Saturday, December 31, 2011

House of Sand and Fog book review

My rating = 3 stars

Hello again everyone. I am finally back from my Christmas hiatus, and I have some great things coming this next week, so stick around! This review completes December's challenge for Read Your Own Library. This month I chose House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. It has been on my shelf for several years, and I never wanted to get rid of it before reading it because the premise of the story always sounded so compelling.

House of Sand and Fog tells the tragic story of a woman who was wrongly evicted from her home, then fights with the new owner to reclaim the house. Kathy Nicolo-Lazaro is a recovering drug addict, whose husband recently walked out on her. One morning she wakes up to find the police on her doorstep, evicting her from her home by county order. The home is sold at auction the following day. An Iranian exile, Colonel Behrani, uses the last of his savings to buy the house, hoping to secure a better life for his family. As the Behrani family settles in, Kathy is befriended by Lester Burdon, the deputy who evicted her, and a fiery love affair begins between them. Lester is soon drawn in to Kathy's legal plight and they both take drastic measures to get Kathy's house back.

One short review I read said this book really tugs on your emotions and sympathies. And in some ways it did for me, but I only had sympathy for the Behrani family. I was a bit stunned to realize this as I read, because Kathy is the one who is homeless and fighting to get her house back. But the further I read, the more I could not relate to this woman and could not agree with the choices she, and in turn Lester, made. To make it cut and dry, Col. Behrani owned the home legally once the county sold it to him. He was fully protected by state law. Kathy's only legal recourse was to sue the county for the full value of the home and get her money back. But, of course, that's not how the story plays out.

Kathy is very, very, very bad at handling her emotions. She can only deal with them by using beer, drugs, or sex. Otherwise, she's explosively volatile. Hence, every decision she makes about how to deal with this problem is fueled by unstable emotion. At one point she tries to justify herself and say "I just watched all this happen. It's not my fault." She is so used to playing the victim all her life, that she is incapable of making one reasonable, responsible decision. I hate people like that!

Lester is also a vulnerable character. Once he and Kathy hook up, he suddenly decides to up and leave his wife and kids behind, and eventually, his sanity as well. They both act irrationally and irresponsibly throughout the book, and this bad mix ends up costing the Behranis pain and sadness, and ultimately their lives.

(Speaking of hooking up - I have to warn you that this book has a lot of sex. A lot. Kathy and Lester are either having sex, thinking about sex, or dreaming about sex. And some of it really made me want to gag. They also use a lot of f-bombs and other crude language.)

The second half of the book focuses a bit more on the ethics of the situation, and poses the question "What is truly, ethically, the right thing for Col. Behrani to do?" Legally, he is innocent of his actions to keep claim on the house, but ethically, should he give Kathy the house back? (This question is the basis behind a law in my own state that says if you buy a home from the county, city, etc., you do not own it free and clear for 6 months. This gives the previous owner time to pursue legal recourse, if in fact they have unlawfully been deprived of their home.) So I kept asking myself this question as I read, but I could not untangle my antipathy towards Kathy and Lester from the ethics of the problem, so I couldn't find a good answer.

Bottom line — this book is very thought provoking, and the writing style is superb. Thumbs up. The characters of Kathy and Lester are pathetic, unrelateable, and a bit offensive. BIG thumbs down.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Six Weeks to Yehidah Blog Tour Starts Today

The Six Weeks to Yehidah Blog Tour is starting today!

This blog tour is sponsored by Tourz De Codex

The tour will stop here at Finding Your Gibbee on January 6th. Please visit Tourz de Codex for more info about the tour and giveaways happening at all tour stops. I will be posting my review soon.

Six Weeks to Yehidah by Melissa Studdard

Move over, C.S. Lewis; Melissa Studdard is here! Annalise of the Verdant Hills is one of the most delightful protagonists to skip through the pages of literature since Dorothy landed in Oz. Join Annalise and her two walking, talking wondersheep as they travel to ever more outlandish places and meet outrageous and enlightening folk on their journey to discover interconnectedness in a seemingly disconnected world. Discover with them how just one person can be the start of the change we all strive for. A book for all ages, for all time: wonderful, wacky, and bursting with truth!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

WWW Wednesday

This meme is from Should Be Reading. To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III.

