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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Books read

Here's a picture collage of the books I read and reviewed for the month of August and September 2010.

"Al Capone Does My Shirts"

YR, by Gennifer Choldenko, 2004, 228p, rating=2

"When Moose's family moves to Alcatraz Island so his father can work as a guard and his sister can attend a special school in San Francisco, he has to leave his friends and his winning baseball team behind.  But it's worth it, right?  If his sister, Natalie, can get help, maybe his family will finally be normal.  But on Alcatraz his dad is so busy, he's never around.  His mom's preoccupation with Natalie's condition (today, it would be called autism) is even worse now that there's a no extended family to help with her tantrums and constant needs.  And of course, there's never enough money.  When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the warden, he knows right off she's trouble.  But she's also strangely irresistible.  All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents' expectations and stay out of trouble.  But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away. (book's synopsis)
I don't agree with the enthusiasm for this book.  A Newbery Honor, really?  At least it didn't win. 

I wanted to like this book.  A story about families living on Alcatraz where the worst of the worst convicts reside was alluring.  But this book just didn't cut it.  The characters developments were horrid.  Moose was wishy-washy, Piper incredibly reckless, and the adults were idiots.  The only character that the author got right was Natalie.  Plus, the whole 'let's see how close we can monopolize Al Capone' story line was weak in aligning with the characters. This is where I wish I was articulate because I want to spell out how the characters broke this book for me and therefore how silly the story became.  ~Anyone out there that has read this book and see what I see and can help effectively describe the bazaarness?  Oh well, maybe it's just me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"The Diary of Anne Frank"

Non-fiction, play, by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett, 1956, 174p, rating=4

This is a two act play first presented in Cort Theatre, New York, New York on October 5, 1955.  The husband-and-wife authors of this book dramatized Anne Frank's story based on the book Anne Frank:  Diary of a Young Girl

Simply a tender dramatic composition.  I was picturing myself in the audience of this play.  I kept myself alert and focused.  I wanted all my senses functioning. This book delivered.  I saw and felt much...  fear, anxiety, hope, laughter, innocence, loyalty, desires, friendship, tolerance, madness, humanity, and so forth.  A bitter sweet taste of what would be found in the book it's based on --a young girl's memoir of her days of hiding from the Nazis in World War II.  Moreover, this play was successful in bearing one of Anne's last observations in her diary:  "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.".  For the most part, Anne's smiling spirit was showcased.

Anne's story doesn't get old and continues to be heartwarming.  But don't worry, this was tenderly written so you'll only need one tissue ... maybe a Brawn kind of paper towel for some. 

One day I'll read Anne's book.  I'm just not ready right now ... no paper towels in the house.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Thirteen Reasons Why"

YA, by Jay Asher, 2007, 288p, rating=3.5

"Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who committed suicide two weeks earlier.  Hannah's voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.  Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah's pain, and learns the truth about himself--a truth he never wanted to face." (book's synopsis)

I'm finding it difficult to critique a book that contains a heavy subject such as found in this book.  My mind is cluttered with cargo loads of thoughts and I'm having a hard time sifting and collaborating them to something that is concise and neat.  So let's see where my typing fingers take us!  Here goes...

The writing style was interesting and so it was easy to move from one page to the next.  It's how the characters carry the serious subject matter that gets edgy.  As an adult, we might be quick to judge those that seek suicide as a resolve to problems.  One might say that it's a coward's way out.  Perhaps that is what some readers see of Hannah Baker.  But we have to remember that Hannah is a teenager and the book is addressing teen suicide.  At that age, many think that the world revolves around them.  It's a vulnerable age of discovering and developing oneself.  Everyone around them can be influential.  Henceforth, they're still children.  So this book actually portrays the struggles of teenagers fairly accurately.  You're going to find:  labeling, promiscuity, deceit, rebellion, back stabbing, recklessness, etc.  You're also going to find an array of emotions ... anger, love, jealousy, fear, hate, denial, etc. etc.  And in this particular case, Clay and Hannah were at opposite ends of the 'how to deal with life' spectrum.  That is why Clay is ignorant and Hannah careless.  That's how the author molded them to be, as examples not the rule.  The purpose of their stories was to help convey the destructive potential of one's affect on another, hence the 13 reasons why.  In other words, what a seemingly harmless act might be detrimental to another. 

