Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bookie Friends Favorites Challenge 2012

Bookie Friends Favorites Challenge

I have decided to try this challenge. You post 5 of your favorite reads and your fellow participants do the same. Then you read 3-12 books from the others favorites lists. Vicki at I'd Rather Be at the Beach is hosting this challenge. You can read more about it here. Here are the rules:

Challenge starts January 1, 2012 and ends December 31, 2012

1. Write a post on your blog about joining this challenge
Add links to your 5 favorite books
Don't forget to add the challenge button

2. Click on the "Sign Up" tab on the Bookie Friends Favorites Blog and leave the link to your challenge post, not to your blog's home page.

3. Visit the other participants and choose 3-12 of their favorite books to read.
You can choose them all at once or as you go.
Add the title to your original post, making sure to link back to the person whose favorite it is.

4. As you read each book:
Post a review on your blog and leave the link on the post for that months book reviews.

Now for the hard part, my list..I had a hard time narrowing it down to five. I have so many more books that I wanted to add. I decided to leave off the books almost everyone has read which made it a bit easier.

My Favorites

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
2. Every Last One by Anna Quindlin
3. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
4. Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
5. Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger

The Books I May Read and Whose They Are(this is subject to change)

1. Ghost on Black Mountain by Ann Hite (Alaskan Book Cafe)
2. June Bug by Chris Fabray (I'd Rather Be At the Beach)
3. Waterfall by Lisa T.Bergen (Christian Bookshelf Reviews)
4. Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers (Passions of My Life)
5. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (The Introverted Reader)

ARC Reading Challenge

I have done this challenge two years in a row now and really find it works well for me. I love seeing what ARCs my fellow challenge readers are reading and what they think of them. I will start myself at the Bronze Level but will more than likely move up as I read. Teddy at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time hosts the challenge. Here is what Teddy says about her challenge:

This is the original ARC Challenge That I created in 2010,I hope all of you ARC Readers will join me again in 2012 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. The only change this year is with the levels.

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 30 ARCS

Level Platinum: Read 35 or more ARCS

So go on over to Teddy's blog and sign yourself up!

End of Year

As 2011 comes to a close, I thought I would share my very favorites reads for the year. I read many books that I really enjoyed but 5 of the books I have read really stood out for me.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznik

The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

It was really hard to narrow my list down to five books. I find I am getting a bit more particular in the books I accept and choose to read. This also means that most of what I read, I really enjoy. I think I had only a few books this year that were misses for me.

Reading Challenges

As far as this years reading challenges go, I was somewhat successful. I finished the Just for Fun Reading Challenge and I did well on The ARC Reading Challenge. The other challenges we won't mention since I did so terrible at them. Later today, I hope to post start up posts for next years challenges. I have three in mind. Three seems doable!

In 2012, I hope to read more of the books I have on hand, especially since they are starting to pile up everywhere.

I want to wish each and every one of you a safe and prosperous New Year! May the New Year be full of good reads! I know I have some books for next year that I am really excited about reading!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Exposure by Therese Fowler

Exposure by Therese Fowler

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (May 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345515536
ISBN-13: 978-0345515537


In Exposure, Therese Fowler has written her most gripping novel to date—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of ardent young love and a nightmarish legal maelstrom that threatens to destroy two families.

Amelia Wilkes’s strict father does not allow her to date, but that doesn’t stop the talented, winsome high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate Anthony Winter. Desperately in love, the two envision a life together and plan to tell Amelia’s parents only after she turns eighteen and is legally an adult. Anthony’s mother, Kim, who teaches at their school, knows—and keeps—their secret. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than planned: Amelia’s father, Harlan, is shocked and infuriated to find naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested.

Despite Amelia’s frantic protests, Harlan uses his wealth and influence with local law enforcement and the media to label Anthony a deviant who preyed on his innocent daughter. Spearheaded by a zealous prosecutor anxious to turn the case into a public crusade against “sexting,” the investigation soon takes an even more disturbing and destructive turn.

As events spiral wildly out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony risk everything in a bold and dangerous attempt to clear their names and end the madness once and for all.

A captivating page-turner, Therese Fowler’s Exposure is also a deftly crafted, provocative, and timely novel that serves as a haunting reminder of the consequences of love in the modern age.