I recently finished reading Married to Murder by Jennifer Oberth. You can find my review here.

My TBR Immediately List has the following titles on it:
Six Weeks to Yehidah by Melissa Studdard - upcoming blog tour

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo - book club's selection for next month

A More Perfect Heaven:How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos by Dava Sobel - I found this one at the library yesterday on the New Books shelf. I enjoyed read her book The Planets a year or two ago, so I definitely wanted to check this one out.

I hope to have all three of these finished in the next several weeks.

Christmas memories

I am furiously baking this week to get ready for Christmas dinners, cookie exchanges, and playdates this weekend. As I went through my cookie recipes, I found a beloved recipe from my grandmother. This recipe brings back memories of visiting my gramma's house when I was very little. She seemed to always have homemade cookies on hand for my sister and I to munch on, and there was a window seat in her living room which we would open up to find toys to play with. Her old little bungalow home had a screened-in porch, and we would sit out there playing board games and reading Little Golden Books that I swear she had gotten when my dad was a boy.

After making a batch of my gramma's cookies, I bite into one, close my eyes, and picture myself sitting at her dining room table. The cookie even tastes like her house. This special taste is something I want future generations to be familiar with and even love themselves, so I cherish this recipe. I don't know where she originally got it from, but I remember watching my gramma make these cookies for the first time. I was very skeptical that they would taste good. The reason? The recipe calls for sour cream. Sour cream? Really? Ugh! At least that was my first reaction. But they actually taste really good, and as I said, now I think they taste like gramma's house.

So, as a Christmas gift to all of you, I am sharing my gramma's special cookie recipe with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Gramma Alice's Sour Cream Cookies

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup softened butter or shortening
1 egg
1 cup candied fruit slices, cut into small pieces
1 cup sour cream (do not use fat free, this will affect how the cookie sets)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups flour
small bowl of sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut candies into small pieces and roll in sugar bowl. Cream together 2 cups of sugar and the butter. Add eggs and candies. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add dry ingredients and sour cream to candies mixture. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Do not brown.

Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza is having an enormous audiobook giveaway for Christmas. 12 winners will be chosen Christmas Eve! To enter, just click here

The following books are on the giveaway list:

All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Room by Emma Donoghue

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It by Joshua Cooper Ramo
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
Killing Lincoln by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
Best Friends, Occasional Enemies by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich (Please note, this audiobook is abridged)
A Year and Six Seconds by Isabel Gillies
Saddled by Susan Richards
Imperfect Endings by Zoe Fitzgerald Carter
Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
Good luck to everyone who enters, and Happy Reading (or listening!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book giveaway from Growing Old With Grace

Pat at Growing Old With Grace has two book giveaways for you to enter. both books are by Stephanie M Sellers. Go visit this delightful and funny website today.

Black Purse 

Oginalii is Cherokee for My Friend Like Horse is to My Heart

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm the giveaway winner!

I am so happy to share the news that I won the giveaway for The Girls Own Book from March House Books Blog! I can't wait for it to arrive, and I'll post some pictures of it here.

Married to Murder Blog Tour

It's time? It's time? Did she just say it's time?

Hee,'s Sunday, so thanks to my kids, I've got VeggieTales on the brain.
But, yes, it is time for the Married to Murder Blog Tour here at Finding Your Gibbee!

When I was invited to be a part of this book tour, the description of this book sounded very thrilling. A woman three hours away from her wedding suddenly finds her fiance has been framed for murder, and must clear his name before she walks down the aisle. But when I started reading, I was taken completely by surprise. 

