 20).  Then the participants post about the novels and progress as much or little as they want with a wrap-up post at the end.  I have set a goal to read 50 books this fall.  You can read the full list here.  Callapidder Days also hosts a weekly question about Fall Into Reading, as another way for us to connect and such.

This week's question: Do you have multiple books going at once? Or do you prefer to stick to one book at a time?
 
Like many other readers, how I read my books depends on the type of book.  First of all, I always read more than one non-fiction book at a time.  I have trouble keeping focused with non-fiction, so I often read it over a long period of time.  With fiction, it mostly depends.  I used to say that I always read one book at a time, but I've found that not to be completely true now.  It depends on the type of fiction, mostly if it is a slow or fast read.  Some books are slower reads for me, the writing is generally better, and I can't "speed read" the book and get the story.  I have to slow down and take all of the details in.  I've found both Odd Thomas and Anne of Green Gables to be that way.  However, a lot of the Christmas romances I've been reading, I read quickly.  So I find if I am reading a slower book, I often take a little time off, so to speak.  I'll read a quick read or two, and then get back to my focused reading.  It just depends on the mood I'm in.

Books Read so Far:
1. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baronnes Emmuska Orczy (review)
2. Sooner or Later - Debbie Macomber
3. Evermore - Alysson Noel (review)
4. The Snow Bride - Debbie Macomber (review)
5. The Inn at Eagle Point - Sherryl Woods (review)
6. Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
7. She's Gone Country - Jane Porter (review)
8. Twenty Wishes - Debbie Macomber (review)
9. Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs (review)
10. The Sparkling One - Susan Mallery (review)
11. Under Her Skin - Susan Mallery (review)
12. Masquerade - Melissa De La Cruz (review)
13. One Reckless Summer - Toni Blake (review)
14. A Whole New Light - Sandra Brown (review)
15. The Rose Red Bride - Claire Delacroix (review)
16. The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen (review)
17. The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger (review)
18. Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz (review)

Bonus: (i.e. books not on my list, but that I've finished reading in this time period)
1. Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
2. On the Steamy Side - Louisa Edwards (review)
3. Blue Moon - Alyson Noel (review)
5. Just Listen - Sarah Dressen (review)
6. Christmas Wishes - Debbie Macomber (review)
7. Home for the Holidays - Debbie Macomber

Progress: 18 down, 32 to go

What about you?  Do you read one book at a time?  Or do you have multiple books on your TBR pile?  How's everyone's progress going?  I think I might have to be realistic about finishing my list, so I might include my "bonus" books in my number count (25 down, 25 to go).  Maybe I was a little too ambitious.  But oh well - after all, it's all about having fun, anyway.

Monthly Summery: November 2010

I decided to continue on my monthly tradition of having a summery.  I feel that it's a great way to end the month as well keep track of how I do month to month.  I really excited for next year and to see how it compares with this year.  This month was a bit slower for me.  I had a couple weeks of overtime and spent some time with my family.  I'm still behind on my Fall Into Reading Challenge, but I'm excited for the challenge in the next 19 days.  Plus, who knew how far I would get.  Certainly not me!

Books Read November 2010: (linked to reviews)
I can't believe it's December!  I'm so excited for Christmas to be here.  Winter is my favorite time of year.  It's already snowed here!

How did everyone else's November shape up?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to the winner of the Gratitude Giveaway:


Thanks to all the entries and new followers!   I had 178 people enter with 242 entries.  You guys blew me away!  Congrats again to A Canadian Girl.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway


The Gratitude Giveaway is now closed.  I hope to have the winner posted by December 1st.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Gratitude Giveaway ends today!


Just a reminder to everyone: the Gratitude Giveaway is ending tonight at 11:59 pm.  I want everyone to get a chance to enter, so go check it out.  I'm offering three different books, all firsts in a series.  Head over to the official post to enter.

