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Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Wrap Up

Just tidbits about my 2010 book blogging experience.

Started book blogging:  February 2, 2010
Number of books reviewed:  126
Number of GFC followers:  212 ... lost a few  :(
Number of blogs I follow:  193
Meme I created:  Pondering the Scriptures Sunday
Awards I received:   Cherry on Top, Honest Scrap, Life is Good, One Lovely Blog, and The Versatile Blogger
Books I won:  Across the Universe, Aphrodite the Beauty, Courage in Patience, Ever, Exit the Actress, Kaleidoscope, Testimony, The Cake Boss (haven’t received yet), The Second Half of Life (ebook), The Wishing Hour (ebook), and Why Genesis Still Matters.
Other winnings: Bree Despain Lost Saint nail polish and bookmarks, CSN $35, and ForYourNose $25.
Some favorite books:  Brava Valentine, Flipped, For One More Day, Harry Potter #1 (haven't read the rest yet), Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, Standing for Something, The Giver series, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Help, The Hunger Games series, and The Wednesday Letters.
Some favorite authors:  Mitch Albom, Richard Paul Evans, Gordon B. Hinckley, Og Mandino, Haruki Murakami, J.K. Rowling, Kathryn Stockett, and Nicholas Sparks.
Misc.:  I don't understand poetry; initially avoided YA books but then I ended up liking that genre; also initially avoided audio books but its convenience worked for me (I could listen while doing chores); the reading and book blogging got so overwhelming and it ended up burning me out and putting me in a reading rut; being among cyber book lovers gave me a sense of belonging; joined Goodreads in July 2010 and love it because it has given me an avenue to meet people from back home (the Philippines); I co-initiated a challenge to read The Holy Bible ... one book per week which we, the Filipino group in Goodreads, started in October 2010.

Books I reviewed in December 2010 (my reading rut month!!)

My Christmas present to myself.  :D

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your reading world. 
May you find something here that might interest you.
Take great care!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Belated Awards

I'm in the process of wrapping up my 2010 blog stuff and this one is one of them!  Forgive me for the late reply on these awards.

Basically the way this works is to answer questions/survey and then pass the award to other bloggers as well.

Awarded to me in October by Cleo of Booklopedia.

 Awarded to me in September by Book Quoter

Awarded to me in October by JazzRJ at About Books Blog

Question for Cherry on Top Award:
"If I had the chance to go back and change one thing in my life, would I, and what would it be?"
*I would like to go back and change one thing in my life, but I don't want to tell you what it is ...too personal.

The Honest Scrap and The Versatile Blogger Awards ask to list 10 things about yourself:
1.  I have a short fuse ...especially during "the curse".
2.  Family/relatives loves the way my caldereta (Filipino tomato-saucy beef stew) turns out.
3.  My husband only wanted 1 kid but we ended up with 3!
4.  I don't like brussel sprouts!
5.  I get a big smile when I see my kids waddle-run.
6.  I have the driest skin in the world!
7.  My husband and I met on a blind date.
8.  I loved school, I just didn't like tests!!
9.  I used to be artistic once. :)
10.  I can now call myself a bookworm... considering before Feb. of this year, I read 1-2 books every other year or so!

I pass these awards to:
All my followers!  Seriously, book blogging is hard work!  So, all of you deserve a pat-on-the-back.  I certainly appreciate you!!

A special thank you to Cleo, Book Quoter, and Jazz for these awards.  You made my day!!

"Kate's Choice" +

by Louisa May Alcott, edited by Stephen W. Hines, YR, 2001, 125p, rating=4

"Parents and all who have influence with children will welcome the opportunity to share these three gentle, enchanting tales of moral influence and adventure.  Each story is populated by boys and girls who learn some basic life values that families are still longing for today:  belonging, simplicity, sharing, happy relationships between generations, and the adventure of growing up." (front flap)
Yes, this is actually a compilation of 3 short stories:  Kate's Choice, What Love Can Do, and Gwen's Adventure in the Snow.  A nice find at the library today.  The stories were heartwarming, clean, and would make a wonderful addition to the library of Alcott fans.  Basically Christmas themed so a great stocking stuffers for this holiday season.

Kate's Choice was about a teenage girl from England venturing to fulfill her father's dying wish.  Kate must choose which among her four sets of aunts and uncles in America she will live with.  All are anxious to have her but with varying motivation.  Kate's choice was an incredible Christmas treat!

What Love Can Do was about two young poverty stricken sisters sharing their Christmas wishes.  The right person overhears their conversation and come Christmas morning ...

Gwen's Adventure in the Snow was a story about cousins out for a sleigh ride then due to a bad blizzard, they end up stuck at a family summer home making due with what they can find.  Quite a courageous bunch of kids!

