Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Just For fun Challenge

I have a problem! I was looking at my bookshelves this weekend and I have accumulated so many books that I never seem to get around to reading. I want to read them but there are so many good books to read and not enough time to read them all. As much as I said I was not going to sign up for too many challenges, here I go again. This time I hope to get a book read each month just for fun! Below are the rules as posted by Dollycas and if you hurry you can still sign up for the challenge tonight. I better get my book finished tonight since it is the last day of the month.


Just For Fun Reading Challenge 2011

12 books in 12 months.

The Rules:
1. Sign up to participate. Fill out the form below. Sign-ups will close at 11:59 p.m. CST on January 31, 2011.

2. Bloggers, please grab the button and put it on your blog to show your participation and provide a link back so others can join. Also, please add your blog to the Linky List so everyone can see at a glance which blogs are participating and visit you if they wish.

Followers, you just need to fill out the entry form.

3. Read 1, yes, just 1 book for fun each month. Bloggers if you feel compelled to review the book you can but it is not required. You may want to list what books you have read under the button on your blog.

4. All book formats are allowed, printed, audio, e-book.

5. Before the first day of the next month, return to the Jun For Fun page here at Dollycas’s Thoughts.

Just click on the picture or on the JUST FOR FUN READING CHALLENGE 2011 page listed in the Pages section near the top of the right sidebar. Fill out the form there for the proper month. You will have until the 3rd day of the following month to enter your information before the form will be closed. (A 3 day grace period.)

6. A form must be filled out for each month.

7. These books can be counted in your total books read for the year challenge but hope you don’t cross them over to any other challenges. They are supposed to be read JUST FOR FUN!

8. Everyone that completes the Challenge, 12 books in 12 months read JUST FOR FUN will be entered in a drawing for a $25 dollar Gift Certificate or $25 at The Book Depository for International Participants.

There will also be one lucky winner that will
win all 12 of my books read
(US Participants Only for this prize.)

More prizes may be added depending on the number of participants.

You Must Read One Book For Fun Each Month.

You can only fill out one form per month.
I hope you enjoy this challenge
and hope I help you clear at
least 12 books from the rising stacks.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Room by Emma Donoghue

What a book! The story of Jack and his Ma are told in this book through Jack's eyes. I have to admit that in the beginning Jack's narration was a bit hard to follow but once I got used to Jack's language and world, the book flowed smoothly for me. Jack is a smart five year old but he and his Ma are held prisoner in a room, a very small room. Jack was born in the room and knows nothing else outside of the four walls of Room. Jack's Ma was kidnapped by Old Nick and has been held prisoner for 7 years. I was worried the subject matter of Room would be a bit too much for me but I found myself very interested in Jack and Ma's survival. It's amazing to me what they did to keep as sane as one can be, being held in a 11 x 11 shed. I don't want to give any more of the story away because this a book you need to experience as it happens. If I had known what was going to happen, I am afraid the book would not have had the same effect on me. This is a book best read in one sitting. Once I got into the story there was no putting it down. One thing that bugged me about the book was never knowing what Ma's name was. Most five year olds know what their mother's names are. It just struck me as odd that her name was never mentioned. This is one of those stories that will keep you thinking about it long after you finish the last page. I highly recommend this book! Emma Donoghue has taken a horrifying subject and turned it into something beautiful. It's both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I know that sounds crazy but read it and see what you think.

This is a link to a website about Room. There is a diagram of Room where you can learn about each item in the room and see just how small Room was. It's really incredible!

I received this book from Little Brown and Company for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning by Lauraine Snelling

From the Back of the Book

Broken by life’s disappointments, four women forge a friendship that leads in unexpected directions.

Hope Benson is determined to do all she can for the broken souls who come to Casa de Jesus, a women’s shelter in the heart of San Francisco. When a difficult pregnancy forces her to relinquish control, she draws support and strength from an unlikely group of women, each struggling with her own heartbreak.