This short story is a comedy as much as a mystery. Jennifer Oberth mixes together so many different elements into the story that it ends up being delightfully absurd - a bride-to-be, who also happens to be some sort of undercover government agent in 1827, living in Maine. Her soon-to-be husband is also a government agent, and his father is a retired pirate (really, think Long John Silver here!) But best of all is Mrs. Crabtree, the town hairdresser who is doing all the women's hair for the wedding, described as the ringleader of town gossip, but who is also deaf as a post!

This story would be terrific as a stage play. The crazy cast of characters, the farcical events that occur, and the outrageous ways the characters react to them all make a memorable comical mystery. I look forward to reading Oberth's other stories.

You can find Married to Murder, and other stories by Jennifer Oberth at Smashwords.

Friday, December 9, 2011

2012 Where Are You Reading Challenge

I'm pretty shy about joining reading challenges. I mean, seriously, starting this blog this year has been a big enough challenge for me, so I don't want to get in over my head. I try to commit to reading books a few at a time. If my commitment list gets too long, I panic and end up backing out. That's kinda how I am with lots of to-do lists and projects — house cleaning projects, crafts to make, etc. Lists help keep my brain organized, but only 5 entries at a time, please.
Well, now that I've said all that....

The real purpose of this post is to introduce the 2012 Where Are You Reading Challenge, hosted by Book Journey. This is a very fun challenge that doesn't require you to read a certain number of books, or read a specific genre or by particular authors or anything. All it requires is that you map the books you do choose to read, so at the end of the year, you can see all the places your reading has taken you. Cool idea, huh?
Some people are committing to read a book from/about each of the 50 states. I just want to see where in the world I go next year. You have to set up a map under Google Maps to link all your books to. It's fairly simple to do - just go to, click on My Places, then click the red Create Map button. My map will be up shortly on my sidebar. You can find more info on this challenge here .

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My first award!

Jennifer from The Beauty of Eclecticism just sent me this award badge for completing my first Read Your Own Library challenge. How fun! Thanks Jennifer!

Book Review — Blessings

My rating = 4 stars

I am so happy I have successfully completed my first assignment for Read Your Own Library Challenge. Blessings ended up being a good book to start with. It was a fairly quick read, and it had a good variety of characters, almost all of whom I could empathize with.
Blessings tells the story of Lydia Blessings, an old woman who lives by herself in a large house with her namesake. She has a new gardener/handyman named Skip who lives in an apartment above the garage, and a cantankerous maid named Nadine. One night Skip finds a newborn baby in a box lying on his doorstep. At first he tries to hide her from everyone, but eventually everyone at Blessings knows about the baby. Soon they all begin to see their own lives transformed by the influence of this tiny, innocent creature. Lydia especially finds her own heart softening, reliving past memories of her own childhood, as well as her daughter's childhood.
The main message I found running through the book is no one is an island. We all must have interaction with other human beings in order to survive. Indeed, if we truly want to thrive, the only way to do this is to cultivate meaningful relationships with others. Faith, the baby left on Skip's doorstep, is the physical embodiment of this message. She literally won't survive unless Skip takes care of her. Lydia is the emotional embodiment of the message. She seems to be a recluse, hiding in her house, hardly daring to even go outside. And yet, she will peek through her windows with binoculars to watch what goes on outside. She needs social interaction, but denies herself of it. But as the story progresses, Lydia opens herself up bit by bit to her friends and family, and finds healing for her own heart.

December Read Your Own Library Challenge

I made it through November's challenge! Hooray! One more book on my bookshelf has been read. I am so proud of myself :)  
I finished reading Blessings by Anna Quindlen with just hours to spare before December started. It was very enjoyable, and I will be posting my book review later today.

This month my book club is taking a break for the holidays, so I will have a little more reading time to devote to this challenge. I decided to read The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III. I am happy to say this book landed on my TBR list before Oprah chose it for her book club selection. But I didn't buy it until after she chose it. So my copy has her official stamp of approval. Unfortunately, that also means it's been sitting on my shelf, unread, for 12 years. 

I know, I know, I deserve a whap on the head. But, hey, isn't that what this monthly challenge is all about. To help us poor bibliophiles to stop beating ourselves up from the guilt of our addiction, and actually do something about it!

