Friday, April 27, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Bees

 My husband has undertaken a new hobby, bee keeping.  These are pictures of the first two hives.  Our oldest has been very excited to be a part of this process.
 He bought hive kits and built them.  Each of the screens he is holding has a layer of bees wax already in it for the bees to start building their honey combs on and lay the eggs.
 These are the two sets of bees they picked up last weekend .
 The hives are on a horse farm near out house as the idea of all those bees around kids seemed unwise.
In order to keep them calm in the mesh boxes they needed to have sugar water sprayed on them.

Hopefully I will have some running pictures to post next week.  I am running in my first half marathon Sunday morning and, as this is a big deal for me, I am hoping to get some pictures are some point.

This  is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Book description:
I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.
Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

My thoughts:
I knew I wanted to read this book after reading the first one, but over the course of time my memory of Delirium has gotten a bit more vague.  I found myself wishing that I still had my copy of it to look back on, but I am trying to be really good about passing along, in one way or another, books that I have read unless they are my absolute favorites.  Otherwise I will never dig my way out of my book collection.

At first I was confused by the beginning of the book.  The chapters alternate between "Now" and "Then".  At first the "Now" doesn't make sense with what I remembered from the ending of the other book.  Why is Lena in school in NYC.  Was she caught and sent back after her escape?  Who is Raven who taught her to push past the past and live in the now?  But as you read along it all starts to fall into place and make sense.

Living on the other side of the wall isn't quite what Lena thought it would be.  Alex never fully prepared her for how they would live once they were there.  I found myself wondering what had happened to Hana and Grace, her best friend and cousin, when they were left behind without her.  Did Hana feel betrayed or lost without her friend, or did she go on to her procedure to be cured of deliria (love, strong emotions and even anger) and forget about her as they had feared all along.  I also found found myself wondering when deliria became such a big issue, how long had people been going under the procedure to be cured and how many people are there living outside of the walls.  Is Lena right that the walls for the cities will keep expanding outwards until all the open, wild spaces are gone.  How much do we take on face value and how much more is there behind some of the truths we learn in history classes in schools and classrooms.  These children learned that the bombs fell and the infected people in the wild were gone, but Lena sees the lockers at a school still with clothes and books in them.  The mess that was made of stores, churches and home from the wreckage left behind and she knows it wasn't quick and painless as it was portrayed to them by teachers.

What is worth giving up your freedom for?  How much is freedom worth fighting for?  This dystopian world is set over top of our country.  NYC is there, inside a fence, living under the guidance of living deliria free.  Meantime, outside the fences and walls are groups of people living precariously without enough food and with very little security from day to day, surviving and hoping to make a difference for the future of the country.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Ages 14 and up
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (February 28, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 006197806X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061978067
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If I Stay by Gayle Foreman

About the book:
In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen year- old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck... A sophisticated, layered, and heart achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make?and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

My thoughts:
I have heard and read a lot about people in comas.  Can they hear all that is going on around them?  Are they unconscious and apart from the world?  Can the words that they hear during this time help them to get better or allow them to feel like it is okay to go if that is what is best for them?  In this novel you are seeing one authors' take on the situation from the other side of the coin.  I wondered how this was going to be done and stretched into a whole novel, but it was done so well I couldn't put the book down!

The characters became more human and fleshed out as Mia recalled days and times with each of them.  How her grandfather took her to San Fransisco for an important event and, while they talked little as he was a quiet sort of man, the words they did share meant so much.  How she was so involved with her little brother and had a bond with him.  How she met her boyfriend and best friend.  How she felt when her father gave up his punk rock life for the life of a teacher.  Her cello was so much a part of her and her life of music that that was almost it's own character.

Instead of being trapped in the bed in her body, Mia is able to see everyone coming to see her and talk to her almost as a ghost.  No one can see or sense her other self, but she is even able to leave herself and go other places in the hospital.  A nurse plants the idea with her that whether she stays or goes is up to her.  What a decision to have to make.  This book was so well done that I am looking forward to getting a copy of the next book, Where She Went hopefully in the near future!


