Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Dear I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young - ARC Review

I received a free copy of My Dear I Wanted To Tell You by Louisa Young through Amazon's Vine program.

Young's story revolves around four main characters, Nadine and Riley, a young couple in love and Peter and Julia, a young married couple. The setting is during WWI England/France and the main focus of the story seems to be about how the war impacts them individually and their relationships as well.


I wanted to like this story. WWI and WWII Fiction is a genre I truly enjoy.  However, I had a hard time with the book from the beginning. It was convoluted, as though the author wasn't too sure of where she was going with the story. The characters had great potential, but were not as well developed as they could have been. Therefore, I felt like I was missing something through much of the book. Often the story did not flow smoothly.


One positive aspect of the book is that I did like the story concept. Even though I felt the author did not fully develop the characters, I did find myself caring about them and wanting to know what happened to them. This could be an excellent book with a little more polish.

However, since there are so many well written novels in this genre, this is not one that I would recommend to a reader looking for a new read.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - March 26th

Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme hosted by Alyce, from At Home With Books.  All we have to do is post a favorite photo we've snapped, or one captured by family or friends. (No internet poaching.)




I've been wanting to visit the Cadet Chapel for quite some time. We've lived in Colorado Springs for almost five years and finally, today, we made it out to the Chapel.  We were actually headed for a long hike, but took time out to visit and photograph the Chapel. It's quite beautiful.

Pikes Peak Library District - Mountain of Authors

Pikes Peak Library District will host the 5th Annual Mountain of Authors on Saturday, April 2nd at East Library.  The keynote speaker is Jerry B. Jenkins, author of  the Left Behind series.   For more information and a list of authors who will be attending click here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Triple ARC Giveaway over at Musings + Teen Librarian

::Musings + Teen Librarian::: Triple ARC Giveaway!: "Hi everyone! This morning I was on the local news station’s morning show and got to talk about why reading is important for teens, popular t..."

Check out this great chance to win some teen ARCs and while you are it, check out the blog as well. If you enjoy young adult/teen books, you'll want to follow this blog.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I Am J by Cris Beam - ARC Review

I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of I am J by Cris Beam. I did not receive any compensation for my review.

Summary:  "Hola, Jeni."

J spun. His stomach clenched hard, as though he'd been hit. It was just the neighbor lady, Mercedes. J couldn't muster a hello back, not now; he didn't care that she'd tell his mom he'd been rude. She should know better. Nobody calls me Jeni anymore.
J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible - from his family, from his friends...from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

I Am J  is a very intense and engaging read about a bi-racial teen's gender transition. Beam's story provides great insight to life a transgender teen. This is an issue that prior to reading this book I did not know much about.  Fortunately, as well as writing an engaging story, Beam also takes the time to explain the issues.

However, I was puzzled about why J, who has known since a small child that he is a boy born with girl parts, waited until he was 18 to seek support.  All in all I found this to be well written, with well developed characters.  Though the main story deals with J's life as a transgender teen, it also covers all the usual challenges of just being a teen - including difficulty getting a long with parents.  J's parents are not very likable. Not only do they not understand J, they seem incapable of giving him any support. Perhaps this lends to the authenticity of the story, as teens are often misunderstood by their parents.  

This is a good read for not only teens but parents as well. Not only is it entertaining, but it provides some valuable insight as well.

Click here for more information on the author.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

GoodReads Summary:

"In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls... You learn too much. And you learn to move quietly through your own small domain. You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games turned up too high, and, best of all, no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw them down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring, Saturday morning cartoons screech, but without the men, there is a sense of muted silence, a sense of muted life.

There is an army of women waiting for their men to return in Fort Hood, Texas. Through a series of loosely interconnected stories, Siobhan Fallon takes readers onto the base, inside the homes, into the marriages and families-intimate places not seen in newspaper articles or politicians' speeches.

When you leave Fort Hood, the sign above the gate warns, You've Survived the War, Now Survive the Homecoming. It is eerily prescient."


This was a hard book for me to read. 