Andy Taylor, a reluctant transplant to California, was compelled to leave behind her lavender-growing business and her home of twenty-some years to support her workaholic husband’s pursuit of career success. Attorney Julia Collins is searching for her teenage granddaughter, believed to be living on the streets. And Clarice Van Dam’s life has been shattered by the disappearance of her husband, who appears to have relieved her of all earthly possessions except a fur coat and her overnight bag.

Drawn together at the weekend market held in the shelter’s parking lot, the women pool their resources to fend off an unscrupulous conglomerate that threatens to replace the facility with a commercial development. As they fight to retain this haven for women in need, they find their own longings for home answered by the solace of faith and friendship.

My Thoughts

I read Lauraine Snelling's Red River of the North series many years ago. Those books were a historical christian fiction series where this book is set in more recent times. This book did not disappoint. All four women in the book are all very different from one another. They are thrown together and then find that with God they can overcome anything by working together. I love the fact that all the women were so different but still managed to become good, close friends. The story kept my attention. The story moves along at a nice pace and kept my attention. If you are a fan of light, contemporary christian fiction you will probably enjoy this book.

I received this book from the publisher through Librarything Early Reviewers for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter's Respite Read-a-thon Wrapup

I am a bit late wrapping this up but life kind of got in the way. I wasn't as successful as I hoped to be but I did get two books read and one started. Not bad seeing our house was completely insane this past week. Our oldest dog has seizures and this past week has been having them about every other day. It has made it hard to concentrate on anything. I found myself rereading pages over and over again. The vet has upped the dogs medicine and we are hoping things will quiet down. Hopefully it will be easier to read this week. Thank you to Michelle at The True Book Addict for hosting the read-a-thon. Michelle will be doing another one this spring as well so keep your eyes opened for her Spring's Serenity Read-a-thon.

Books Finished

The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

Saturday Morning by Lauraine Snelling (review yet to come)

Book Started

Room by Emma Donoghue

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mailbox Monday January 24

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday was started by Marcia at the Printed Page. Mailbox Monday is now on tour and this month's host is Rose City Reader. Thank you for hosting this month!

This past week I received two books in the mail and one Netgalley book, all from the publishers for review. It took me a whole afternoon to get the Netgalley book on my Nook but now that I think I know what I am doing it shouldn't take so long. Hopefully...I am very technically challenged. The titles are linked back to Goodreads if you want to learn more about them.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
(I am so excited to get my hands on this! I am pretty sure I squealed when I opened it!)

Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (This looks like it will be very cute)

Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore (I love a good Southern story)

So what wonderful books made their way into your home?

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Queen of Palmyra

The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

From the Back of the Book

"I need you to understand how ordinary it all was. . . ."

In the turbulent southern summer of 1963, Millwood's white population steers clear of "Shake Rag," the black section of town. Young Florence Forrest is one of the few who crosses the line. The daughter of a burial insurance salesman with dark secrets and the town's "cake lady," whose backcountry bootleg runs lead further and further away from a brutal marriage, Florence attaches herself to her grandparents' longtime maid, Zenie Johnson. Named for Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, Zenie treats the unwanted girl as just another chore, while telling her stories of the legendary queen's courage and cunning.

The more time Florence spends in Shake Rag, the more she recognizes how completely race divides her town, and her story, far from ordinary, bears witness to the truth and brutality of her times—a truth brought to a shattering conclusion when Zenie's vibrant college-student niece, Eva Greene, arrives that fateful Mississippi summer.

Minrose Gwin's The Queen of Palmyra is an unforgettable evocation of a time and a place in America—a nuanced, gripping story of race and identity.

My Thoughts

This book was very well written. It is not a light Southern story by any means. It is a story that will put you in a place and time in our countries Civil Rights Movement. While reading this book I truly felt what it must have been like during that time period. I felt compassion for Florence as she narrates her story. She is stuck with a father who is abusive and a racist and a mother who bakes cakes and is an unstable alcoholic. I felt no one really had her best interests at heart until she became attached to Zenie, her grandparents' maid. Knowing the book was set in Mississippi in 1963, I knew the relationship between the two might cause conflict. The town of Millwood is segregated and when Zenie's niece, Eva comes to town, things are shaken up a bit. The story does move a little slow at times but I think it reflects the time and place of where the story takes place. Times were slower then, people weren't in such a hurry. I found the ending a bit rushed but satisfying. I think this book is great for book groups as there is much to discuss.