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I was truly blessed to be able to spend time with my family.  I have also had fun watching my giveaway, and seeing the number of people enter.  You guys have exceeded, surpassed, and entered outer space beyond my expectations!  I'm so excited to draw a winner and get the books.  I can't wait for it to be over as I'm incredibly excited!  (I do get like this at Christmas too.  Can't wait for presents to be opened!)  My goal is to have the winner posted by December 1st.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes
Debbie Macomber
384 pages
Rating: 3/5
Christmas Wishes is a combo book, which holds both Christmas Letters and Rainy Day Kisses.
Christmas Letters: Katherine O'Connor (known as K.O.) adores her five-year-old twin nieces— and strongly objects to her sister's plans to dispense with Christmas. Zelda is following the theories of child psychologist Wynn Jeffries, author of The Free Child (and, as it happens, K.O.'s neighbor). K.O. is particularly horrified by his edict to "bury Santa under the sleigh," and she's out to prove that Wynn and his ideas are full of snow. He's not going to ruin her nieces' Christmas! Too bad the guy's so darned attractive.

Rainy Day Kisses: Seventeen years ago Susannah Simmons was a career girl who knew nothing about babies. But after babysitting her infant niece, Michelle, Susannah learned that one determined— and screaming—baby can make the corporate world look like?child's play. Thank goodness for her charming neighbor Nate Townsend. Now he's her charming husband, and Susannah's a mother as well as an aunt. And every Christmas Eve, Michelle tells her cousins how their mom met their dad— a story in which she plays a starring role!

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed reading this Christmas book by Debbie Macomber.  It contains two short novels, both of which were fun.  I read this book for my Holiday Challenge, which is a perfect way for me to start the Christmas season.

Christmas Letters was a fun novel with many different laughs in it.  K.O., the main character, has a small side business writing humorous Christmas letters.  She made me laugh out loud.  Some of those comments truly made me giggle.  However, I found almost all of the characters to be too strong.  The characters could have used more depth, and so I did not understand their actions and they seemed to portray the extremes of their particular characteristics.  It caused me to be annoyed with the novel at times.  However, overall it was a cute story, and one that teaches the lessons of compromise and not judging a person too quickly.

Rainy Day Kisses I found to be quite cute.  The novel is based around Susannah, a corporate career woman, and Nick, her neighbor, as Susannah attempts to take care of her 9-month-old niece Michelle.  It was a typical romance novel.  I enjoyed the characters more than Christmas Letters, though I was annoyed by Susannah's stubborness to judge a person by his cover not the person himself.  Of course, it had a happy ending that tied things up beautifully.  And really it was a cute, quick read without major depth in it.

Ultimately, I gave Christmas Wishes a 3/5 because I enjoyed it, but I probably won't read it again.  I love Christmas, and I read it purely for the Christmas aspect.  I found some things annoying at times, but it is an enjoyable quick read.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance and chick-lit.

Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas
Dean Koontz
416 pages
Rating: 4/5

 Odd Thomas is a novel written about Odd (his actual name), a short-order fry cook at Pico Mundo Grill.  He possesses the special talent of seeing the dead.  They do not speak to him, though they do communicate.  Often times, they bid him to revenge their murder or make wrongs right.  Sometimes, they simply accompany him along his day.  However, on the day the novel begins, Odd sees a man he dubs "Fungus Man" who gives him a "funny feeling" (another one of his special talents).  He decides to take a closer look and discovers a mystery.  This first novel of the series Odd Thomas involves murder, mystery, and thrill as Odd tells his story of the next 24 hours after he meets Fungus Man and investigates this off-feeling, seemingly evil man.  Odd is accompanied by the fabulous characters of Pico Mundo, including the love of his life, Stormy, the 400-lb friend, Little Ozzie, the chief of police, the sometimes-unpredictable Elvis, his boss, landlord, father, mother, and friends.

My Thoughts:
I was disappointed by the summery I found online because I thought it told most of the story.  So I attempted to write my own.  I have found that I am not great at this, mostly through friends and family telling me that I often tell too much.  But I tried.