I was drawn to this book, in hopes that it would not be a political condemnation of the military. It wasn't.
  
The stories were emotionally engaging and very well written. I really wanted to like this book, and deep down a part of me did.

However, as a military wife, I'm tired of stories that only show the down side of military life. That is not to say that I only want to read Pollyanna like stories were all is well and everyone gets a long.  I just want to see a more balanced story.  Perhaps I should just right my own.

What I do like about this book is that while the stories do not necessarily show the  life of an Army wife in the most positive light, they are realistic.  Having gone through a number of  times "when the men are gone", I have seen many situations like those described in the stories.


If you are looking for a political statement on the military or the war, this is not the book for you.  If you are looking a feel good book about military life, this is not the book for you.  If, however, you are looking for a well written, emotionally engaging glimpse into just some of the challenges our military families face, then you should read this book.


As I said this was  hard book for me to read. I'm glad I did and I've even added it to my wish list.  However, I'm not sure I will recommend it to my fellow Army wives.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - March 22

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

~Grab your current read
~Open to a random page
~Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
~~~BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
~Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 



I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (e-book)


I think they are planning to kill the humans. I think they want to make Earth their permanent home.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Snapshot - March 19th

Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme hosted by Alyce, from At Home With Books.  All we have to do is post a favorite photo we've snapped, or one captured by family or friends. (No internet poaching.)


I have a couple of metal buckets that I keep for photo shoots and for icing down drinks when we have BBQs. For some reason our cat, Olivia, is fascinated with crawling inside the buckets. Usually, by the time I grab my camera, she's noticed me and jumps out. Finally, earlier this week, I managed to snap a photo before she jumped out.

Book Beginnings on Friday (a day late) March 19

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. This weekly meme is hosted by  A Few More Pages every Friday.  Check out their blog for a list of other book beginnings.




You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon


"In Fort Hood housing, like all army housing, you get used to hearing through the walls.  You learn your neighbor's routines: when and if they gargle and brush their teeth; how often they go to the bathroom or shower; whether they snore or cry themselves to sleep.  You learn too much.  And you learn to move quietly through your own domain.


     You also know when the men are gone. No more boots stomping above, no more football games urned up to high, and, best of all no more front doors slamming before dawn as they trudge out for their early formation, sneakers on metal stairs, cars starting, shouts to the windows above to throw down their gloves on cold desert mornings. Babies still cry, telephones ring. Saturday morning cartoons screech, but with the men, there is a sense of muted silences, a sense of muted life."




The title of this book is what caught my attention.  The first few pages are what made me sure I wanted to read it.  As an Army Wife, one previously stationed at Ft. Hood, I'm interested to see where Fallon will take this story.

Friday, March 18, 2011

B.O.O.B.S - A Book Review

B.O.O.B.S A Bunch of Outrageous Breast-Cancer Survivors Tell Their Stories of Courage, Hope, and Healing compiled & edited by Ann Kempner Fisher

Summary:

They are not just statistics or case studies, nor are they "genetic mishaps." They are everyday modern women struggling to survive breast cancer. They share the same diagnosis but are a crazy-quilt of many patterns and colors, with ages spanning twenty-five years. Some of them are wives and mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers; some are single, some are divorced. They have different religious backgrounds, different occupations, different lifestyles, different values, and different treatments. But despite their differences, they all areB.O.O.B.S.
B.O.O.B.S. shares the personal experiences of ten courageous women—from shocking diagnosis to surgery and beyond—and the effect breast cancer has had on them and on the people in their lives. Brought together by the Wellness Community, a program offering cost-free psychological support to cancer patients and their loved ones, the ten women in this book strongly believe in the healing power of group therapy and peer sharing. Some of them have even become patient advocates and spokeswomen in a quest to make a difference in the lives of other women coping with breast cancer, a disease that strikes more than 200,000 women every year in the United States.