I received this book from the publisher through Goodreads First Reads for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter's Respite Read-a-thon

The weather here is going to be very cold this week so this week will be a great week for reading. On that note I have decided to go ahead and join in on The Winter's Respite Read-a-thon hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict. The event is very flexible and you can still join up. I plan on reading when I can, curled up with a cozy blanket and a cup of hot tea. I am not setting any goals, just going where the gusty, cold wind takes me. Go on over to Michelle's blog and check it out and join in on the fun!

I am halfway through The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin. I will hopefully be finishing that today after I shovel some very heavy, wet snow.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Heroine's Bookshelf

The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore

Summary from Goodreads

Jo March, Scarlett O'Hara, Scout Finch—the literary canon is brimming with intelligent, feisty, never-say-die heroines and celebrated female authors. Like today's women, they placed a premium on personality, spirituality, career, sisterhood, and family. When they were up against the wall, authors like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott fought back—sometimes with words, sometimes with gritty actions. In this witty, informative, and inspiring read, their stories offer much-needed literary intervention to modern women.

Full of beloved heroines and the remarkable writers who created them, The Heroine's Bookshelf explores how the pluck and dignity of literary characters such as Jane Eyre and Lizzy Bennet can encourage women today.

Each legendary character is paired with her central quality—Anne Shirley is associated with irrepressible "Happiness," while Scarlett O'Hara personifies "Fight"—along with insights into her author's extraordinary life. From Zora Neale Hurston to Colette, Laura Ingalls Wilder to Charlotte BrontË, Harper Lee to Alice Walker, here are authors and characters whose spirited stories are more inspiring today than ever.

My Thoughts

This book is a delight! Erin Blakemore has done a fabulous job gathering some of the most beloved women characters and their authors to point out their strengths and how they relate to us today. I especially loved the chapters on Laura Ingalls Wilder and Jo of Little Women. I found each chapter full of insights that I had never thought of previously. The chapters are broken down as follows:

1. Self- Lizzy Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin
2. Faith-Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
3. Happiness- Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
4. Dignity- Celie in The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
5. Family Ties- Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
6. Indulgence- Claudine in Colette's Claudine novels
7. Fight- Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
8. Compassion- Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
9. Simplicity- Laura Ingalls Wilder in The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
10. Steadfastness- Jane Eyre in Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
11. Ambition- Jo March in Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
12. Magic- Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

At the end of each chapter are suggestions as to when to read the book, some of which I found most hilarious. I love a good sense of humor and Erin Blakemore seems to have one. Also are other book suggestions at the end of each chapter. I found this delightful little book full of encouragement, inspiration and a few laughs too. I highly recommend this book! It would make a fabulous gift for fellow readers! This book has found a permanent home on my bookshelf. It's a keeper!

There is also a challenge being hosted by Janel at Bibliophibian - encouraging the love of books. I have not joined the challenge as of yet. I am trying not to join to many challenges this year but I sure am tempted to join up.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mailbox Monday January 10

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday was started by Marcia at the Printed Page. Mailbox Monday is now on tour and this month's host is Rose City Reader. Thank you for hosting this month!

I received one book last week. This book sounds heartwarming and I can't wait to read it. This book is expected to be released on January 18th from Algonquin Books.

Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West

from the back of the book

Hope is hard to come by in the hard-luck town of Willow Creek. Sam Pickett and five young men are about to change that.

Sam Pickett never expected to settle in this dried-up shell of a town on the western edge of the world. He's come here to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered his life, but what he finds is what he least expects. There's a spirit that endures in Willow Cree, Montana. It seems that every inhabitant of this forgotten outpost has a story, a reason for taking a detour to this place--or a reason for staying.

