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?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Enquiring Minds Want to Know (7)

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.  Do/did your kids or grandkids take part in sports organized by school or recreation departments? 
I don't have any children besides my fur baby, Bennett.  But I think learning the team concept is a good thing for kids, so I will probably have my children take part in at least one team.  If they hate it, then we can say we tried. 
 
2.  Were you involved in any sports while growing up?
I was involved in soccer at my church when I was young.  It was the only sport that I wasn't horribly bad at.  I really enjoyed it for a while, but then I got into band when I was in middle school and high school - so sports fell by the wayside.
 
3.  How are you planning to spend Thanksgiving? 
I'm so incredibly excited to be going to my parents' house for Thanksgiving.  I'm single and new to this city, so I don't have many people to invite for my own Thanksgiving.  But I'm excited to have Thanksgiving off (I'm a nurse, so I wasn't sure that I would have the holiday off.  Means I'll work Christmas, but I knew that was coming...), so I will be driving the 9 hours home to see my family.  I haven't been to my parents' home in four months, so I'm super-duper excited!  My niece is almost 2 and talking!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fall Into Reading: Questions (6)

 


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: Where do you get the books you read? Are you a faithful library patron? Or maybe a bookstore junkie? Do you exchange books with friends or family members?

Such a great question!  Unfortunately, I am not a faithful library patron.  Though I want to be!  I recently moved to a new city, and I just haven't had the time to go check out the library.  I'm going to try to go tomorrow.  Though, as of right now, I am trying to get through several of the books I already own on my shelves.  That's what my goal with this challenge was - to read all of the books I've already purchased.  Right now, for new books, I am going to a Goodreads swap phase.  I stumbled upon the swap recently, and I feel in love.  I also have a kindle.  Mostly I use my kindle when I can't find the books on swap, as they are generally cheaper than finding them in a bookstore.  Though I don't have the money to be a faithful bookstore junkie, that doesn't mean I cannot be found browsing the shelves at a good Barnes and Noble just because I love bookstores.  Since I am new to this city, I haven't had time to explore the big and little bookstores to find a favorite yet - so I haven't been in a while.  But I just love the smell of bookshelves and new (or new to me) books.  There's just something wonderfully peaceful about a bookstore.  Sometimes I go and browse and place a bunch of fun books on my goodreads list to buy next time just for the quiet and wonderful atmosphere of being surrounded by books.  Thank goodness for the Goodreads iphone app.  I use it religiously to keep track of books I want to read during my "window shopping" bookstore adventures.

What about you?  Any religious library users?  Are any of you addicted to Swap like me?  Wherever you get your books, I hope you enjoy reading them this week!

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)

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)


Progress: 17 down, 33 to go

Whew I need to get reading!  I still have a lot to go. How goes your goals?  Anybody ridiculously behind like me?

What are you reading Wednesday (Monday)? (5)

This week I am working overtime, so I'm a bit behind on my memes and reading.  I have tonight and tomorrow off, so I hope to be able to catch up.  This meme is a particular favorite of mine, because it is a way for me to pace myself on my reading and set goals for each week.  Unfortunately, not much reading has gotten done this week, but tomorrow is another day, right?

Books finished this week:
Blue Moon (The Immortals, 2) - Alysson Noel
The Catcher and the Rye - J. D. Salinger

Reviews finished this week:
The Rose Red Bride - Claire Delacroix
Blue Moon (The Immortals, 2) - Alysson Noel
The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger

Currently reading:
Odd Thomas - Dean Kootz

Coming up next:
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan
Christmas Wishes - Debbie Macbomer

To Review:
Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods

How is everyone's reading week looking?  I'm currently reading Odd Thomas and I am loving it!  Can't wait to finish it and post a review.  Also, don't forget the Gratitude Giveaway.  It's my first giveaway, and I have be blown away by the response.  But I want everybody to be able to enter.  Good luck and good reading!

Gratitude Giveaway!


