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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Brief Reviews: Deadly Deals; The Bell Jar

Deadly Deals (Sisterhood #16) by Fern Michaels, AF, p2009, 2010 Playaway audio, 7hrs, rating=1

Jumping into the sixteenth installment of this series without reading the first fifteen showed to be a big mistake.  Perhaps with more background this book might have been a better feel.  However, as a stand alone ... well, I didn't care for it. 

The story ... a couple having fertility problems gets a surrogate, gets twins, surrogate wants babies back, lawyer turns out to be a crook, so what now?  Well, the 'Sisterhood' to the rescue of course ... and that's pretty much where it went wrong.  The vigilante-cattiness of these ladies was not pleasant to read.  Such an awful portrayal of women.  Not my cup of tea!  However, this will not be the last I'll read from this author.  I'm sure there's at least one I'd like.  I'll just have to be choosy and hope for the best.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, AF, c1971, 1996, 311p, rating=3

Interesting and appropriate title for this autobiographical novel since the character, Esther Greenwood, turned out to be a fragile young woman needing the metaphorical bell jar to incase her or could very well be that Esther felt sucked in and trapped in her own world.  Perhaps she felt not part of or want to get away from the world she was in ... or or or.  That's part of the beauty of this book ... it can be insightful and confusing!

A sharp young lady about to seize the world turns out to suffer from depression.  Yet the portrayal of this depression wasn't depressing per se.  Esther's quirkiness and personal battle was challenging and provocative enough to try for the reader's empathy.  The supporting characters helped with the intrigue as well.  However, this was overall too heavy for me subject and it's poetic suggestion.

Blogger problems ..HELP!

Am I doing something wrong or have I stumbled into a Blogger glitch?  Sometimes I can post a comment and sometimes I can't ... on other blogs and even on mine!  For some reason when I go to comment, it turns me into a signed-off mode.  So I choose Google Account to post the comment and it takes me to the Blogger sign in screen where I then sign in again but it doesn't post and repeats the Blogger sign in cycle!  It's so frustrating because my time is limited already and this is just wasting my time and energy!!  Gggrrrrrrrr!!  ~Is there anyone that can help me ...please please please?  I'd sure appreciate it. 

In the meantime, thank you to those who wished me well on my anniversary ... we had fun but it was just incredibly too short of a celebration!  ...And thank you to those who made comments on my other posts that I haven't gotten to reply yet.

Now that I'm back, I've got a lot of catching up to do ...I have 5 books pending for review ...hoping to knock off at least a couple of those tonight. 

I've just gotten back into reading again ... I sure miss it!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

10 years ago ...

... I married my Superman!! 

Happy Anniversary my Love.
Mahal na mahal kita.

**I'll be out of town for a bit so I won't be able to post anything until next week.  See you all then.  :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #28

Today let's ponder about our attitude towards trials ...

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed"  2 Corinthians 4:8-9
No doubt everyone goes through trials.  It's part of life.  How we deal with them is the key.  Think about the attitude the saints in the above scripture verses possessed.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Worst Case" (Micheal Bennett, #3)

by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, AF, 2010, audio Playaway, 7hrs, rating=3.5
**Spoiler Alert:  to those who wants to read this in order**

One by one, children of the State of New York's wealthiest are taken hostage. But the criminal doesn't crave money or power--he only wants to ask the elite if they know the price others pay for their luxurious lifestyles. And, if they don't, he corrects their ignorance--by killing them.  To Detective Michael Bennett, it becomes clear that these murders are linked and must be part of a greater, more public demonstration. With the city thrown into chaos, he is forced to team up with FBI agent Emily Parker, and the two set out to capture the killer before he begins his most public lesson yet--a deadly message for the entire city to witness.  (Goodreads)
I will have to review this book as a stand alone since I have not read the first two in the series.  In my defense, there was nothing in the case of this audio indicating that this was an installment (the only reason I found out was when I plugged it in at Goodreads as read).  But now I finally figured out that Mr. Patterson is notorious for series so I'll have to keep that in mind when I come across his books.  Though, that probably won't stop me from reading his books out of order.  :)

This Michael Bennett character was alright.  He's a family man ... super dad of ten children and a cat!  Apparently, he and his late wife had adopted.  Now as a single parent, he manages with the help of his grandfather and nanny.  Also, he seems to be a decent detective.  No outrageous quirky traits ...maybe Mr. Patterson could develop something in the next installments to shake things up.