As the coach of the hapless high school basketball team (zero wins, ninety-three losses), Sam can't help but be moved by the bravery he witnesses in the everyday lives of people--including his own young players--bearing their sorrows and broken dreams. How do they carry on, believing in a future that seems to be based on the flimsiest of promises? Drawing on the strength of the boys on the team, sharing the hope they display despite insurmountable odds, Sam finally begins to see a future worth living.

Author Stanley Gordon West has filled the town of Willow Creek with characters so vividly cast that they become real as relatives, and their stories--so full of humor and passion, loss and determination--illuminate a path into the human heart.

What books made their way into your home?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Angel Song

Angel Song by Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman
summary from the back of the book

Angels eagerly watch over Ann Fletcher’s every move. She just doesn’t know it yet.

Ann Fletcher has returned to Charleston to see her younger sister Sarah receive her master’s degree. But she soon finds herself riding in the back of an ambulance, watching helplessly as Sarah fights for her life. As they race to the hospital, Sarah talks to someone who is not there...and hums a melody Ann has never heard before.

That unfamiliar, unearthly beautiful melody keeps finding Ann--first in the hospital chapel, then in her dreams, and finally in Sarah’s empty house.

Two neighbors have a profound effect on Ann. Ethan McKinney lends her a shoulder to lean on. And as a carpenter, he volunteers to help Ann get the Fletcher family home into shape for selling. His strong presence is a pleasing distraction. Ann’s twelve-year-old neighbor, Keith, has Down Syndrome and the guile to believe he can actually see and hear angels. In fact, he insists they are looking out for her in ways she’s never imagined.

God begins to reveal himself to Ann--both in her newfound friends and through supernatural events. As she discovers the very real presence of angels around her, will she finally open her heart to receive God’s healing love?

My Thoughts

This story was both sad and heartwarming at the same time. After Ann Fletcher loses her sister, Sarah in an accident, she begins to be haunted by a tune that she hears. As Ann readies Sarah's home, the home they both grew up in, to be sold she meets a carpenter, and her neighbors, Tammy and her son, Keith who has Down Syndrome. Keith draws pictures of Ann with angels in them. This disturbs her at first but then she begins to look forward to the pictures. Do the tune and the pictures have something to do with each other? Will she listen to the angels and open her heart to God? This story is lovely but it is a bit predictable. I didn't find that to be a bad thing. This book did cause me to think about angels and the role they may play in our lives. If you are a fan of christian fiction I think you will enjoy this book.

This book was sent to me as part of the Booksneeze Program with Thomas Nelson Publishers for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday January 5

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I have been anxiously awaiting the next Jodi Picoult book. I love how she tells a story and I am always eager to get to the end to see what twist she will weave into the end. If you click on the title it will take you to a trailer for the new book. I can't wait to read this one!

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

Hardcover, 480 pages
Expected publication: March 1st 2011 by Atria (first published 2011)
ISBN1439102724 (ISBN13: 9781439102725)

Summary borrowed from Goodreads
Zoe Baxter has spent ten years trying to get pregnant, and after multiple miscarriages and infertility issues, it looks like her dream is about to come true – she is seven months pregnant. But a terrible turn of events leads to a nightmare – one that takes away the baby she has already fallen for; and breaks apart her marriage to Max. In the aftermath, she throws herself into her career as a music therapist – using music clinically to soothe burn victims in a hospital; to help Alzheimer’s patients connect with the present; to provide solace for hospice patients. When Vanessa – a guidance counselor -- asks her to work with a suicidal teen, their relationship moves from business to friendship and then, to Zoe’s surprise, blossoms into love. When Zoe allows herself to start thinking of having a family, again, she remembers that there are still frozen embryos that were never used by herself and Max.

Meanwhile, Max has found peace at the bottom of a bottle – until he is redeemed by an evangelical church, whose charismatic pastor – Clive Lincoln – has vowed to fight the “homosexual agenda” that has threatened traditional family values in America. But this mission becomes personal for Max, when Zoe and her same-sex partner say they want permission to raise his unborn child.