To my credit, I have started the book twice, but I really can't say why I didn't finish it. Anyway, this time I really promise to finish the book, and then it will hold a special place of honor on my bookshelf.

Book Review — The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

My rating = 4 stars

This is a book I've been reading to my kids for the last several weeks. They were eager to start reading it after we rented the movie one night. They all liked the book very much, and even though it is different from the movie in many instances, they still found it very enjoyable in its own right.

This book continues the story of Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, who are staying with an aunt and uncle while the rest of their family takes a trip to America. Their cousin Eustace despises them and their stories of Narnia. One afternoon Eustace finds himself drawn with his cousins into a painting in Lucy's bedroom, and they are all whisked off to Narnia for an adventurous sea voyage.

I don't think I have ever met a more offensive and whining character than Eustace. I find it so funny that Lewis named the character Eustace, because Useless Eustace describes him perfectly at the beginning of the book. Happily, Eustace goes through some miraculous transformations, physically and socially, during the children's adventures, and ends up to be a very useful boy at the end.

Reepicheep, the courageous mouse, also makes this book quite memorable. He is always daring the crew of the Dawn Treader to keep sailing forward, and never seems to know the meaning of the words doubt and fear. Just like Lucy, I want to pick him up and just hug the stuffing out of him, but that would be quite disrespectful behavior towards such a gallant knight!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Upcoming blog tour

It's my first time hosting a blog tour!! I am so excited!

This blog tour is for Married to Murder by Jennifer Oberth. The tour runs Nov. 26th - Dec 11th. I am scheduled for the last day of the tour. Click on the blog tour button on the right side of my blog for an updated tour schedule.

Happy reading everyone!

New book giveaways this week

I love book giveaways! Especially ones that are easy to enter. Most times I will not bother entering a book giveaway if there are more than two or three entry requirements (unless it's a totally awesome book!)

Here are a few new giveaways you should definitely look into.

The first giveaway is from March House Books Blog. This is an 1850 edition of The Girls Own Book, published by William Tegg & Co, London. Isn't it just gorgeous?!?  Here is a description of the book from MHBB:

The contents page is a joy to read… from exercises including the bow and arrow, cup and ball, snow-balling and swinging to baskets (allspice, alum, feather, clove, lavender, wafer and so on). Followed by bees, charades, enigmas, forfeits, games, knitting, netting, crochet, ornaments, puzzles, riddles and miscellaneous items including a branch of roses, maxims for health and gracefulness and the self-satisfied duck!

You can find more details about the book and enter the giveaway here. The winner will be chosen December 11th.

A Musing Reviews is giving away two books this week:

The first book is One Hundred and One Nights by Benjamin Buchholtz. From the reviews I have read so far, this is an amazing book. I put it on my TBR list the moment I first heard about it a couple months ago. Read a book summary and enter the giveaway here.
The second book is Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea. AMR's author, Nancy, is giving this one away as a "birthday" present - she just had a birthday, so she's giving you the present! Read a book summary and enter the giveaway here

Happy reading, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WWW Wednesday

This is a weekly meme from Should Be ReadingTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

OK, I'm getting back up to speed with my posts, and here is my WWW list for this week. Enjoy!

1. I have just started reading Blessings by Anna Quindlen. This is my monthly selection for the Read Your Own Library Challenge, hosted by the Beauty of Eclecticism. I am enjoying it so far.

2. I just finished Whatever is Lovely by Marsha Maurer. This was a bit agonizing to get through. You can read my review here.

3. My next book is going to be The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. My husband requested I read this title preparatory to some urgent home budget revisions. We have some big home projects to plan for, and he wants me to "catch fire" with Dave Ramsey's plan before we put everything down on paper. I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey, so I expect I'll enjoy this one very much.