This Thanksgiving season, I have decided to take part in the Gratitude Giveaways hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.  It's open November 17th through November 27th.  It's all about books and our followers!  Even though I'm a newbie, I thought having a follower appreciation giveaway as my first would be appropriate.  Because without my followers, this little experiment would have crashed and burned a long time ago, and I would probably be a couch potato with only TV time to account for.

The goods:

So, being the OCD person that I am, I decided to give my giveaway a theme.  I came up with "The First in a Series."  Since it's my first giveaway and my first year as a blogger, I thought it was appropriate.

Beautiful Creatures - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater
The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting

The giveaway is open to US and International.  I have given a couple of possible extra entries, but I didn't want to make it too complicated for my first giveaway.  It is mandatory to be a follower (as it is a follower appreciation giveaway).  Thanks to all of my followers and good luck!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2010 Holiday Reading Challenge

All About {n}


I have to say that I am very excited to have found this challenge.  Christmas happens to be my favorite holiday.  I love December and winter, and I am so excited to be able to celebrate the holiday season in one of my favorite ways - reading!  I had found another holiday challenge at The Christmas Reading Challenge.  So I have decided to participate in both.  I am excited about All about {n} hosting this challenge especially since there are goodies involved.  I always like goodies. This Holiday Challenge is starting on November 15th and running through December 31st.  I have several different books picked out for my Christmas book celebration that are on my wishlist, but I am going to include those that I actually have into the challenge to start just in case I don't get to buy all the books I want.

Holiday Books to Read:
  1. Christmas Wishes: Christmas Letters\Rainy Day Kisses by Debbie Macomber
  2. The Christmas Blessing (Christmas Hope Series #2) by Donna VanLiere
  3. The Christmas Promise (Christmas Hope Series #4) by Donna VanLiere
  4. The Gift: A Novel - Richard Paul Evans
  5. There's Something About Christmas - Debbie Macomber
  6. Home for the Holidays - Johanna Lindsey
Anyone else reading something special to get into the holiday spirit?

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye
    J. D. Salinger
    214 pages
    Rating: 3/5

    Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with "cynical adolescent." Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he's been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,
    "If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them."
    His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.

    My Thoughts:
    I did not read this book in high school, like most people I've heard.  But I picked it up due to it's presence on my 1001 Books list.  I was intrigued by the book due to a reference from a movie with Julia Roberts and a rogue assassin (I still don't know what movie that was or that I remember it correctly) that I caught a glimpse of once.  I thought it would have something to do with government conspiracies or something.  Imagine my surprise.

    I honestly don't really know what to think about the book.  After I finished it, I was still trying to figure it out - and I felt as I did in high school with assigned reading, that I had missed something important.  I even SparkNotes-ed it just to see.  And apparently, I did miss part of it - because I was unsure of the significance of the catcher in the rye idea.    But, anyway, I got most of it on my own, I guess.

    I admire Salinger's writing.  I truly felt that I had stepped inside a teenager's head.  It did not feel artificial at all.  It saddens me a little bit as to the idea that this is the teenager symbol of rebellion and alienation, yet I could never find a resolving, concluding point.  It reminded me of the movie Rebel Without a Cause. It made me wish I had studied it in a high school or college English class, so I could see others point of view on the book.

    Ultimately, I gave this book a 3/5 because I am glad I read it - but I can't see myself reading it again or picking it as a favorite.  I can see why it is a classic, and I agree with the ideas of it being a symbol of teenage alienation.  I only wish that there was a point that could encourage teenagers.  I loved Holden's love of his sister, and I am truly glad the book did not end in suicide (as I thought it might).  Me, being the pediatric nurse at heart, I wanted it to have a "fixing" quality that could speak to teenagers across the board.  But I guess the simple idea that they are not alone in their alienation would be a point.  I'm not really sure.  I feel as though the book contained an underlying message that I missed.  I'm glad I read it.  Happy I can mark it off my list.  I guess this is simple proof that I did not find my calling in literature.  Good thing I'm a nurse not an English teacher.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Enquiring Minds Want to Know (6)


    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.  Do you have a Veteran in your family? (living or in the past)
    I do.  My grandfather served in the Korean War, and he often tells the story of his crossing the ocean and eating an entire can of olives with his buddy.  And (of course) they were the only two who didn't get sick.  :)

    2.  Where were you born?
    I was born in Memphis, hometown of Elvis.  I find it quite funny that that's what everyone associates with Memphis, as I've never been to his house (and I lived there for 20 years).  To me, Memphis is home to family, good BBQ, horrible drivers, awful road-rage, and my long-time friends.