Written with insight, humor, raw emotion, and honesty, B.O.O.B.S. offers hope to women facing breast cancer. It also offers families and friends insights into what their loved ones are going through.

I found this book very helpful. I am currently going through treatment for breast cancer. I found the stories to be informative and encouraging. They don't sugar coat their experiences. They are honest about the ups and the downs. It was helpful to me to hear the war stories of a group of survivors.

However, if you are looking for survivor stories because you are currently going through treatment or know someone who is there are few things to consider before reading this book.

This is not a book about young women diagnosed with breast cancer.  The youngest age at diagnoses is 45.  The majority of these women have a particular type of breast cancer: ductal carcinoma. Many, perhaps all of them, are involved with one particular support group: The Wellness Community.  If you are looking for stories/experiences that fit certain parameters, this might not be the book for  you. 

However, the stories are poignant. Regardless of the type of cancer, some of the challenges, fears and frustrations are the same.  If you are looking for stories of courage, told with honesty and humor then this is a good read for you.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Exlixer by Hilary Duff

Elixer by Hilary Duff

Summary: Clea Raymond has felt the glare of the spotlight her entire life. The daughter of a renowned surgeon and a prominent Washington DC politician, she has grown to be a talented photojournalist who takes refuge in a career that allows her to travel to the most exotic parts of the world. But after Clea’s father disappears while on a humanitarian mission, Clea’s photos begin to feature eerie, shadowy images of a strange and beautiful man—a man she has never seen before.

When fate brings Clea and this man together, she is stunned by the immediate and powerful connection she feels with him. As they grow closer, they are drawn deep into the mystery behind her father’s disappearance, and they discover the centuries old truth behind their intense bond. Torn by a dangerous love triangle and haunted by a powerful secret that holds their fates, together they race against time to unravel their pasts in order to save their lives—and their futures.


First, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, I picked up because it was co-written by Hilary Duff and I was curious to see if she could write.  But I didn't let that influence me while reading the book. Unfortunately, it seems a number of reviewers who have read this book could not get past the mind set that "oh great another teen celebrity is looking for more attention and more money." Some of the reviews I've read seemed more intent on being downright hateful instead of trying to write a good review. Perhaps they are jealous.


Is this book a great work of literature? No. It's not going to be on the classic reading lists with To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, or The Great Gatsby. Is it entertaining? Yes. Is is formulaic (a typical paranormal romance)? Yes. Will young adults enjoy reading it? I believe so, especially if they concentrate on it the story and not its famous author.


I found the story to be well plotted and the characters well developed, though there is still room for growth in each of them. And there are still many unanswered questions - mainly where is Clea's dad. I suspect that this is the first book in a series.  Often the first book in the series leaves the reader a little unsatisfied as the author does not want to reveal everything in the first book.


Some reviews have questioned the plausibility of Clea being so famous. Who cares about a senator's daughter? Why would the Japanese even know who she is?  How many times have the Kennedy children been tabloid fodder? As for how the Japanese knew who Clea was - the author stated that Clea's and Ben's picture was being flashed on the big screen in the square.  They might not have known who she was, but it is not out of the realm of probability for them to notice her in person when her likeness is being flashed all around them and respond accordingly.


Another review complained that Clea falls to quickly for Sage and that's she's too mushy about him.  Isn't falling quickly a staple in romances involving a soul mate? And isn't one or both of the soul mates generally mushy about it?


I'm not really sure why the bad reviews I read about this book have rankled me so. I guess if I thought they were actually critiquing the writing and not just expressing jealousy over a celebrity, then I might think their reviews had more validity. If you don't like a story, that's fine, but there's no need to get nasty and bash the author in the process.


Will I recommend this book to my teen readers that enjoy paranormal romances? Yes. If there's another book will I read it? Certainly.  


If you'd read this book, I'd love to know what you think.


My Goodreads/Shelfari/Librarything rating for this book: 4 of 5.

Hooked to Books: The Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop is hosted by I A...

Check out this Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway over at Hooked to Books!