Book Review — Whatever Is Lovely - Design For An Elegant Spirit

My rating = 2 stars

After reading the following description of Whatever Is Lovely by Marsha Maurer, I was anxious to start reading —

"When Marsha Maurer writes that a woman often spends more time selecting a pair of shoes than considering the spiritual virtues she wishes to shape, she characterizes the challenges women face in fashioning their best selves.  Tapping the explosion in media make-overs of homes, gardens, wardrobes, and relationships, Whatever is Lovely weaves all these threads of a woman’s self for a total make-over - within any woman’s reach.  This is a book of style for the spirit, to infuse everyday living with passion, imagination, and joy; with simplicity, balance, and peace.  Marsha Maurer's personal stories, Bible passages, and quotations inspire the reader to cultivate beauty, grace, and harmony as she fashions the individual she dreams of becoming. With humor and eloquence, the author identifies timeless principles of spiritual design and offers life-changing suggestions for creating a singular elegance in God’s image. Whatever is Lovely offers transformation within and without."

The biblical-themed title of the book from Phillipians 4:8, the summary quoted above, and the books' introduction, whetted my appetite for a book very different than the one I found myself reading. I was expecting a book that focused much more on th spirtual than the temporal aspects of elegance. Instead I found endless descriptions of lace, pearls, vintage tables, candlelight, perfumed body cream, mouthwatering food, and bracelets that jingle as you sleep. The book is organized in several mini-chapters based on topic, such as balance, economy, and passion. But the examples Maurer gives for almost all of her topics are temporal prettiness. Most all of the chapters describe how the topic relates to women on a spiritual level, but Maurer touches on these things very briefly and superficially, and then returns to her flowery descriptions of home decor fashion. For example, her chapter on faith was a brief two pages, and immediately followed by four pages on the virtues of delicious food. Overall, I found the exhaustive descriptions of fashion very annoying, and was still left searching for the spiritual substance the book's descriptions had promised.

Book Review - I Am Number Four

My rating = 3 stars

This book is the first volume of a new YA series by elusive author Pittacus Lore. The series is about nine children who are evacuated from their home planet Lorien, along with their guardians, and brought to Earth to escape annihilation from another alien race, the Mogodorians. As the children grow, they begin to receive their legacies, or special powers, which will ultimately help them fight the Mogodorian race and redeem Lorien from utter destruction. The Mogodorians are also on Earth, hunting down the children. Because of a special charm on the children, the children can only be killed in numerical order, and when one child is killed, all the other children instantly have a scar appear on their leg. I Am Number Four follows the adventures of child Number Four, John Smith, as he begins to receive his legacies, and as he and his guardian try to stay hidden in the remote town of Paradise, Ohio.

This book was the monthly selection for my book club. There are several women in the group who love YA books. I am not one of them, but I am always willing to read new and different stuff, and the book club helps me expand my horizons. In my opinion, this book is on the good side of mediocre. Being a YA book, with a very simple writing style, it was a very fast read. I think I finished it in less than 3 days. All of the characters actions and movements are spelled out in great detail, so it almost felt like I was reading a movie script. The author does a fairly good job setting up the plot and characters, and the plot moved very smoothly throughout the entire book.

The two main characters, 15-year old John and his guardian Henri, are loners that have to keep moving from place to place so the Mogodorians don't detect them. The author establishes this very clearly in the beginning, and it seems the characters are both accepting of this long-standing rule. So when the pair arrives in Paradise, it didn't jive very well with me that John suddenly is attracted to girls and refuses to leave when they are in peril. A I read, I kept wondering, "Why now? Why does this boy, in the middle of puberty, suddenly notice girls now? Why does he decide to rebel against all rules now?" For any normal teenager, rebellion and sexual attraction don't happen overnight. Of course, if the author didn't bring up these obstacles in the main character, there wouldn't be a story. But I think it could have been worked into the character development a little better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

WWW Wednesday

This is a weekly meme from Should Be ReadingTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Here at my house, we've been battling a mean and slow-moving stomach bug. It keeps coming back to me again and again. I'm currently on a modified BRAT diet - bananas, non-buttered toast, and ginger ale. For some reason, I can handle ginger ale, but not water. What's with that?
Hopefully I can catch up on my posting this week, because I've got a couple reviews I need to put up. But first, this week's WWW.....