You've made the author happy because you got the message if:  you've made a vow to be more careful in how you deal with people; if you're a teenager that can relate to Hannah but know better how to reach for help; if you're more aware of the signs of someone contemplating suicide and act promptly; or if you could relate to the guilt trip that the "13" felt.  Then I like to add that it's not practical to go tip-toeing through life for the sake of the weak.  Instead we must arm our children with confidence, wisdom, and security so that they can make better decisions.

This book is not without flaws, but the essential message is there for the taking.
My quote-ables:
"I want to push Stop on the Walkman and rewind their whole conversation... But I can't.  You can't rewrite the past." pg 60.
"And that's why I put you on these tapes.  To let you know that what you do affects others.  More specifically, it affected me." pg 95.
"I guess that's the point of it all.  No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people.  Oftentimes, we have no clue." pg 156.
"You can't go back to how things were.  How you thought they were.  All you really now." pg 206.

I Won!!!

Yeay, I won this book from Suko's Notebook.  I'm sooooo jazzed!!  My very first win!!
I'm so doing a happy dance right now!!!
Thank you so much Suko.  Can't wait to get it!  :) 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #2

Today's scripture is found in James 1:5 and goes as follows:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
This is an invitation to those seeking guidance or divine learning to ask God and He will kindly reveal it to you without reproach.  I suppose you may ask any concerns that you want insights to.  Perhaps particularly, yet not limited to, spiritual matters. 

This brings to mind what a friend told me once.  He said that if you have car problems, you would take it to a mechanic and similarly if you have spiritual problems then you take it to God.  That makes sense.  So if ever I want truth, I take it to God.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"The Secret"

by Rhonda Byrne, 2006, 198p, rating=1

"The Secret has been passed down through the ages... coveted, hidden, lost, stolen, bought for vast sums of money, and known by some of the most exceptional people who ever lived: Plato, Galileo, Da Vinci, Beethoven, Edison, and Einstein, to name but a few.

The Secret book reveals how you can change every aspect of your life. You can turn any weakness or suffering into strength, power, unlimited abundance, health and joy.
Everything is possible, nothing is impossible. There are no limits. Whatever you can dream of can be yours, when you use The Secret." (book's website)
An inviting looking book... pretty paper, fancy pen-to-ink kind of font, and a neat small book.  The promise of revealing the secret was also alluring.  The temptation worked.  I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar!  I acquired the book and read it. 

Oh my, a potential life changing kind of theory but with a hidden cult feel to it.  I'm for the basic premise of positive thoughts bring positive karma.  I can run with that, but to say that your thoughts summoned all your negative circumstances is a stretch.  So the malnourished children of the world sent out negative vibes to keep food away from them?  Your child had so many negative thoughts that he brought leukemia upon himself?  You asked to be raped?  Then, it looks like money does grow on trees and cars, houses, jobs, spouses, etc. fall from the sky.  All you have to do is order what you want from the Universe, pretend you already have it, and then it will magically come to you.

Much of the statements found in this book out of context is sound and plausible.  These statements from past great minds and modern gurus independently are words of inspiration to improve your life.  Like, be grateful for what you have now, love yourself and everyone, and there is power in positive thinking.  So there are some truth in the book to make it appear that the whole theory must then be on the ball.  But it's a gimmick.  I don't see a bio on the author.  The gurus and past great minds have one spelled out to prove credibility but all we know of the author is that she stumbled into the secret and generously compiled a thesis of it for us.  This could be interpreted that she's a businesswoman out to make a buck and laughing her way to the bank.  Yet, I really don't know that and perhaps she is sincere in her invitation to help us better ourselves.  Except that there are flaws in her overall hypothesis so just be careful how far you follow The Secret.

"All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten"

by Robert Fulghum, 1986, 196p, rating=5

I've found reading adult non-fiction books to be a tedious read because it involves many facts.  I finally gave up on one that I've had for almost a month because telling me every detail history of her relatives just got too much and it looked like she wasn't going to let up!  But this book had nothing tedious about it.  It had me chuckling through the entire book.  It was sooooo easy to turn from one page to the next and time just flew by.  I would have been disappointed that it ended but Mr. Fulghum ended it with reference to Mother Theresa so he left you inspired.