My Thoughts

This story is very thought-provoking and fascinating. It takes a look inside the flaws in our legal system and sexting. Both subjects could be a book in themselves. What happens when two young teenagers send each other nude photos of each other? Should they be deemed sexual predators if they are in a relationship? I felt for the characters, Amelia and Anthony. They did some pretty unintelligent things, but then again most teenagers do make mistakes. When Amelia's father finds nude photos of Anthony on his daughters laptop, all hell breaks loose. What he doesn't realize that he is making matters worse for his daughter. Amelia's father is pretty easy to dislike. He is one of those overpowering fathers who doesn't have a clue as to what is going on in his child's life. Amelia's mother seemed pretty spineless to me. Anthony is raised by a single mom who lets things slide at times. She seems a bit too lenient as a parent. The two parents are different as night and day which adds so much to the story. It made me question what type of parent is better..the strict overpowering ones or the ones who are more laid back?

This story will make you think about sexting and the legal system. Should teenagers be subject to prosecution for sending such photos to their friends? Should they be marked for life if they are prosecuted? Where should the legal system draw the line?

Therese Fowler was inspired to write this book when her own son found himself in a similar situation. This is not his story but a fictional story based on his experiences.

I highly recommend this book! You won't be able to put it down!

I borrowed this book from my local library

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WWW Wednesday December 28

I finally found time to read and was able to finish a book. Hopefully my reading will pick up now. I still need to sign up for challenges for 2012. I want to keep it simple but I have seen many challenges that seem to be calling my name! By the end of the week I hope to have the ones I am joining in on posted. Check out what I am reading now!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three 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?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I am starting this tonight. I was able to borrow it for free on my Kindle Fire.

What did you recently finish reading?

Exposure by Therese Fowler

This was a very good read. What happens when a young couple uses technology in away it was not meant to be used? I hope to have a review up for this tomorrow.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson, Richard Dilallo

I want to get this read while it is still the holiday season!

That is what I am reading. What have you read lately?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday December 26

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a very nice holiday! We had a lovely day full of good food and family. Everyone was healthy yesterday which was the best gift of all! We are hoping to be done with viruses for awhile now! My mailbox is for the past two weeks. Three books are for review and one was a win from Michelle at Life in Review. Thank you Michelle!

First up though I want to share a video of one of my favorite Christmas gifts from my kids. I find myself stopping and playing with these wonderful characters quite a bit! They make me smile!

On to my mailbox! This month Mailbox Monday is hosted by Jenny at Let Them Read Books.

Her Sister's Shadow by Katherine Britton this was my win

All That I Am by Anna Funder
- courtesy of Amazon Vine
Blue Monday by Nicci French-courtesy of Pamela Dorman Book/Viking
A Good American by Alex George- courtesy of Librarything Early Reviewers

And now to share a couple of my bookish Christmas gifts. I was not expecting anything but hoping for a Barnes and Noble gift certificate. I was very surprised when my son and his lovely gal gave me a Kindle Fire. I have played with it a bit and love it! Now I have a Nook and a Fire to read on!

That is what has come into my home the past two weeks! What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I am sorry that I haven't been around much! We had a nasty virus go through our home. We are all feeling much better now though and I plan to be back to speed this week. There are posts to be written and challenges I need to sign up for the New Year! I treasure each and every reader, follower, and author! You have made my reading year fun and fabulous! I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday full of family and fun, and of course, good books!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Speak (August 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142419400
ISBN-13: 978-0142419403


Anna can't wait for her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a good job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's not too thrilled when her father unexpectedly ships her off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair, the perfect boy. The only problem? He's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her crush back home. Will a year of romantic near-misses end in the French kiss Anna awaits?

My Thoughts

I thought this was an adorable read. Anna is a character that is easy to love. She is a fish out of water when she starts school in Paris. She can't speak the language and doesn't know a soul. As she settles into her new school, she meets the handsome Etienne St. Clair, who made me a bit nervous. He is the guy girls like to fawn over and he is in a relationship. That made me a bit nervous for Anna. Anna has a possible love interest back home but St. Clair makes her feel things she knows she shouldn't. She is determined to remain just friends. Will she be able to pull it off? Well, you'll just have to read and find out for yourself.

Anna and the French Kiss took me waaaay back to those school days, full of high school and teenage angst. I wouldn't go back there for all the money in the world but it sure was fun to live through Anna for a short time. This is one of those books that leaves you feeling good at the end. Pure fun!

Thank you to all those bloggers and reviewers out there who recommended this book! I would have never read it if not for those recommendations! This was so outside my usual reading genre but I enjoyed it very much!

