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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!

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