ISBN-13: 9780142415436
ISBN-10: 014241543X
Publication Date: 4/6/2010
Pages: 208
Reading Level: Young Adult

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides by Shirley Brosius, Janine Boyer and Kim Messinger

About Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides:
Women today are busy, stressed, and guilt-ridden, yet they long to develop their spiritual sides. Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides offers inspirational thoughts based on scripture--brief enough to be read during a television commercial, yet insightful enough to open your eyes to the grace of God on days you change diapers and/or lead corporate meetings. Each reading suggests a "Guilt Trip to Avoid" and ends with a way to "Take the Joy Ride." The book includes six months of daily readings so that you may establish a habit of connecting with God. Readings are listed under the letters G-R-A-C-E, representing God, Relationships, Acceptance, Challenges and Emotions.

The coauthors hope these meaningful readings will help you deal with guilt--both real and imagined. By applying the insights shared in Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides, you may develop a calmer, less guilt-ridden life-style and become better equipped to function as wives, mothers and friends. Younger women often develop patterns of thinking and experience feelings of guilt that carry over into their mature years, so women of all ages will find this book helpful.
Link to buy the book: 

About the authors:

Kim Messinger, Janine Boyer and Shirley Brosius had a common bond of Christian service when Christ drew them together for their first small group meeting in January, 1998.
Since then they have drawn closer through life’s joys and struggles and found God to be sufficient for their every need. They call themselves “Friends of the Heart” because their passion is to help women open their hearts and find joy in Christ.
Kim and Janine supported Shirley in writing Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories About Women Who Made a Difference, which was released by Howard Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster, in 2006. More recently the three women worked together to write another devotional book, Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. They have spoken at women’s retreats and events in five states. All three women live in Millersburg, Pennsylvania. Visit their website for more info.
About the Giveaway:  
Guilt! She pokes you as you write about your quaint, eccentric aunt. She grabs you as you wander from e-mail to Facebook to laundry instead of focusing on your work. She kicks you as you complain about your husband to a friend.
Have you noticed? Women seem riddled with guilt. And it’s hard to know if guilt is legitimate or simply a product of our imaginations. After all, should we really feel guilty about things over which we have no control?
We are not perfect. We have no control over some things, so it's no use feeling guilty. We can't do it all.
To celebrate the release of Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides, Shirley, Janine and Kim are giving away some great prizes during the blog tour. Share your own "guilt trip" or "joy tip" and be entered to win a free life coaching consultation and a $50 gift certificate.
JUST CLICK THIS LINK ( and share what trips you up, holds you back or any tips you may have for overcoming guilt and keeping your joy. Fill out the quick form at the link and you'll be entered to win a free life coaching consultation from one of us AND a gift certificate to to use to purchase whatever strikes your fancy!
Contest runs 4/23 - 5/12. Winner announced here on 5/14.
My thoughts:
This title intrigued me because I feel guilt so often in my daily life.  For putting myself first or for not putting myself first.  For not remembering to check my children's homework or for not making a creative enough dinner.  I had a rough week at work last week and I felt like maybe it was me, so having a a daily reminder to read about how to break this guilt cycle was so nice.
I am reading a daily reading a day to help me find balance and acceptance over what I can't control in my own life and to see things in a bigger picture.  It also helps me to see how the bible can relate to my own every day life.  This was a fun Lifefuse Blog tour to take part in and I encourage you to check on what other readers thought using the link to the tour schedule above.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

I actually got a chance to sit a read some these past two weeks, even though my reviewing has fallen way behind.  Since I last posted this meme I finished:

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Hana by Lauren Oliver
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Highlander for the Holidays by Janet Chapman

Hopefully when things slow down at work some I will get some more reviews posted a get back into the groove of things.  I also have my first half marathon this weekend so a lot of recent time has been spent running to train for it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clark


