Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Completed Reading Challenges


Challenges Completed in 2012
 








2013 - Challenge Free Year
 

Mailbox Monday - New Year's Eve Edition



Mailbox Monday for December has been hosted by: Suko's Notebook. (I didn't participate last week, but trying to start fresh in 2013.  Here's what arrived from publishers over the last few weeks.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Salon - December 30th



I feel like I need to play catch up with just (2) days left in 2012. Over the last few days I caught up on all of my reviews, posted a fun 20 Question Survey about Books Read in 2012, and worried about what I may have forgotten to do, that I should have done.

Christmas was relaxed and fun this year, despite some terrible colds that have gone around. My husband mentioned that this was our nicest Christmas ever, and I have to agree it was special.  I asked my son and his wife for a family photo of the two of them this Christmas, and they tried, they really did -- this is what we received ----

We had a few good laughs over it, but they explained they didn't want to disappoint us, since the real photo isn't ready yet:). Good wine and dinner gift certificates will also keep us full and happy for a while.

Our little granddaughter was in perfect spirits for her first Christmas. At just (8) months old, it was all about the paper, bows and chewing on cards this year.

I've been lax in revealing some new book acquisitions in the last few weeks. Here are some that i either bought, or were sent to me by other Paperback Swap members.


Looking forward to 2013

I've decided to be "challenge free" in 2013.  I did well with the challenges I committed to in 2012, however, in 2013, I just want to be able to pick up whatever book strike my fancy and beginning reading it without thought of where it will fit within a "challenge".

My reading and reviews will still consist mostly of a mix of literary fiction, contemporary fiction, memoirs, and picture books for children. 

I'm also thinking about a new review format or a change in the way I rate the books I read and review.

I also decided that any books I read will get the (1) chapter or (25) page test starting this year. [ I had a milestone birthday this month and decided I don't want to waste time on so so books anymore.]

Do you have any changes planned for your reading or your blog in 2013?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Best Books 2012 edition (IMO)


Has your reading changed over the years?  I was looking at my Top (10) list of books I read (10) years ago; this is what the list looked like.

In 2002 I read 87 books. My top 10 were:
  1. The Lovely Bones; Alice Sebold
  2. Eden Close; Anita Shreve
  3. Blindness; Jose Saramago
  4. Tuesdays With Morrie; Mitch Albom
  5. Whispers & Lies; Joy Fielding
  6. Snow Island; Susan Towler
  7. Gold Coast; Nelson DeMille (audio)
  8. Salem Falls; Jodi Picoult
  9. All the Names; Jose Saramago
  10. Chasing the Dime; Michael Connelly (audio)
Here's my 2012 Top Books Read lists:

Top 10 Fiction
  1. East of Eden; John Steinbeck
  2. A Sense of an Ending; Julian Barnes
  3. The Beginner's Goodbye; Anne Tyler
  4. The Spectator Bird; Wallace Stegnar
  5. Tell the Wolves I'm Home; Carla Rifkin Brunt
  6. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; Rachel Joyce
  7. A Grown Up Kind of Pretty; Joshilyn Jackson
  8. The Bartender's Tale; Ivan Doig
  9. Translation of the Bones; Francesca Kay
  10. Heft; Liz Moore
Top Non Fiction
  1. Lot's of Candle's Plenty of Cake ; Anna Quindlen
  2. A Moveable Feast; Ernest Hemingway
  3. No Buddy Left Behind; Terry Crisp
  4. Quiet; Susan Cain
  5. Say You're One of Them; Akpan
Top Audio Books
  1. The End of Your Life Book; Will Schwalbe
  2. Defending Jacob; William Landay
  3. Live By Night; Dennis Lehane
  4. Winter of the World; Ken Follett
  5. Canada; Richard Ford
Top Kids Picture Books
  1. The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye; Jane Yalon
  2.  A House in the Woods; Inga Moore
  3. If You Spent a day With Thoreau at Walden Pond; Burleigh and Minor
  4. It's Okay to Be Different; Todd Parr
  5. How to Babysit a Grandpa; Jean Reagan
Most Disappointing Books Read
  1. Fairy Tale Interrupted; Rose Marie Terenzio  (NF)
  2. Home Front; Kristin Hannah (fic-audio)
  3. Dark Side; Belinda Bauer (fic)
  4. Blue Monday; Nicci French (fic)
  5. Beautiful Ruins; Jesse Walter (fic-audio)
Have you read any of these and felt differently about them?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Twenty Questions: A Year-End Book Survey for 2012


I think did a similar post last year, if not, I guess I meant to:)   JoAnn@Lakeside Musing inspired me to follow through for 2012.  Here goes:

1. What is the best book you read in 2012?
 
2. Most disappointing book?


3. Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2012?  

