Friday, August 31, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- First Day of School!

This year our school district started one week earlier than usual.  It was odd having the first day in August, but as usual the first day of school is always exciting no matter when it happens.  My youngest doesn't start preschool for another couple of weeks, but the rest are settling in to their new grade levels.

This is hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books.

Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #6) by Charlaine Harris

The Barnes & Noble ReviewThis entry in Charlaine Harris's genre-blending Southern Vampire series -- an amalgam of mystery, dark fantasy, and paranormal romance -- is easily the most revealing and thematically pivotal volume to date. In the saga's sixth installment, Definitely Dead, telepathic Louisiana barmaid Sookie Stackhouse finds out jaw-dropping information about her first love, 130-something vampire Bill Compton, as well as equally astonishing insights into her own ancestry.

After her only cousin, Hadley, is murdered by one of the undead, Sookie travels to New Orleans to close out the young woman's apartment and collect her things. The unsavory job gets complicated quickly; Hadley was the "honeybun" of the bisexual vampire Queen of Louisiana, the seemingly ageless bloodsucker Sophie-Anne Leclerq. The queen has recently married another powerful sovereign in an attempt to forge a formidable alliance, and tensions in the supernatural community are running high. But when Sookie and her new love interest, a were-tiger named Quinn, are inexplicably kidnapped, the mind-reading waitress must unravel the mysterious circumstances of her cousin's murder before she ends up dead as well…

My thoughts:
I am sure this has been pointed out by many readers, but the thing I am always really struck by is how different these books are than the series.  So many details are changed and I wonder why.  I know TrueBlood just says it is based on the books, but why change so much?  If the story worked well in the book and sold well, wouldn't it follow that people would be interested in seeing that come to the screen?

That fact aside, I had a little trouble getting into this book, but once I was in I really enjoyed it.  I have the next two books to read and plan to read them soon while these details are still pretty fresh in my mind.  I am glad to see Sookie moving on in her dating life.  Sookie's cousin Hadley who was a vampire and the queens consort has met the true death and has left everything to Sookie as she was holding some sort of grudge against Jason.  Sookie travels to New Orleans to deal with the apartment and belongings and to make her required appearance with the queen.  Sookie gets a lot more than she bargained for in the apartment and gets pulled into some intrigue with the queen and her new husband, the King of Louisiana.  There is lots of action, lots of blood, plenty of vampires, witches, Weres and other were beings.Sookie makes a new witch friend in Hadley's landlord.

These books are a fun escape from reality.

Product Details

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Derik's Bane by MaryJanice Davidson

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Derik's a werewolf with alpha issues--and a body to die for.

Sara is the personification of unspeakable evil--and smells like roses.

Now if they could just stop drooling over each other long enough to save the world.

My thoughts:
Each year when we go on vacation I love to visit the couple of used book shelves at the local bookstore at the beach.  There are so few used book stores anymore that it is fun going and looking at what there is to pick from.  I usually find one or two books that I can't resist picking up and this was my book for this year.  I actually think I may have read it before, but it was long enough ago that I didn't remember what was going to happen very well so I enjoyed reading it even if it might have been for the second time.

Derik has become an alpha wolf, but his pack is lead by his best friend from the time he was an infant and he doesn't want to fight him.  Antonia is a werewolf who can see the future and she says he must go to California to take care of a woman who is Morgan la Fey reincarnated.  They have quite the adventure together getting across the country and trying to stay off everyone's radar. 

This was a fun easy read and perfect for interrupted beach reading time.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425245071
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Series:Wyndham Werewolf Series , #3

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Baring It All
Generations of werewolves have been secretly residing in a secluded valley a stone’s throw from Grundy, Alaska. So when a snooping Outsider comes to Grundy to investigate rumors of lycanthropic shenanigans in the area, the valley’s pack alpha, Maggie Graham, resolves to chase him away, even if doing so takes a quick bite on the butt. What a pity that researcher Nick Thatcher turns out to be so drool-worthy, and that his kisses make Maggie want to sit up and beg. Maggie just can’t seem to convince Nick to leave . . . and even worse, she can’t convince herself to stay away from him. Cross-species dating is problem enough for a harried alpha female, but on top of that, a rival group of werewolves is trying to move into the valley. With interpack war threatening, Maggie can’t afford to be distracted. Combining romance and a career can be tough for anyone; for a werewolf in love with a human, it may be disastrous. . . .

My thoughts:
I read this book last week on vacation.  I started it before we left but didn't really get into it until I was on the beach.  I enjoyed How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf last year and was really looking forward to reading this one too.  I actually got it as a gift from my Secret Santa's at Christmas time but as with so many books, I didn't manage to pick it up until now.