SING YOU HOME explores what it means to be gay in today’s world, and how reproductive science has outstripped the legal system. Are embryos people or property? What challenges do same-sex couples face when it comes to marriage and adoption? What happens when religion and sexual orientation – two issues that are supposed to be justice-blind – enter the courtroom? And most importantly, what constitutes a “traditional family” in today’s day and age?

What book are you waiting on?

Monday, January 3, 2011

ARC Reading Challenge 2011

This was another challenge I did last year and enjoyed. I went for the Bronze level and made the Gold Level. I am once again going for the Bronze level and will move up as I read. This is hosted by Teddy Rose at So Many Books, So Little Time. Read below for what Teddy has to say about her challenge!

"I hope all of you ARC Readers will join me again in 2011 for the ARC Reading Challenge. I welcome old and new participants. I don't know about you, but my ARC pile is way too big. That is why I am making one big change to this challenge. For 2011 you don't have to list all of the ARCs that you have. That's right, no more "wall of shame." LOL! Although you can list them if you want to.

Note: I use the term "ARC" loosely,any book a publisher or author gives you with the expectation that you review it, counts for this challenge.

The Levels

Level Bronze: .a. All of us who have or will have less than 12 ARCS must read all of the ARCS we have. Note, that if you have 11 ARC's and then receive a 12th one you will be bumped up to catagory b.

b. All of us who have or will have 12 or more than 12 ARCS must read and review at least 12.

Level Silver: Read 24 ARCS

Level Gold: Read 25 ARCS

Level Platinum: Read 30 or more ARCS


* To sign up, leave a direct link to your blog post about this challenge. Please leave a comment as well.

* You don't have to make a list of which ARC's you plan to read, but you can if you want.

* If you choose a lower level, you can always change it to a higher level if you like. However, you cannot go from a higher level back down to a lower level.

* Crossovers with other challenges are allowed and Audio-books and ebooks are allowed as long as they are ARC's.

* Read the books and review them on your blog. If you don't have a blog, you can post your review on sites like Powells, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

* Please subscribe to my blog, as I will be doing a monthly post with MR Linky. Please add your reviews for each month in MR Linky in the monthly post. For your Name, please use this format Name: (Your Name, Book Title and Author's Name) for example: (Teddy, Obsessive Reading by Helen Reader). Please be sure to use the direct link to your review, not just to your blog. Then please leave a comment.


Reading From My Shelves Challenge 2011

I participated in this challenge last year and didn't do so well. My goal this year is to clear some books out that I have been wanting to read but haven't gotten to yet so I am once again going to give this a try.

It is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea

I am going to shoot for 20 books this year. I will list them as I read them because I hope to read more of what I feel like reading in the New Year.

Here are the details if you are interested:

* Challenge runs from January 1 - December 31, 2011.
* Read books from your own shelves, and then pass the books on to someone else: a friend, relative, the library, used book store, swap them, just as long as the book leaves your house once it has been read.
* Decide on your goal (12 is the minimum - no maximum). Cross over books are allowed.
* Grab the button and do a post about the challenge.
* Keep a running list of the books you've read and passed on.
* Leave a comment with a link to your post and you are entered (no Mr. Linky).
* Have Fun and GOOD LUCK!

Mailbox Monday January 3

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists! Mailbox Monday was started by Marcia at the Printed Page. Mailbox Monday is now on tour and this month's host is Rose City Reader. Thank you for hosting this month!

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. It sure is hard to get back into the swing of things here this morning. The tree is down, the presents are put away and school started back up today. I still need to sign up for reading challenges for the year. Hopefully that will be done today or tomorrow. I received one book for review this past week. I love Southern Fiction so when I saw this book being offered on Librarything Early Reviewers I signed up for a chance to win it. I thumbed through it and see there are recipes and discussion questions in the back of the book. Looks like my kind of book!

Hungry for Happiness by James Villas

Thank you to Librarything Early Reviewers Group and Kensington Publishing

No resolutions made here except I hope to read more. Did you make any resolutions?

I am off to check out the other mailbox posts. What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

I want to wish every one of my blog readers, followers, and lurkers a very Happy New Year! My wish for you all is a happy, healthy new year full of great joy!