Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stand up to Cancer and Alzheimers

This isn't about books but is even more important. I was watching The View this morning (rare morning tv viewing for me) and saw two very important items I wanted to pass on to everyone.

StandUp2Cancer is a group that is working a grass-roots movement to raise money for all kinds of cancer research. They have a great set of goals but the best part is that they are working for money for all cancers and the research they are looking at may cover multiple types versus organ specific.

They said that in our lifetimes, 1 out of every 2 men will have some sort of cancer. And that 1 out of every 3 women will. It's amazing!

You can donate money or time to the cause on the website. I have 'bought' stars with my donation for a couple of my loved ones that have had cancer. You can donate as little as a dollar.

I know we all have money issues and have 'favorite' charities that we donate to when we can. But we can all afford a dollar - I'll have one less Diet Pepsi today instead. Go to to find out more and donate. Also there will be a special with a bunch of celebrities on all three main networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) on Sept. 5th. And you may see a public service announcement with a ton of celebrities for this as well.

The other important item on the show was a documentary about Alzheimer's called The Forgetting that will be on PBS on Sunday, August 3rd at 9pm ET. Look at the PBS website here for more information about the show and when it will be on your channel.

Review: The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry and a Giveaway!

I was very excited to receive a copy of The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry from Book Club Girl.

The synopsis from The Lace Reader website:
Every gift has a price...
Every piece of lace has a secret...

"My name is Towner Whitney, no, that's not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time..."

Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns in lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light. The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing, tale which spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths where the reader quickly finds it's nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction, but as Towner Whitney points out early on in the novel, "There are no accidents."

This book is unique. It's intriguing. It has interesting stories and colorful characters. It makes you feel, think and wonder all at the same time. And you get pieces of American history regarding Salem rolled into the story. I was drawn into the story from the beginning and was entralled the whole way through. I truly don't know how to describe this book any more than that without giving away it's secrets, it's appeal. I think this will be a big hit this year and lots of people will be talking about it for a long time. It will make a great book club read and there's already discussion questions!

Thanks again to Book Club Girl and publisher William Morrow for giving me a copy.

To share, I am going to give this book away!
Ways to enter:
1. Comment here and receive an entry for the giveaway.
2. Blog about the book and giveaway and receive 5 bonus entries (you'll need to link the blog entry in the comments on this post).
Notes: Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you win. Entries will be received until midnight on Tuesday, August 5th and I'll announce the winner the next day. Only open to folks in the US and Canada.

We have a winner. Check here to see who won. Thanks to everyone for participating!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Cataloging

Today's question from The Boston Bibliophile is:
What cataloging sources do you use most? Any particular reason? Any idiosyncratic choices, or foreign sources, or sources you like better than others? Are you able to find most things through LT's almost 700 sources?

Um, call me clueless, but what am I supposed to answer here? It seems like everything I go to add to my library is easily found. So does that mean I use Amazon or Library Thing? As I don't read very many one-offs, foreign, or non-fiction, and what I usually read is based on a recommendation, my books are easily found.

I don't think I'm answering this question correctly. Go here to read others responses and see what I was supposed to say! LOL

Review: Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts

From the book jacket of Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts:

Lutie McFee's history has taught her to avoid people, to places, and to almost everything. With her mother long dead and her father long gone to find his fortune in Las Vegas, 15-year-old Lutie lives in the god-forsaken town of Spearfish, South Dakota with her twelve-year-old brother, Fate, and Floy Satterfield, the 300-pound ex-girlfriend of her father. While Lutie shoplifts for kicks, Fate spends most of his time reading, watching weird TV shows and worrying about global warming and the endangerment of pandas.

As if their life is not dismal enough, one day, while shopping in their local Wal-Mart, Floy keels over and the two motherless kids are suddenly faced with the choice of becoming wards of the state or hightailing it out of town in Floy's old Pontiac. Choosing the latter, they head off to Las Vegas in search of a father who has no known address, no phone number and, clearly, no interest in the kids he left behind.

MADE IN THE U.S.A. is the alternately heartbreaking and life-affirming story of two gutsy children who must discover how cruel, unfair and frightening the world is before they come to a place they can finally call home.

Lutie and Fate - what names! These two love each other fiercely! When they get to Vegas they are both worrying and looking out for each other. Lutie wants to send Fate to a good school and Fate wants Lutie to be safe and happy. But living on the streets of Las Vegas makes both of those desires incredibly difficult to achieve!