Maggie is the alpha werewolf since her brother decided to step back from the pack, but not all the area werewolves are happy about having a female as alpha.  Many want her to marry so she can carry on the genes for the pack as so many members have married outside the pack that they are having population problems with dead liners, babies that are no longer able to phase into werewolves.  But the problem is, Maggie is attracted to Nick who is a researcher who poses a danger to their whole way of life and her uncle really wants her to marry the alpha from a neighboring pack who is attractive, but not overly bright.

Adding to this there is someone causing problems for the pack and threatening Maggie.  Vandalism and more have been happening in the village and Maggie is trying to work out who is threatening her pack while fighting her feelings for Nick.

This was a fun read and I am glad that again there was an added mystery along with the romance and the werewolves to keep the story fun and interesting.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439195871
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Molly Harper

Molly Harper is the author of eight novels, including The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires and Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors. She worked for six years as a reporter and humor columnist for The Paducah Sun, covering courts, school board meetings, quilt shows, and once, the arrest of a Florida man who faked his suicide by shark attack and spent the next few months tossing pies at a local pizzeria. Molly lives in western Kentucky with her family.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Last week my family spent the week at the beach.  We had nice weather and spent lots of time on the beach and in the water.  I got some reading in, but not as much as I used to at the beach which isn't a bad thing since it means we were more active than we used to be when the kids were smaller.  I read one magazine, three books and listened to part of two different audio books. 

Finished this week:
Derik's Bane by MaryJanice Davidson
The Art of Seducing a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
Definitely Dead by Charlaine Harris
(There were werewolves in all of them which was not on purpose.  It was like I had a theme for the week!)

Still Reading:
Her Amish Man by Erin Bates
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (car audio)
Come Home by Lisa Scottoline (iPod audio)
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Bug!

It was hard to get a good picture of this little guy, but we tried.  I am not sure if it is a praying mantis or a stick bug.

We were leaning towards it being a Praying Mantis, but the pictures we found when we looked quickly online were all green.

Anyway, he was our unusual siting of the day along with a frog that hopped way too fast to get a picture of but who got the kids running to try to catch it!

This is hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Night Before Preschool by Natasha Wing

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

It's the night before preschool, and a little boy named Billy is so nervous he can't fall asleep. The friends he makes the next day at school give him a reason not to sleep the next night, either: he's too excited about going back! The book's simple rhyming text and sweet illustrations will soothe any child's fears about the first day of school.

My thoughts:
 My youngest child will start preschool this fall and we borrowed this book from the library.  He is very excited to be going to school like his older siblings and to have a back pack and a teacher.  We read this book quite a few times before we returned it to the library so someone else could take a turn with it.  It was nice that he couldn't sleep because he is excited, not because he is scared.  I love all the books that are a take on The Night Before Christmas.  I read them for a lot of different holidays and occasions and the rhyming just adds a little bit of extra fun to them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Night by Elie Wiesel

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Night is Elie Wiesel’s masterpiece, a candid, horrific, and deeply poignant autobiographical account of his survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of what the Holocaust was, what it meant, and what its legacy is and will be.
An autobiographical narrative in which the author describes his experiences in Nazi concentration camps, watching family and friends die, and how they led him to believe that God is dead.

My thoughts:
This is a book I felt like I should read.  It has been on my shelf for ages, but somehow I never managed to get it started.  Last week I decided to listen to the audio book and even that was hard for me.  Listening to Wiesel describe how things were leading up to the time his family was sent to the concentration camp, how it was on the trains that took them to the camps, what conditions were like and how things were inside the camps was hard.  One of the things that really struck me was how he described a man he knew, who was deported from their neighborhood for being a foreigner.  When he comes back and tells them of the awful things that were done to the people who were taken away, who were rumored to have been taken somewhere nice where there was more work, no one wants to listen to him.  No one wants to believe that he is telling the truth.  He keeps telling them how he came back to warn them all, but it does no good.  I'm not sure what being forewarned would have done, but perhaps some of them would have been able to leave before they were confined to ghettos or taken away on trains to concentration camps.