A charming book, though I'm curious to see the original, unedited version.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Cookies for Santa

...and celery sticks for Rudolf (more carrots and celery sticks for the rest of the gang at the front yard).


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"How To Be Good"

by Nick Hornby, AF, 2001, 305p, rating=3

A stale marriage of 20 years in Katie's eyes somewhat justified her to commit adultery and consequently asks David for a divorce.  David takes it in stride not believing her because we're talking about Katie here, the doctor, the good one.  David learns that the affair was true and stumbles into GoodNews, a self-proclaim homeless guru, who miraculously heals David's back pain and gave him a new outlook in life as well.  This leads David to develop convictions to help the needy and begins by taking in GoodNews and soon teams up with him to further the good cause.  This new attitude becomes insufferable for Katie and impacts their children as well.  How do you live with a pious man now?  Does this mean they've gone religious and will have to go to church?  Is it really too much to ask to take in homeless kids and rally the neighbors to do the same?  How much goodness can the family take?  Which David was better, the old or the new?  Katie had to figure it all out for her sanity.

Is this a self-help book?  No, it's a novel.  Does it really give you a sense of how to be good?  Yes, by thinking outside the box.  Can one apply those answers?  Sure, but will people be willing to do it is debatable and that's part of the beauty of this book.  Mr. Hornby wrote this book in sarcastic, political, and philosophical language that gets the reader thinking about goodness.  Talking the talk and walking the walk are the ideals but they sure cause havoc!  So we're left to wonder if it's convenient to fit charity into our lives.

The writing style was engaging, witty, and intuitive.  It wasn't preachy but it did have moments of too much sarcasm and overly indulged in descriptive fill-ins.  Also not a wonderful portrait of marriage but then again marriage can be a monstrous loopy roller coaster of a ride!  But that's fun, right?  Especially if the two are in it together for the long hull.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"A Christmas Carol"

by Charles Dickens, AF, 1999, c1843, 122p, rating=4

"Ebenezer Scrooge is not a nice man.  He is mean to his employees and mean to his family.  He doesn't understand Christmas at all.  Then three ghosts appear, haunting Scrooge.  One shows him Christmas past.  One shows him Christmas present.  And one shows him an eerie Christmas future.  Now Scrooge has one last chance... before it's too late." (from back of book)

Chances are great that one is already familiar with the story before reading the book.  This is so because there are many movie adaptations.  Come Christmastime at least one of them is floating around the many hundreds of TV channels.  A world wide spoiler!  Yet, there's nothing like reading the book to get the original perspective.  Well, the adaptations pretty much got it right (and over time, spiced it up!) so there wasn't much of an element of surprise.  In that regard, it took away some delight.  Still the message is timeless, comforting, and worthy of spreading.

The ending done me in!  I am such a big sucker for a 180 degree turn of attitude stories for the good end.  I felt the renewed joy with Mr. Scrooge.  I really was smiling at the turn of events. 

Like the title imply, a Christmas song.  This was a song of being happy and spreading cheer.

Thank you Shirley for gifting me this book for Christmas.  What a sweet treat!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures #9

Wow, Christmas is fast approaching!  So today let's take a look at angelic ministrants heralding the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem ... the reason for the season.

Luke 2:8-16
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:  and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not:  for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you:  Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the sheperds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger."
Happy birthday Brother Jesus!

Have a very Merry Christmas my dear friends.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

"A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter"

by Peter Straub, AF, 2010, 136p, rating=3
read:  12/15/10

"A Special Place will come to stand as one of Peter Straub's most deeply unsettling works of fiction.  A rumination on the nature of evil, the story centers on a boy, Keith Hayward, who is drawn by his nature to an irresistible fascination with death and the taking of life.  His father's brother, the good-looking, suave Uncle Till--the infamous Ladykiller, who has led a shadowy career as a local celebrity of dubious and dangerous repute--recognizes his nephew's innermost nature and gleefully tutors him in art of doing ill without getting caught.  Even a cold-blooded sociopath must learn some lessons in survival, in seems, and Uncle Till is only happy to provide a tutorial, in the latest imaginative and disturbing work from one of America's most celebrated horror writers." (book's front flap)
Horror is definitely out of my comfort genre zone but this is a short book so I was figuring it’d scare me quickly and I’d move on. And perhaps the scare will get me out of my reading rut! Well, it was intriguingly sickening. As I understand it, this is a background on a character in Mr. Straub’s novel A Dark Matter. Having not read the full length novel (and most likely won’t since I’m too much of a wuss) and thinking that A Special Place is a good indication of what that novel would be like, so no thank you! Again, I’m not into horror so I say this but if you are, then this is definitely your book! It’s a quick well written novella. Incredibly fascinating in its own right.