Hooked to Books: The Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop is hosted by I A...: "The Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Books Complete Me! I'm going to do two giveaways here on Hook..."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

WWW Wednesdays March 16th





To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?


What Are You Currently Reading?

B.O.O.B.S. A Bunch of Outrageous Breast Cancer Survivors Tell Their Stories of Courage, Hope and Healing compiled and edited by Ann Kempner Fisher

















I am Jay by Cris Beam



















Elixer by Hilary Duff
















What Did You Recently Finish Reading?

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

What Do You Think You'll Read Next?

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnely

Summary:
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break. 

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape. 

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present. 


This is a wonderful genre crossing/switching story. (Starts out as contemporary fiction, slides into historical fiction with a hint at fantasy - time travel.)  I was engrossed with Andi and Alexandrine's stories from the first words.  Andi is a tortured and musically gifted teen.  Alexandrine is a self serving commoner who finds someone other than herself to care about.


Andi's guilt over the death of her brother is palpable.  This was an audio read for me. And the book's reader may have had something to do with the impact this book had on me, but I truly believe much of the credit goes to the author. She captured the struggles of both girls perfectly.  She has created a compelling story that absolutely grabs the author by the throat and doesn't let go until the end.  I have never been that interested in the French Revolution, but after listening to Revolution, I found myself wanting to hit the history books and learn more.


Donnelly's Revolution has received several literary accolades and they are well deserved.    


A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2010), Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Honor (2011),Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2010),YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), ALA's Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2011)



This is one of those rare books that young adults SHOULD read and if they do will enjoy.   


Teaser Tuesdays - March 15th

From Elixer by Hilary Duff

pg.  52

"Then I opened up the tenth photo and screamed out loud.

It was my darkened closet . . . with the man inside the door."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Summary:  Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love -- the deliria -- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. 

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

I was going to post a review of this book, but now I'm thinking I might wait. I had heard great things about this book. It's a young adult dystopian novel with an interesting concept - the kind of book that I generally enjoy.  But, I had a hard time getting into this book.  I think part of the problem is that the book was due back at the library last week (I turned in late - my apologies to the next person on the list) and I felt rushed in reading it.  So I don't really feel as though I can give it an honest review. The book is haunting me.  It's telling me "you didn't give this book your full attention, yet you are already wondering when the next book is going to be out - you're hooked on the story - you know you are!"  (Yes, books speak to me, don't they speak to you?)

Because I have given up checking out books for pleasure during Lent (it's a self defense move - an effort to get through all the books I already have checked out from the library - and give others a shot at those I just can't get to right now) I rushed the reading of this book because I knew I couldn't put it back on hold until after Lent. But that's just what I'm going to do -  get back on the list - maybe it will be my first summer break read - when I can take a deep breath and give it my full attention.

Have you ever rushed/skimmed through a book and later regret that you didn't give it your full attention? Did you go back later and re-read it?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

400 Miles in 2011 Fitness Challenge

March 13th

I signed up for this challenge, but have not been able to do much with it since I've been recovering from two surgeries related to breast cancer. I have done some walking and some exercise, but I've yet to record my information on the host blog or here.  As my strength has been returning I decided I better record my efforts before I forget.  

For information on the challenge click here.

January 21 - 1.01 miles
January 25 - 1.11 miles
February 27 -  1.67 miles
March 5th - 2.5 miles
March 6th - 2.51 miles
March 9th - 2 miles
March 10th - 2 miles


Total as of March 12th -  12.81 miles. Not very impressive so far, but it will get better. I'm participating in the June Avon Rocky Mountain Walk for the Cure, the Colorado Springs and Denver sSusan G. Koman Walks for the  Cure and I plan to hike up Pikes Peak in August.