It is hard to wrap my mind around just how awful it was.  I've seen pictures, read books and viewed movies and I think there are things that are just so awful that we do not want to believe that they are true and happened.  To believe that they could still be happening in some places, even with all the technology and modernization we have, people are still mistreated and placed in awful conditions.  Then there is the way being in those situations changes people and reverts them back to just surviving.  While it was difficult to listen to, I am not sorry that I decided to read this book.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What's Your Number? (Movie)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Inspired by author Karyn Bosnak's novel 20 Times a Lady, director Mark Mylod's freewheeling comedy tells the tale of one hopelessly single women who's convinced she's passed up the man of her dreams. Upon reading a magazine article that leaves her dejected about her future marriage prospects, Ally Darling (Anna Faris) begins to fear that one of her many ex-boyfriends may have been "the one that got away." Now, with a little help from her mischievous neighbor (Chris Evans), Ally is paying a visit to each of her exes in order to reel in the perfect catch. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

My thoughts:
I picked this movie out on a whim the other day and I really enjoyed it.  It was fun and light, but showed how women can get so caught up in a number.  That number can be their age, their weight, their salary, their partners, or their children but they get stuck on that number and how it compares to other women.  I don't think men worry about this quite so much.  So, since Ally reads that most women who have slept with more than 20 men never get married and, she counts her past partners and gets to 19, she decides that the next man she sleeps with has to be "the one".  When she drunkenly squanders the last chance she thinks she has she goes back to find out who from her past was the "one that got away".  Lots of silly situations ensue and it was fun and also a lesson not to get too caught up in how much or how many of any one thing each of us is "supposed" to have or be.  We are all different and the right number for anything is different for each of us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

hush, hush (graphic novel) by Becca Fitzpatrick

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment. But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel. For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life!
This title also contains an exclusive, original story written especially for this book by the author. This bonus story tells what happens to the characters between Book 1 and Book 2 of this series and will only be available in this book.

My thoughts:
I read hush, hush when it was offered as a First Look Book Club through Barnes and Noble and really enjoyed it and I was interested to see how it would be as a graphic novel.  The graphic novel only covers the first half of the book as seems to be common with graphic novels.  I guess since so much of the story is told in pictures, even though there is less word wise to read, there is more space taken up with pictures.

The picture I had of Nora in my mind was not the way she was drawn on the page.  I am not a fan of how graphic novels make the female characters more exaggerated.  Bigger hips, bigger breasts and such.  Nora had a belly baring top on page after page which is not how I saw her at all.  I would have thought that the intended audience of the novel were female teenagers and young adults, I think having this depiction is actually a negative thing as very few girls actually look like that and it is another avenue like fashion magazines which are marketing a mostly unattainable image of beauty.  My dislike of how Nora was drawn led to less satisfaction with the story overall.  I think if I had picked this up before the novel I would have been unlikely to read the actual book.

The short story included at the end was good and much more in line with the series.  It takes place after book one and before book two and gives a hint at the politics that are to come into play in the storyline.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780983613114
  • Publisher: Sea Lion Books
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Edition description: Graphic Novel Edition
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 41,677
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another high audio week!

This week I finished:
The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
Safe Haven by Nicolas Sparks
Night by Elie Wiesel
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (audio)

Still reading:
Her Amish Man
by Emily Bates
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (car audio)
Coming Home by Lisa Scottoline

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Lucky One by Nicolas Sparks

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In his 14th book, bestselling author Nicholas Sparks tells the unforgettable story of a man whose brushes with death lead him to the love of his life.
After U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman buried in the dirt during his tour of duty in Iraq, he experiences a sudden streak of luck — winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph — his lucky charm.
Back home in Colorado, Thibault can't seem to get the woman in the photograph out of his mind and he sets out on a journey across the country to find her. But Thibault is caught off guard by the strong attraction he feels for the woman he encounters in North Carolina - Elizabeth, a divorced mother — and he keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate love affair, his secret soon threatens to tear them apart — destroying not only their love, but also their lives.
Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, THE LUCKY ONE is an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.

My thoughts:
I listened to this audio book last week, a good chunk of it was during my long run for the week.  I am sensing a lot of similarities in his stories as I recently listened to Safe Haven and The Best of Me as well.  I did not have a chance to see the movie when it was in theaters so I wanted to have read the book before seeing it on video.  Knowing myself, once I see a movie the likelihood that I will then read the book is very slim.

In this book you meet the bad guy right away, but don't get to see how he fits into the storyline until a bit later.  I liked Logan and Elizabeth, as well as Nana and Ben, Elizabeth's son.  It was a story where everything happened for a reason, even if the reason wasn't evident at the time.  I like how not all the pieces where clear at the start, but as more was revealed more made sense in how each of them reacted to events and how they made decisions.

I am enjoying Sparks books as audio books and will continue to look for them at the library. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455508976
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Movie Tie-in Edition
  • Pages: 416

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Weird Black Bird

Last weekend we had a moment that felt like it was out of Alfred Hitchcock's movie, The Birds.  We stopped by Turkey Hill to look for a Redbox movie.  My son walked right past this bird on the bench and it made no effort to fly away or anything.  It just looked right at him.