Oh, by the way, it didn’t get me out of my reading rut! I haven’t figured out what’s wrong with me. Something in the air? Ugh.  And it doesn't help either to be having Internet problems!!  Double ugh.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Goddess Girls: Aphrodite the Beauty"

by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, YR, 2010, 156p, rating=4
read:  10/07/10

"Aphrodite, the goddess girl of love, can hardly believe she's jealous! But after giving her best friend, Athena, a makeover, she's definitely feeling a little green. It just doesn't seem fair that the god boys who usually fawn over Aphrodite, are now paying more attention to Athena, who doesn't even care. When Aphrodite finds out the nerdy Hephaestus has a crush on her, she learns that love comes in many forms." (Goodreads)

I started to read this to my daughter, but my particular 4 year old just doesn't have the attention span longer than a few minutes.  She's my kid that would rather climb, jump, and down right drive her mom crazy!!  So I finished the book myself. What a cute read. Definitely appropriate for 8-12 year olds that it is geared to.  Think of it as a pre-school to Percy Jackson (series) Greek mythology school.  An easy fun way to introduce Greek gods/goddesses with a special modern twist in conveying a lesson or two.

This is book #3 of the Goddess Girls series (there's 5 out now) and if I understand correctly there will be a total of 8 books.  Is that correct, Ms. Holub/Williams?  Anyway, judging from this book, the series would make for a lovely treat for your young girls ... say for Christmas.  Not getting paid to say this, just saying.

Thank you Carrie at In the Hammock for the win of this book and also to the authors, Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams for providing me a signed copy and darling swags.  I enjoyed reading this.

Friday, December 10, 2010


by Anita Shreve, AF, 2010, c2008, 324p, rating=3
read:  12/05/10

"At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment." (Goodreads)

A difficult topic to read but I was curious to see where the author would take it.  Although it's a no-brainer that alcohol can lead to trouble, to what extent is the question.  Oh, for these young high schoolers, it was their future.  The private school was suppose to be a safe haven for such troubles but then again teenagers have a way of bending the rules.  Plus, it didn't help that they were surrounded by adults who bend rules as well.  So this just leads up to many involved saying to themselves if only ...

Ms. Shreve was creative in giving background and voices to the storyline by each character giving their point of view.  It was a bit confusing to follow at first but the teasers kept me riveted.  I liked the tender love story between Silas and Noelle which to me seemed to be where it all circles back to. 

As you can imagine, being under the influence of alcohol just asks for sense to go out the window.  This book brings that to mind and gives examples of the mess it can leave ... the many lives that can be destroyed and lessons learned the hard way.  So be careful out there if you drink.  Be safe.

Thank you Brenda @WV Stitcher for the chance to win this book and ending up winning it!!  Thank you to Hachette Books for providing me the copy and to Ms Anita Shreve for an interesting read.

My quote-ables:
"I discover that making love is not one moment or two.  It is a hundred moments, a hundred doors that open, doors to rooms you have never been inside before." pg 141
"I guess that's the point of drinking, you are just a body doing what a body will do." pg 203

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"The Walk"

by Richard Paul Evans, AF, 2010, 289p, rating=4

Mr. Evans write stories that tug at the heartstrings so it's no surprise that I like his books. This one definitely has that Richard Paul Evans signature of really bad things happen but there's a light at the end of the tunnel so move on philosophy of life.  I suppose such stories amuse me because I need a reminder that life can suck at times but it's up to me to keep it that way or not ... or perhaps to bring to mind that my troubles are nothing compared to these possible miseries.

Oh boy, did it rain miseries for Alan Christoffersen!  It was looking great at first.  A lucrative business, a best-friend wife, and a luxurious lifestyle.  Of course, something really bad happens and things got ugly.  So he did a Forest Gump.  But instead of running, Alan decided to walk.  The set 3,000+ miles journey was from Seattle, Washington to Key West, Florida.  This book got him as far as about 300 miles.  This is because with any journey, there will be obstacles to overcome.  Plus, this is the first book of its series so it made sense to leave some miles for the other books. =)

I enjoyed the characters in this book.  I liked many of the relationships that were developed or developing.  I admired the love story between Alan and his wife, McKale.  I liked Falene's loyalty and tenderness.  I liked Good Samaritans that Alan crossed in his journey so far.  But there were also characters that I disliked but enriched the storyline.  In character building, Mr. Evans created believable people, however predictable.

This was a quick read, no-brainer book with a heart.  Just the kind I needed to read to try to get me out of this reading slump! 

I'm not waiting on pins and needles for the sequel to come in April of next year, but I will certainly read it.

My quote-ables:
"You can tell a lot about a man by watching how he treats those he doesn't have to be nice to." pg 125.
"For the record, I didn't fear dying.  I feared almost dying.  They're not the same thing." pg 168.
"The thing is, the only real sign of life is growth.  And growth requires pain.  So to choose life is to accept pain." pg 217.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #8

Today let's take a look at Luke 2:7 :
"And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn."