I'll be recording my miles on the 400 Miles in 2011 Fitness page of this blog.

Saturday Snapshot (a day late) - March 13th


Saturday Snapshot is a weekly meme hosted by Alyce, from At Home With Books.  All we have to do is post a favorite photo we've snapped, or one captured by family or friends. (No internet poaching.)

I'm a day late in posting my Saturday Snapshot, but I was busy yesterday on an actual photo shoot.

Here's one of the photos:


It's good to start them reading early.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Beginnings on Friday - March 11th

How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you feel so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. This weekly meme is hosted by  A Few More Pages every Friday.  Check out their blog for a list of other book beginnings.


Delirium by Lauren Oliver

It has been sixty-four years since the president and the Consortium identified love as a disease, and forty three since the scientists perfected a cure.  Everyone else in my family has had the procedure already.

A great beginning - rather spooky.

A Chance to Win 5 Wonderful Books



This is a great giveaway. Hop on over to Beth's blog and check it out.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

WWW Wednesdays - March 9th

Hosted by Should Be Reading

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?
 






What Are You Currently Reading?
Delirium by Lauren Oliver











B.O.O.B.S. A Bunch of Outrageous Breast Cancer Survivors Tell Their Stories of Courage, Hope and Healing compiled and edited by Ann Kempner Fisher

















I am Jay by Cris Beam


















What Did You Finish Reading Recently?

A Deadly Cliche Ellery Adams  and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver











What Do You Think You'll Read Next?
Elixer by Hilary Duff

Me: A to Z


Me...A-Z
I saw this posted on Book Fitness and Other Things and thought it would be fun.

A. Age: 46

B. Bed size: King

C. Chore you dislike: Cleaning House

D. Dogs: two Miniature Schnauzers

E. Essential start to your day: coffee and a morning walk

F. Favorite color: Pink (these days, used to be Engineer Red and before that Hunter Green)

G. Gold or silver: Gold

H. Height: 5' 2" (on a good day)

I. Instruments you play(ed): flute (very badly)

J. Job title: librarian/photographer

K. Kids: 2 boys (three if you count my husband)

L. Live: Colorado

M. Mom’s name: Kathryn

N. Nicknames: Red

O. Overnight hospital stays: Twice for having babies and once for the removal of my gall bladder

P. Pet peeves: People who don’t think school librarians are teachers, too.

Q. Quote from a movie: I think it only fair to warn you, I am in fact a librarian. (From one of Noah Wylie’s Librarian movies. I can’t remember which one.)

R. Righty or lefty: Righty

S. Siblings: One younger ½ sister (but I consider my younger cousins my brother and sister)

T. Time you wake up: Several times during the night, but I usually get up around 5.

U. Underwear: cotton

V. Vegetables you don’t like: lima/butter beans

W.What makes you run late: getting caught up in other things

X. X-rays you’ve had: Several if you count all the mammograms I’ve had since November.

Y. Yummy food you make: Turtle Cake

Ash Wednesday

It's Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Though my husband is Catholic, I'm not, but I aways give up something for Lent.  I try to pick something that has meaning for me.  Otherwise, what's the point? I once worked for an attorney who each year for Lent gave up watermelon. He hated watermelon.

Some years I've given up sweets, chocolate, fast food - last year I gave up buying books for myself. That was hard as one of my favorite children's authors did a book signing right in the middle of Lent.

This year I am giving up checking out books from the library, unless it's job related.  I often check out books from the public library to supplement the small collection at my school or  for teachers who need a particular book that our library doesn't own.  I'm also in the process of starting up a photography business, so I'm allowing myself to check out books related to that.  But, all those wonderful mysteries, young adult and fantasy novels that I can't resist will have to wait until after Lent.

I patronize two library systems.  My local library doesn't allow you to suspend your holds, so I had to delete them all.  The library system just down the road in another town, does allow you to suspend your holds, so I've suspended them all until just a few days before Easter.  This will allow the books to go to others, but once the suspension date has passed, I will go back on the list in the spot I was when I suspended them.

I'm hoping this will allow me to read all the books I already have checked out. (I can't help it. Every time I see a book I want to read, I don't just put it on my to read list, I request it from the library - usually.)  And should I somehow manage to read everything I already have checked out, well, I do have an entire book shelf that is over flowing with books I own, but have not yet read.  My dream is to some day win the lottery so I can just stay home and read to my heart's content. One can dream right?

What are you giving up for Lent?