I borrowed this book from my public library

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mailbox Monday December 12

Happy Monday! The weekend sure was short! I was busy getting the living room ready for the tree. The tree is up and that is it. It is bare, not an ornament or a light on it yet. We get a real tree and this tree was very closed up. I gave it a fresh cut and trim, plopped it in some water and am waiting for the branches to finish relaxing. One year we made the mistake of decorating the tree right away and woke up the next morning to ornaments and lights on the floor. Hopefully we can decorate it tonight.

In other news, I have decided I am not happy with my weight. I was one of those gals others loved to hate. I could eat a whopper with cheese, a large fry and a milkshake and not gain a pound. Those days are over! Long gone those days are! Oh how I miss those days! I can not eat anything and I still gain weight. I avoid the scale. This weekend I was cleaning and decided to step on the scale. BIG MISTAKE! Let's just say it was shocking! I don't think I weighed this much when I was pregnant. Changes are coming to my diet. I did manage 1 hour on the treadmill on Saturday where I read 100 pages while walking. It's time to eat right and get moving. Any helpful tips anyone has would be more than welcome!

Now that I have totally depressed us all, on to Mailbox Monday! Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Jenny Q at Let Them Read Books. Be sure to check out Jenny Q's fabulous blog! Thank you for hosting, Jenny!

I really didn't receive any books in my mailbox but did buy a couple of books on my Nook after reading reviews for two of this author's books on CMash Loves to Read. Cheryl's review had me curious and then I saw I already had one of this author's book on my nook. They all sounded like reads I would like. Thank you Cheryl for the review and the recommendations! I will let you know how I like them all!

Spinning by Michale Baron

When You Went Away by Michael Baron

I already owned this one but it is also by the same author so I included a link to it.

A Winter Discovery by Michael Baronhref

No review books or wins here but that is okay. Slow weeks are when I take a deep breath and try to do some catching up!

I am off to munch on some celery sticks. What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker

The Winters In Bloom by Lisa Tucker

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (September 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416575405
ISBN-13: 978-1416575405

This is the first book I have read by Lisa Tucker but won't be my last. The first part of the book caught my attention and demanded that I read on. Kyra and David Winter experience one of the the worst nightmares a parent can experience, their son, Michael is abducted. We get a glimpse of what they are going through in the beginning and also get a glimpse of Michael and his abductor although the abductor's identity remains a mystery.

The book then goes into the past lives of Kyra and David. We learn how they got to be where they are today and the many people who have been a part of their lives, from Michael's ex-wife to Kyra's estranged sister to their parents. All of the people involved are very interesting characters. They are all very flawed and dysfunctional. This part of the book, while very informative, drove me crazy! It did not move fast enough for me. I wanted to know who had this young boy and why!

It felt like it took forever to get Part 3 of the book where we finally learn who took Michael. Part 3 made up for the all the aggravation I felt reading the previous two parts. The suspense was intense until the end. The story is full of twists and turns that keep the reader guessing until the very end.

If you like a good story about a dysfunctional family that is character driven, you may like this book. The story does bounce around a bit but if you have some patience, the ending is worth the wait.

I received this book for my honest opinion courtesy of Atria Books. This in no way influenced my review.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

This book was a surprise for me. First off, I would have never read this book if not for the great reviews of other reviewers, so thank you reviewers!

Jill is a teenage girl who is grieving over the death of her father. She is hurting and just wants her life to go back to the way it was. Her mother, Robin, is grieving also but decides she wants to adopt a baby. Jill doesn't understand how her mother can think this is a good idea. I sort of agreed with Jill at this point. It just didn't seem to be the time to be making these types of decisions. I think the thought of the empty nest really pushes this idea along for Robin. Jill tries to be supportive since she feels that is what her dad would want.

Mandy is a pregnant teen with tons of baggage! She has been raised by a mother who didn't want to be a mother. There is no love lost between the two. Robin and Mandy find each other and before you know it, Mandy is on a train to come live with Robin and Jill to finish out her pregnancy, the goal being Robin will adopt the baby and Mandy will be able to start her life over, away from her mother. Mandy comes off as very manipulative and cold, which is no shock with her upbringing.

Jill and Mandy are not teenagers that are easy to like. They both have flaws. Jill is rude and unkind to Mandy. Jill seems to shut people out since her father's death. Mandy doesn't seem to be honest about her life and the pregnancy. She is not open to having relationship with anyone, including Jill. The both do grow on the reader eventually.