    3.  Have you seen an good movies lately, in the theater or on DVD? Recommend one for us to watch.
    I find it so ironic that this is a question this week, because I am working on a post about the most recent movie I saw.  Secretariat is a movie I saw with my parents, recommended by friends of theirs.  They said that it was in the same class as Seabiscuit.  And I enjoyed it just as much.  Secretariat is about a one of the all-time best racehorses of all time.  It has Diane Lane (a favorite of mine) in it, who does a wonderful job portraying a strong woman in the late 60s, early 70s.  And I recommend it for all people who love family-type movies.  It's a great, clean, fun movie - especially for those who love horses.
     
    I look forward to hearing everyone else's answers to this week's meme.  Great questions this week.  Hope you guys have a great reading weekend! 

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Fall Into Reading: Questions (5)

     


    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: How did you get into reading? When and how/why did you really become “a reader”?

    I first got into reading as a child.  My mom read to me and my siblings from an early age, and I can still remember begging her to read just one more chapter before bedtime.  I think she started my love of reading then.  I was a bookworm while in elementary and middle school.  But in high school and college, my studies sort of took over.  I started back to reading just recently after I finished college.  So I guess I've been a reader almost all of my life.  I am happy to say that college did not ruin reading for me, and I am so glad to be an avid reader once again.  Having moved to a new place has given me the opportunity to have more time to read.  And I'm loving it.

    What about you?  When did you start reading?  And how's Fall Into Reading going for you?  I'm not as far on my list as I wish I was, but I'm still very much enjoying this fall and my reading, so I guess that's all that counts.

    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)

    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)

    Progress: 16 down, 34 to go

    Blue Moon

    Blue Moon
    Alyson Noel

    284 pages
    Rating: 4.5/5
    Eager to learn everything she can about her new abilities as an Immortal, Ever turns to her beloved Damen to show her the way. But just as her powers are increasing, Damen’s are waning.  In an attempt to save him, Ever travels to the magical dimension of Summerland, where she learns the secrets of Damen’s tortured past; a past which he has always kept hidden from her. But in her quest to cure Damen, Ever discovers an ancient text that details the workings of time. Now Ever must chose between turning back the past and saving her family from the accident that claimed their lives—or staying in the present and saving Damen, who grows sicker every day... 


    My Thoughts:
    I have decided that this book and I have a love-hate relationship.  I've been thinking about how to review this book for the last hour and a half.  I still am having trouble figuring out what I think about the book.  But either way, I do know that the book was amazing.  Excuse the reference, but the book reminds me of the second book of the Twilight series, New Moon.  Oh, just realized they both have moon in the title.  Anyway, call me weird, but New Moon was my favorite of the Twilight series.  Though I really enjoyed Breaking Dawn, I read it so fast, I almost don't even remember what happened.  I've read New Moon many, many times.  And I feel that I may read Blue Moon over again as well.

    I had some complications with Ever in the first novel.  Though I did not connect with her during the first novel, I did not have that problem in this novel.  I jumped into the novel and felt as though I knew Ever as a good friend.  Damen played a smaller part in the novel, which means I cannot fully form my opinion on him.  All I can say is that I do not understand their love and I don't have a crush on him like I do Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Jack from Blue Bloods, and Thornton from North and South.  But that's just because I cannot get a sense of him.  I'll keep you updated of course.