4. Book(s) you recommended most in 2012?

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (still have book #3 to read though)

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
 
 7. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?
 
8. Book you most anticipated in 2012?  

9. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?


 











10. Most memorable character in 2012?

11. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

12. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

13. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?
 
14. Favorite passages/quotes from a book read in 2012?

[ Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake; Anna Quindlen's memoir]
  • "When I was young I was loath to admit that I liked being alone, but not anymore.  By the time you've lived for fifty or sixty years, you are better armored to embrace the things about yourself that are true, even if the you think the world sees them as odd, eccentric....."
  • "What a time we've live through so revolutionary that the list could go on and on: the Pill, the heart transplant, the moon landings, cell phones, cable television, computer communication,.....and  as Quindlen's father said..."I'm glad I lived long enough to see the Phillies win a World Series and a black man elected President."
  • "I am a liberal because......as I said often, much to the consternation of friends of other faiths who have come to see Catholicism as narrow, conservative, and antediluvian, I am a liberal because I was raised Catholic.  In a typically thoughtful and searching speech he gave at Notre Dame, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, the most intellectual of non-clerical Catholics referred to practicing the work of Christ in our life, 'I practice it especially where the love is most needed, among the poor and weak and the dispossessed.' That's the lesson I took away from the New Testament, the requirement that if you had two cloaks you should give one to the person who had none that you love your neighbor as yourself. It's a lesson that never left me."
15. Book read in 2012 that you would be most likely to reread in 2013?
  • none - I generally don't reread  books

16. Best classic(s) read in 2012?  

  17. Best translated work you read in 2012?

18. Any titles abandoned in 2012 you might read in 2013?  
  • Mad River; John Sandford (started the audio at work and then got busy and distracted)

19. Any challenges completed in 2012?  
  • 100+ Books Challenge  (138)
  • eBook Challenge (51)
  • Audio Book Challenge (40)
  • Back to Classics Challenge (4)
  • Picture Book Challenge (38)
  • Stephen King Challenge (4)
  • RIP VII (6)
 20. Any read-alongs completed in 2012?
  •  The Stand-a-Long; Stephen King
Survey adapted from The Perpetual Page-Turner

Feel free to play along.

The Cat Who Came Back for Christmas; Julia Romp


Author:  Julia Romp
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Plume
Edition: eGalley
Setting: UK
Source: Edelweiss
Date Completed: December/2012
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

Julia Romp's nine year old son George is autistic, and despite all of her efforts, Julia found it impossible to get through to her son.  One day a stray black and white kitten appeared in their garden, he was in bad shape.  When George saw the small kitten his face lit up with excitement. Julia began to feed the kitten, setting up a carrier with blanket in the garden shed and checked on the cat daily, hoping to cage it and take it to the vet.  Eventually, her plan worked and, "Ben" the kitten came home to live with the two of them. A special bond between George and the kitten occurred.  George was still a boy with autism, who faced daily challenges, but with Ben constantly by his side, George immediately connected with the cat, and the cat seemed to sense how much George needed him as well. With Ben always close by, George began to smile more, emerge from his shell and communicate more when they were together.

Three years after Ben arrived, mother and son went on vacation to Egypt, while they were away, Ben disappeared.  George blamed his mother for the cat's disappearance, and George soon began to digress.  Julia vowed to never stop searching for Ben.  Through flyers, ads and internet posts, Julia tried everything she could think of to find Ben.  She received numerous leads, including many prank calls, but she followed up desperate to bring Ben home, and to bring a smile back to her son's face.  Eventually, just before Christmas, three month's after Ben's disappearance, a call from some (70) miles away came, and Ben and George were reunited.

I had a little problem with the writing style as the story really did not seem to flow that well. And, while, it is not really a Christmas story, it is a story that will appeal to most cat lovers, as well as families who are raising an autistic child.  It's a heartwarming, tender story that will especially touch readers who have ever had a special bond with their pet.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club; Will Schwalbe

Author:  Will Schwalbe (memoir)
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Random House
Edition: audiobook and eGalley
Reader: Jeff Harding (excellent)
Setting: New York City
Source: Edelweiss
Date Completed: December/2012
Recommend: yes
Rating: 5/5

Mary Anne Schwalbe was a well educated woman who lived life to the fullest. She was an educator who loved to travel and she loved to help those in need.  She worked and traveled extensively to places like Liberia,Thailand and Afghanistan to help refugees.