The chapters are alternately told between the two girls. The story flows well despite this. In fact, it was interesting to see where each girl's head was at. It was a perfect way to tell this story. You can feel each girl's pain. Even though the two girls are as different as night and day, you can't help but feel for both of them.

The story is beautifully told. The title fits the story perfectly. It actually made me think about whose life was being saved. All three characters seem to be in need of some saving. There is also the life of the unborn baby which needs saving. The book takes a surprising turn at the end which made for a satisfying ending.

I think this would make a great read for book groups as there is much one could discuss. I also would recommend this book for both adults and high school aged readers. This is a book you won't want to put down once you start reading it!

This was my first read by Sara Zarr but won't be my last. She tells a good, emotional story with characters that have some depth. Her writing pleasantly surprised me! I highly recommend this book! A 5 star read!

I received this book through Amazon Vine in exchange for my honest review

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mailbox Monday December 5

Happy Monday! I am not sure why but I am overly cheerful this morning! It has been dark and dreary in my neck of the woods. It kind of caused me to be lazy this weekend but this morning I woke up ready to face the week! It's rather shocking! Maybe I'm acclimating to the dark, dismal weather. I am reading a fun, light book right now so maybe that is the reason for my good mood. Maybe it is the holiday spirit working it's magic.

I am so not ready for the holidays. I haven't done a lick of shopping and haven't a clue what to buy anyone. It will all come together eventually. It always does. So, how many of you have all your decorations up and your shopping finished?

On to Mailbox Monday! Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Jenny Q at Let Them Read Books. Be sure to check out Jenny Q's fabulous blog! Thank you for hosting, Jenny!

I received four books last week, three for review and one was a purchase to share with my mom. I knew she would love the book and I wanted to read it too. I love to share books with Mom. Our tastes in books have kind of changed over the years so when I find a book I know we both will enjoy, I jump on it. It's fun to talk about a book after we both read it. I love to hear when she gets excited and loves a book as much as I do.

Here is what I got last week:

Defending Jacob by William Landay

(This came with a matching bookmark which I forgot to include in the picture)
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (January 31, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385344228
ISBN-13: 978-0385344227
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own—between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis—a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control.

Received for my honest review from Random House

The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 17, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031609739X
ISBN-13: 978-0316097390

The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill's wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby's four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death, but when Gaby announces that she's getting married--and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day--she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn't Gaby's only surprise--she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

I purchased this book

I am so excited about these next two reads which I received for my honest review from Amazon Vine. I adore Kristin Hannah and always look forward to her next novel.

The last book, What Happened to Hannah is an uncorrected proof. I wonder if they will use the picture on the cover? I see Amazon is listing a different cover which is a good thing since the picture on my uncorrected proof looks so similar to the cover of Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda. I really dislike when pictures are used over and over for book covers.

Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 31, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312577206
ISBN-13: 978-0312577209

From a distance, Michael and Joleen Zarkades seem to have it all: a solid marriage, two exciting careers, and children they adore. But after twelve years together, the couple has lost their way; they are unhappy and edging toward divorce. Then the Iraq war starts. An unexpected deployment will tear their already fragile family apart, sending one of them deep into harm’s way and leaving the other at home, waiting for news. When the worst happens, each must face their darkest fear and fight for the future of their family. An intimate look at the inner landscape of a disintegrating marriage and a dramatic exploration of the price of war on a single American family, HOME FRONT is a provocative and timely portrait of hope, honor, loss, forgiveness, and the elusive nature of love.

What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (February 7, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006208478X
ISBN-13: 978-0062084781

As a teenager, Hannah Benson ran away from home in order to save herself. Now, twenty years later, the past comes calling and delivers life-changing news: her mother and sister have passed away, leaving Hannah the guardian of her fifteen-year-old niece.

Returning home to bitter memories and devastating secrets, Hannah must overcome her painful past to pave a future with her niece, the last best chance at a family for both of them. She begins to create a new, happier life with her niece and rekindles a relationship with Grady Steadman, one of the few people she’s ever called a friend.

But she can’t forget what she cannot forgive, or lay to rest those ghosts that will not die. Will love and trust—and the truth—give her the strength to stand her ground and fight for what she deserves?

So those are the books that made their way into my home. What wonderful reads made their way into your home?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Weekend Cooking-Yummy Sweet Potatoes!