The rest of us took a bit of a bigger path around it, but the whole time people were going in and out of the store and to and from the gas pumps it just sitting there.  I actually went to the car and came back to take a picture.

My oldest asked if a bird can be rabid and I am really not sure, but we didn't let the kids go anywhere near the bird since the fact that it was not at all bothered by close proximity to people seemed odd.

This is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

When You Are Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

"David Sedaris's ability to transform the mortification of everyday life into wildly entertaining art," (The Christian Science Monitor) is elevated to wilder and more entertaining heights than ever in this remarkable new book.
Trying to make coffee when the water is shut off, David considers using the water in a vase of flowers and his chain of associations takes him from the French countryside to a hilariously uncomfortable memory of buying drugs in a mobile home in rural North Carolina. In essay after essay, Sedaris proceeds from bizarre conundrums of daily life-having a lozenge fall from your mouth into the lap of a fellow passenger on a plane or armoring the windows with LP covers to protect the house from neurotic songbirds-to the most deeply resonant human truths. Culminating in a brilliant account of his venture to Tokyo in order to quit smoking, David Sedaris's sixth essay collection is a new masterpiece of comic writing from "a writer worth treasuring" (Seattle Times).

My thoughts:
I guess I have been converted, I really enjoy Sedaris now.  A few weeks ago when I started his audio books I did so skeptically as I recall having an uneven experience the first time I read one, but now I am really enjoying his essays.  I think the audio version is more fun for me than if I were reading them on the page as I can listen to his inflections for each essay.  I think it would be hard to be a member of his family.  I hope his essays are exaggerated and he isn't really sitting around watching his boyfriend's elderly mother clean his apartment.  In earlier books he told lots of stories about the French classes he enrolled in both in the US and in France and now he is in Tokyo taking Japanese language classes and quitting smoking.  He talks about how he gave up drugs and alcohol.  One funny story deals with how different cultures react when he says "No thanks" to a drink, in the US people get apologetic for even asking while in Europe they suggest he just have one glass as a compromise.  He has come to see it is easier to accept champagne at a wedding and pass it along to Hugh than to go through even trying to decline it.  I a m now wondering if I may have listened to condensed version of his earlier books when I borrowed the boxed set, so i may go back and try them again to see if I missed anything.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316154680
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date: 6/2/2009
  • Pages: 336

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Last Boyfriend (Book 2 of the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy) by Nora Roberts

From Goodreads: A new novel of a shared past, a fresh start, and a lifetime of love. — #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts introduces you to the Montgomery brothers -- Beckett, Ryder, and Owen -- as they bring an intimate bed-and-breakfast to life in their hometown. — Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist -- and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers bust on his compulsive list-making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery McTavish...

Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation -- and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.

As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of Boonsboro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected -- and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last…

My thoughts:
I had meant to save this book to read at the beach, but one night when I went to bed I found that all the books I am currently reading were either downstairs, in my purse or out in the car and this one was on the nightstand so I started it.  Once I started reading I just wanted to keep going with it.  I read The Next Always in January and knew I wanted to see what happened with the brothers, friends, Inn and the ghost.  It has elements from other series and stories, but is still it's own story.  In book one Clare and Beckett fell in love and got engaged overcoming obstacles like widowhood, children and a crazy stalker.  This time around organized and meticulous Owen starts to realize that his first childhood girlfriend, when they were 6 and 8, is still as alluring as she was then but both he and Avery worry that going somewhere as a couple might have repercussions in their friend and working relationships.  Avery is renting the space for her restaurant as well as her apartment from Owen's family company and she sees him all the time socially and professionally. 

Along with the relationship element of the story, more is revealed about the Inn's ghost and what she wants and who she is.  Owen and Hope spearhead the research into her past to identify her.  Lizzy has some surprising connections to the present day group.  As a backdrop to their story is the completion of the Inn and the parties, showers and weddings that are held there.  Everything seems to come together perfectly for the Inn and there are some new businesses in the works that I hope to see more of in the third book in the trilogy which is due out in November.

Product Details:
ISBN-13: 9780425246030
ISBN-10: 0425246035
Publication Date: 5/1/2012
Pages: 352

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

My thoughts:
I got a copy of this book through Paperbackswap a couple years ago and it has just been sitting on my shelf.  Last week I decided to try it as an audio book instead.  While I haven't seen the most recent movie version, I did watch all three of the International ones around the same time that I got the book so I remember the story for the most part.  I was impressed at how well the movie I saw stuck with the book, not too much was changed.  It will be interesting to see the new movie and see how they handled it and how it compares to the book.