    But Ever, I have to say that I got a great sense of her.  I felt as though we could be best friends in real life.  I related to her well, and I felt as though I could have been her at times.  I related to the things she was going through, I felt the emotions she felt with the continued loss of her family, and I wanted to hit those who were mean to her.  (Read the story - you'll understand what I mean).  And, not completely unsurprising for me, I even cried in the book.  I got so involved in the story I took an extra long lunch break at work, and I read over half of it in one setting.  I was not excited about the story when I first got the book.  But there was so much more to the storyline that what I anticipated.    Noel's writing of Summerland and the fantasy surrounding her story were incredible.  At times, I could even picture how I would portray it in a movie.


    Ultimately, I gave this story a 4.5/5 because I could see it becoming a favorite of mine.  It didn't get the 5 so much because I hate cut-off endings (hence the love/hate idea).  I felt that the novel should have gone on, but instead it was cut short due the it being in a series.  It's a personal pet-peeve of mine.  Once I have read the whole series, I may appreciate the ending more.  But I spent at least 10 minutes re-reading the ending going, "Wait, WHAT?!"  But believe me, Alyson Noel is now one of my favorite authors.  I believe this novel series that she has written shows incredible insight into teenagers and combines the reality of teenager emotion and feeling with a great fantasy story that is not too-far-out-there for the realistic mind.  I have made it a personal goal to read all the novels that she has written, and I just joined her email list.  Believe, I'm not normally obsessive.  But I really enjoyed the novel.  I would recommend Blue Moon and The Immortals series to anyone who enjoys young adult fiction.  I found that the second book in the series is definitely worth getting through the first novel, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the third one.  I am also excited to announce (my finding out at least) that the fifth book in the series (Night Star) will be released soon - in one week in fact.  Go to the links below to find out more info!


    Alyson Noel's website
    Alyson Noel's blog

    The Immortals Series:
    Blue Moon
    Shadowland
    Dark Flame
    Night Star (to be released November 16th)

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    The Rose Red Bride




    The Rose Red Bride
    Claire Delacroix
    400 pages
    Rating: 3.5/5

    Like a heroine in an ancient tale, Vivienne waited in the highest chamber of Kinfairlie's tower for her fated lover.  In the darkness he came for her, cloaked and hooded so that she would not see his face.  He loved her sweetly, thoroughly... and Vivienne knew she had met her destiny.  
    But in the morning light, her dream is shattered.  Erik Sinclair of Blacklieth is no romantic hero but a disinherited warrior who arranged her abduction to regain his own legacy.  Outraged by Erik's insistence that he needs her solely to beget a son, yet ensnared by the passion he awakens, Vivienne realizes that there is more merit in her taciturn spouse than he would admit.  Erik is skeptical of her growing faith in his honor and her desire to recapture his stolen birthright... Little does he suspect that his rare gem of a bride intends to capture his barricaded heart as well.  (from the back cover)

    My Thoughts:
    This book was my first Claire Delacroix book that I've read.  I have to say that I enjoyed it greatly.   It was a well-written, nicely paced, not-completely-predictable romance novel.  

    This novel was not the simple boy-meets-girl-they-fall-in-love novel.  It was well-written with enough background to make those who want more than simple love story enjoy it.  The novel was set in 1400s Scotland.  Though I did not completely feel the setting, I did enjoy the setting as Delacroix presented it.  The parts that seemed unrealistic to me - the family interactions, Vivienne's willingness to suddenly be in love with a complete stranger - were probably necessary for the plot to take place.  So, if you simply read the novel for what it is, you can enjoy the romantic plot.  
    The characters were nicely developed - I connected with both of the main characters.  I thoroughly enjoyed Vivienne, and I laughed a great deal at a small counter-story.   Unlike some other reviews I've read, I did not find Vivienne weak-willed.  Instead, I respected the character's desire to keep her word.  She made a promise and she did everything within her power to see that she kept her word.

    The  main pet-peeve I had with this novel was the small input of fairies and such.  I feel like a novel should either be set in reality or include fantasy - not be a bit of both.  It made me a bit confused because I wasn't sure if the characters were kidding during part of it (joking about tales including fairies and such) and then Vivienne took it seriously.  It took away from the story, in my book.
    The other frustration I found was the way things were simply tied up in the end.  It seemed that the entire novel was based around the idea that Erik needs an heir and then one small thing changes and the whole basis of the plot is taken away.  It just made for too much of a pat-ending for me.  