I love sweet potatoes and I am always looking for a new way to fix them. I saw this in my Kraft Food & Family magazine and thought it looked interesting. When we got to my sister's house for Thanksgiving she had made this recipe. My daughter and I loved it! In fact, I loved it so much I have a pan of it in my oven as I type! I thought I would share the recipe with you so you wouldn't have to miss out on all the goodness!

Photo and recipe from Kraft Food & Family Magazine/Kraft Recipes(I have a paid magazine subscription but you can find the recipe online for free)

Apple-Bacon Sweet Potatoes

1 large onion, chopped
4 slices OSCAR MAYER Lower Sodium Turkey Bacon, chopped
1-1/2 lb. sweet potatoes (2 large), peeled, cut into bite-size chunks
2 apples, chopped
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped PLANTERS Pecans

Heat oven to 375ºF.

Cook onions and bacon in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 7 to 8 min. or until onions are crisp-tender.

Place potatoes in 13x9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Add apples, apple juice and cinnamon; mix lightly. Top with onion mixture; cover.

Bake 40 min.; top with nuts. Bake 15 min. or until potatoes are tender and most the liquid is absorbed.

This turns out really flavorful and it isn't too unhealthy either. The Kraft Food & Family Magazine is a favorite read in our home. We always find great but simple recipes in it.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.
Weekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love. Be sure to check out all the yummy cooking posts on Beth's blog.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston

This book is a book to be treasured! The story is wonderful and the way the story is told is fresh and new, at least to this reader. Caroline Preston tells us the story of Frankie Pratt through Frankie's scrapbook. At first I was afraid I would miss out on the story not being told in the traditional way one writes a story, through words. I was afraid I would get lost or miss out on something in the scrapbook. I need not worry. I caught on right away and before I knew it, I had read the whole one sitting! The only thing that made me sad in this book, was turning the last page! I wanted it to go on and on!

In 1920, Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook for her high school graduation, from her mother. Frankie dreams of being a writer but when circumstances force her to turn down a college scholarship, her dreams are set aside. Frankie keeps us updated on her life through her scrapbook. She uses her father's typewriter and her memorabilia to tell us her story. I found each and every page interesting. There are ticket stubs, newspaper articles, advertisements, postcards and so much more. On one page there were cards from a card game called The Authors card game by Walt Whitman. We had the same card game growing up, so it brought back great memories for me!

The story itself kept me reading. I had to know what happened to Frankie next. Her life is not always easy but she manages to rise above it all. Frankie finds her way into the reader's heart. She finds love, experiences scandal, travels abroad and through it all, Frankie grows as a person.

This is a book unlike any other! It is a book you will want to keep on your bookshelf to read again and again! There are delightful surprises on every page! This is a book not to be missed!

Be sure to check out the fun video below!

I purchased this book for my personal book shelf, where it will be for years to come!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik

Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Hardcover: 533 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (January 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439813786
ISBN-13: 978-0439813785

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo's dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

My Thoughts

If you haven't read this book, by all means get it and read it! Brian Selznik tells a wonderful story through his writing and through his illustrations, which I must say are remarkable drawings. This author is extremely talented! He brings the words and pictures to life.

Hugo found a place in my heart right from the start. The mother in me wanted to take him in under my wing. Hugo is a brave boy who does what he needs to survive. He is driven to rebuild a automaton that his deceased father was trying to rebuild at the time of his death. I found the idea of the automaton quite fascinating.

Hugo lives in a secret world behind the scenes which adds to the mystery in the book. All of the characters in the book are well developed and to me all had a bit of quirkiness about them.

My thoughts cannot do this book justice. The format is unusual and works well with the storyline. I cannot imagine this story being told any other way. It is not only a great story but a work of art! Trust me, this is a book the whole family will enjoy.

I am looking forward to seeing how the story translates to the big screen! I hope the movie is as wonderful as the book!

I read this book which I purchased for the 2011 Just For Fun Challenge

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WWW Wednesday November 30

Winter has decided to arrive here which puts me in a reading mood. It is too cold to putter outside so now I have more time to read. I finished 4 books over the long weekend. Before you get too impressed, two of them were quick reads. It does feel good to be able to check four books off my tbr list!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three 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?

The Winters Bloom by Lisa Tucker
(excuse the small book cover)

What did you recently finish reading?

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood click for my review

How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr
- not yet reviewed

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
- not yet reviewed
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston- not yet reviewed

Be sure to keep an eye out for my upcoming reviews!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This has to get back to the library and so many readers have recommended this title to me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (June 9, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594487936
ISBN-13: 978-1594487934


A debut novel full of heart, in which love, friendship, and charity teach a young woman to live a bigger life.