As a mom, I just wanted to scoop these two up, bring them in the house and take care of them. I cried with them, worried over them, shook my head at their choices. There is an anonymous 'guardian angel' who adopts them when they first arrive in Vegas. It's interesting to see how he helps just by having experience living on the streets. Which you know means he has his own issues. So when we finally meet him, it's with trepidation, worry and wonder.

This is a great book. Excellent characters, interesting story and a quick read.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Side note: As I was reading it on vacation, my aunt and my cousin both made a comment that they had loved Bille Letts' previous book The Honk and Holler Opening Soon. I've added that to my tbr pile!

Review: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Growing up, did you want to be a spy? How many spy glasses and gadgets did you have over the years? What if your family was a group of private investigators? And that meant you got to spy on people ALL THE TIME??? I would have loved it!!!

So I would have loved to be main character Izzy in The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. Izzy, a.k.a. Isabel Spellman, is 28 and the middle child of her family. She has always been the more 'difficult' child - getting into all sorts of trouble throughout her life. Her parents own a private investigation company that has employed all members of their family.

Izzy's older brother David grew up as the perfect son, always doing the right thing and never in trouble. He's now a lawyer that employs the family for different cases. Rae is Izzy's teenage sister who practices recreational surveillance (spying on folks just for fun). Also in the family is Izzy's Uncle Ray - a reformed health food and exercise addict who is usually found now drinking and gambling.

The story chronicles Izzy as she is trying to find her independence from the family and the family business. It's hilarious! Izzy is quite the character and is very believable, if a bit of a ding-bat! LOL I loved her interactions with the rest of the family who love her yet have their own oddities.

I am excited to read the next in the series, Curse of the Spellmans, reviewed here by J.Kaye. Thanks to J.Kaye for letting me know about the series!

Check out more information and detailed summaries of the books at Lisa Lutz's website.

Oh, and I STILL want to be a spy!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Back from vacation and I am an aunt (again)!

We had a wonderful week of vacation with my mom's family - there were 23 of us there over the course of the week, ages 1 through over 60. It was the 25th year that my mom and her two sisters have vacationed together. We started when I was 14 tent camping for a week. That was the last time we tent camped but we've been in cabins ever since. This year we had three cabins, one for each sister. We canoed, swam, played lots of board and card games, read, walked, biked, played corn hole, shopped, chatted and laughed. I look forward to this vacation with my family every year and it's always fun.

This year I did not get as much reading done as I usually do. I only finished two books, Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts and The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. I've also started The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. I also was happy to come home to three new books in the mail to add to my TBR list. From Marie at the Boston Bibliophile I won Biter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster. I won Sisters of Misery from J.Kaye's Book Raffle. And I will be guest reviewing a signed copy of Body Scissors by Michael Simon for J.Kaye's blog. Guess I'd better get reading!

Then the best part of my vacation week. My mom watched my two-year-old nephew all week at our cabin (with help from all of us). Here's a picture of him feeding the ducks. He is such a cutie! He chatted with all of us, laughed, played and even went canoeing! My mom was watching him because his momma (my little sister) and daddy were having his little brother! King 036
Yes, I am an aunt again! The first picture is when he's talking to his momma on his birthday. Then the other two are my kids holding him when we dropped off his big brother on our way home. You forget how teeny tiny little babies are! And I'm so used to big noggins (see my boy?!), that his very cute normal-sized head looks so small. We are excited to welcome this new member of our family during a week of lots of family togetherness. Overall it was a good week.
DSC00897e DSC00898

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And the winners are....

My first book giveaway has been so fun! Thanks to everyone! No more waiting...

The new owner of Takeover by Lisa Black is Trishtheconquerer.
The new owner of Home Girl by Judith Matloff is Tina at Bookshipper.
And the new owner of No One You Know by Michelle Redmond is Carmen Alexis.

Please send me your shipping address to mawshimp at gmail dot com and I'll drop it in the mail tomorrow.

Thanks to my random number generator - my husband! LOL I will be having another one when I get back from vacation as I've got more in the mail recently.

Thursday's Thoughts

First off, my apologies. After reading the day away Monday (literally! see what I was reading here), the rest of the week has gotten away from me. I leave on a week vacation on Friday, worked three days (including today), played chauffeur, felt guilty about not going forward with the Clean Sweep project, felt guilty while my VERY NICE friend, Emily, worked with my daughter yesterday and today to go forward with the Clean Sweep project, and thought/talked/prayed through some family decisions. In all of that, I've not taken the time to read and comment on other blogs, to respond to comments here, nor post interesting things to read. So, my apologies. I promise I will get there and will be going back to respond to everyone.