There were scenes that were hard to listen to, but since i saw the movie I knew they wre coming.  There was a lot more description of places and events than I was expecting and a lot of back story about the scandal that landed Mikael in trouble to begin with.  Some of the names were hard to follow since they were so unfamiliar sounding so I am glad that I did have my memory of the movie to look back on.  It was interesting to see what was going on inside of Lizbeth's head during her encounters.  The actress in the movie did such a good job of keeping a stony face, as she is described as doing in the book, that it was hard at times to get to what she really felt and thought.  This filled in all of the those gaps.  Also, working towards a solution to the mystery of what happened to Harriet all those years ago seemed to go more smoothly on film than it did when they were going to such great lengths to find an old photograph or the person who might have taken it.

I think I will be listening to books two and three on audio as well.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307272119
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/16/2008
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480

Meet the Author

Stieg Larsson
Stieg Larsson was the editor in chief of the magazine Expo. He was a leading expert on anti-democratic, right-wing extremist organizations. He died in 2004, soon after delivering the manuscripts of the novels The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is translated from the Swedish by Reg Keeland.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Last week was a big week in our family.  Saturday marked a year since I ran my first ever 5K and I repeated the race.  My husband ran it with me last year and really kept me going when I wanted to stop and walk so my time ended up being better than I expected for my first race.  This year we ran separately and I took 3 minutes and 17 seconds off last years time.  It wasn't a personal record, but it came close and the record I set was on a nice flat course in March when it wasn't humid at all!

Another big event for us is that we closed on a piece of land that we have been in the process of buying for months.  We have no current plans to build a house on it, maybe in the future, but we do plan on planting things, not totally settled on what exactly.  Our kids are loving going there and exploring and we spent hours there on Saturday mowing and removing rocks and raking.

Reading wise I even stayed up too late one night reading an actual book which hasn't happened lately, but my finished books are mostly audio again.  I'm finding that I will listen to books that I might not have taken the time to sit down and read which is fine.  I am less picky but it also means I might take a chance on something I would have missed otherwise.

Finished this week:
When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (audio)
3rd Degree by James Patterson and Andrew Gross (audio)
hush, hush: a graphic novel by Becca Fitzpatrick

Still reading:
Her Amish Man
by Emily Bates
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (car audio)
The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (audio)

3rd Degree(Women's Murder Club #3) by James Patterson and Andrew Gross

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The Women's Murder Club returns in a shockingly suspenseful thriller. Plunging into a burning town house, Detective Lindsay Boxer discovers three dead bodies...and a mysterious message at the scene. When more corpses turn up, Lindsay asks her friends Claire Washburn of the medical examiner's office, Assistant D.A. Jill Bernhardt, and San Francisco Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas to help her find a murderer who vows to kill every three days. Even more terrifying, he has targeted one of the four friends. Which one will it be?

My thoughts:
I decided to listen to the next story in the series last week but was disappointed to find out the library doesn't have book four as a digital audio book.  While I enjoy these books they aren't what I usually pick up for reading so if I can't listen to it I may not get to it for a while.  Perhaps I will start listening out of order just based on what the library has available.

This book was a bit more suspenseful.  One of the four women is targeted and will not be back for the next book which shocked me.  You always think that the main characters will be safe, how will they continue on without them, but then authors do kill off main characters which sometimes upsets readers.  This time I was shocked and surprised, but not to the extent that I feel cheated or anything.  I am not as invested in these books as I am in some series.  Somehow Lindsey is always racing against the clock to find a killer who is somewhat unpredictable and has little regard for human life.  I do wonder if Patterson can keep this up for the eleven books it looks like are in this series or if the mysteries get less grisly with time. This time a group  is killing based on events from the past and how they feel the mainstream society is selling out to the detriment of the poor and oppressed in societies all around the world. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446614832
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368

Friday, August 10, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Dinosaurs!

Our local amusement park added a new attraction this year full of life size dinosaurs some of which will move and roar.  Scattered throughout the park are samples to entice you to come and spend some extra money to see them all.

We told our kids that this was going to be a once a summer thing and picked an evening to go over to only do the dinosaurs exhibit.  This is our second summer with season passes so we go at least once a week to either ride the rides or go to the water park.

Some people were rushing from one dino to the next, but we tried to get them to take their time and read the signs and try out the buttons since this was the whole reason we were there.

Each dinosaur had a label and some cool facts listed out about it.