Catchy title, huh?  This author's credo impressed Washington's Senator Dan Evans (he was in the audience when Mr. Fulghum, a minister, shared it in a primary school celebration) and eventually was read into the Congressional Record.  The credo caught on and before long one would find it in 'Dear Abby', Reader's Digest, read by Paul Harvey and Larry King, and posters of it all over schools nationwide.  This enthusiasm, I would venture to guess, launched this book.  But he didn't go on about kindergarten stuff but instead wrote about collected favorite observations of his vision of the wonder of everyday life; uncommon thoughts on common things.  Small observations with big meaning.

Seriously a fun read!!  Zany thoughts that make you go hmmm.  Few of my favorites were:  one about the raccoons, the story of Menon and the elderly Sikh, one he called "The Mystery of Twenty-Fifth Avenue, Northeast", Hong Duc's trick or treating at Christmas, and of course the one about Mother Theresa.

I'm giving it a 5 for ease of read, fun content, creativity, and big meanings. 

Now here is the credo:
Most of what I really need to know about how to live and how to be I learned in kindergarten.  Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there is the sandpile at Sunday school.  These are the things I learned:
Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"The Firm"

by John Grisham, 1991, audio cassettes, read by D. W. Moffett, 3hrs, rating=3
*I own a copy of this audio book*

"When Mitchell McDeere qualified third in his class at Harvard, offers poured in from every law firm in America. The firm he chose was small, but-well respected. They were prepared to match, and then exceed Mitch's wildest dreams: eighty thousand a year, a BMW and a low-interest mortgage. Now the house, the car and the job are his. Then the nightmares begin: the secret files, the bugs in the new bedroom, the mysterious deaths of colleagues, and the millions of dollars of mob money pouring through the office into the Cayman Islands, dollars that the FBI would do anything to trace. Now Mitch is in the place where dreams end and nightmares begin..." (Goodreads)

Another audio book I listened to over the weekend.  I didn't care for this presentation that much.  I read the bound book years ago and really liked it.  The many voices of Mr. Moffet just didn't work for me here.  The occasional theatrical music helped a little but it still lacked the thrill I remember feeling when I read the book.  So in this case, reading the book is better than this version. 

I recall not liking the movie adaptation over the book version as well.  Tom Cruise was great but having had read the book and liked the book first... it just didn't hit the spot.

Oh, I went to the library today and discovered a bunch of books on CD and unabridged!  Now I've got to dig out my portable CD player in the garage.  Wish me luck because it's going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack! --That's what I get for being a pack rat and downsizing to a smaller house ... but my view is incredible!!!   ...and less cleaning!   =D

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Wild Horses"

by Dick Francis, 1994, audio cassettes, read by Simon Jones, 3hrs, rating=4
*I own a copy of this audio*

"Once a blacksmith, now famous and respected as a newspaperman, Valentine Clark knows everyone who is anyone in the racing world. Aged, confused, blind and dying, he harbors a daunting secret that he is desperate to be rid of.  He makes his last confession to his visiting film-director friend, Thomas Lyon, whom in his delirium he mistakes for a priest. Unburdened and as peace, Valentine passes away, yet his legacy remains, guarded by Thomas.

One location in Newmarket, Thomas is troubled by the old man's secret. Seeking to understand this puzzling revelation, he uncovers a long-unsolved mystery that he soon finds is very much unforgotten. But as much as he wants to learn more, it seems he already knows too much. Imaginative and decisive though he may be, he will need superhuman courage and extreme cunning to stay alive." (Goodreads)

I tried this audio book over the weekend and I liked the experience.  I've been hesitant to try it because I figured me for a touch, feel, smell, curl with a paper book kind of gal.  Same reason I'm hesitant to try Kindle and the sort.  I did try ebook reading from my computer and that went alright.  That's only because I wanted to get through the book to read the sequel.  Anyway, the audio experience was convenient for me.  I used an old school portable audio player and listened while I folded my laundry and other household chores.  I even took it to go and listened to it in my car when I went to the store (my kids were good and didn't peep much).  The audio experience was also relaxing.  I forgot how pleasant it is to be read to.  Having a voice other than oneself was a nice change of pace.  It was a plus that Simon Jones did a pretty good job at actor-reading.  The vocal changes in language and intonation for each character worked here.  The genre of mystery seem to be perfect for this venue.  However, there are downsides.  For instance, it is condensed from the original book version so you're at the mercy of their interpretation and presentation.  Therefore, having a similar question in your mind as that of a movie based on a book ... how close did it get to getting it right?  Also, it's pretty hard to mark a favorite part, like a quote.  Overall, I like it enough to do this again.  I must admit though, that upon completion of listening to this, I felt a sense of guilt.  Another book done and barely a sweat!  Did I cheat by not reading the book?  Hmm, maybe I will read the actual book one of these days and compare.