This particular installment dealt with the case of Francis Mooney, a terminal homicidal loon, targeting the rich.  His craze to ensure social equality was noble, but of course his tactics was insanely criminal!  He figures he would abduct children of the elite rich and give them a test ... where failing meant death.  So the cat and mouse began with Bennett heading the investigation along with the abduction profile specialist, FBI agent Emily Parker.  Together they hunt down Mooney before the death toll piles up. 

This was entertaining like that of an episode of Law & Order:  Criminal Intent, though Vincent D'Onofrio's character was far more intriguing than Michael Bennett (maybe this is what I mean about shaking up Bennett's character ... give him a trait of edginess/peculiarity).  So, if you like Law & Order kind of stories, this might be for you.

By the way, looks like things are beginning to heat up between Bennett and his nanny, Mary Catherine.  Yet, Emily Parker wasn't completely out of the picture either.  I'm glad this book didn't get heavy on the romance.  Call me weird, but I don't seem to like weighty romance in thriller books.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Remind me ...

... to read these:

( someone please get me a new camera. =] )

I need to hold off going to the library because I still have these winnings to go through (three of which I won late last year)!  But I rationalize that since I own them, they can wait.  I know, it's not as sensible as I lead myself to believe, yet it's what I tell myself.  And, there's three more books not pictured here (1 ebook; 1 ebook missing; and 1 book on its way).  I'm building myself a big winnings to be read pile!  Aaaahh!

You must be thinking, "Okay Jinky, stop entering giveaways!"  I know, but I love the thrill of winning and getting something fun in the mail.  Catch 22.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"The Choice"

by Nicholas Sparks, AF, 2007, audio CDs, 9hrs, rating=2

Set amid the austere beauty of the North Carolina coast, Nicholas Sparks tells the story of Travis Parker, a small-town veterinarian who's perfectly content with the active and exciting life he leads. Since he uses his spare time bungee jumping and swimming with the dolphins, he can't shake the belief that a woman would simply slow him down. That is, until Gabby Holland enters his life. Gabby, Travis's new neighbor, is in love with her boyfriend of three years, and wants nothing more than to start planning the wedding she's always dreamed about. However, there is a story within a story and the connection between Travis and Gabby is just a beginning. As their tale unfolds, their relationship becomes something different--with much higher stakes. With echoes of THE NOTE BOOK abound, listeners everywhere will fall in love. (Goodreads)
This was not particularly original ... man, happy being a bachelor but then the "right" woman comes along and it's love at first sight.  Man in this case was Travis and the woman was Gabby.  The problem of course was that Gabby was engaged to another man so she's suppose to be off limits.  That doesn't seem to stop any of them.  For the sake of true love they end up together, have children, and lo and behold later in their marriage, a car accident ends up putting Gabby in a coma.  Travis's choice was whether or not to pull the plug.  Did his decision give them the happily ever after?  But of c-----!

I basically tuned out after the affair so I could have been singing a different tune if that part was left off.  It's so disheartening.  Maybe I'm bitter because I've been the other person.  But really, have the decency to break the relationship you're in first then go ahead and have another one!!

Perhaps if I didn't tune out, I would have been bawling because it had major sap factor.  Mr. Sparks is pretty good about squeezing your heart for tears.  So this doesn't end my reading journey with his books.  I'm a sucker for torture! j/k  :)

P.S.  Now you know the behind the scene reason why I gave The Bridges of Madison County a rating of one star.  It was incredibly passionate that it rightly deserved five stars had I not taken account of the affair.  That said, this book might actually merit three stars.