    But ultimately, I was happy to find this novel a good read.  The mixture of fantasy in the book kept it from being a 4 (and a favorite) in my book.  But anyone who enjoys romance set in the past will love Delacroix's book.  I was unaware that this was a series, but it stood well as a lone book.  But the family atmosphere also makes me want to pick up the other books in the series.  I would recommend this novel for anyone who loves romance novels and chick-lit.

    What are you reading Monday? (4)






    "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.  This week was a crazy life week, so my reading and reviews suffered.  But hopefully, I'll be able to catch up this next week.

    Books Finished This Week:
    The Rose Red Bride - Claire Delacroix

    Reviews Finished (from books previously read):
    The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen


    Currently Reading:
    Blue Moon (The Immortals, 2) - Alyson Noel
    The Catcher in the Rye -  J. D. Salinger
    Odd Thomas - Dean Kootz

    Books to Finish This Week:
    Blue Moon (The Immortals, 2) - Alyson Noel
    The Catcher in the Rye -  J. D. Salinger
    Odd Thomas - Dean Kootz
    Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
    The Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan

    Reviews to Finish:
    Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
    Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
    The Rose Red Bride - Claire Delacroix

    What about you?  How is your reading going?  It's getting cold here, so it's perfect snuggling and reading weather!

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Enquiring Minds Want to Know (5)

    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.  She's decided to make it a weekend long meme so that those of us who get busy with life can also participate.  And this week, I'm especially happy that she made it a weekend long meme.  I'm so behind on my posting!  Check out her's and others answers here.

    This week's questions:
     
    Did you vote on Tuesday? 
    No, sadly I actually didn't vote on Tuesday.  I recently moved, and I haven't moved my address, license tag, or my voter's registration.  It just came too quick!

    Where do you get news about what's happening in the world? (Newspapers, Internet, Local Television Stations, Cable News, etc.)
    I would have to say probably the internet.  I  don't really follow the news.  But I spend a lot of time on the Internet, and many times I catch things from my browsing (and from word of mouth).  I probably should start actually following what happens in the world.  But I just haven't gotten around to subscribing to the newspaper yet.
    Do you read in bed before you go to sleep?
    I actually don't read in bed before I go to sleep.  It's something I've never been able to get into.  Probably because if I did, I never would sleep.  I used to study in my bed in college, but now I only sleep or watch TV in bed.  I mostly like to read on the couch instead of in bed.
     
    What about you?   

    The Apothecary's Daughter

    The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen
    411 pages
    Rating: 4/5

    Lillian Haswell, brilliant daughter of the local apothecary, yearns for more adventure and experience than life in her father's shop and their small village provides. She also longs to know the truth behind her mother's disappearance, which villagers whisper about but her father refuses to discuss. Opportunity comes when a distant aunt offers to educate her as a lady in London. Exposed to fashionable society and romance--as well as clues about her mother--Lilly is torn when she is summoned back to her ailing father's bedside. Women are forbidden to work as apothecaries, so to save the family legacy, Lilly will have to make it appear as if her father is still making all the diagnoses and decisions. But the suspicious eyes of a scholarly physician and a competing apothecary are upon her. As they vie for village prominence, three men also vie for Lilly's heart.
    My Thoughts:
    Can I just say that I am glad that I stumbled upon this book of Julie Klassen?  Beautifully written, nicely paced, and not too dramatic, I really enjoyed it.  My mom recommended it originally, and I'm glad that she persisted and made me read it.

    The book centers around an apothecary's daughter (duh, see the title) and her experiences with life.  Klassen goes into detail about the apothecary's trade of the time, which I found incredibly interesting.  She also included the prejudices between doctors, apothecaries, and other people of trade as well as the prejudices between the people of class and those of the working class, which, I believe, really gives another level to the book .  It helps place one in the historical era and gives it a realistic aspect.