Do you ever wonder what you want to be when you grow up? I mean, since you've been an adult and are supposed to know what you are doing with your life? Since I graduated from college, I've been a service engineer, field test engineer, technical writing manager, technical customer service technician, a manager, a stay-at-home-mom, a child and family photographer, a recruiter, and an integrator. I'm 38. You'd think by now I would know which of these things I want to be. Which I am supposed to be. What God wants me to be.

Ah, but there's the rub. Over the last years I have not studied God's word regularly. I don't pray regularly. I am very good at the 'pop-up' prayers, thanking Him for traffic breaks, for my kids and their quirks, for the flexibility of my job. But I don't spend time talking and listening. And I think that's my problem. In fact, I know it is. God has a plan for me. He's constantly knocking on my head trying to get my attention. I don't purposely ignore him, at least I don't think so. But I don't make the time. Instead I read the paper, read a book, blog, eat, talk to friends, clean (nah!).

So, God's been knocking harder and I've been trying to listen. Maybe I'll be able to figure out what's next in my life - will I actually figure out what I'm supposed to do forever and ever? Or will I just know what to do today and tomorrow? I'm guessing that I'm not ready to know the forever part, so He'll just let me know the today part. And I'm okay with that. Because I want to be listening every day. And both God and I know I won't if He gives me too much info ahead of time.

Wonder what I'll be when I grow up?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tomorrow is the last day!

I will be drawing the winners tomorrow night so I can mail them on my way out on Friday morning (leaving on another vacation). So make sure you have signed up here before tomorrow at 8pm EST.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Book Swapping

Today's topic from Marie at Boston Bibliophile:
Book-swapping. Do you do it? What site(s) do you use? How did you find out about them? What do you think of them? Do you use LT's book-swapping column feature for information on what to swap? Do you participate in any of the LT communities that discuss bookswapping, like the Bookmooch group for example?

I don't. No reason why really other than I'm lazy. I get most of my books from the library. I used to buy but then realized since I didn't re-read, there wasn't any reason to have most books in my house on a permanent basis. And thus, why waste my time or money to get them? Does this mean I don't go to book stores? Heck no. But usually I'll only buy one or two books, if any, but will write down a bunch of titles to look up at the library. I read about mooching and swapping and think that might be fun, but then realize that I don't have time to do the other things I want to do, so no need to start another obsession. LOL

I'm sure there are lots of swappers out there so click here to read more about it. It's a great way to get books to read!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Review: Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

I just finished Love Walked in by Marisa de los Santos. It's 11pm. I read it all in one day. Today. It's not meant to be a one day book. It has 307 pages. I have been in my pajamas all day and got nothing else done. But I couldn't not read it. It drew me in, made me stay, made me smile, made me love, made me cry (not just cry, but sob), made me feel their pain, their love, their hurts, their joys. Oh my gosh! It was published in 2005 so I am a little late to this one. But I'm so glad I finally read it!

Cornelia is a 31 year old single woman, who works in a cafe, loves movies and is very passionate about life and living it. She meets a man who looks just like Cary Grant and she sets about falling in love with him.

Clare is an 11 year old girl, who lives with her mom, goes to school, makes lists, loves to read and imagine she is friends with the teen heroines. She realizes that her mom has been acting very strange lately, buying 11 sets of towels in all different colors, taking Clare out of school for lunch and letting her drink wine.

You've got to read the book to find out what happens to Cornelia and Clare - how they meet, what happens to each of them and both of them, and where they go after that. The chapters alternate between Clare and Cornelia telling the story which allows you to so fully fall in love with each of them, their joys, their hurts, their love, their insecurities.

I want you to go out and get this book right now. I cannot truly explain how much I've fallen in love with the characters in this book and how much I want you to know them. This is definitely a top read for this year and will probably end up on my list of top reads of all. Go, now, to the library or the store and get it. Really!

Rating: 5++/5

P.S. Marisa de los Santos just released a new book in April, Belong to Me. It is moving to the top of my list of books to get!

New book: Love as a Way of Life by Gary Chapman

There's a great new website, 5 minutes for Books, that showcased a new book by Gary Chapman. Gary Chapman is the author of Five Love Languages and the various books related to that. I LOVE the book Love Languages and also have read Five Love Languages of Children. They both are great books in helping you to know how to show your love for your family and friends. These are probably the only two non-fiction/self-help books that I've actually read the whole way through. I highly recommend them!

The new book is Love as a Way of Life and it will be released on July 15th. Read the review here at 5 minutes for Books. There is also a giveaway, but I plan on buying this book if I don't win. It looks to be one that will help me become a better mom, wife, and friend.