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #27

Today's pondering scripture is found in Matthew 7:7-8 ... part of Jesus Christ's declaration that he concluded in the Sermon on the Mount:

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find:  knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
It's comforting to know that I may ask of God and He will reply.  May not be necessarily the answer I want to hear but it certainly would be the best one.  Having the faith to listen and obey would be the challenge.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Miles to Go"

by Richard Paul Evans, book #2 of The Walk series, AF, 2011, 320p, rating=3

I bring a book when I go to work just in case I have a minute to read during my breaks.  I usually don't get very far.  Too many distractions or often I'm too tired to do anything but crash in the recliner.   However, I discovered that I was able to concentrate when I was reading this book at work.  I figured out why.  There was a lot of dialogue.  That moved the reading along rather quickly.  It helped also that this was another tug at the heartstrings kind of book. 

This was a nice follow through to the first book.  It incorporated a review of the first book while supplying a continuation.  Unfortunately, it didn't move me as much as I'm use to of Mr. Evans' books.  There were more sweets characters but also presented incongruity. 

Perhaps the subliminal preachings finally got to me as well.  Yet, Mr. Evans remains to be one of my favorite authors.  He has a way with words that touches my heart and characters that are exemplary and inspiring.  So, I will continue to follow this walk and look forward to book #3.

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, AF, 2004, audio CDs, 13.75hrs, rating=2.5

"A major decision about me is being made, and no one's bothered to ask the one person who most deserves it to speak her opinion." The only reason Anna was born was to donate her cord blood cells to her older sister. And though Anna is not sick, she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since she was a child. Anna was born for this purpose, her parents tell her, which is why they love her even more. But now that she has reached an age of physical awareness, she can't help but long for control over her own body and respite from the constant flow of her own blood seeping into her sister's veins. And so she makes a decision that for most would be too difficult to bear, at any time and at any age. She decides to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.  (Goodreads)
An interesting concept and seemingly thorough application of law and medicine but as I kept reading it slowly went downhill.  I do like that Ms Picoult delved into the perspective of each member of the family and others (except Kate's sister) instead of just the main protagonist's point of view.  Doing it this way gave it an emotional depth.  You felt the sense of empathy for their actions because you were given their perspective on them.

There was too many things going on in this book.  The side story of Kate's lawyer and guardian ad lit em seemed unnecessary.  Though the dog thing was perhaps there to spice things up and put in a bit of mystery, it seemed unfitting to me.  Basically, a heavy subject that the author tackled well emotionally but desperate to be detailed that the content became too abundant and gave room for misinterpretation of law and medicine.

I do like the family involvement in Ms Picoult's writing so I will try another of her books.  ~Which would you recommend?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Like Water for Chocolate"

a novel in monthly installments, with recipes, romances, and home remedies.
by Laura Esquivel, translated by Carol Christensen and Thomas Christensen, AF, 1992, 245p, rating=3.5

The classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story.  (Goodread)

A dramatic, sensual, and exquisite tale about a forbidden love. I was so engrossed in the reading that I was startled when my husband walked up to me in his drawers and asked in a stern tone, "Where is my uniform?". Yikes, they were still in the dryer (thank goodness they weren't in the washer)! I was far in the De la Garza ranch and had not heard the dryer timer go off! So my reading was interrupted momentarily to prepare my Honey's uniform, then off I went to finish the book. :)

I like how Ms. Esquivel incorporated recipes and home remedies in the novel. Similar to Jennifer Chiaverini's books but this book felt more ingrained and in its own right became characters of the story ... full of effects of emotions to food and vice versa ... giving the story, soul. Pretty impressive and delectable!

For some reason, this fantasy-reality switching storyline reminded me of the story of Don Quixote. The passionate words, the melodrama, and the setting felt exotic. There's just something about Latin love stories that's ... okay, I'll say it, ... sexy! This book is certainly one of those.

There's a lot of sadness in this book but the food and fantasy made it an enjoyable read. The womanhood of mom and sisters was an added plus as well. Yeay for strong women!! ~Now, I'm curious to see the movie version.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"When You Reach Me"

by Rebecca Stead, YA, 2009, 199p, rating=4
Newberry Award Winner 2010

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it's safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.  But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda's mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she's too late. (Goodreads)

A breezy mystery sci fi teen book. The short chapters and clever $20,000 Pyramid game show-like titles gave you a quick foreshadow of the chapter's content. Miranda's point of view gave you adequate feel of the people and things around her. I found myself feeling the emotions that Miranda was feeling. I felt the love, confusion, anxiety, fear, and joy as she was experiencing them.