At the end of the loop they had a sand pit with pretend fossils for kids to play in.  Our kids spent quite a while there but again, as this was all that was on our agenda for the day we didn't rush them.

It was hard to get some of the huge dinosaurs in one picture, but the smaller ones were no problem.

It was a fun hour or two.  I just wish you didn't have to pay an extra fee to see it.

Marathon by Hal Higdon

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Especially in tough economic times, running offers an affordable and positive way to relieve stress and gain a sense of accomplishment. Marathons and—more than ever—half-marathons are the ultimate achievement for runners and have experienced an unprecedented boom in the last several years.
New hunger for reliable information on marathon and half-marathon training, as well as new technologies that have revolutionized ordinary people’s ability to train intelligently, means the time is right for a new edition of longtime Runner’s World contributor Hal Higdon’s classic guide to taking the guesswork out of preparing for a marathon, whether it’s a reader’s first or fiftieth.
Since its original publication in 1993, Higdon’s definitive manual has sold over a quarter of a million copies through all channels. The book is such a consistent seller for many reasons, but above and beyond all the others is this one: It works. At the core of the book remains Higdon’s clear and essential information on training, injury prevention, and nutrition. With more than 25 percent new material, this fourth edition of a running classic will be a must-own for both longtime runners and those new to the sport.

My thoughts:
It is now two months until my first marathon and I have been starting to get worried that my training is not going as well as it should be.  I printed out a plan from Runner's World months ago when I started training and I did well at the beginning with getting in the long runs and shorter runs as well, but as the summer heat has set in and the runs have gotten longer, I've missed some long runs.  The plan called for 5 20 mile runs over the course of the training, but a friend who has run eight marathons suggested that I didn't really need to do that many 20 mile runs which were freaking me out a bit.  Higdon's book suggests the same thing, that it is better to get to marathon day under trained than over trained and to have realistic goals for your first marathon, enjoy it and not feel terrible when you are done.  It gave me a lot of food for thought, but I still feel like I should be getting better at the longer runs than I am.  Coming up to the spring half marathon I ran I remember making sure I got in all the long runs the plan called for and the race went better than I anticipated and I felt okay afterwards.  Yes I was a bit stiff and sore, but it didn't make me miss any activities I had planned to do.  I hope to feel similarly after running my first marathon, especially since I will have to drive home that day as well.  I wish I had picked this book up at the beginning of  my training, not halfway through, because it would have been helpful to have had Higdon's tips and experience right from the beginning.  This is the marathon book I found to be most helpful.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609612245
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 304

Thursday, August 9, 2012

2nd Chance(Women's Murder Club Series #2) by James Patterson (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

2nd Chance reconvenes the Women's Murder Club, four friends (a detective, a reporter, an assistant district attorney, and a medical examiner) who used their networking skills, feminine intuition, and professional wiles to solve a baffling series of murders in 1st to Die. This time, the murders of two African Americans, a little girl and an old woman, bear all the signs of a serial killer for Lindsay Boxer, newly promoted to lieutenant of San Francisco's homicide squad. But there's an odd detail she finds even more disturbing: both victims were related to city cops. A symbol glimpsed at both murder scenes leads to a racist hate group, but the taunting killer strikes again and again, leaving deliberate clues and eluding the police ever more cleverly. In the meantime, each of the women has a personal stake at risk—and the killer knows who they are.

My thoughts:
I listened to book two last week and enjoyed the next installment of the Women's Murder Club.  I like how these strong women support one another both professionally and personally and how in this book they got to show more of their personal sides.  One is expecting a baby, one is starting to date,  and one is getting reacquainted with her father who has been absent from her life for twenty years.  I did not like that the murderer gets a bit more personal with them this time around and some of them become his targets.  It seems like they have found their suspect this time around, just as they did last time, and then again things start to not fit with the evidence.  This book picked up where the first one ended.  Lindsey has been promoted and Cindy is now writing the headlining stories for the newspaper.  They still meet for salads or drinks to go over facts from the latest case, each one bringing their own skills to the table.  It will be interesting to see where this series goes, how much we get to know each of these women and if they allow anyone else to join their group.  How might this group have differed if Lindsey's boyfriend had not been killed in the last book?  Would she still be as invested with her friends or would she be more involved in her romance?  How does having loved ones threatened change the case and make it harder to stay objective?  How many serial killers can come to San Fransisco or will they also solve cases elsewhere?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446612791
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/27/2003
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wildwood by the Sea: Nostalgia & Recipes by Anita Hirsch

From the Facebook site:
The newest book by Anita Hirsch, will be available this soon!
This collection includes her columns which have appeared in The SUN-by-the-sea,
which are nostalgia-packed, lavishly illustrated with photos and includes more
than fifty recipes in all.
Revisit people and places that make the Wildwoods so special. Read
how Wildwood-By-the-Sea came to be: stories of your favorite
places with more than 250 photos that will take you back to the
best times of your youth and your family vacations. Memories of
the boardwalk, the beach, the ocean, the sand, sand castles, the
tram car, and the is your chance to revisit your favorite
memories of Wildwood-By-The-Sea..