If you haven't tried audio books, I recommend that you give it a shot.  It might be convenient and a relaxing break for you as well.

Happy listening!! =]

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #1

The reading bug has finally bitten me and I have found great joy in reading books.  However, I continue to struggle to read the scriptures daily so I created this meme to help me develop a study habit for pondering spiritual matters.  Accordingly, I will post my thoughts, ramblings, and such that is related to scriptures under this forum.  Although this is mainly for my benefit, I hope that you will find some value in its content.  ~I thank you in advance for your support.

Today we will explore the scripture verse found in James 2:17:  "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."

My son will be giving a speech in his Primary class in church today and his talk should help to bring light to the scripture above.  So here goes...
How can we increase our faith in Jesus Christ?  by (my 7yo)
I used the Gospel Principles manual for this talk. 

How can we increase our faith in Jesus Christ?  The same way we increase or develop any other skill.  Like cooking, painting, or playing the piano, we need to study and practice and work at it.  We can also increase our faith by praying to  Heavenly Father about our hopes, desires, and needs.  But this does not mean that all we have to do is ask.  We need to do all we can to bring about the things we hope and pray for.  For example, there is this man who wanted to study the scriptures, but he could not read.  He prayed for Heavenly Father to help him learn to read.  In time a teacher came to his village and helped him to read.  He learned the alphabet, their sounds, and learned to put letters together to make words.  With practice he was able to read. 

In conclusion, we can increase our faith in Jesus Christ by working at learning about Him through study and practice.
If you are interested in the full lesson prepared from the Gospel Principles manual, please go HERE.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Messenger" (The Giver, #3)

by Lois Lowry, 2004, 169p, rating=4

"Six years earlier, Matty had come to Village as a scrappy and devious little boy.  Back the, he like to call himself "the Fiercest of the Fierce," but since that time, Matty had grown almost into a man under the care of Seer, a blind man whose special sight had earned him the name.  Now Matty hopes that he will soon be given his true name, and he lopes it will be Messenger:  But strange changes are taking place in Village. Once a utopian community that prided itself on its welcome to new strangers, Village will soon be closed to all outsiders. As one of the few people able to travel through the dangerous Forest, Matty must deliver the message of Village's closing and try to convince Seer's daughter to return with him before it's too late. But Forest has become hostile to Matty as well, and he must risk everything to fight his way through it, armed only with an emerging power he cannot yet explain or understand." (book's synopsis)
Reference:  The Giver (book #1), Gathering Blue (book #2), Messenger (book #3)

Let me begin to tell you that I had to re-align my thinking since book #2 because for some reason I had a wrong name in mind.  I was quick to forget that the main character in book #1 was Jonas.  For some reason when reading book #2 and saw the name Christopher, I pictured Jonas.  So throughout book #2 and most of book #3 Christopher was Jonas to me.  You can imagine how the story must have been different for me.  I suppose knowing that now, I have two versions!!  ~I think I need to take some Gingkoba 'cause I'm loosing it!!

Okay, now for Messenger.  Well, Matt in book #2 is now Matty and speaker in this book  He is six years older from where book #2 left off.  We find that he ends up living in Christopher's village.  There he learned manners and proper grammar.  He found place as courier of messages between villages and does so going through the Forest with ease.  Then Matty's new village started to change as the Trade Market comes to bloom.  The kind-hearted people basically traded their souls for vanity and trivial amusements.  The people changed so much that they got tired of welcoming in the damaged and voted to close their doors to newcomers.  This charge compelled Matty to go back to his old town to get Kira to her father before the the closing.  At this point, the Forest was not kind as well.  In fact, it seemed to live to torture and kill those in its path, even fierce Matty.  That said, Matty and Kira's journey back to Christopher became hell-like.  In the mean time, Leader (with powers to see beyond) kept Christopher updated in his children's (Christopher had considered Matty his son) travel.  When Leader saw that Matty and Kira was at death's door, he went after them.  Kira with powers to depict what's ahead through her threading saw that Leader was on his way to meet them.  But Leader too was at death's door.  It became apparent that it was time to use Matty's power though he felt it wouldn't do much considering his condition.  Then, ... you'll have to read the rest!