I found a song in YouTube that goes with this scripture.  It has beautiful art images as well as footage of fruits of service.  It's a great kick off for this Christmas season.  ~Enjoy!

"Do You Have Room?" by Shawna Edwards

"Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus."
Neal A. Maxwell

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Books I reviewed

A picture collage of the books I reviewed in October and November 2010.

My daughter's Goddess birthday treat

Back in early November, I won the Goddess Girls:  Aphrodite the Beauty book (signed!) and swag from Carrie at In the Hammock.  I won it on my daughter's birthday so it was a perfect extra birthday present for her.  She was thrilled and was looking forward to it.  Well, we received it yesterday and she was ecstatic!!   Can't go wrong with make-up, bracelets, girlie book, and bookmarks to a four year old.  Thanks Carrie for the giveaway and also a special thanks to the authors Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams for the wonderful upgrade goodies!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gratitude Giveaways Winner is...

This time around, my adorable 2.5 year old's cute little hand picked out the winner.

Patricia Mariani !!

You are the winner of my Gratitude Giveaways contest.
Please reply within 48hrs to the e-mail that I sent you.

Thank you everyone that participated.  I appreciate the time you took to enter the contest and became followers as well. 
Shout out to all my followers.  You are all indeed FABULOUS!!
~Take great care~

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Peony in Love"

by Lisa Lee, AF, 2007, audio CD, 13hrs, rating=3

"For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, these lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amid the scent of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few females have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony is the cloistered daughter of a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own." (Goodreads)

A well written and appearingly well researched historical based book of oppressive Chinese women in the 17th century.  As passionate in detail in depicting the journey of struggles in love, desire to be heard, and destinies of these women, it was incredibly a downer!  The longing, the hardships, the traditions, the sadness, the fight in a man's world, etc. was endless.  For me, the mood of the book was too depressing; although it ended with triumph.  I suppose that's how it was for women in those days ... a very long journey for recognition.  For that I do appreciate the bringing into consciousness a story of women overcoming adversities.

If you like historical fiction, then this is the book for you.  It did captivate a vivid glimpse into the complicated rituals and afterlife beliefs that are/might be found in the Chinese culture.

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #7

Let's ponder the short Book of Ruth found in the Old Testament this week.

Here's the background: 
"Many years had passed since the Israelites had crossed the Jordan and formed a loose tribal confederacy in the central highlands of Canaan.  As they established their own settlements, they gradually discarded their nomadic traditions and adopted an agricultural way of life.  Yet their position remained precarious.  The northern tribes were almost constantly at war with those walled cities that remained under the control of the Canaanites, and they frequently had to defend themselves against invasions by people from the east:  the Ammonites and Midianites.  In contrast, Judah, which occupied a rugged plateau in the semiarid lands west of the Dead Sea.  Normally, the land was fertile enough to sustain fields of wheat and barley, grape vineyards, and groves of olive and fig trees.  But occasionally the rains failed, the crops withered and there was famine.  During one such disaster, a Judean man named Elimelech, who lived in the town of Bethlehem, fled the land with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Chilion.  The family traveled to Moab, a kingdom on the eastern borders of the Dead Sea.  The distance was not great--perhaps 30 or 40 miles along the edge of the inland sea."  (Great People of the Bible and How They Lived, p.236)
So Elimelech and his family goes to Moab because of famine.  The sons marry Moabites, Ruth  and Orpah.  Elimelech and sons die and Naomi decides to go back to Bethlehem.  Ruth expresses her loyalty and devotion to Naomi by going with her.  Naomi hopes for Ruth to re-marry and refers to the levirate marriage practice (Deut.:25:5-10) and instructs Ruth how to go about it.  Ruth proposes to Boaz (a kinsman).  Boaz takes Ruth to wife.  Ruth bears Obed, through whom came David the king.

*Interesting tidbit:  The word kinsman translated in Hebrew as go'el (also redeemer)The function of a go'el was to make it possible for a widow who had lost home and property to return to her former status and security and to have seed to perpetuate her family.  Hence, it's easy to see why the later prophets borrowed the word redeemer from the social laws of Israel and used it to describe the functions of Jesus Christ who would become the Divine Redeemer.  Think of what He does to restore us to proper status with God, and to give us future security and eternal seed.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

"For flowers that bloom about our feet;
For tender grass, so fresh, so sweet;
For song of bird, and hum of bee;
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee!"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here's another one just for fun:

"May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump, may your potatoes and gravy have never a lump. May your yams be delicious and your pies take the prize... AND may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!" -Anonymous

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"The Memory Keeper's Daughter"

by Kim Edwards, AF, 2006, Playaway audio, 16.25hrs, rating=3.5

I'm glad I finally finished one!!  I've been in a reading slump.  Poor timing because this cold weather is just lovely for curling up with a book but I've been distracted with blog hopping and holiday preps.  Anyway, this book listened as a page turner.  Although it was long, the story telling was smooth and you get a feel of a love-hate relationship with the characters.  In that case, this was well written because it ignited a passionate emotion out of me.  This would make for an interesting book to discuss in a book club.