When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change.

Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It's a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along-featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she's learned in a lifetime.

A heartwarming novel, South of Superior explores the deep reward in caring for others, and shows how one who is poor in pocket can be rich in so many other ways, and how little it often takes to make someone happy.

About the Author
Ellen Airgood runs a diner in Grand Marais, Michigan. This is her first novel.

My Thoughts

As Madeline Stone is grieving the loss of Emmy, the woman who has raised her from a young girl, she tries to figure out where her life should go next. She is set to marry her well to do boyfriend and live in a nice suburb of Chicago. Madeline is approached by Gladys, old girlfriend of her grandfather's to move to McAllaster, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula to help care for Arbutus, her ailing sister. Madeline who is unsure about anything in life, breaks her engagement and treks off to McAllaster. I was sure she was crazy!

When Madeline arrives in McAllaster, she finds herself in a place much different from Chicago. Time seems to have stood still. People live much simpler and are often struggling. The characters seem very real and are very well developed. I could appreciate their struggles and strengths. Mary was one of my very favorite characters. She lives in a house made from two old tool cribs. She is a proud woman who sells syrup and fish that she catches to survive. There are many more interesting people in the tight knit town that you meet within the pages of the book. You really get the feeling of the community in the book.

As Madeline settles in to life in McAllaster, she discovers the sisters own a defunct hotel. The hotel is in need on renovations but the property on which it sits is very valuable. Someone wishes to buy it and tear the old victorian hotel. Madeline uses the hotel as her refuge when she wants to be alone. She has learn quite a bit about her mother, who abandoned her as a child and her grandfather, who refused to take her in. It is a lot for Madeline to take in and she appreciates the solitude she finds in the old hotel. It takes some time, but as Madeline's love for the hotel grows so does her love for the people of McAllaster. There is a love interest in the story but it is not an overpowering storyline. It is very complimentary and fits in the story nicely.

I enjoyed my visit to McAllaster. When I turned the last page, I felt a little sad, kind of how you feel when you leave your favorite vacation spot. The story moved at a slow pace at times but my interest in the characters and town kept me motivated to read on. I highly recommend this debut novel. Ellen Airgood has created characters that stay with you long after the last page. I look forward to seeing what characters Ellen Airgood comes up with next!

I received this book from Riverhead Books/Penguin books through Librarything Early Reviewers Group for my honest opinion, which in no way influenced this review.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mailbox Monday November 28

It's Monday and we all know what that means! Mailbox Monday! This month Mailbox Monday is back home at Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia. Thank you Marcia for creating MM! My wish lists wouldn't be the same without you!

Monday is tough after a nice long weekend! I sure wanted to keep on lounging around this morning. It was nice to just hang out with the kids this weekend. I read and they played video games, shopped, watched tv, and slept. We ate the weekend away! Itw as a great weekend. I hope your weekend was great too!

I received two books last week. One I purchased used from a used book seller on Amazon. I'm not sure but I think the pony express may have been involved in the delivery. It took ten days to get here. Kind of a long time for an Amazon seller. It did get here though, so I am grateful. The other book I received for review.

My purchased book

Love Finds You in Victory Heights, Washington by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609360001
ISBN-13: 978-1609360009


The Second World War has stolen Rosalie's fiance from her. But rather than wallow, Rosalie throws herself into her work at the Boeing plant in Victory Heights, shooting rivets into the B-17 bombers that will destroy the enemy. A local reporter dubs her Seattle's Own Rosie the Riveter, and her story lends inspiration to women across the country. While Rosalie's strong arms can bear the weight of this new responsibility, her heart cannot handle the intense feelings that begin to surface for Kenny, the handsome reporter. Fear of a second heartbreak is a powerful opponent - but will it claim victory over love?

For review courtesy of Viking/Penguin

Drifting House by Krys Lee

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (February 2, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670023256
ISBN-13: 978-0670023257


An unflinching portrayal of the Korean immigrant experience from an extraordinary new talent in fiction.

Spanning Korea and the United States, from the postwar era to contemporary times, Krys Lee's stunning fiction debut, Drifting House, illuminates a people torn between the traumas of their collective past and the indignities and sorrows of their present.

In the title story, children escaping famine in North Korea are forced to make unthinkable sacrifices to survive. The tales set in America reveal the immigrants' unmoored existence, playing out in cramped apartments and Koreatown strip malls. A makeshift family is fractured when a shaman from the old country moves in next door. An abandoned wife enters into a fake marriage in order to find her kidnapped daughter.