In 2007, after returning home from one of her trips outside of the US, she became ill and extremely fatigued.  After months of  visits to doctors and undergoing various testing, she learned she had pancreatic  cancer. The one cancer for which there is no cure, but one which if caught early enough and treated with chemotherapy / radiation, life can often been extended.  A fighter, she opted for treatment and soon began chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering outpatient clinic in New York City.

Mary Anne was an avid book lover who had the odd habit of reading the end of the book first.  Her son Will, accompanied his mother to her treatments at the clinic and as a sort of ice-breaker, always asked his mother,  "what are you reading?".  The two, from November 2007 until her death in September of 2009,  engaged in an informal book club , where they shared their passion for books. Their conversions lead to discussions about faith, family and life as well, and  how, our never long enough, time here on earth has meant.

The End of Your Life Book Club is a poignant memoir that left me with a lot to think about.  Mary Anne was truly an amazing woman, and Will a son to be admired.  While some may think that this book would be too depressing to read, I did not see it as that. Instead, I though it was deeply personal, inspiring and beautifully written.  The audio book, read by Jeff Harding was excellent, but I was also glad I had the eGalley as there are many wonderful passages I wanted to reread.

Just some of the books that the two discussed were: Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegnar; Kite Runner, Hosseini; Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky; Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro; The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch; The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid; The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larrson; Gilead, Marilynne Robinson; The Lizard Cage, Karen Connelly as well as TS Elliot, poetry and several others as well.

I loved this memoir, and it's one of those special books that will make most of you feel happy you took the time to read it.

[ note to self when choosing what I read in 2013]

 Not to be morbid, but whether we are ill or well, perhaps we all should read books with "The End of Life Book Club" in mind.  We just never know when each book we read could very well be our last.  The same concept rang true to me about the people in our lives that we care about -- share your kindness and love for others now, so that those you care about never have to wonder how you feel about them.  Live each day like it was your last.

The Light Between Oceans; M.L. Stedman

Author:  M.L. Stedman
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Scribner
Edition: eGalley
Setting: Australia
Source: NetGalley
Date Completed: December/2012
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes

I've read many positive reviews on this debut novel, and final got a chance to experience it for myself -- I must say, I also enjoyed it a lot. It's the kind of story that engages the reader early on and doesn't disappoint.

On an isolated island off the coast of Australia, Tom Sherbourne takes a job as the lighthouse keeper after he returns from the from war in 1918.  For Tom, the solitude on the island is just what he craves after seeing the horrors of war.  The only time he sees other people is every (3) months when supplies are delivered from the mainland.  When he meets and marries Isabel (Izzy), the two return to the island and life seems happy and less lonely for Tom.  Disappointments soon face the couple as Izzy suffers several miscarriages and desperately longs for a baby of their own.

One day in 1926, a boat washes up on shore with a dead man on board.  A crying baby is found nearby. Who is the dead man and, where is the baby's mother?  Could this mysterious baby be the answer to the couple's prayers, or will a decision of the heart lead to more sadness in their lives?

The Light Between Oceans was such a compelling read. Written in (3) parts with Tom as the main character, although the reader gets to know Izzy and other characters through their POV as well. The story will have readers quickly invested in the story and anxious to learn the outcome.  It's one of the books that will have readers talking about the book to others. It's also the type of book that would seem to make for a good movie as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas Family and Friends

Wishing all of my blogging buddies a special time with family and friends this holiday season.  
Cheers to all who celebrate the spirit of Christmas.

(Next post will be on Wednesday December 26th)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - December 22

Saturday Snapshot

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.  



 "I'm Dreaming of a Red Bird Christmas"

(I have no idea, how I made this photo appear frosty
but, I was pleased with the look.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

(4) Good Children's Books


(Megan Tingley Books - Little Brown & Co. 2001)
5/5 stars
 
A book that celebrates being happy and feeling good about yourself no mater how different you may look or feel.  A story about diversity for the very young readers.
 
Brightly colored illustrations show how different children can be and appear to others, from very small to extra large, all colors, some with glasses, others in wheel chairs, and ever others who have different moms and different dads.  No matter how different you may feel or look, the message is the same for all --- "you are special just because of who you are".
 
Really well done.