This was a sad tale rooted out of a father's fear and selfishness masked as a notion to protect his wife from hardship and heartache.  This is how it went down.  ~Amidst a snow storm in 1964, David, a doctor, had no choice but to deliver his twins.  First, a son, healthy and acceptable.  Then a daughter, obviously abnormal (physical traits of Down Syndrome).  While his wife, Nora was still hazy from gas and delivering, David made a decision to give their daughter away and to claim her dead in delivery.  But the nurse (Caroline) who was suppose to take Phoebe (the baby girl) to a facility ended up raising Phoebe instead.  Of course, lives abounding in lies and secrets become a recipe for a troublesome course.  Oh, so the horrid characters develop.  David because of his secret is distant.  Nora, pitiful at first then downright messed up and conceivably detestable.  Paul (their acceptable son), I wanted to smack a few times.  Then there were the likeable characters.  Caroline, benevolent and fought to give Phoebe equal rights.  Phoebe, gentle and lively.  And my favorite, Al, a solid, good head on his shoulder kind of man.  Hence, an array of drama and heartache happens and you're left with really no winners. 

So if you make a decision without thinking ahead of it's consequences or thereafter making an amends, then you're in for a sucky life!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #6

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, this week's scripture is found in Luke 17: 11-19, the story of the Ten Lepers.

"And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.  And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:  And they lifted up their voices and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.  And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.  And it came to pass that, as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.  And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks:  and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that turned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way:  thy faith hath made thee whole."

Someone has said that an ungrateful man is like a hog under a tree eating apples and never looking up to see where they come from. How often do we look up to see where our blessings come from?  It is easy to take for granted the abundance of blessings in our lives.  It is easier yet to forget to express gratitude for them. 

I am thankful for my growing relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through reading the scriptures.  There, I learn how to be happy.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving my dear readers.  Associating with you is certainly on my long list of TBT (to be thankful) list.  ~May the spirit of attitude of gratitude be with us often.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brief reviews

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, YR, 2000, c1943, 83p, rating=3.5
read:  11/15/10

A lovely fable on loneliness and love but it's poetic in essence so it requires a little more reflection for me to get it.  It's sad, sweet, and deep.  The illustrations were lovely as well.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, YR, 1987, audio cassettes, 7hrs, rating=3.5
read:  11/18/10
~I couldn't find an image of the cover I listened from so I picked one I liked instead.

I think I would enjoy this more if I had read the book version instead.  There's just something more of a retaining value when I can see the written words, feel and touch the book pages, and my own 'voice' narrating.  But maybe the sporadic listening didn't help.  Anyway, Tom's adventures included fun, trickery, imagination, and chivalry.  A nice nostalgic example of how a child makes use and discovers his world.  It can make you want to be a carefree kid again mischievous, impress a girl, attend your own funeral, play pirate, play hooky, sail a makeshift boat, get tangled in a murder mystery, go in a cave, etc.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Giveaways Hop

starts 11/17/10 & ends 11/28/10

Welcome Readers!!  Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer is hosting this fabulous Gratitude Giveaways Hop... where over 175 book bloggers are showing their appreciation to their followers by having Giveaways on their blog.  It's an awesome idea so I signed up.  I'm #143 (unless someone doesn't follow the rules and gets booted out) know what that means! ~I love you!  So head on over HERE for the list and start entering those giveaways.  But of course, start here. :)

Up for grabs are these 5 gently used books for one of my lucky followers.  Since I'll be mailing these out myself, this giveaway is open for U.S. residents only.

Ten U.S. dollars to
Winner chooses his/her prize.

Because this is a followers appreciation giveaway, you must be a follower of this blog to enter.  So if you want a chance to win these 5 books or gift card, just leave me a comment with your GFC name and your email address.  For an extra entry, follow me on Twitter here and include your Twitter name in your comment.  ~That's it! 

Contest ends 11/28/10 and the winner will be notified and announced on 11/30/10.

Now, I'd like to take this time to thank all my followers.  I do appreciate your support and enjoy hearing from you. 

Happy Giveaway Hopping and Good Luck!!