My thoughts:
I saw this on the shelf at the local library and picked it up out of curiosity.  I spent one summer when I was in college living in North Wildwood and working at an arcade.  It was a fun summer.  Unfortunately, since Wildwood wasn't my usual vacation spot with my family a lot of the articles and pictures didn't mean that much to me.  Some of the places are familiar, but not like they might have been if this is where I went year after year.  When I go to our usual family beach this summer I am going to have to check out if they have a similar book as I think it would be more meaningful for me.  That said, if you are someone who regularly vacations or vacationed in Wildwood I bet this book would bring back a lot of summer memories of restaurants, attraction and the boardwalk.  My most vivid boardwalk memory is the tram car and the recorded, "Watch the tram car please." that you hear whenever you spend any time there.  I also have to say that Wildwood has the longest beach if you measure the distance from where you get to the sand until you get to the water.  My roommates and I would sometimes stop by the dunes if we weren't planning on actually getting in the water because it seemed like it took too much energy to walk all the way to the water.  I know that sounds incredibly lazy, and I doubt I would do that now, but knowing that you had to be at work later but still wanted to spend some time on the beach it seemed like a logical compromise.  The other thing some of the older pictures reminded me of is the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire".  There are pictures from the 1930's that seem similar to how Atlantic City is shown on the show.


Copies will be available here;
Wildwood Historical Society
3907 Pacific Avenue
Wildwood, NJ

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Glass Case: A Short Story by Kristin Hannah

The Glass Case: A Short Story

Overview from Goodreads:
In her classic short story THE GLASS CASE, Kristin Hannah explores the heart and mind of a young mother. April Bannerman is a young mother of three, married to her high school sweetheart & living in the same small town in which she grew up. Although she loves her children and husband, April is plagued by the growing doubt that she has not lived up to her mother's expectations for her---until one day when something terrible and unexpected happens, and April must face the truth about her own life and discover what really matters.

BONUS MATERIAL INCLUDED: 1st chapter of Kristin Hannah’s newest novel HOME FRONT, coming January 2012.

My thoughts:
I wasn't sure what to expect from this short story when I started it.  I started it before I read Homefront one day when I had a few extra minutes and didn't have a book with me.  I had it saved on my iPod for a just in case moment.  Today I had the chance to finish the story.  April is a young mother who married young and nothing is quite what she thought it was going to be growing up.  Her mother had such big dreams for her since she felt like she wanted her daughter to have more than she ever did, but then April follows in her footsteps.  April loves her children and her husband, but often feels frazzled by the day to day stress of young children and family and a home.  How to get it all done in the time you have, which I can fully understand.  But one day something happens that has her thinking back and putting her life into perspective.  A lot of the story is about regrets she has and her worry that things could have been. I was not expecting the twist that came at the end, but it showed how a lot of how we look and think about things is just our perspective.  That often times things are more perfect than we are willing to see.  In evaluating if her life is the way she wants it to be, she is surprised by how she really feels about it all.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Can anyone say audio books?  I wouldn't even really be able to say that I am reading without them!  I do pick up book and I do read, but life gets in the way.  Here was my week:

I finished:
Marathon by Hal Higdon
My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacek (audio)
2nd Chance by James Paterson (audio)

Still reading:
Her Amish Man
by Emily Bates
How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (car audio)
The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (audio)

I haven't finished the Werewolf one because it is still out in the car and at bedtime I don't want to go outside to go and get it.  I am thinking when we go to the beach that it will get done pretty fast!  Hope everyone is getting lots of fun reading in with everything else!