    Lilly is a wonderfully sweet girl, and I really enjoyed reading about her romances.  I did not guess who she would end up with, in fact I guessed wrong.  The plot was not entirely predictable, and overall it was a fun read.  I gave it a 4/5 because I read it in an entire afternoon and really enjoyed it.  I could have taken a little bit more feeling from the characters, but I thought it was overall well written and a great read.  I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and historical romance.

    Coming Soon: Gratitude Giveaway!

    This Thanksgiving season, I have decided to take part in the Gratitude Giveaways hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.  It will be open November 17th through November 28th.  It's all about books and our followers!  Even though I'm a newbie, I thought having a follower appreciation giveaway as my first would be appropriate.  Because without my followers, this little experiment would have crashed and burned a long time ago, and I would probably be a couch potato with only TV time to account for.

    The goods:

    So, being the OCD person that I am, I decided to give my giveaway a theme.  I came up with "The First in a Series."  Since it's my first giveaway and my first year as a blogger, I thought it was appropriate.

    Beautiful Darkness 
    Beautiful Darkness - Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
    The Body Finder 
    The Body Finder - Kimberly Derting

    Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls)
    Shiver - Maggie Stiefvater

    The giveaway will be open to US and International.   It is mandatory to be a follower (as it is a follower appreciation giveaway).  I tried to pick books that would be exciting to win.  I've not read any of the above, but they came highly recommended by bloggers I trust and they all sound wonderful!  I will be buying a copy for myself so I can review them as well.  So get ready.  Mark your calendars!  And come back to enter this giveaway.  I am a Reader, Not a Writer also has a linky to the other blogs who are participating, so you can find lots of great giveaways over there.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Fall Into Reading: Questions (4)


    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:
    Where do you love to read? Note: I don’t mean where do you actually do most of your reading, because that might be the carpool line, the work cafeteria, or even the bathroom (if you have to escape from a few small children in order to read a chapter of your book). I mean, what are a few of the places where you LOVE to read?

    I have to say that I have a couple of places that I love to read, sadly few of them are in my regular reading spots.  I'm trying to resolve that, as I am making an effort to sit in one of them now while I work on my blog and read my books.
    1) Oceanside in Oregon.  My family used to go to the Oregon coast every other year to spend time with extended family.  We would rent this same house that had bay windows with ledge-couches so you could sit and read while watching the ocean (and not have to worry about sand or water or etc.).  It was so perfect.  I find myself missing it at times.
    2) My patio furniture.  Notice I didn't say my patio - as my patio furniture is residing in my room right now due to lack of house furniture.  But it is super comfy and was a present from my parents so it has a special place in my heart.  It's the perfect place to snuggle and read.
    3) A cute little restaurant in my town.  It has the perfect atmosphere and it's a great place I can get a sandwich and read for several hours.  Plus, they have patio tables where I can sit outside if the weather is wonderful.  It's my favorite part about my new town.

    What about you?  Where do you love to read?

    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. The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen
    13. Masquerade - Melissa De La Cruz (review)
    14. One Reckless Summer - Toni Blake (review)
    15. A Whole New Light - Sandra Brown (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)

    Progress: 15 down, 35 to go

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    What are you reading Monday? (3)


    "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.

    Books Finished This Week:
    One Reckless Summer (Destiny, 1) - Toni Blake
    A Whole New Light - Sandra Brown
    Masquerade (Blue Bloods, 2) - Melissa De La Cruz
    The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen

    Reviews Finished (from books previously read):
    On the Steamy Side - Louisa Edwards

    Books Received This Week:
    Blue Moon (The Immortals, 2) - Alyson Noel [through Goodreads swap]

    Books to Read This Week:
    Blue Moon (The Immortals, 2) - Alyson Noel
    Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
    The Catcher in the Rye -  J. D. Salinger
    Odd Thomas - Dean Kootz
    The Rose Red Bride - Claire Delacroix

    Reviews to Finish:
    Flowers on Main - Sherryl Woods
    Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
    The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen

    What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy read and have a good week!