Review: The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

Released last month, I have read wonderful things about The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. I was very excited to read it and the book lived up to my expectations!

Set in the late 1960's, five women meet at a neighborhood children's park. They meet once a week on Wednesday mornings. They start out as a lot of women's groups do - talking about what defines them: their kids and their husbands. But one of the women pushes the group to start doing something - writing! She buys journals for each of them and every week they have to share something they've written. It's a struggle at different times for each woman, but they all eventually do write. And as they write, they share more of themselves than they ever would have just chatting weekly at the park.

The book takes us through a number of years of friendship, love, heartbreak and joy. Through Miss America pageants, the space exploration excitement, and the changes taking place politically in that era. But most of all, it takes us through the changes in the women. As they grow together and individually.

I really liked this book. I cried, laughed, and wished I was a part of the Wednesday sisters. I could see myself as reluctant, not thinking I have anything to say in my writing, yet loving the friendship. The husband's have supporting 'roles', yet are real and definitely a part of the story. The book is written as a 'look back' by one of the Wednesday sisters with a little synopsis at the end of what they did with the rest of their lives. But I would have loved to read more about their lives, their friendship, their children as I enjoyed the writing and the characters very much. I definitely recommend reading this book!

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Book ratings & rankings

I have been thinking that I need to come up with some sort of a rating system for the books I review. Saying I enjoyed it or I recommend it can mean the same for a book that I just liked or one that I loved and you HAVE to read, depending on how I say it, ya know? And there are differences too between what is a light, 'beach' read or a wonderful, made-me-think but in a good way book. I'm rambling here, but I think (at least I hope) I'm making some sense. LOL

So I've been doing some research (read: surfing the internet!) and trying to see what others use to rate books, hoping that will help me come up with what makes sense for me. One item that I think should be included is whether I lose myself in the book or if I'm thinking about how I'll review it the whole way through. A couple of times in the past weeks, I've wondered what I would say about the book on this blog versus just enjoying the book. To me, that says that the book didn't draw me in enough, even if I liked it overall. I've seen numbering systems (1-5, 1-10, even 1-100!), I've seen ones where different aspects of the books are discussed (no dry spots, made me think, laughed out loud).

So, I think I am going to do a combination of a numbering system and also have questions that I have to answer in my review. Hopefully this will help me categorize the book better, write better reviews, and help you decide whether you want to add this book to your 'TBR' list.

The numbering system will be 1-5 to match my library. It's also a take-off of Amazon's rating system.
1 - Did not like it at all.
2 - Not good.
3 - It's ok, I liked it.
4 - I really liked it.
5 - LOVED it! Top read!

But I want to also answer the following questions in my review:
- Are the characters real/believable, including the supporting characters?
- Did I lose myself into the book?
- Did I feel the emotion the author was going for (laughed, cried, worried, etc) or did I just think something like - "I see where I was supposed to think that was funny".
- Do I want to read the next bit of the story, the next in the series or what happened to the characters next, even if there is no sequel?

I'd love some feedback if this is enough, too much, dorky, etc. I assume the list and my ability to write a good review will evolve (improve) over time, but wanted to share where I am starting.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Clean Sweep - Part One

I am not a pack rat, but I live with two, my husband and my daughter. Each year when spring arrives, I'll start feeling claustrophobic with all of our stuff everywhere (cause, of course, I am also not much of a house cleaner - read: lazy). So I'll organize, gather items for garage sale or goodwill, and de-clutter parts of the house. I normally do an area or piece of furniture but never a whole room. But I was inspired by the show Clean Sweep on TLC, even though I have only seen it a few times.

My daughter has not met a piece of paper, a magazine, a stuffed animal that she didn't have to have. Each year we go through her room and get rid of bags of trash (old school papers, newspapers, toys she doesn't have all the part for) and bags for goodwill. But this year, my annual sit-down in her room was too overwhelming. Her stuff had grown out of control! On Thursday I grabbed a big bin and a laundry basket and had her bring ALL of her stuff (except her clothes) down to me in the garage. It took over 2 hours for her to empty her closet, 2 bookshelves, a desk and all the stuff she had in piles around her room. I wish I had a picture of the "before" because it was such a sight, but I think I was too embarrassed and overwhelmed to even attempt a picture. LOL

Here are a few pictures to showcase the work we have embarked on.
The beginning
My daughter's things encompass the entire ping pong table, the stand next to it, the card table behind it, and the pile of stuffed animals and bags underneath the card table.
Stuffed animals and bags IMG_3213

Since Thursday, I have had to stop my husband from 'shopping' the ping-pong table. Sample conversation:
DH: "Ooo, we can't get rid of's one of my favorites!"
Me: "She chooses what goes back in her room and it will be no more than 1/4 of this stuff."
DH: "That's okay, I'll put this downstairs with my stuff."

