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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~

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