1. I am currently reading Whatever Is Lovely by Marsha Maurer. This is an ARC I received from NetGalley. Review coming soon...

2. I just finished reading I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, just in time for my book club meeting tonight. We're going to watch the movie, so I had to get the book done first. Review coming soon...

3. My next book is Blessings by Anna Quindlen. I am reading this for November's Read Your Own Library Challenge, hosted by the Beauty of Eclecticism.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review — How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years

My rating = 4 stars

I bought this book on recommendation of a friend. When I first got the book in the mail, I was intrigued by the claims on the back cover:

  • Find out how other parents survived nightmarish tween behavior — and still raised great kids
  • Break the "nagging cycle," give your kids the right balance of responsibilities, and get results
  • Talk about sex, drugs, and alcohol so your kid will listen
  • Discover the secret that will help your child disregard peer pressure and make smart choices — for life

I found this book to be an excellent resource for parents to learn how to develop strong, lasting relationships with their tweens and teens. The middle school years are full of internal and external changes for a child. Julie Ross explains these changes, and focuses on how parents can effectively communicate with their tweens, using a "relationship approach", rather than an "authority approach". She discusses and gives examples of special communication techniques for parents to use, such as listening with heart, "tell me more", "the sandwich," and trust contracts, to name a few. Ross goes over her basic techniques in the first few chapters, then explains how to use them in different situations.

My favorite parts of the book were the real-life illustrations of parents who had attended parenting workshops with Ross, then went home and put their new skills to the test. She also gives a few examples of parents who did NOT use the skills, and how differently the situations turned out. Not every child is the same, and Ross gives lots of insight on how to reach your tween on all different levels. I highly recommend this book for all parents who currently or will some day have a tween.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A loss too great for words

Yesterday I got an email that my e-reader's pc software had been upgraded, and I decided to download the new software. During installation, it detected all my ebooks already synced with the older software, and it proceeded to resync everything.

When I opened the upgraded program, to my horror the computer for some reason had lost 105 of my books!!! I couldn't find the files anywhere, and the software program only had link tags for the books, but no concrete files.

They were gone. All 105 of them.

The fortunate thing about this is that all of the ebooks I own (so far) have been free. Some were previously-free Kindle ebooks, and many were public domain ebooks from Google or other online sources. So I haven't lost a significant financial investment.

But still....

As I stated in this month's Read Your Own Library Challenge, I am a bibliophile in need of biblio rehab. This computer glitch is painful for me. Just the fact that I can't see all of those titles on my list anymore is difficult, I guess like a drug addict watching their best friends flush their entire stash down the crapper.




If I keep an open mind, then perhaps I will soon see this as the beginning of the rest of my life as a rehabilitated bibliophile. But at the moment, I just want to cry.

Or maybe I should just go get on Google and download 30 free ebooks tonight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WWW Wednesday

This is a weekly meme from Should Be ReadingTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
1. I am currently reading How to Hug a Porcupine by Julie Ross. I've been working on this one for a few weeks now, and hope to have it done by the end of the day.
2. I recently finished Heaven is for Real for Kids. You can see my review of this book here.
3. The next book on my list is I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. I have to read this one for book club next week, so I'd better get hustling!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Read Your Own Library Challenge for November

Jennifer at The Beauty of Eclecticism has a reading challenge that I decided I must join. Read Your Own Library Challenge is for all of us bibliophiles and bookstore addicts to whittle away at our piles of books we've collected, but never read.

That suddenly strikes me as such an odd thought. Why acquire a book if you don't plan to read it right away? That's what my husband would say anyway. And at one time in life, I would have agreed with it. But, somewhere in my early 20's, I got this crazy dream of owning my own bookstore, or even owning a B&N store. After that, I started my book collection in earnest.

My husband has tried over the years to whittle down my book piles, but I always make up for his decluttering whenever I visit a bookfair or library booksale. Dear old Borders also fed my book-buying addiction for awhile  with their amazing clearance sections. I could easily come home with 5 or 6 books at a time.