 
(1st published as a Golden Book in 1959)
(Sept 2012 - Golden Baby).
 3.5/5 stars

I liked this book for it's simplicity and illustrations, but not so much for the message it sends.  In my opinion, this books seems all about presents, and not about the spirit of Christmas or about giving rather than receiving.  Looking at the pages, with stacks of "presents" everywhere, it's obvious that not all babies and children will be as lucky as the baby pictured in the book on Christmas morning. This one has received an over-abundance of presents on Christmas morning from Santa.
 
The illustrations are lovely though, but this one would not be at the top of my recommend list for children.
 
(Random House Young Readers)
June 2013
4/5stars
 
You know how sometimes a scarf can feel too itchy, be the wrong color or just not right? Well, even a little owl can have the same problem. But, in this sweet story, Little Owl, tries to lose his itchy, too long and too orange scarf, but mommy owl always seems to find it.  One day Little Owl thought it was lost for good when after a trip to the zoo, the scarf disappeared once again. 
 
This time mommy owl couldn't find it, so she works with little owl to find justthe perfect yarn, in justthe right color and knits him a new scarf -- real soft too, but on their next trip to the zoo, the too-long old scarf reappears, wrapped cozily around the neck of a very long necked animal.
 
This story about compromise is cute, and the simple with colorful pencil style illustrations are sweet as well.
 
 
Random House Young Readers 
May 2013
4.5/5 stars
 
Why is Astrid seen as a "bad"? Well, for starters she wears a bike helmet with a skull and crossbones on it, she acts mean, she's rather new in town, she teases birds, and breaks the heads off the stems of flowers.  No one is brave enough to ask her why she is so mean.  One day things change when Astrid finds herself in a jam and needs help.  Confronted about her meanness after she's given the help she needs, she learns to be be "nice".
 
Love the funny, descriptive illustrations, they tell it all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros


Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along. For today's First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro, I'm featuring an intro of a book I am currently reading -- it's non-fiction and kinda sad but very very good.  Has anyone read this one?

Will Schwalbe 


CROSSING TO SAFETY 

"We were nuts about the mocha in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering's Outpatient Care Center.  The coffee isn't good, and the hot chocolate is worse.  But if, as Mom and I discovered, you push the "mocha" button, you see how two not-very-good things can come together to make something quite delicious.  The graham crackers aren't bad either."

Would you keep reading?
Please feel free to grab the logo and join in by posting the first paragraph (or 2) of a book you are reading now or hoping to read soon. You can add your link below --



 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weekend Update and December Giveaway Winner

The winner of my December Giveaway is Joyfully Retired! 
Congratulations to Margot
(thanks to all who entered)
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On a separate note, this weekend began Friday with unspeakable tragedy echoed around the world.  Our hearts ache for the people of Newtown, Connecticut personally affected.  

I felt especially blessed to be able to spend time with family and loved ones this weekend. For me, it was bittersweet celebrating my milestone birthday, and honestly, every birthday that follows I will think of those little ones and adult heroes who lost their lives because of this senseless act.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - Dec 15th

Saturday Snapshot

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.  This week my theme is wreaths.


I wanted something I could use after the holidays
 as well and this one seemed perfect.

I came across this one while holiday shopping (it wasn't for sale)
but, I thought it looked pretty against a charcoal colored wall.
( positioned about 8' above my head & tough to photograph)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Panther; Nelson DeMille


Title: The Panther
Author:  Nelson DeMille
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Edition: audio book and eGalley
Reader: Scott Brick (excellent)
Setting: NYC and Yemen
Source: NetGalley
Date Completed: December/2012
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

I've been a long time fan of Nelson DeMille novels.  Although his suspense novels tend to be long, 600+ pages, his chapters are short.  His writing is usually peppered with witty and sarcastic comments which make the reader chuckle, as well as anxious to turn the pages, or in this case listen on -- his audio versions are always a treat. This one was narrated by Scott Brick who always does a fantastic job.

His latest novel, The Panther, features John Corey, an agent for the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force based in New York City, as well as his wife, Kate Mayfield, an FBI special agent.  The couple have been selected for an assignment and sent to Yemen to track down and capture an Al Qaida operative know as The Panther. He was the terrorist behind the USS Cole bombing, an immigrant who had been living in New Jersey.  That is not all John and Kate need to worry about though, as they are on the terrorists targeted list as well. Corey killed a Libyan terrorist know as The Lion in one of his earlier novels.  His wife Kate, has also been involved in events that make her just as unpopular among terrorists.