Anyway, this book was the first novel I read by Dean Koontz.  I was surprised to find it different than what I expected.  I guess I was expecting something more along the lines of James Patterson, in the fast paced mystery type thing.  Instead, I found Odd Thomas to be a well-written, suspenseful mystery.  I found it more slower paced, but with an awesome background.  I loved the writing of Odd Thomas himself.  The book is written in first person, with the story told from Odd's perspective.  I came to love Odd, as he was funny and interesting.  But I believe what makes the book is the surroundings Odd is placed in.  Everyone he is friends with has some type of interesting quirk and individuality.    I could picture each character in vivid detail so much so that I did not get lost in the number of characters.  There are many more supporting characters than most novels I read, but I enjoyed it immensely.

However, the writing at times got a little much for me.  The book was a bit of a slower read than I was used to.  I took time to read it, but I would set it down, be halfway through, and still not be completely sure where the plot was and where it was going.  At times, the details got on my nerves, especially when something important was happening because I wanted to find out what happened.  But I only recall one or two instances when that happened.  It really was the only complaint I had about the novel.

Ultimately, I gave Odd Thomas a 4/5 because I loved it.  It was a great story, took a little while to get into, but I enjoyed it very much.  I got to know each character and the town of Pico Mundo well, and I can't wait to read the next installment.  I recommend it to anyone who loves mysteries and is not afraid of some suspense.  It got a little dark at times, so I won't recommend my grandmother read it.  But for those who love NCIS, Criminal Minds, Bones, and CSI, it is a great alternative to watching tv.  It's like having an odd Mentalist come alive within the pages of a book.

Enquiring Minds Want to Know (8)


Each week Dollycas's Thoughts hosts the meme "Enquiring Minds Want to Know." She posts questions for us to answer each week in order for us bloggers and readers to get to know each other beyond our books.  Check out her's and others answers here.

1. What is your favorite vegetable?
Oh goodness, you mean I have to pick?!  I happen to love veggies and fruit, so picking is hard....  However, I think my favorite veggies are corn and green beans.  When I was growing up we would grow both in the garden, and summer was always wonderful due to having fresh green beans and corn for dinner.  Often times, we would have an all veggie dinner.
2. What is your favorite fruit?
Hm... favorite fruit: probably strawberries and raspberries.   I love apples and grapes too.  Maybe I should say fruit salad.    My favorite vacation spot is Oregon in the summer because there are so many wonderful berries.

3. Do you grow any of your own fruit and vegetables?
Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to grow anything yet.  I'm still in an apartment, so I don't have room just yet.  But I plan to have a nice garden with veggies (and maybe berries, depending on where I live), especially when I have kids, because I know it was a wonderful part of childhood.

What about you?  What kinds of food do you love to eat?

Fall Into Reading: Questions (7)

 

I'm a little behind this week on posting, but I was traveling for a bit.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  And those who are out experiencing Black Friday, yah for you!  I'm comfy, sitting by the fire, enjoying my day off.  :)  Black Friday is just not for me.

Callapidder Days is currently hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge.  It is a self-set challenge in that each participant sets a goal for his/herself of the number of books to read during the fall season (Sept. 22-Dec. 20).  Then the participants post about the novels and progress as much or little as they want with a wrap-up post at the end.  I have set a goal to read 50 books this fall.  You can read the full list here.  Callapidder Days also hosts a weekly question about Fall Into Reading, as another way for us to connect and such.

This week's question: Once you begin a book, do you feel compelled to finish it? Or have you been known to give up in the middle of a book, to walk away from a book that is just too annoying, boring, etc.?