But do I ever get around to reading these books that continue to pile up on my shelves? Sadly, not really. As a busy mom of 4 kids, it's hard to even find time to get the dishes done, let alone read all my lovely books. Sometimes I'm fortunate to read one book a month, usually my local book club's monthly selection. Then there are times when I get through 6-7 books a month, which is amazing, but then they always seem to be library books or books I'm borrowing from a friend.

And don't even get me started on my 500+ "to-be-read" list, or the hundreds of the free e-books I've downloaded in the last year!

So - here I go on this challenge. I have chosen Blessings by Anna Quindlen. I chose it mainly because it's one of the thinner titles on my shelf, and I've got 3 other books I need to finish by the end of the month. I got this book at a library booksale several years ago. As part of the challenge level of Sinking Fast, I cannot buy any more books until I finish this one. I would go with the Biblio Rehab level, but I have to be able to take my kids to the library every week or so, or they get quite upset.

Now, time to get reading!

Book giveaway from Mymcbook's Blog

OK, what is more embarrassing than farting fire? Maybe not being able to control it! Here is a delightful book giveaway from Mymcbook's Blog. This giveaway is open until November 30th. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a constructive comment with your email address included. Good luck to everyone!

Stella The Fire Farting Dragon by J. Aday Kennedy and illustrated by Jack Foster
Stella’s nervous tummy threatens her chances of winning the contest, but she marshals her nerves and does her best. A lesson of perseverance wrapped in a humorous bite makes the most reluctant readers gobble up this story. They’ll giggle themselves silly as Stella Dragon performs her flying act and farts fire.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book review -- Heaven is for Real for Kids

My rating = 5 stars (Gibbee!)

I received this beautiful little treasure from Book Sneeze this week. It is an illustrated children's version of the bestseller Heaven Is For Real. In this book, Colton Burpo acts as narrator of his own afterlife experience, explaining in a very childlike and simple way how wonderful and beautiful heaven is. The story is told strictly from his own 4 year old point of view.

When reviewing a children's book, my rule is to read it to the target audience - children! In this case, I read this book to my own children (ages 11, 7, 6, and 3) for bedtme. As we read, my kids got more and more excited about the things Colton described in his story. They loved it so much that When my kids eventually shuffled off to bed, I heard my 7 year old saying, "I wish I could go to heaven right now." My 11 year old said, "Heaven is just like earth, but happier!"

A couple of my kids favorite parts:

Colton's description of playing with any animals you want-- all of my kids LOVED this part!! My 3 year old especially liked the pictures of the white horse with rainbow hair. He said, "I would want to feed him his carrots!"

At the end of the book is a short Q&A list, and the question of angels having wings is discussed. Colton's answer is "You get to choose if you want to walk or fly." My oldest thought this was very very cool!

The illustrations are beautiful - full of rich color and vibrancy. They help convey the feelings of love, peace and happiness Colton describes in the story. The language is simplistic, which makes potentially confusing points of doctrine quite easy for children to understand. I feel this book would be a blessing to any child's library, but will be especially beneficial for children who are dealing with terminal illness, or who have lost a loved one. It completely takes away any confusion or fear about what heaven is like, and helps children become very comfortable with the idea of going there.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Looking for a good series for my nephews

My sister-in-law came to me today, asking for book recommendations for her two boys. The oldest is 9 years old, and he is a voracious reader. (Ah, a man after my own heart!) He reads so fast, that my SIL can't keep up with everything he's read. She is concerned that if she doesn't have a new book or series to steer him towards, he may find "less desirable" books on his own.

My nephews are past the Magic Treehouse series, and the oldest has finished all of Harry Potter. He breezes through Nancy Drew, but I don't think his comprehension level is quite ready for her. His mom isn't comfortable with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and I didn't even want to mention Captain Underpants. I have listed all the suggestions I gave her. Can you think of more? (I'm sure I've forgotten some classic ones!)