There are other intelligence agencies at work as well throughout the novel, some involving secret missions and others unique agendas of their own. One character who made the story all the more interesting was Paul Brenner, an embassy DSS Chief who has also served two tours of duty in Vietnam. Corey and Brenner seemed to feed off one another making for some interesting dialogue and suspense filled thrills along the way.

Although, I enjoyed  this audio version a lot and as well as the eBook, I thought the novel seemed way to long. One of the things that draws me back to DeMille time and time again is his wit and sarcasm, which always makes a commute that more enjoyable when listening to his stories. For some reason the wit and sarcasm seemed to have been over done in this story, and after a while I grew tired of the wise-cracks.  Despite that, I thought the ending was very good and I was happy I took the time to finish this one. I don't feel like it is necessary to read his series novels consecutively, for those interested, the (6) books in the series featuring John Corey are:  Plum Island, The Lion's Game, Night Fall, Wild Fire, The Lion and The Panther. I've read/listened to them all and enjoyed each of them.  If you enjoy audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to these.

Nutcracker; E.T.A. Hoffmann, Maurice Sendak



Title:  Nutcracker
Author:  E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ralph Manheim and Maurice Sendak
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Edition: hardcover
Source: sent by publisher
Date Completed: December/2012
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes

This is a beautiful reissued edition  of the Nutcracker, (Crown Publishing - October 2012) of the timeless story by E.T.A. Hoffman, originally written in 1816 is truly a beautiful book.  It's release is perfect timing for 2012 gift giving.

Although most of us have read or at least had someone read the Nutcracker to us at some point in our lives,  it's always a treat to revisit the story around the holidays. I also love the way the ballet has brought this story to life in new ways at this time of year, and will never forget my experience seeing it on the New York stage with my own children and as an adult.

Rather than detail the story yet again when it's so familiar to many, I'll just say the story is about a young girl  around the age of seven, who grows attached to a somewhat ugly looking nutcracker that the family received on Christmas Eve from an uncle. When her slightly older brother breaks the jaw of the nutcracker, the girl is saddened. She puts the nutcracker to bed on Christmas Eve, but not before trying to repair it.  That night strange things happen and the nutcracker seems to come alive in her room.  It's not all dancing sugar plum fairies and beautiful magic though, as there is some darkness related in part to some evil mice in this story.
 
There is also another tale called, The Story of the Hard Nut, which give the reader the background story of the Nutcracker and the mice. Although the story is timeless and does have a happy ending, it isn't a story for very very young children, in my opinion.  But what does make this book special is the colorful and awesome illustrations created by Maurice Sendak in 1984; Sendak passed away in 2012. A minor problem for me was that not every illustration was inserted to flow along with the text on the particular page it is found. However, the illustrations are stunning all the same (classic Sendak) and would make for good conversation when cuddled up with a child.  The translation by Ralph Manheim for the original German version is extremely well done. This one is a keeper for the holiday collection.

Thanks to Crown for providing me with a copy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cascade; Maryanne O'Hara

Title:  Cascade
Author:  Maryanne O'Hara
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Viking
Edition: eGalley
Setting: MA and NYC
Source: NetGalley
Date Completed: December/2012
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes

Desdemona (Dez) Hart Spaulding, is an independent woman, a gifted young artist who has studied in Boston and even Paris.  Her dreams of living in the big city and making it big in the art world are set aside because of a promise she made to father, John Hart, a former actor,  who lost his fortune and was even forced to close his Cascade Shakespearean Theater when the Depression hit. 

Following her father's advice Dez marries the older, but sensible Asa Spaulding, a pharmacist who is anxious to start of family, something Dez is not ready for.  When her father dies just two months after their marriage, she learns that he has left his theater to her husband, but wants Dez to see that it opens once again.

At the same time, something else is going on that has the potential of affecting the town of Cascade. Her father's dream of his theater reopen in Cascade, MA may not happen if plans by the state to build a new reservoir by flooding several small towns goes through.  Dez begins throwing her energy into her painting and art by capturing Cascade as it is (pre-flood) in the form of postcards.  When a Jewish artist from New York, now traveling salesman, breezes into town, he and Dez feel a bond because of their love of art, but townspeople with anti-Semitic views see him as a suspicious outsider.  For Dez, when a New York magazine seems interested in her art, she must decide what to do. Stay with Asa or pursue her dreams.