Imagine sneaking away to spend seven days with the most famous woman in the world…
In 1956, fresh from Oxford University, twenty-three-year-old Colin Clark began work as a lowly assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, the film that united Sir Laurence Olivier with Marilyn Monroe. The blonde bombshell and the legendary actor were ill suited from the start. Monroe, on honeymoon with her new husband, the celebrated playwright Arthur Miller, was insecure, often late, and heavily medicated on pills. Olivier, obsessively punctual, had no patience for Monroe and the production became chaotic. Clark recorded it all in two unforgettable diaries—the first a charming fly-on-the- wall account of life as a gofer on the set; the other a heartfelt, intimate, and astonishing remembrance of the week Clark spent escorting Monroe around England, earning the trust and affection of one of the most desirable women in the world. Published together here for the first time, the books are the basis for the upcoming major motion picture My Week with Marilyn starring Michelle Williams, Judi Dench, and Kenneth Branagh.
England was abuzz when Monroe arrived to shoot The Prince and the Showgirl. She hoped working with the legendary Olivier would give her acting further credibility, while he hoped the film would give his career a boost at the box office and some Hollywood glamour. But Monroe, feeling abandoned when Miller left the country for Paris, became difficult on the set. Clark was perceptive in his assessment of what seemed to be going wrong in Monroe’s life: too many hangers-on, intense insecurity, and too many pills. Olivier, meanwhile, was impatient and condescending toward her. At a certain point, feeling isolated and overwhelmed, Monroe turned her attention to Clark, who gave her comfort and solace. Before long, she escaped the set and a remarkable true adventure took place. Monroe and Clark spent an innocent week together in the English countryside and Clark became her confidant and ally. And, like any man would be expected to, he fell a bit in love. Clark understood how best to handle Monroe and became Olivier’s only hope of getting the film finished. Before long, young Colin was in over his head, and his heart may well have been broken by the world’s biggest movie star.
A beguiling memoir that reads like a fable, My Week with Marilyn is above all a love letter to one of our most enduring icons.

My thoughts:
I listened to this on audio from a library download.  I was worried that I listened to it in the wrong order as it started with Colin's week with Marilyn, had an epilogue and a letter he wrote to a friend, and then started back way before Marilyn arrived with how he managed to secure his job on the movie set to begin with.  I enjoyed the beginning portion of the book about Marilyn and Colin's friendship with her.  The story lost something for me when it backtracked to his regular journal about his day to day things and used initials for Marilyn (MM), Sir Lawrence Olivier (SLO) and so forth.  It felt like I was listening to text messages.

In my opinion the book would have been better if it had stuck to the one week and skipped the rest of the journal.  I honestly started fast forwarding to see if something interesting was going to happen and it never really did.  Colin dated a woman from wardrobe, Colin lived in a room in a friend of his parents home, Colin had a nice visit with Vivian Leigh.  It was just a bit too ordinary and dry to make a good read.  I doubt someone, even myself, would want to go back and read six months worth of old journal entries.  The one dealing with Marilyn were a glimpse into the details of someone famous and they were friends who spent time together, so they had meaning and a lot more details than the ones about finding a house to rent and getting up early to be at work.

So, I enjoyed the first part and allowed myself the luxury of skipping some of the mundane details.  I think this would be an interesting movie to see at some point.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602861497
  • Publisher: Weinstein Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Pages: 336

Monday, April 9, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Finished this week:
My Week With Marilyn (audio Ipod)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'engle (audio car)
Still reading:
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Reviews still to come:
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
Matched by Ally Condi
Judy Moody Saves the World by Megan McDonald
Judy Moody the M.D. Is in by Megan McDonald
Judy Moody Goes to College by Megan McDonald
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Stink and the Super-Galactic Jaw Breaker by Megan McDonald
Stink: Solar System Super Hero by Megan McDonald
Stink and the World's Worst Super Smelly Sneakers by Megan McDonald
Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express by Megan McDonald

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Best Friends, Occasional EnemiesThe Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Scottoline


From the New York Times bestselling writing team comes a hilarious new collection of essays that observe life from a mother/daughter perspective
New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella are the best of friends—99.9% of the time. They’re number one on each other’s speed dial and they tell each other everything—well, almost everything. They share shoes and clothes—except one very special green jacket, which almost caused a catfight.
In other words, they’re just like every mother and daughter in the world. Best friends, and occasional enemies. Now they’re dishing about it all—their lives, their relationship, and their carb count.
Inspired by their weekly column, “Chick Wit” for The Philadelphia Inquirer, this book is one you’ll have to put down—just to stop laughing.
Lisa on Being a Mom - Motherhood has no expiration date. Francesca lives in the city, and I worry about her all the time. My daughter moved out, so why am I still lactating?
Francesca on Being a Daughter - My mother is always right. Just ask her.
Lisa on Things Every Daughter Should Know - Your mother is always thinking about you, but that’s not creepy. Your mother will never forget who did you dirty in the sixth grade, for which you can thank her. And your mother will never stop asking you if you need to go to the bathroom, before you leave the house. Well, do you?
Francesca on Closet Wars - My mom is a great dresser. Mostly because she’s wearing my clothes.
Lisa on Aging Gracefully - My sex drive is in reverse, I have more whiskers than my cat, and my estrogen replacement is tequila.
Francesca on Apartment Living - When I saw a mouse, the first person I called was Mom. She told me to call my super, but I felt bad bothering him. I hate to bother people. But I love to bother my mother.