"A Single Shard"

by Linda Sue Park, 2001, YR, 152p, rating=5
Newbery Award Winner

Tree-ear is an orphan boy in a 12th-century Korean potters’ village. For a long time he is content living with Crane-man under a bridge barely surviving on scraps of food. All that changes when he sees master potter Min making his beautiful pottery. Tree-ear sneaks back to Min’s workplace and dreams of creating his own pots someday. When he accidentally breaks a pot, he must work for the master to pay for the damage. Though the work is long and hard, Tree-ear is eager to learn. Then he is sent to the King’s Court to show the master’s pottery. Little does Tree-ear know that this difficult and dangerous journey will change his life forever. (from author's website)

This is my favorite Newbery Award Winner book that I've read thus far.  A simply sweet book.  I enjoyed reading this three years ago and again rereading it today.  I find books that exhibit a journey of learning and growth with Asian culture flair to be right up my alley.  I like the traditional humble feel of such breeding.  Thus, the story of Tree-ear was warming to me.

This book drills attributes that I find endearing such as:  hard work, honesty, respect, gentleness, and love.  Qualities that are certainly appropriate for young readers to aspire.  Not too shabby of a read for adults as well since we could use a tender reminder of the value of humility from time to time.  Consequently, this book holds a dear place in my heart.  So thus, I highly recommend this book ...just prepare to brace your heart though. 

My quote-ables:
"Work gives a man dignity, stealing takes it away." pg 6.
"My friend, the same wind that blows one door shut often blows another open." pg 97.
"Why was it that pride and foolishness were so often close companions?" pg 102

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (Book #1)

by J.K. Rowling, YR, 1997, 309p, rating=5

Last week, I got invited to see the upcoming midnight showing of Harry Potter #7 Part I and got to thinking that I should read the books!  I haven't seen any of the movies ... yes, clips here and there but didn't think anything of it.  WOW WOW WOW!!!  I so totally see all the rave now.  I am happy that I finally started this series.  Although I'd love to see the upcoming movie, I don't want to see any spoilers but rather enjoy reading the rest of the installments and catch up.  So, I'll hold off and see it later.

Ms Rowling surely has an incredible imagination.  She was throwing those adventures left and right as if she was making it up as she went along.  Like when you tell your kids an impromptu bedtime story and the kids eat it all up.  Afterall, there was magic, games, candies, potions, forbidden forest, and on and on and on.  I was eating up this spectacular book!  She must have had fun coming up with those names and terms too.  Hogwarts, Dumbledore, Hufflepuff, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean, Muggles, and tons more.  I loved them!!  And there were all sort of creatures... dragons, centaurs, owls, goblins, rats, etc.  For crying out loud, there's unicorns!  Who doesn't like unicorns?  Of course, the cast of characters were marvelous.  AAAHH, I so enjoyed reading this amazing book and especially how it ended!!

I read this at the perfect time too.  Nothing like reading this in the midst of PMS to make this book even more exciting.  I know, too much information!  It's just that my moodiness went along with the book.  The beginning was so sad, then an adventurous craziness, followed by a very happy ending.  The ending was what sealed the deal for me.  I'm a total sucker for a happy ending with a moral growth building aspect.

If you're one of the seven who has not read this book Nike says, just do it!  I'm having my soon to be 8yo son read it over the minimum week and holiday break.  He's excited.  He actually saw the movie adaptation of this book.  I had to Shhh! a few times because he kept saying things like, "Have you gotten to that part yet when...".  Anyway, a truly must read book.  It was exhilarating!!  :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Clockwork Angel

by Cassandra Clare, YA, 2010, 479p, rating=4.5
read:  11/10/10

When this was going around the blogosphere I was taken by the book cover.  It's not flowery pretty but mystically appealing to my eyes.  So I was bummed that it was not available in my library when it finally came out.  But a couple of weeks ago it was there!!  Whoohoo!! I snatched it! 

What a gripping storyline... Tessa Gray, an orphaned teenager living in New York, crosses the ocean to find her missing older brother in England.  There she gets kidnapped by the Dark Sisters and discovers that she holds a rare power that the Magister will stop at nothing to have.  Then she gets rescued and takes refuge with Shadowhunters that will help her find her brother.  She soon finds herself torn between two interesting guys and continues to become aware of London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks, and such reside.  Of course, a battle ensues, secrets are revealed, and yet more hidden mysteries awaits to be disclosed in the next installment(s).

I took quite a liking to the heroine and was there beside her while she tries to figure out about herself and the secret entities she discovered in England.  Ms Clare has conjured up seductive characters (though I think Jem supplied wisdom beyond his age) and fascinating hidden worlds.  This book is packed with action, romance, intrigue, and even a little bit of poetry.  I truly was transfixed.  I am definitely looking forward to the sequel.  ~Now, I really need to start The Mortal Instruments!!  ...I'll get there .. it's on my tbr list. :)

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #5

This week's scripture is found in Joshua 24:15.

"...choose you this day whom ye will serve ..."

Basically in this chapter Joshua was near the end of his life and as Moses had done, he gathered his people together for a final blessing and warning.  Joshua reminded Israel what God had miraclously done for them in the past and challenged them to choose whom they would serve.