This was an wonderful debut novel which appealed to me for several reasons. The author beautifully detailed life in New England in the 1930s as well as what Greenwich Village in New York must have been like at that time as well.  The author really creates a realistic dilemma -- doing what's right or following one's heart.  The characters as well as the impending doom surrounding the flooding of the towns seemed believable as well. Oh, and I almost forgot, a surprise ending as well.

Another reason I found the story so interesting was that, although this was a work of fiction, the story, at least in part, was based on a similar event that occurred about 20 miles from where I grew up in Western Massachusetts around the same time (1936). The Quabbin Reservoir resulted when larger cities like Boston were in need of a larger drinking water supply. The Quabbin is one of the largest suppliers of drinking water in the United States. It's a beautiful place to visit and spend time with nature and family.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros


Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along. For today's First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro, I'm featuring an intro of a book I picked up from the library yesterday. It's new for 2012 from Penguin.


Julia Romp
(from Prologue)

" When it came to first impressions, Ben didn't exactly shine.  He wasn't a small, pretty kitten with a blaze of ginger hair or even a sleek adult cat with a shining tortoiseshell coat.  In fact, his black and white fur was covered in dried blood, his red rump was completely bare and his thin tail looked more like a hairy twig.  Thankfully, I couldn't tell by looking at him that he was also home to scores of fleas and ear mites.

But as off-putting as he looked, when the sickly stray started visiting my garden I left out food, because I've always had a soft spot when it came to animals.  Even my pet rabbit Fluffy lives in a shed that I painted with bright flowers --it's like the Ritz for rabbits--so I made up a bed for the cat in a carrier, which I left in the shed, hoping it would sleep there.  The stray was looking worse each day and, I thought, once it felt at home in the carrier, I'd shut the door and take it to the vet.

Would you keep reading this memoir?

Please feel free to grab the logo and join in by posting the first paragraph (or 2) of a book you are reading now or hoping to read soon.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December Holiday Giveaway

Happy Holidays

I've been thinking that it's been a while since I had a giveaway and December seems like the perfect month, since most everyone is busy buying others gifts, how about a chance to win something for yourself.  I'm giving away an unabridged book on cds of Barbara Kingsolver's wonderful new book, Flight Behavior(If interested you can checkout my review here. )
 
 
(This giveaway is made possible thanks to the good people at Harper.)
 
TO WIN
  • Open to US and International Readers
  • Leave a comment with an email address to contact you.
  • Tweet about it for an EXTRA entry
  • Drawing will be on Sunday December 16th
  • Good Luck to Everyone who Enters

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - December 8



Saturday Snapshot

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.


video

A short video of our future knitting prodigy.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shadow Tag; Louise Erdrich


Title:  Shadow Tag
Author:  Louise Erdrich
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Record Books - Harper
Edition: audiobook
Reader: Coleen Marlo (very good)
Setting: Minnesota
Source: library
Date Completed: November/2012
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

Shadow Tag is one of those stories where a married couple, this one with (3) children, stay together even though everyone knows that they would be better off living apart. Well, everyone in the family at least; to the outside world, they seem like the perfect Native American family.

The couple is Irene and Gil, two people who have a love-hate relationship, with their constant fighting, anger, rage, and downright hatred playing out on a regular basis. Their children, ages 14 to 6, Florian, Riel and Stoney are often witnesses to much of what goes on between the parents, and even the children and family dog are sensitive to the tension.  Each knows when to get out of the way of the parents. Irene wants a divorce from Gil. He's a somewhat famous artist, and Irene has been his model for some 15 years.  She has often being subjected to posing in crude demeaning positions, even looking beaten, bruised and bloodied.  She's conflicted - she has been working on her graduate degree and dissertation for many years and often drinks too much as well. She wants out of her marriage, but she hangs in there believing that she is doing it for her children because Gil will not let her leave with them.

When Irene discovers early on that Gil has been reading her personal diary, she comes up with an idea to really give him something to read, that may make him want to divorce after all.  The red diary embellished with statements that are meant to set her husband off (which Gil reads), she writes of her sexual encounters with other men. The blue diary (kept safely locked) is the one where Irene writes with honesty the frustrations about her marriage to Gil.  Of course, nothing good can come from her plan.

This story as I'm sure you have gathered was very dark, and even tragic.  I did not like either of the parents in this story and felt for the children -- each distinctly different and damaged by their surroundings.  Each of the children, I was able to sympathize with.  Listening to this audio book was like having this black cloud brooding above me. Although, I was not sure how this rather short novel was going to end, I was still taken aback when I turned the final pages.

As with any Louise Erdrich book I've read, I was not disappointed.