The whole trilogy was dark and dreary for most of it's story.  It was painful to read but we find hope in the courage of it's amazing characters.  We were reminded that a society can slowly and easily be corrupt.  We are challenged to look around about us and know that individually we have power to help it to thrive well.  We are all advocates to maintaining a civil society and securing that for our posterity.  We are invited to discover and use our individual power for good.  These are some of the things that I got out of these books.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Gathering Blue" (The Giver, #2)

by Loise Lowry, 2000, 215p, rating=3.5 

"Left orphaned and physically flawed in a civilization that shuns and discards the weak, Kira faces a frighteningly uncertain future.  Her neighbors are hostile and no one but a small boy offers to help. 
 When she is summoned to judgement by The Council of Guardians, Kira prepares to fight for her life. But the Council, to her surprise, has plans for her.  Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, the young girl faces new responsibilities and a set of mysteries deep within the only world she has ever known.  On her quest for truth, Kira discovers things that will change her life and world forever." (book's synopsis)
I had this book mapped out in my mind.  From where The Giver left off, I was sure book #2 would begin with Jonas and Gabriel surviving and finding the mainstream community, like that of our modern civilization... with music, color, and love, and then they live happily ever after.  But book #2 wasn't concerned about telling Jonas's life story or a respite to what might face humankind in the future.  Lowry was continuing to explore the world of a post-apocalyptic society.  In this book, she has created a Village that is hostile to young children, ranks a person by how many syllables are in their name, and casts out damaged individuals to the Forest.  

Set years after The Giver, we are introduced to Kira in this book.  We learn that before she was born, her father went to hunt and was said to have been taken by the 'beast'.  She was born crippled (twisted leg) and according to law she should have been cast out, but her mother Katrina did not let that happen.  Then upon Katrina's strange death (the start of the book), Kira found herself orphaned and faced the mercy of The Council of Guardians to determine her fate.  Fortunately, she was an 'artist' that they needed so they allowed her to stay and she becomes the seamstress to handle the coveted Singer's robe.  She befriends another 'artist', Thomas the Carver.  Also maintains her previous friendship with Matt, a spirited young 'tyke'.  Then she learns from Isabella Annabella, a dye-colorist expert, that there are no beasts in the Forest.  That and upon discovering the mysterious captivity of Jo, another 'artist' (a young girl that beautifully sings), Kari begins to wonder what is going on.  In the meantime, Matt's eccentric character leads him into the Forest where he discovers Christopher (Kira's father).  Before she knew it, Kari was going to get the puzzle pieces together.  The ending of course was another thought provoking cliffhanger!  The seed of hope may or may not flourish.

Once I understood where Lowry was going with this book, I liked the plot.  However, I didn't find the characters as gripping as in the first book ... with exception of Matt, so I'm glad to see that he will have a major role in the third book. 

I am curious to see how Lowry ends up tying it all together.

My quote-ables:
"Take pride in your pain, ...You are stronger than those who have none." pg 22-23

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"The Alchemist"

by Paulo Coelho, 1993, 177p, rating=5

"The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Adalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found.  From his home n Spain he journeys to the market of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. 

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories have done, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, above all, following our dreams." (book's synopsis)
Wow, wow, wow!!  This small book packs a ton of insights and sugar coated happy feelings, so if you're out of Prozac (anti-depressant) read this book!!  And on the same note, diabetics be aware! :D ...  Yet, if you're the type of person that is content to conformity then you might struggle with this book.  In other words, this is about recognizing your sweet destiny and going after it with courage and endurance.  Sure it promises to be a rough road but that's the way to achieving bliss, your heaven on earth. 