Such messages as a prophet approaches death should be considered very significant for it seems to be an effort to reaffirm that his people have been informed and warned.  Thus full responsibility for their conduct squarely rests upon their shoulders and in that matter the prophet has fulfilled his duty.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Brief reviews

With much to juggle lately, I've been depending on audio for my readings.  So here's a few that I went through.

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts, AF, 2010, Playaway digital audio,  9hrs, rating=2
read:  11/09/10

My bad, I didn't read the first two installments so I just didn't connect with the characters here. As a stand alone, I wasn't intrigued. ~Next time I should read the fine print that says something like, "book three in blah blah series".  :)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, YA, 2009, Playaway digital audio, 9.5hrs, rating=2
read:  11/07/10

Another Halloween read.  This was just okay.  I'm not a big fan of zombies or the unconsecrated as the book terms them.  I'm glad I didn't listen to this during the night or I might have had nightmares!  I scare easily but listening to this choppily for over a week, I think I missed the scary feel or the love.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1) by Lemony Snicket, YR, 2001, c1999, audio CD, 3.5hrs, rating=2.5
read:  11/10/10

See-sawed between 2 stars and 3 stars.  It was dark for a children's book yet it had a weird appeal.  I like the innocent thinkings of the Baudelaire children ...their resourcefulness, their resilience in bouncing back from each "unfortunate event"...basically their demeanor.  Therefore I didn't like the 'child abuse' but cheered their cleverness.

It seems like in regards to badness... the phrase, when it rains it pours would apply here... yet I keep thinking, then that will end in sunshine and rainbows.  There are 12 more books to this series.  That's a pretty long down pour of unfortunate events before the sunshine ... if it even ends with that!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Twitter bandwagon

OK, I finally jumped on the Twitter bandwagon.  I'm not sure what I got myself into but so many of you tweet and I thought I might be missing out on something good.  Therefore, leave me an address/link where I can follow you.

You're also welcome to follow my tweet HERE. I'm still new to this but I think you'll know what to do from there.

I'm kinda nervous but seeing friends there should relieve my jitters. ~Hope the experience is good. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blue nail polish birthday

I won The Lost Saint:  A Dar Divine novel nail polish and bookmarkers from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and received them over the weekend.  Just in time for my daughter's birthday.  She is 4 years old today and we had fun painting our fingernails blue!  She was so jazzed.  Thanks Kathy.

 Too bright ... I need a better camera!! Maybe a generous reader might get me one for Christmas. :D
These bookmarkers are signed by the author

These turned out better


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pondering the Scriptures Sunday #4

Today's scripture is found in Exodus 18:17-23

"And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.  Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee:  for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.  Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee:  Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:  And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.  Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fities, and rulers of tens:  And let them judge the people at all seasons:  and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge:  so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.  If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace."

~During this time, Moses sits in judgment seat and hears all cases.  Jethro, his father-in-law, counsels him to teach the law, to appoint lesser judges, and to delegate power to them.  What an incredible revelation!!  Perhaps a "duh" moment for Moses and certainly a relief.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brief reviews

Here's my experience with a couple Playaway digital audio books.  ~What's Playaway, you ask?  Well, go to my post HERE for details. ~They're pretty pricey so I borrow from my local library.  :)

 Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith, 2010, Playaway digital audio, 10hrs, rating=3.5
read:  10/30/10

OK, this was my Halloween read since I can't handle the Exorcist kind of scary! Anyway, this was pretty clever. Though dark and sad, it was an interesting way to read historical references. If you didn't know better, you'd think that it happened exactly the way it was described in this book. Well done Mr. Grahame-Smith.

The 9th Judgment, by James Patterson, 2010, Playaway digital audio, 7hrs, rating=3.5
read: 11/5/10

The earphones were glued to my ears! Though the story was sickening, it was a mystery thrill that I wanted to see through the end so I just kept on listening. I left the kids to tend to themselves (good ol' TV...but I was a room or two away) and listened while I cleaned (to be productive). I even listened with one earphone while I drove! Anyway, it was fascinating how Mr. Patterson ended up connecting the three cases: (1) The reprehensible killings of women and children by the "Lipstick Killer", (2) The "Hello Kitty" thief, and (3) The mystery killing of a movie star's wife. I was more interested in the development of the first over the other two. Of course because I wanted that case solved and the killer brought to justice. Well, the ending was a bit of a let down. Not entirely bad but ...I don't know. Plus, that epilogue was weird! A cheesy plug for a sequel.