In the tradition of Chang-rae Lee's Native Speaker and Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, Drifting House is an unforgettable work by a gifted new writer.

What wonderful reads made their way into your home?

Thankfully Reading Weekend Wrap Up

I managed to finish 4 books! That sounds impressive but two were books that were extremely quick reads. Still I am happy with what I finished. Now I just need to get the reviews written. Thank you Jenn for hosting!

I finished

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston

Not a bad book in the bunch!

Thankfully Reading Weekend -What Book Are You Thankful For?

I have been thinking about this question since it was posted. I think I finally narrowed it down to three books that I am truly thankful for. The list was quite extensive before I whittled it down to these three books which probably have had a huge influence on my becoming the reader I am today.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I fell in love with Ingalls family long before they became a tv show. I still keep a set of the series on my bookshelves.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I so love this book. I have several different editions. I used to tell people I was named for Beth. I was not but a young girl can always fantasize, right?

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

I can't even tell you how many times I have read this. Such a strong spirit.

These are the books that I am thankful for. These are the books I read and reread over and over again.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend Cooking- Betty Crocker-The Big Book of Slow Cooker, Casseroles & More

This is one of my go to cookbooks! I have made several recipes out of this cookbook. The ingredients used for the recipes are ones that are readily available, either in my pantry and in a regular grocery store. There are some great full page pictures in the cookbook but not every recipe has a picture. I love that each recipe has nutritional information listed at the bottom. That came in handy when my mom was living with us. She had sodium restrictions so it was nice to know how much sodium was in each serving. Some recipes that we have tried and loved include; New Potatoes and Spring Vegetables, Mixed Vegetable Bake, Apricot Glazed Carrots, Cheesy Potato Soup, Parmesan-Butternut Squash Gratin, and Ultimate Slow Cooker Potatoes. We have many more recipes we want to try in the cookbook. There is a moment's notice menu planner and a metric conversion guide in the book. This is a great cookbook for the everyday cook.

This is one of our very favorite recipes out of the book. My kids request these potatoes quite a bit. You could make these healthier also by using fat free or low fat milk, sour cream and cream cheese. This recipe comes from page 292 of Betty Crocker The Big Book of Slow Cooker, Casseroles & More

Ultimate Slow Cooker Potatoes

prep time: 15 minutes start to finish:1 hour 45 minutes 12 servings(2/3 cup each)

3 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package(8 oz)cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups plain mashed potato mix(dry)
Gravy or chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

1. Spray 3- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix water, milk, butter, sour cream, and cream cheese with whisk until blended. Add garlic salt, pepper, and mashed potatoes(dry); mix just until blended.

2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring once after 1 hour.

3. Before serving, stir potatoes. Serve immediately, or hold in slow cooker on Low heat setting up to 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. If Potatoes become too thick, stir in additional milk, a couple tablespoons at a time. Serve with gravy or sprinkle with chopped parsley.

1 serving: Calories 250; Total Fat 17g(Saturated Fat 11g; Trans Fat 0.5g); Cholesterol 50mg; Sodium 230mg; Total Carbohydrate 20g(Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 5g EXCHANGES: 1 1/2 Starch, 3 Fat CARBOHYDRATE CHOICES: 1

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.
Weekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love. Be sure to check out all the yummy cooking posts on Beth's blog.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankfully Reading Weekend 2011 Edition! Kick-Off!

How was your Thanksgiving? I hope you all had a wonderful day! I am roasting a turkey today or tomorrow depending on when it thaws. It has been in our little fridge since Sunday! Apparently our little fridge is well insulated! We ate at my sister's yesterday. We like leftover turkey so I make one so we can enjoy turkey sandwiches all weekend. At some point I will be going shopping for our Christmas tree. I figure we will get it now and keep it outside or in the garden shed in some water. The kids have requested we get the tree before the wind chill falls below 0! It sounds like a good plan!

The time has come for the Thankfully Reading Weekend! Yay! I have a stack of books ready and will be starting shortly. I am keeping this readathon relaxed and won't be keeping track of pages or minutes read. Below is my stack of books. I won't get through them all. Two are half read, two are quick reads, and two are books I have been meaning to get to. I have been looking forward to this! Let the reading begin!