I have to say that I feel compelled to finish most books.  It's still hard for me to remember that I don't have to read anything.  That I get to read what I want to read.  I think it's part of being out of school: a little freedom to make me skip.  But the way I deal with it is that if I am not enjoying a book, I set the book down for a while and perhaps come back to it later.  I have two books "on hold" right now: The Second Coming by David Burton and House Rules by Jodi Piccoult.  The Second Coming is one I won in a giveaway, and I just can't get into it.  I'll read like a chapter or so every so often, and I just can't make myself read it right now.  House Rules is one I'm guaranteed to go back to; I just wasn't in the mood for it when I picked it up.  Most of the time, I'll go back to a book later and be really into it and finish it quickly.  I haven't found one I just couldn't finish yet, but that's not say that I won't.  How about you?  Anyone give up on books?  Or are you like me, and feel like you need to finish a book?

Books Read so Far:
1. The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baronnes Emmuska Orczy (review)
2. Sooner or Later - Debbie Macomber
3. Evermore - Alysson Noel (review)
4. The Snow Bride - Debbie Macomber (review)
5. The Inn at Eagle Point - Sherryl Woods (review)
6. Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
7. She's Gone Country - Jane Porter (review)
8. Twenty Wishes - Debbie Macomber (review)
9. Deja Dead - Kathy Reichs (review)
10. The Sparkling One - Susan Mallery (review)
11. Under Her Skin - Susan Mallery (review)
12. Masquerade - Melissa De La Cruz (review)
13. One Reckless Summer - Toni Blake (review)
14. A Whole New Light - Sandra Brown (review)
15. The Rose Red Bride - Claire Delacroix (review)
16. The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen (review)
17. The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger (review)
18. Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz

Bonus: (i.e. books not on my list, but that I've finished reading in this time period)
1. Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
2. On the Steamy Side - Louisa Edwards (review)
3. Blue Moon - Alyson Noel (review)
5. Just Listen - Sarah Dressen (review)
6. Christmas Wishes - Debbie Macomber

Progress: 18 down, 32 to go

Monday, November 22, 2010

What are you reading Monday? (6)

"It's Monday, What are you reading?" is hosted by One Person's Journey through a World of Books.  "In My Mailbox" is created by Kristi at The Story Siren.  I use a little bit of both.  Once again, life caught up with me this week, so I didn't get as much accomplished this week.  But I am very happy to report that I've obtained a library card!  So I know can include new library books in my What are you reading Monday post!

Books Finished This Week:
Just Listen - Sarah Dressen

Reviews Finished:
Just Listen

Library Books Found:
Just Listen - Sarah Dressen
Silent in the Grave - Deanna Raybourn
Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery

Currently Reading:
Odd Thomas - Dean Koontz (I'm over half way finished - it's been slow going for me for some reason)
Christmas Wishes - Debbie Macomber  (I've finished the first of two books in this combined novel)

Coming Up Next:
The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

I hope everyone is doing a little better on their goals than me.  But I've had tough week, worked overtime, had several rough days at the hospital, and I haven't been able to sleep much.  So I guess I have good excuses.  I just found myself wanting to sleep more than read.  But I am happy to say that this coming week I am driving home with a friend (he's doing the driving) so I will have family time AND reading time!  As I gear up for Thanksgiving, I hope everyone else has a wonderful reading week and great week of family!

2011 Debut Author Challenge

As the year is closing down, I am excited to be able to pick out my upcoming challenges for next year.  As you probably noticed, I love challenges!  Kristi at The Story Siren is hosting 2011 Debut Author Challenge.  From what I can tell, it's a yearly challenge, and I'm excited to be able to join this year.  I believe it will be lots of fun to find new authors and support debut authors in their new adventures.  Kristi posted a spreadsheet with many books info on the challenge page.  Here's the participating info directly from The Story Siren:

2011 Debut Author Challenge participant information:
  • The objective of the DAC is to read at least twelve novels from Young Adult or Middle Grade Authors. While twelve is the minimum there is no maximum limit! I encourage readers who can read more than twelve to do so!
  • Anyone can join. You don't have to be a blogger, and you don't have to live in the United States. 
  • You do not have to have an blog written in English to participate. 
  • You can join at anytime. The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. 
Qualifying books:
  • Books must be a Young Adult or Middle Grade novel.
  • This must be the authors debut with a release date in 2011
  • If an author has a previous novel published under adult fiction/nonfiction or children's fiction/nonfiction, they can still qualify for the challenge if they are releasing their YA or MG debut. 
I have already found several that I want to check out.  I've started a Debut Author shelf on Goodreads, and I figured I'd pick out about five to start with to post here.  I don't want it to be too set in stone as who knows what next year holds  But I can't wait to start reading these upcoming novels!