Early on Santiago knew what he wanted.  He wanted to see the world and a life of a traveling shepherd would do that.  It was not going to get him the ladies like a baker would but that's where he went in life.  Moreover, he had recurring dreams and stumbled into a palm reader that interpreted his dreams.  His destiny was then defined.  He was to find treasure in the midst of the Pyramid in Egypt.  So he ventures to realize that destiny and along the way he meets fascinating people like the old man, the Englishman, the crystal shop owner, Fatima, and of course the alchemist.  In the end he finds a boomerang of a lesson!!

A salad full of theology, science, fantasy, and of course heart.  A worthwhile read so run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore and give your senses a sweet treat!

My quote-ables:
"Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure." pg 122
"When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I've discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve." pg 137
"There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve:  the fear of failure." pg 149
"That's what alchemists do.  They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too." pg 158

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Set Sail for Murder"

by Carolyn Hart, 2007, 278p, rating=2

"When retired newspaper reporter Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins, Henrie O to her friends, receives a call for help, she discovers that love once kindled never burns to ashes. Although she refused Jimmy Lennox's marriage proposal, there is still a special place for him in her heart. She wished him well when he found happiness with Sophia Montgomery, world-famous documentary filmmaker and stepmother to the now grown heirs of a great fortune. Sophia is at odds with the heirs, and Jimmy fears for her safety. He asks Henrie O to come along with the family on a Baltic cruise. Henrie O can't turn down her old friend, though old passions are stirred when he calls.

On the voyage she soon realizes this dysfunctional family is plunging toward destruction and one of the travelers has murder in mind. As the ports of call pass—Copenhagen, Gdynia, Tallinn, St. Petersburg—death inexorably approaches. Henrie O works desperately to save Jimmy and to bring hope to lives blighted by anger, resentment, and heartbreak." (book's synopsis)

My first mystery genre read and it was basically a flop!  Oddly enough, this light mystery was the right concentration I could muster at the moment.  I'm just happy to finally get through a book!!  I've been trying to tackle my "back-of-the-burner" list (things I've put on hold because I'd rather be reading!) so I didn't have much time for reading.  This book seemed to be the best choice to read inbetween chores from the books I had lined up to read and apparently I was right!  I felt the others just needed more concentration that I wouldn't have been able to provide.  I know you must be thinking, mystery needs concentration.  Well, glad this one didn't!!  The characters wasn't interesting enough and the whole story wasn't thrilling as I would think a mystery should be.  Overall a dry read.  ~I'm one for the quirky detective character as that of Monk from the TV series Monk.  Something of that venue would catch my fancy.  Any suggestions?

I am not done with the mystery genre all togther.  I'm sure there are tons of mystery books out there that are amazing.  You might even have a few in mind from the top of your head, right?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Life is Good Award

Yeay, yet another award!!  (I figure I better get this posted or it'll sit in my "to-be-done" pile)  ~I received this one yesterday from Cathy at Crazy Bookworm and today from The Book Bee.  Thank you so much young ladies for thinking of me.  You gals rock!

This is a nice one because it has a "get-to-know-you" Q&A.

To accept the award you must link back and thank the person who gave you the Life is Good award and answer the 10 questions and pass it along to 6 other blog. :)

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now? This blog was originally a diet blog so it was anonymous but when I converted it to a book blog in February, I decided to take a leap and give my true identity.

2.Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side:
I honestly can’t think of one but I’m sure if you ask my family they’d come up with something.

3.What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?
Physically aging but emotionally happy.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?
Ice water.

5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?
I read or go on the internet to socialize (ex. Facebook, Goodreads, blog reading)

6.Is there something you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?
Nothing really. I just would like to continue to progress, raise my family, and be there for their milestones.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever , the shy person, or always ditching? I was the nice girl.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment of your life what would you see? Some time in his first week... looking at my newborn son and felt an immeasurable love for him.  Then it hit me hard that I got a glimpse of how it might be like for the love that Heavenly Father has for us.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events? The reviews are my personal thoughts so I do share my true self in that way otherwise you might say I am more comfortable writing about other people/events.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phone, which would you do and why? I’d rather read but certainly will take the time to talk on the phone should family or friends need a listening ear.

Now, I pass this wonderful award to:
1.  Book Couture
2.  Books with Bite
3.  From the TBR Pile
4.  Mommy Tools
5.  Romance Book Junkies
6.  The Elliott Review

One Lovely Blog Award

I apologize Jenai at Bookingly Yours and Untouchable treasure for replying to this so late.  I really do appreciate you passing this award to me.  Time just got away from me and before I knew it, it's been a month!  ~Thank you for thinking of me and much congratulations to you as well for your lovely blog!