Her room is clean now. It's so amazing to walk into there and not be bombarded or feel claustrophobic. I'll go quickly through her clothes in the closet before taking things back up. My plan is to have a friend come over early next week to be a mediator between my daughter and I as we filter through her things. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Review: The Making of Isaac Hunt by Linda Leigh Hargrove

The Making of Isaac Hunt is Linda Leigh Hargrove's first novel. Isaac Hunt is a light-skinned black man with blue eyes. His father is a judge and his mother a councilwoman in Raleigh, NC. He's just graduated from NC State and NASA wants to hire him. He's got everything going for him. But when he's visiting his grandfather in the Alzheimer ward at the nursing home, his world is rocked. His grandfather told Isaac that he was not who he was told all his life. This book follows Isaac as he learns about his past, who he was, why the secrecy, and explores who he will be today.

I enjoyed this story. It has intrigue, mystery, a bit of suspense, and interesting characters. I think some of the characters could have been explored a bit more and it would have added to the overall story. But I recommend this book and am looking forward to reading Ms. Hargrove's second novel coming out this fall.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Reading habits: The Re-Read

I have a confession to make! In all my years of reading, I have only re-read books from two series: Harry Potter and the Left Behind series. No other book has ever been (knowingly) in my hands to read more than once. I see no reason to read books again (the ones in the series were just to remember where we are in the story.) There are so many books out there to read, why would I spend my time reading one where I know the characters, I know what's going to happen to them, and it's not really a mystery? Now I hear you (at least I hope the voices in my head is you all and not...but I digress) saying that with my book memory, there's no way I'd remember the outcome, the characters, the mystery. But I do, at least somewhat. Before I was good at keeping track of what I read (yeah, Library Thing!), at least a couple of times a year I would pick up a book, start reading and this all sounds very familiar. And I would wonder through the first 100 pages or so why it felt all 'deja vu'-ish. I would then decide that I had read it before, check the end to be sure and be mad that I had wasted that time. And I hadn't even enjoyed the part I did read because I kept having those nagging thoughts running through my head. Usually this was also the inspiration to start a book journal - a January through September excel file was my longest one before finding Library Thing.

So, tell me! How do you enjoy reading a book that you've already read? Do you re-read your favorite books or are there just a few that are good to read again? When do you re-read - holidays, summer, etc? Maybe I'm missing out!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Random ramblings

IMG_2580auto I have been playing with pictures tonight. Two weekends ago we were at my mom's for my cousin's graduation party. My beautiful daughter wore, for the first time, the dress dh and I bought for her in Hawaii in March. She looked all 'growed' up to me! I can't believe how old she is, how much fun she is, what an attitude she can give! LOL I enjoy my girl!

Then I was looking through the videos and pictures I took tonight at the kid's practice for HSM. They look good! We get to take more pictures tomorrow night at the final dress rehearsal and then four performances this weekend. Will be fun to see the play the whole way through - it's got some different parts than the movie.

IMG_2644bwAnd I was playing with other pictures I took of my cute niece and her parents. She's a pointer - pointing out everything to us as we walked through a park. I wish I would have remembered to use a flash because the sun shining through the trees made some of the pictures kind of splotchy. But! There's quite a few good ones. This is one of my favorites - not a face shot but a curious girl! Plus, the best part of the day was that she chattered away at us! We live three hours away and don't see her as much as I'd like and I was nervous she'd be 'scared' of us like my kids were with 'strangers' at her age. So it was such a treat!

Just wanted to share what I've been working on tonight. I've been reading a new author the last few days too: The Making of Isaac Hunt by Linda Leigh Hargrove. It's her first novel and I'm enjoying it so far. I'll be sure to review it in a few days when I'm done.

Don't forget to sign up here for my giveaway! Last day to sign up is next Thursday, 7/17!

Review: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

I got the idea to read E. Lockhart's book The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by reading reading Lenore's review on Presenting Lenore. It's geared toward YA but I absolutely loved it!

Frankie is a high school sophomore at a boarding school. Over the course of the past summer, she went from an invisible stick girl to a 'curves in the right places' girl. So, naturally, one of the senior popular fellows notices her and they start going out. But Frankie feels like she's not really 'in' his crowd and that he never wants to be part of her world. And he's got some mysterious things he does with some of the other guys. Frankie sets off to find out what that's all about and ends up with a 'disreputable history'.