  1. The Iron Witch - Karen Mahoney (released February 8, 2011)
  2. Unearthly  - Cynthia Hand (released January 4, 2011)
  3. Timeless - Alexandra Monir (released January 11, 2011)
  4. Other Words for Love - Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (released January 11, 2011)
  5. The Water Wars - Cameron Stracher (released January 1, 2011)
Goodness, I haven't even gotten through January.  But looks like it's going to be an exciting year both for debut authors and all other authors!  If it sounds like something you would like to do, head over to The Story Siren's 2011 Debut Author Challenge page and check it out!  We can cheer each other on.  I just can't wait!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Talisman Series


So I am not normally a go-out-and-buy copies of books the day they come out (or before).  In fact, this happens to be only the second time I've done so.  But, I am so excited to share this opportunity with you.  Brenda Pandos, the author of the Talisman Series, is selling signed copies of her books, with a pre-order for The Sapphire Talisman, signed, at a discounted rate.  I've heard awesome things about both of her books, so I went ahead and ordered them.  It turns out that both copies will be signed.  How exciting!  The Emerald Talisman is 12.99 and The Sapphire Talisman is 11.99 (discounted only during November).  If you are a fan, you should definitely check it out.    Here's the link.  Brenda Pandos has it on her blog.  Pretty awesome, huh?!  I can't wait to read them!

Just Listen

Just Listen
Sarah Dessen
371 pages
Rating: 4/5

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything"—at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to
truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends. 

My Thoughts:
First of all, this was my first library book in ages.  I'm so excited to have finally worked up the nerve to go to the library and get my card!  Plus, my library is excitingly large.  I'm happy to report that it has many books from many authors that are on my lists.  Woohoo!
Just Listen is a novel by Sarah Dessen that I picked up because I couldn't find another book by Dessen that was on my list.  I was not disappointed.  I greatly enjoyed her novel, and she may be on her way to becoming a favorite author of mine.  I felt that her writing was perfect for this teenage fiction novel.  She wrote in a mixture of past flashbacks and present, and I loved  her storytelling, especially because it was not completely straightforward.  The story was excellent.  Though I guessed most of the plot from the beginning, I read it anyway because I was enchanted by her writing style and her character of Annabel.

Though I've read some reviews that saw Annabel as passive and weak, I did not find her that way at all.  In fact, she is one character I could completely relate with.  In high school (and still some today), I struggle with internalization and the quiet "passive lying" of keeping things to oneself.  Annabel meets Owen, a completely honest person, who challenges her sense of "everything's fine."  I loved the two together.  The story is told in first person, and I greatly enjoyed Annabel's telling of her story.  It really flowed for me.  Put it this way, I read it in an entire night even though I was dizzy and had a headache.  I related to Annabel's sense of trying to keep her problems to herself because she felt that they would be too much for everyone else.  It was exactly what I did in high school.  

I thought Dessen's story was a great one.  I believe that it speaks of many different life lessons, and it talks about many issues I think teenagers face, in fact many adults face.  It speaks of the importance of family, the complications of relationships (both friends and boys), the true meaning of friendships, the struggles of an eating disorder on a family, and the dynamics of sisters in a family.  I was greatly surprised by Dessen's insights into life.  

Ultimately, I loved this story.  I rated it a 4/5 because I really enjoyed it, and I believe I will think of it for many days to come.  It didn't make a 5 simply because I can't see myself rereading it.  But, other than that, I thought it was wonderful.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fiction and any parents who are looking for good books for their daughters.  I believe Dessen is an incredibly talented author, and I plan to check out many of her other books.  Any suggestions for which one I pick up next?