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.