I felt like Ms. Lockhart captured the different 'types' of teens and the group dynamics that play out in high school really well (at least from what I can remember!). I loved Frankie - she is independent but desires to be loved, she talks to herself (LOL), and she's got a fierce intelligence.

It's a quick read, but a great one that you don't want to miss!

Review: Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

The latest in the Stephanie Plum series, Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich is an improvement over the last few in the series. I laughed, I enjoyed what I read, and it was a quick read. It wasn't as good as the first 6-8 in the series, unfortunately, but closer. Those were wonderful, made me laugh out loud throughout the book, and had great mysteries. Maybe I have too high expectations? In any event, I did like this one and do recommend reading it.

I'm not giving a basis of the book because if you have read the others, you know whether you want to read it or not. And if you haven't read the other, you have to start with the first one, One for the Money, and go through the series in order.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Review: Mistaken Identity by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak

My good friend Jill recommended I read Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak.

Everyone remembers the story - a horrific crash where 5 students and staff from Taylor University were killed and one woman survives. And then 5 weeks later, it was found out that the woman everyone thought had survived was a different woman. The family that thought they were taking care of their daughter and sister found out that their daughter and sister was actually already buried under someone else's name. And the family who thought they had buried their loved one found out that she was still alive. What an amazing story, right?

The amazing story is not the mistaken identity but the faith both of these families have throughout this ordeal. Each family looked to God for strength and the ability to get through the next 'thing'. I can't really explain how much their faith affected me. It's not remarkable in that it's unreal. In fact, it felt very real. Maybe it was knowing the 'outcome' as I read through their grief, their worries, the love they felt and the need to praise God even through their pain.

This book is not what I would call a 'gawker' story. It's not sensationalized. It's a book that tells the story of a terrible tragedy. It tells of two families, their amazing connection, and two beautiful young ladies who were loved and loved God.

Please read this book. You won't be disappointed.

Happy Birthday to my husband!

He's 39 today! Happy Birthday Honey!

Tuesday Thingers: Summer Plans

Today's question from Marie at The Boston Bibliophile:

Since we're past the Fourth of July and the summer season has officially started, what are your plans for the summer? Vacations, trips? Trips that involve reading? Reading plans? If you're going somewhere, do you do any reading to prepare? Do you read local literature as part of your trip? Have you thought about using the LT Local feature to help plan your book-buying?

Sadly, the summer is half over for us. The kids go back to school in the middle of August and so we are on the back end of summer. We've had a good summer so far, with our vacation to Capon Springs, been swimming a bunch, played sports, some camps and had fun together. We have a few things lined up for the rest of the summer. The kids are in our community's production of High School Musical this weekend. That will be very fun (and will be glad that rehearsals are over). The kids and I will be going with my family to some cabins in Mohican for a week. There's usually quite a bit of morning and 'hot afternoon' reading that goes on during those weeks. Nothing that takes reading ahead. Although my son will be playing football for the first time this fall so we got some basic football books yesterday at the library that we'll be reading together. For the rest of the summer, we hope to spend alot more time in the pool and with friends. Great question, Marie! Everyone - be sure to go check out what other folks are doing this summer - maybe you'll get inspired!

And don't forget about my giveaway - comment here by 7/17!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Review: Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

The book jacket for Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult begins:
"Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love? Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy's dying wish?"

June Nealon has suffered the most horrific tragedy - her husband and daughter were murdered by a man she hired to work on her house. At the time she was 8 months pregnant with another daughter. The book begins with a little information about the trial and how the jury decided the killer's fate. Shay Bourne is that killer.

The story then jumps eleven years ahead. June is faced with another tragedy - her 11 year old daughter, Clare, needs a new heart. Shay is on death row and believes he should give his heart to Clare. Father Michael is a priest called in to be Shay's spiritual advisor. However, before he was Father Michael, he was a young college student on the jury that convicted Shay and sentenced him to death. Add into the mix some strange occurrences that happen with Shay, an ACLU lawyer who has issues of her own, another inmate and you have a very intriguing book.

I've been a fan of Jodi Picoult for a number of years, loving some of her books and just liking others. This one I think falls in the middle. It's written from multiple points of view, with clear changes between the narrators by chapter titles and fonts. The font changes actually helped me to get a feel for each character as if the font was representative of their personality.

The story got more interesting and intriguing as it went on. Ms. Picoult included various characters that could have been just given a stereotypical face because they didn't carry the plot, but instead she gave them depth and a glimpse into the differences between what you think about someone versus who they really are. This book will make you think while giving you a good story.

Book Giveaway - My first one!