The mysterious element as I understand mirrors Madeleine L'Engle's book, A Wrinkle in Time. I haven't read it yet so I had no prior predisposition. That said, it was still fairly easy to figure it out. Even though I had the I know who dunnit moment, the journey getting there was actually quite fun because when it finally got confirmed in the end, it felt good saying to myself, "I knew it!". Plus, it was an ending to smile about (not the t-----y of course, but ...).

I liked the all around tone of the book. The family bond, the friendship exploration, and the aspect of service like that of the Good Samaritan. Also, the probing into finding individuality. Furthermore, the overall feel of everything coming to full circle type of thing was nice to read.

Truly a fun little book with a big mysterious secret and heart to tell.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Just when I think ...

... that I can catch up on my blogging, something else keeps me busy.  There's just endless chores, errands, events, etc.  I really need a Calgon take me away moment ... sigh.

But my favorite "busy-ness" this week was getting a chance to visit my new great-niece!  Born Mother's Day eve.  Weighing in at 5.6lbs and 17.75 inches long. 

Meet little miss Madeleine Grace ...

She's such a sweetheart.  I love her so.  Now, I've got the baby fever!!  Too bad I've been fixed. :(

Tomorrow I will have my niece's two boys so that she can have a little rest.  I'm looking forward to those two munchkins.  They're right along the same-ish ages with my two youngest so my kids play well with them.  It's going to be a fuuuun day!!!

My books for review is starting to pile up.  I might have to combine them and just do brief reviews.  I'll try to squeeze something in soon.  ~Goodnight.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Children's Book Week Giveaway Winner

Thank you for taking part in celebrating Children's Book Week with me and entering my giveaway.  Hope you enjoyed the children books that were spotlighted on the participating blogs.  Anyway, using the services of ...

goes to sRy, who won a copy of Anne of Green Gables

The winner has been notified via e-mail and will have 72hrs to reply or the runner up will be notified.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #26


Today I'd like to quote a verse regarding the influence of parents:

"Train up a child in the way he should go:  and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

    I'm thankful for a wonderful mother who sacrificed herself to build a life for me and my siblings.  Her strength and unselfishness have been and continues to be an example to me.  I love you Mom!  You are the best!!!

    I share with you the beautiful bouquet that my son made for me.  My camera didn't do it justice.  It's absolutely darling!!


    P.S.  As you can see, I am alive!  I've even been doing some reading... just haven't been blogging.  I'm going to try to catch up in the next few days.  See you then.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Children's Book Week Giveaway

    Welcome to a week in celebrating Children's Book Week coordinated by Family Literacy and You and Mymcbooks.  This is a book giveaway hop, so there are several book bloggers participating in hosting a book related giveaway.  Check out the sticky post HERE for the list of participants.

    One of my favorite children's book that I read recently was Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery.  It was such a delightful read.  Full of adventure, imagination, laughs, and heart...see my review HERE.  Hence, I will order a copy of this book from the Book Depository to the winner.  To enter, just fill out the entry form below.  No need to be a follower but certainly would be appreciated.  ~Thank you for entering and good luck!


    Sunday, May 1, 2011

    Remembering 9/11


    In light of the news of the death of Osama bin Laden, I had an opportunity to tell my eight year old the story of September 11, 2001.  I was brought to tears.  Even after almost 10 years, I still feel the pain.
    Mixed with tears of pain, were also tears of pride.   The many courageous Americans on that day who sacrificed their lives to reduce more loss ... and others everyday thereafter who fought and still fighting to keep the freedoms we enjoy.  I thank you all!

    The tragedy bonded us all.  I am proud to be among the Americans who pledge, "...allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.".  Indeed, may God bless America.

    Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #25

    Today I felt impressed to discuss "how we are to treat our offending brethren", aka, forgiveness.

    • "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  till seven times?  Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times:  but, Until seventy times seven."  Matthew 18: 21-22
    I suppose if you get petty and actually count and on the 491st time, you don't have to forgive.  But I don't think that Jesus was being literal.  :)

    What scripture are you pondering about?

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