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood
How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker
The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston
Exposure by Therese Fowler

Check out the kick off post here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am not cooking today which is nice. We will be eating at my sister's house. I will be cooking a turkey this weekend though. I can't pass up a good deal and I need to have some turkey leftovers to make my holiday complete. I am looking forward to a turkey sandwich on pumpernickel bread! Yum!

I am so thankful for all my family, friends, followers, fellow readers and book bloggers! I wish every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Check back tomorrow! The Thankfully Reading Weekend begins! I will be getting my stack of books together today!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday November 21

It's Monday and we all know what that means! Mailbox Monday! This month Mailbox Monday is back home at Mailbox Monday hosted by Marcia. Thank you Marcia for creating MM! My wish lists wouldn't be the same without you!

It's Monday again! I am not sure how but Monday seems to roll around pretty quickly! I am finally feeling like a human being again. The dogs are doing better and life is much more normal here! I went on a cleaning spree this weekend to try and catch up around here. There is a Butterball thawing in our spare fridge. Christmas catalogs are filling my mailbox and we are already talking about where to purchase our Christmas tree. It feels like I just took last years tree down! This year has flown by fast! I can't believe the holidays are upon us!

I received two books last week. One is for review and the other I purchased with a lovely Barnes and Noble coupon. I can't let a good coupon go to waste!

This weekend I will be participating in the Thankfully Reading Weekend! I can hardly wait! I have two books going right now which I rarely do anymore. I can use some severe reading catch up time. Go on over and sign up!

This book I received for review from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking. It looks like a thrilling scandal!

The Darlings by Christina Alger

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books (February 16, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0670023272
ISBN-13: 978-0670023271

A sophisticated page-turner about a wealthy New York family embroiled in a financial scandal with cataclysmic consequences.

Now that he's married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling, attorney Paul Ross has grown accustomed to New York society and all of its luxuries: a Park Avenue apartment, weekends in the Hamptons, bespoke suits. When Paul loses his job, Carter offers him the chance to head the legal team at his hedge fund. Thrilled with his good fortune in the midst of the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression, Paul accepts the position.

But Paul's luck is about to shift: a tragic event catapults the Darling family into the media spotlight, a regulatory investigation, and a red-hot scandal with enormous implications for everyone involved. Suddenly, Paul must decide where his loyalties lie-will he save himself while betraying his wife and in-laws or protect the family business at all costs?

Cristina Alger's glittering debut novel interweaves the narratives of the Darling family, two eager SEC attorneys, and a team of journalists all racing to uncover-or cover up-the truth. With echoes of a fictional Too Big to Fail and the novels of Dominick Dunne, The Darlings offers an irresistible glimpse into the highest echelons of New York society-a world seldom seen by outsiders-and a fast-paced thriller of epic proportions.

This book I purchased after loving Selznik's book, Wonderstruck! Once I saw the movie trailer for Hugo, I knew I had to read it too. Selznik's book are treasures! The artwork is phenomenal! I included a page from the book so you can see just how wonderful the artwork in the book is!

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik

Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Hardcover: 533 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (January 30, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439813786
ISBN-13: 978-0439813785

Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell.

(The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik, page 148 & 149)

I love this picture! A girl surrounded by books! It warms my heart!

What wonderful reads made their way into your home?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Just For Fun Reading Challenge 2012


It's that time of year again! The new reading challenges are starting to post for sign ups. I love a good challenge even though I am not always successful when participating. This one is one I signed up for this year and I highly recommend it! I have loved participating. Lori over at Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book is the wonderful hostess of this challenge. Read one book a month from your tbr pile or list. One book just for fun! Not for review! Just For Fun! That is it! Easy peasy! I have enjoyed reading books that have been waiting for me to read that I never seem to be able to get around to. I have been able to read books from my tbr pile and wish list.

This year Lori is hosting the challenge on Goodreads. Click on the button above or on the button on my sidebar or on Lori's name above to go to Lori's blog and get the particulars! Then go on over to Goodreads and sign up!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankfully Reading Weekend 2011 Edition!

I love a good read-a-thon and I can't think of a better thing to participate in while the turkey and goodies settle and while all the shoppers are out and about scoring their bargains! I am not a Black Friday shopper! The Thankfully Reading Weekend runs from from November 25 through November 27! I have tons of reading to catch up on so I will be there! Be sure to go on over to Jenn's Bookshelves and sign up! I participated last year and had fun. I love to spend Thanksgiving weekend being cozy at home, with my nose in a book. If you do too, join in on the fun!