Okay, here are the simple rules on this award:
1.Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2.Pass the award to 10 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
3.Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

And here are the lovely bloggers I'm passing this award to:
1.  Alfie's Doctor Who Blog
2.  Under a Star Studded Sky
3.  Confessions of a Teen Bookaholic
4.  I Am a Reader Not a Writer
5.  End of Story, Next Book
6.  Fall in Love with Books
7.  Bring Me Another Book
8.  Writing From the Tub--My Life as a writter in Bath
9.  Italian Bookaholic
10.  Mel's Books and Info


I was goofing around this new Blogger stuff and ended up deleting the last 50 comments made in this blog.  I'm soooo bummed. :(

Lesson learned!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"the curious incident of the dog in the night-time"

by Mark Haddon, 2002, 220p, rating=3.5

"Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.

Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind." (book's synopsis)

Intertwined with Christopher's quest to figure out who murdered Wellington, we discover a  fascinating glimpse of what might be going through a mind of someone with autism.  Through Christopher's eyes we come to realize how narrow minded mainstream view of the world can get.  It was abundantly made clear that math is useful in daily life... so pay attention in your math classes!!  Really fun math facts and an eye opener for science.  Moreover, we get a glimpse of the frustrations that caregivers of autistic individuals might experience.  Plus, the storyline was interesting too.  However, I found the end a bit tedious ... I was math-ed out by then.

The author as a young man worked with autistic individuals so I assume the character make-up of Christopher here has been taken from his experience with such individuals.  Hence, Christopher's character was believable and you were right there with him pulling for his success.  Love that aspect of a book.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


by Cythnia Kadohata, 2004, 2444p, rating=3.5
2005 Newberry Award winner

"kira-kira (kee'ra kee'ra):  glittering; shining.
Glittering.  That's how Katie Takeshima's sister, Lynn, makes everything seem.  The sky is kira-kira because it color is deep but see-through at the same time.  The sea is kira-kira for the same reason.  And so are people's eyes.  When Katie and her family moved from Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it's Lynn who explains to her why people stop them on the street to stare. And it's Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering--kira-kira--in the future." (Book's synopsis)

I saw the Newberry seal and figured that it would be a good read if not great.  I suppose I was leaning more on great so I was a bit disappointed.  The story went a little too slow for me.  Right off the bat you knew Lynn's fate so it was a matter of finding out the 5 "W's"...what, when, where, why, and how.  I felt anxious to know the answers and of course it didn't come until the very end and by that time I was a tired.  I think I would have preferred a different beginning, which to say omit knowing Lynn's outcome, or a completely different middle. 

Of course, I did appreciate the relationship between the sisters, Lynn and Katie.  Their bond was admirable and I certainly can relate since I am very close to my sister.  Perhaps because this is geared more to middle-grade school readers ... I felt it lacked depth in developing that bond.  It's hard to describe and my ear is ringing at those of you who have read this and are disagreeing with me.  Any case, simple as it may be to me, it still packed a sweet taste of sisterhood.  A sweet taste as well of hardworking and honest parents.  It wasn't easy for them in this setting in the early 1950s, being Japanese in America but they persevered.

The ending was it's saving grace.  The coming together of Lynn's "theme" was revealed and quite heartwarming.  So if you want a sampling of a sweet family story then this is a good example.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

"The Giver"

by Lois Lowry, 1993, 179p, rating= a resounding 5!!
Newbery Award winner

"Jonas's world is perfect.  Everything is under control.  There is no war or fear or pain.  There are no choices.  Every person is assigned a role in the Community.  When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver.  The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life.  Now it's time for Jonas to receive the truth.  There is no turning back." (book's synopsis)

Holy cow!  This is an incredibly amazing book!  Not having read it thus far is another proof that I've been living under a rock.  I am totally at awe.   My horizon has certainly been broaden.  I am happier for reading this book!! Aahhhhhh!!!  So if you haven't read it already, what are you waiting for?  Stop reading this post and go to a bookstore or library or Kindle or wherever you can find this book and read it today!  Then come back here and finish reading this review.  :D