Though only having read two of Mr. Patterson's books, this and Alex Cross's Trial, I can see the appeal people have for him. His mystery subjects get you hooked from the beginning, the middle development secures that hook, then you just keep reading hoping for a thundering end. That said, calling Patterson fans ...which of his books do you recommend I read next?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Don't forget to vote today

Just a reminder to go out there and be heard.  So let's vote!  :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

"If I Stay"

by Gayle Forman, YA, 2009, 196p, rating=4

What is it about death and dying that tugs the heart strings?  Oh, maybe losing someone you love hurts.  It certainly does hurt for Mia who is in a coma after a tragic car accident where her entire immediate family was involved.  She's just a 17yo with a full life ahead ... a supportive loving family, possible acceptance to Julliard, a wonderful boyfriend, an awesome bestfriend, ... life was peachy king.  Her main problem was the fate of her relationship with her boyfriend.  They're chosen career goals would lead them in opposite directions.  A classic young love story conflict.  Now, at death's door in an out of body experience, Mia is finding herself in reflection of a bigger decision.  Should she will herself to give up and be with her family or is there enough of a substantial life left for her to stay? 

I loved the main characters here.  The wise, fun, and seemingly unorthodox parents.  The wonderful young brother.  The involved grandparents.  The loyal bestfriend.  The faithful boyfriend.  And of course, Mia, the focal point.  The intertwining of the relationships was relatable.  So much so that it is easy to place yourself in Mia's shoes and in the matter of reflecting one's life, we can.  We can choose now to tally up who and what are important to us and make adjustments to align our lives to get there.  This is what Mia's story is aiding us to see.  Life is full of decisions and each one matters to someone.

There's more but it's not coming glibly to me.  Just know that in the simpleness of this story lies a great wonderment.  Serve to know also that those who enjoy a fluffy read would find it here.

There is a sequel to come next year.  I'm not sure it's necessary.  I'm satisfied with this but perhaps Ms Forman might have something good up her sleeves.  We'll see.

My quote-ables:
"Anyway, she didn't care that people called her a bitch.  It's just another word for feminist ...Even Dad called her that sometimes, but always in a jokey, complimentary way.  Never during a fight.  He knew better." pg 59
"...It's okay if you have to leave us.  It's okay if you want to stop fighting." pg 152
"Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you." pg 161
"All relationships are tough.  Just like with music, sometimes you have harmony and other times you have cacophony." pg 175

Best wishes!

Just want to take a moment to wish those of you participating in NaNoWriMo much success!!  What a fascinating undertaking. 

~May you get published~

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brief reviews

Another round of brief reviews.  This might become a regular thing.  Being out of practice, I'm not sure if I can write full reviews anymore ... scary!!

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, YA, 1995, c1967, 188p, rating=3.5
read:  10/23/10

Impressive book written by a 16yo.  That said, the language had that affect of a young, unpolished, budding, storyteller.  Even so, she was able to capture the inside track to the psyche of rivaling teenage 'gangs' ... or better yet, just plain ol' teenagers ...duh, 'cause she's a teenager.

Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch, AF, 2010, 279p, rating=2
read: 10/27/10

Beautiful cover (hold on.. something mysterious, fearful is coming) that had me snatching the book!   But that's about the best part of the book!  The plot sounded intriguing... Hannah, girl at 11yo looses her dad (declared dead but no body), 24yrs later she still believes her dad's alive and seeks to find out the truth, and in-between she lead a messed up life.  Hence, the rated PG13 language and content.  She was wishy-washy protagonist and I think she was suppose to get it all together in the end but I don't think she did.  The book didn't give me the Southern kind of book feel at all either.  I do like the side story of her gay brother Palmer and his lover Tom ...a more substantial story there.

Blockade Billy, by Stephen King, AF, 2010, 112p, rating=4
read:  10/28/10

What a fun find.  I'm no sports freak so I'm surprised I picked this up even though it's a short book.  OK, maybe that's why I picked it up'd be a quick read, something to make me feel accomplished at finishing a book!  Anyway, this novella got me asking, Holy s*it was there really a Blockade Billy who played for the New Jersey Titans and the baseball community really erased that team in history because ...?  Wow, what a story!  ~I've been avoiding Stephen King books because he equates scary stories to me and I don't do scary well.  Although this had a gory ending, it was not the scary gory kind at all and might have eased me into looking into King's other books.

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, YR, 2001, 212p, rating=5
read:  10/19/10

A memorable, charming book.  I enjoyed the story of the down-to-earth characters of Juli and Bryce.  Van Draanen brought back to life the wonderful feeling of young innocence, love, friendship, and family.  I love a book that showcase the perspective of flight as well.  The warmth of being up high enough to see the beauty of the earth, demonstrated by what Juli sees and feels while up on her sycamore tree.  A metaphor of inviting us to lift ourselves up and enjoy the greatness of life around us.  More than becoming aware of physical wonderment that surrounds us, this book also captures the beauty and ugliness in people.  All the supporting characters where fabulous in validating this.  Overall, just chuck-full of warm fuzzy feeling of a read.

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