  • Narnia series
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events series
  • Watership Down (I loaned this one to her)
  • Farmer Boy from the Little House series
  • Redwall series and other books by Brian Jacques
  • Vladimir Tod series (I told her this may be a bit over his head)
  • Inkheart series (they're currently working on this one)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Giveaway from Feeding Your Reading Habit

Feeding Your Reading Habit is giving away a copy of Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon. This is a very intriguing-sounding YA book that I am getting quite interested in. Usually, I don't go for YA books much at all (won't go into all my reasons here,) but this book is starting to gnaw away at my curiosity bone.

(From Feeding Your Reading Habit's blog) —

Carrier of the Mark is a young adult novel featuring a new heroine, Megan Rosenberg. When Megan moves to Ireland everything in her life seems to fall into place. She makes close friends with the girls in her class, her relationship with her dad is better than ever, and she finds herself inexplicably drawn to gorgeous, mysterious Adam DeRis. Adam is cold and aloof at first, but when Megan finally breaks down the icy barrier between them, she is amazed by the intensity of their connection. Then Adam reveals a secret about the magical destiny that will shape both of their lives but also threatens to tear them apart. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cute and Creepy Critters for Halloween

Here is a cute little treasure I came across last week.
Creepy Cute Crochet

A friend of mine, who knows I love to crochet, found this at the library and brought it over to show me. Creepy Cute Crochet by Christian Haden has got some of the most adorable creepy critters to make for Halloween. All of the creatures have the same basic pattern to follow for the head and body, and then there are lots of embellishments and accessories to make or add to your creation. My three favorite creatures are the skeleton bride and groom, and the corporate zombie. So, if you have a knack and/or passion for crochet, this is a great little book to add to your pattern collection.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is such an amazing book! I could not put it down, and when I HAD to put it down, I kept thinking about it nonstop. Whenever my husband called me from work, I would always start telling him about what I had just read. Such a powerful book that stays with you for a long, long time.

The Help is about white women in Jackson, Mississippi, and the black women who work for them. It takes place during the civil rights movement in the 1960's, and tells of one woman's efforts to show society what life is really like for a black woman working in a white woman's home. She works very hard at befriending the maids in her friends' homes, and getting them to trust her enough to share their experiences with her.

Stockett does such a wonderful job at showing this topic from all angles and perspectives. She does this by frequently changing narrators throughout the book, so we can hear from several main characters and take in all of their memories and experiences at once.

Stockett gently and carefully explores the themes in her book, showing not only the ugliness and inhumanity of segregation, but also the love and tenderness many of these women felt for each other, regardless of race, age, or background.

What is Gibbee?

Remember that book you read in school that changed your life? You vowed that a copy of that book would be on your bookshelf until the day you died.
How about that copy of a book all your friends passed around, and when you finally got to read it, you lied and said you lost the book, just so you could keep it - it was that good!.
Or the book that just spoke to you like nothing else ever did. As you read, you swore the author had found a way to read minds, because it described you better than you could.

This is Gibbee.

Books have such a profound impact in our lives — in the way we think, how we look at other people, where we choose to go in our careers and relationships, what social causes we get involved in. Books add depth and color to our lives. They broaden our understanding, our feelings, our curiosity, our passions.

This is Gibbee.

You can't find Gibbee in just any book. It has to speak to you. It has to move you. It has to permeate your thoughts. Gibbee won't be the same for everyone, and it will change with age and experience. When I was a young girl, Gibbee was Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes. I loved the suspense. I loved the logic. I learned it was ok to admit you were smart — in fact, it was very cool! As a young adult, I found Gibbee in The Tiny One by Eliza Minot. It was amazing to see how her writing style, linking memories and experiences together one after another, was the way I thought about memories and experiences. It was as if, given the chance, she could write down my thoughts as they came to me. As I grow older, I find Gibbee in new books and genre that I wouldn't have ever considered reading before. I relate to things differently, I think about things differently, and it's so exciting to find Gibbee in places I never thought it would be.

What is your Gibbee?