Okay, let me take a deep breath and compose myself.  Oh, I am lost for words but here I go.  Anyway, Jonas's community of  "sameness" will leave you asking, utopian or dystopian?  It depends on how you look at it.  How did you feel about the movie The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey?  Would a society of peace and order be better than a society of chaos but with choices?  Truly makes one wonder the worlds of the Amish, the Native American tribes, or such groups that subsist outside the mainstream culture.  We might think that they are missing out but are they?  Suffice it to say that specifically in this book, I am grateful for color, music, and love.  I like having choices and I delighted in Jonas's courage to go after them.  To me, the ending was a happy ending.

My quote-ables:
"The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain.  It's the loneliness of it.  Memories need to be shared." pg 154

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blog Hop

Welcome one and all to the weekly Blog Hop Party hosted by the one and only Parajunkee!  I appreciate you hoppin' by my neck of the woods and having a look.  May you find it a good visit here and I certainly welcome a follow.

Parajunkee asks, "What's your favorite brick and mortar bookstore?
My answer:  Easy, my local library!  Too frugal to buy books so I borrow from the library instead. :D

Should you decide to be a follower, be sure to leave me your link in the comment section so I can hop on over quickly to your pad and follow you as well.

Happy Hopping!

"the short second life of bree tanner"

an Eclipse novella, by Stephanie Meyer, 2010, 178p, rating=3

I suppose it would be a great big plus to have read Meyer's Eclipse, if not the entire Twilight saga to fully appreciate this novella, since the main character was introduced in book #3. 

What a new and interesting concept for me.  An off shoot from a novel.  I'm new to this book world so I ask you, "How often does this happen?".  Just wondering.

Here we get a glimpse of a newborn vampire's life under leadership of Riley and "her" (I won't spoil it for those who haven't read this yet, though you can probably guess correctly).  Namely through Bree Tanner's eyes.  We discover that Bree and the other newborns were created in volume and under false pretense.  As newborns they were easy targets to brainwash.  For instance, they were told that they must return home by dawn for the sun will surely kill them.  Bree and Diego discovers that this was not so and thus lead them to question Riley's motives.  What are the reasons for the lies?  What other lies have he told?  Was it in fact "her" that lied to him?  They ventured cautiously to find the answers.  As the story continues, the newborns had a few days to train for a battle with the yellow-eyed older vampires (Cullens) and were given a scent of their "pet-human" (Bella).  Bella's sweet blood scent drove the young vampires to shear ecstasy so in their eyes the fight would certainly be worthwhile.  Then the day of engagement, Diego was said to already be with "her", Riley and "Freaky Fred" ditch the scene, and the rest went to battle.  In the end, Bree the last survivor was given mercy by Carlisle.  Such characteristics in all the yellow-eyed vampires intrigued Bree.  The pieces of the puzzle finally were put in place.  Too bad the Volturi had to come in the picture and give her that "short life".

A cute quick read.  It took me back to reminisce the saga.  ~If you're a Twilight fan, this certainly is a nice treat.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


by Paul Harding, 2009, 191p, rating=4
*Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for fiction*

"An old man lies dying.  As time collapses into memory, he travels deep into his past where he is reunited with his father and relives the wonder and pain of his impoverished New England youth.  At once heartbreaking and life affirming, Tinkers is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature."
(book's synopsis)

Talk about the cliche of 'your life passes before your eyes' when one is on imminent death.  The book starts off with George W. Crosby hallucinating eight days before he died.  George at death's door finds himself reflecting back to his youth.  Marking memories of his father, Howard A. Crosby, and his reverend grandfather.  Howard, was a tinker by trade to support his family.  He suffers from epilepsy and felt the need to abandon his family when George was young (maybe 10yo or so?)... then building a new life with a second wife.  Moreover, we learn that mental illness goes back another generation ... Alzheimer's.

To my dismay this book was quite poetic.  Just in case you don't remember, my brain isn't wired for poetry!  But it is that reflective melancholy that was beautiful to read here.  I'm a sucker for family stories!  Moreover, I liked that the women were portrayed strong and caring and family support was evident as when George was surrounded by his wife, kids, and grand kids at bedside.  I also liked the amazing imagery in the beginning and how the book ended.

A wonderful book.

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