My thoughts:
I listened to this audio book a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it.  Most of the chapters are by Lisa, the mother of the duo, and she is funny and feels like a friend.  I've never lived alone, but I have lived with multiple dogs and children and I could totally relate to her description of her house and the baby gates between rooms and areas that are to help keep everyone in the right space but pose a big tripping obstacle course!

I found myself nodding along as they talked about this and that.  It really was like being at a funny dinner party with friends who were sharing the funny thing that happened when they ordered workout wear and it seemed tiny.  Or the time there were mice in their apartment and they tried every humane idea before calling the scary/stalker exterminator to take car of the problem.  How the kitchen can become your place to hang out when you live alone so you are close to the refrigerator.  It was lighthearted,fun and each chapter is so fast that when you only have five minutes you have time to listen to one and an easy place to stop afterwards. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312651633
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Pages: 288

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Still not a great reading week.  Work has been busy, the kids have been busy and running is taking up a lot of what used to be reading time.  I haven't abandoned books completely of course, I don't think  I could do that, but I do wish I had a bit more time to sit and read.  Perhaps when summer comes along, with time in the backyard I will find a bit more time to sit and read.  Until then though, this is how the last week went.

Finished this week:
Divergent by Veronica Roth (kindle)
The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson

Reviewed this week:
The Best of Me by Nicolas Sparks
Best Friends, Occasional Enemies by Lisa Scottoline and Franseca Scottoline (review will be up tomorrow)

Still Reading:
From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

My Week With Marilyn (audio Ipod)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'engle (audio car)
Still needs to be reviewed:
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
Matched by Ally Condi
Judy Moody Saves the World by Megan McDonald
Judy Moody the M.D. Is in by Megan McDonald
Judy Moody Goes to College by Megan McDonald
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Stink and the Super-Galactic Jaw Breaker by Megan McDonald
Stink: Solar System Super Hero by Megan McDonald
Stink and the World's Worst Super Smelly Sneakers by Megan McDonald
Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express by Megan McDonald

As I get farther away from having read the book I also don't feel like my reviews are as good as they would be if I did them in a more timely manner.  I am considering skipping some of these reviews because it has been so long since I read them.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Best of Me by Nicolas Sparks


"Everyone wanted to believe that endless love was possible. She'd believed in it once, too, back when she was eighteen."

In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply, irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined . . . and neither can forget the passionate first love that forever changed their lives. As Amanda and Dawson carry out the instructions Tuck left behind for them, they realize that everything they thought they knew -- about Tuck, about themselves, and about the dreams they held dear -- was not as it seemed. Forced to confront painful memories, the two former lovers will discover undeniable truths about the choices they have made. And in the course of a single, searing weekend, they will ask of the living, and the dead: Can love truly rewrite the past?

My thoughts:
I am loving being able to check out audio books for my Ipod from our public library.  It gives me a chance to listen on the go, when I am doing chores or running.  Lately I have been having a harder time fitting in sit down reading time, so audio books, which I have long listened to in the car, are helping me keep up with my usual reading pace.

Nicolas Sparks can be counted on to make you feel and also, at least for me, to shed some tears for his characters.  I now find myself wondering from the beginning what is going to go wrong and who is going to be hurt.  The decisions the characters have to make regarding their relationships are always tough ones, and never ones with clear cut answers, just as we often encounter in real lives.

Amanda and Dawson were high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks.  They do not have the support of their families for their relationship but they believe in each other.  Then, to allow Amanda to have the life she has always dreamed of, Dawson steps back and this sets their whole lives into motion away from each other.  Through flashbacks and memories of the past and their old friend and mentor, Tuck, the complete history of the two is revealed as well as where they are in the present.  We want to believe in true love conquering all, but sometimes the way in which it conquers all is not how one would have imagined. 

Without Tuck's intervention through his dying wishes, I wonder if these two would have ever had the chance to come back to each other.  Tuck seemed like a gruff man, but through her visits Amanda has seen a romantic side of him and how he loved his wife his whole life even though she passed away years ago. 

While listening I was wondering about some tough questions.  How do we know how much we should intervene as a parent?  How can we make sure that our children can find happiness and be allowed to make mistakes that won't derail them completely?  How much can love conquer?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446547659
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Pages: 304