I've fallen in love with reviewing books about to be published or just recently published and have gotten quite a few in lately. As a result I am running out of room on my book shelves. So, I am going to have my first giveaway! I'm so excited!

I will be giving away the three books I received as an Early Reviewer on Library Thing (if you aren't signed up for that program, I suggest you get on it!). These books (with the links to my reviews) are:
Takeover by Lisa Black (available 8/12)
Home Girl by Judith Matloff (released on 6/24)
No One You Know by Michelle Redmond (released on 6/24).

If you would like to sign up for the giveaway, all you have to do it comment on this post. Please let me know which book you would like to receive. If you blog about this giveaway (with a link back to this post), you'll get 5 bonus entries. Last day to enter is 7/17/08 - it's a quick one but I'm ready for more space! This contest is open to citizens of the United States and Canada only.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

July Book Blowout Challenge

Book Blowout Mrs. S at Blue Archipelago is hosting a July Book Blowout Challenge. Anyone can join. Here's what she says:

Have you acquired a nice pile of books to read this summer? Do you need some encouragement to get through the pile a bit quicker? Or just an excuse to sit out in the sunshine and escape with a good book?

If so go to my blog - this July I’m hosting my very first Book Blowout. The rules are simple - read as many books as you can between July 1 and 31 - and then by August 7 post a list of all of the books you read on your blog. Reviews are not required to take part.

What rules do I need to know?
Only books read between July 1 and July 31 count towards the challenge
You can include re-reads - as long as they are read within the month of July
Books you abandon will only count as half a book
If you read to your children you can include all books which have more than 100 pages
You can include up to two graphic novels
You can include up to two audio books - (if you have a visual impairment that prevents you from reading then you can use just audio books for the challenge)
Books you read for other challenges are eligible - use this as an opportunity to catch up!
If you start a book before July 1 and then finish it during the month of July then you can count is as half a book
I’ll try and keep things lively by posting some Book Blowout mini-challenges along the way so be sure to stop by throughout the month and see what’s happening (or better still subscribe to my site feed - it’s free and easy!)

As an added incentive I’ll put the names of all of the entrants who complete the challenge into the proverbial hat and one winner will receive an Amazon gift voucher to the value of $20 (£10).

So what are you waiting for?

I plan to read at least 10 books. That will be more than my average and keep me well on my way to read over 100 books in the year. I'd love to smash that goal! Sign up with Mrs. S now and join me in the challenge. Let me know if you join by commenting here too so we can compare notes.


Let's talk numbers for a minute.
- Today is July 6, 2008. It is the 188th day of the year 2008.
- This is my 50th post on this blog!
- I started the blog on May 20th (141st day).
- That makes today the 47th day of my blog!
- And 1.06 posts per day.
- I have read 54 books so far in 2008.
- Gives me 3.48 days per book.
- This is the 50th post.
- I want to read at least 100 books this year (95 in 2007).
- There are 178 days left in 2008.
- At my average, that calculates to 50.8 more books. That'll do it!
Thanks for talking numbers with me. And did I mention this is my 50th post?

Review: Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter

The latest in the series, Beyond Reach is the best of the Sara Linton/Jeffrey Tolliver series by Karin Slaughter. It starts out with Sara emotionally drained and devastated by a malpractice suit brought on by the parents of a child who died after a long illness. She is not her usual confident, sparky, in-control self and is questioning almost everything. Jeffrey gets a call that Lena, his spiraling downward detective, has been arrested. She was found in the stands at the football field, with her foot on a gas can, watching a car burn with a dead body in it. Since she has closed her practice, Jeffrey takes Sara along to Lena's hometown to figure out what's going on with his detective.

The book jumps back and forth between two weeks of time. Lena gets a call that her uncle has gotten himself into trouble with drugs again and goes to her hometown to find out what's going on. Alternate that week with a week later when Jeffrey and Sara come to town after Lena is arrested.

It was extremely well-written and the time jumping made for a very intense and suspenseful read. I kept trying to figure out how what Lena did affected what Sara and Jefrey were finding. Who is involved with this mess Lena has gotten herself into? Where is her uncle? Is Ethan Green, Lena's abusive ex-boyfriend, calling the shots from prison? Will Sara overcome the depression and the lawsuit and get her confidence back? Will the newly remarried couple be able to weather all these issues they are facing?

I highly recommend this series and especially this latest book. See my earlier review of this series for a listing of the series in order and get started on it.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Happy Fourth of July! We got to see some fireworks last night and I tried to capture some on the camera. Here's a few to share. Enjoy your weekend!





Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Interested in winning lots of books?

Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading? is having a tremendous giveway! You can win 14 books! Yes, you read that right - 14 just for you! You don't have to do anything fancy, sign up for mail, nothing. Just leave a comment on this post and you are entered. Do it! What do you have to lose? Nothing! What can you win? 14 books!

Tuesday Thingers - Top 100 at Library Thing

In today's adventure of Tuesday Thingers, Marie at The Boston Bibliophile says:

Since some of us in America may be busy or traveling this holiday week, I thought I would keep things simple for Tuesday Thingers. Think of this as "Popularity of Books on LT, Part Three".

Here is the Top 100 Most Popular Books on LibraryThing. Bold what you own, italicize what you've read. Star what you liked. Star multiple times what you loved!

I hope all the American participants have a great Fourth of July weekend!

1. Harry Potter and the sorcerer's stone by J.K. Rowling (32,484)***
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) by J.K. Rowling (29,939)***
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) by J.K. Rowling (28,728)***
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) by J.K. Rowling (27,926)***
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Book 3) by J.K. Rowling (27,643)***
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J.K. Rowling (27,641)***

7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (23,266)**
8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (21,325)
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) by J.K. Rowling (20,485)***
10. 1984 by George Orwell (19,735)
11. Pride and Prejudice (Bantam Classics) by Jane Austen (19,583)
12. The catcher in the rye by J.D. Salinger (19,082)
13. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (17,586)
14. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (16,210)*
15. The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (15,483)
16. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (14,566)***
17. Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics) by Charlotte Bronte (14,449)
18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (13,946)*
19. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (13,272)
20. Animal Farm by George Orwell (13,091) *
21. Angels & demons by Dan Brown (13,089) *
22. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (13,005)
23. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (12,777)
24. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Oprah's Book Club) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (12,634)
25. The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, Part 1) by J.R.R. Tolkien (12,276)
26. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (12,147)
27. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (11,976) **
28. The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, Part 2) by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,512)
29. The Odyssey by Homer (11,483)
30. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (11,392)
31. Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonnegut (11,360)
32. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (11,257)
33. The return of the king : being the third part of The lord of the rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (11,082)
34. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (10,979)
35. American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (10,823)
36. The chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (10,603)
37. The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams (10,537) 38. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (10,435)
39. The lovely bones : a novel by Alice Sebold (10,125) ***
40. Ender's Game (Ender, Book 1) by Orson Scott Card (10,092)
41. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1) by Philip Pullman (9,827)
42. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman (9,745)
43. Dune by Frank Herbert (9,671)
44. Emma by Jane Austen (9,610)
45. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (9,598)
46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classics) by Mark Twain (9,593) **
47. Anna Karenina (Oprah's Book Club) by Leo Tolstoy (9,433)
48. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (9,413)
49. Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (9,343)
50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (9,336)
51. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (9,274)
52. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (9,246)
53. The Iliad by Homer (9,153)
54. The Stranger by Albert Camus (9,084)
55. Sense and Sensibility (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (9,080)
56. Great Expectations (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (9,027)
57. The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (8,960)
58. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (8,904)
59. Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (8,813)
60. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery - (8,764)
61. The lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (8,421)
62. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle (8,417)
63. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (8,368)
64. The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition) by John Steinbeck (8,255) ***
65. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (8,214)
66. The Name of the Rose: including Postscript to the Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (8,191)
67. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (8,169) **
68. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (8,129) **

69. The complete works by William Shakespeare (8,096)
70. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (7,843)
71. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (7,834)
72. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Barbara Kingsolver (7,829)
73. Hamlet (Folger Shakespeare Library) by William Shakespeare (7,808)
74. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) by John Steinbeck (7,807)
75. A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (7,793)
76. The Alchemist (Plus) by Paulo Coelho (7,710)
77. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (7,648)
78. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (Barnes & Noble Classics) by Oscar Wilde (7,598)
79. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by William Strunk (7,569)
80. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7,557)
81. The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman (7,534)
82. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (7,530)
83. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (7,512)
84. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (7,436) ***
85. Dracula by Bram Stoker (7,238)
86. Heart of Darkness (Dover Thrift Editions) by Joseph Conrad (7,153)
87. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (7,055)
88. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (7,052)
89. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman (7,043)
90. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Penguin Classics) by James Joyce (6,933)
91. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel (Perennial Classics) by Milan Kundera (6,901)
92. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (6,899)
93. Neuromancer by William Gibson (6,890)
94. The Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics) by Geoffrey Chaucer (6,868)
95. Persuasion (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen (6,862)
96. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (6,841)
97. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (6,794)
98. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt (6,715)
99. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (6,708)
100. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (6,697)