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacek with Maryanne Vollers

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In her delightful and moving memoir, Sissy Spacek writes about her idyllic, barefoot childhood in a small East Texas town, with the clarity and wisdom that comes from never losing sight of her roots. Descended from industrious Czech immigrants and threadbare southern gentility, she grew up a tomboy, tagging along with two older brothers and absorbing grace and grit from her remarkable parents, who taught her that she could do anything. She also learned fearlessness in the wake of a family tragedy, the grief propelling her "like rocket fuel" to follow her dreams of becoming a performer.
With a keen sense of humor and a big-hearted voice, she describes how she arrived in New York City one star-struck summer as a seventeen-year-old carrying a suitcase and two guitars; and how she built a career that has spanned four decades with films such as Carrie, Coal Miner’s Daughter, 3 Women, and The Help. She details working with some of the great directors of our time, including Terrence Malick, Robert Altman, David Lynch, and Brian De Palma—who thought of her as a no-talent set decorator until he cast her as the lead in Carrie. She also reveals why, at the height of her fame, she and her family moved away from Los Angeles to a farm in rural Virginia.
Whether she’s describing the terrors and joys of raising two talented, independent daughters, taking readers behind the scenes on Oscar night, or meditating on the thrill of watching a pair of otters frolicking in her pond, Sissy Spacek’s memoir is poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, plainspoken and utterly honest. My Extraordinary Ordinary Life is about what matters most: the exquisite worth of ordinary things, the simple pleasures of home and family, and the honest job of being right with the world. "If I get hit by a truck tomorrow," she writes, "I want to know I’ve returned my neighbor’s cake pan."

My thoughts:
I listened to this audio book over the course of a couple days.  It was a very gentle read and focused a lot more on family than on the movie aspect of Spacek's life.  She spent long periods reminiscing about growing up in a small town in Texas with two brothers, of walking barefoot in the grass and exploring the courthouse, and of the tragedy that befell her family when she was young.  She is honest about how her dreams of being a musician didn't quite work out the way she thought they would and about being a new actor and having to earn her way into parts.  You can hear the love she has for her husband and daughters in her voice and in how proud she is of what they have all accomplished.  I think having Spacek do her own reading really added to the book because it felt like you were sitting down in a room with her and having her tell you her all about herself.  It feels like an intimate conversation at a party. One of the reviews I saw online complained that the book was too slow a read, but I think part of the slowness is deliberate to bring about the feelings of a time gone by when people were not as obsessed with moving fast and doing so much at the same time.  A time before cell phones and texting and computers everywhere.  I enjoyed the book especially in its audio format.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401324360
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/1/2012
  • Pages: 288

Friday, August 3, 2012

Saturday Snapshot- Legos!

One of the Groupons I bought this summer was for Open Play at Bricks for Kids.  During Open Play children can use any of the Legos to build and create.  They have a large raised bin, as well as sets with and without motors and larger Legos for little hands.

It is hard to tell here, but my daughter followed the directions to build a kangaroo.

My middle son spent a lot of time making the ghosts from Pac Man in different colors and making their eyes go different ways.

My youngest loved the larger legos and all the animals he found to play with that were later made into a zoo by the older ones.

This was one of the displays with a do not touch sign on it.  I wouldn't want to spend the money on it, but Hogwarts looked pretty cool!

This was my daughter working with an employee on building her kangaroo from the directions.

The beginnings of the zoo and some of the construction of the zoo.

This is hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books.

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers (audio)

From Harper Collins: 
Like Mother, Like Daughter...
Annabel Andrews is tired of her mother telling her on what to do. She's tired of being told to do her homework, clean up her room, and be nice to her little brother, Ape Face. If she were an adult, she could do anything she wanted, like watch TV all day and eat marshmallows for breakfast.
One Friday morning, Annabel's wish comes true when she wakes up and realizes she's turned into her mother! But after a major washing machine mishap, losing Ape Face, and a terrible teacher conference, Annabel starts to suspect that being an adult is not as much fun as it seems.
One thing's for certain -- this is one freaky Friday she'll never forget!

My thoughts:
I saw the old movie version of this years ago and the new one with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan as well, but the book is different than how I remember either of those movies.  It will be interesting to rewatch both of those to see how much it stuck with the story.  Even though the case was labeled for ages 10 and up I thought, based on my memories of the movies, that it would be fine for my children to listen to.  I am not sure that it was the best choice.  It was written in 1975 and some of the descriptions were just odd.  Annabel pretends to be a liberal and to do so she has an African American friend, after firing the German housekeeper she uses a slur for Hispanics, and I recall one other word that I would have preferred to have avoided introducing to my children.  They still enjoyed Annabel's antics being a grown up for the day and her problems with the washing machine, remembering to pick up her bother/son at the bus stop and handling the errands and parent teacher conference.  I don't regret listening to it, but I think I will be a bit more aware of the suggested age recommendations in the future.

ISBN 0064400468 ISBN13 9780064400466
ON SALE 4/7/2009 PAGES 192
AGES 10 & Up

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Safe Haven by Nicolas Sparks (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

When a mysterious young woman named Katie appears in the small North Carolina town of Southport, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Beautiful yet self-effacing, Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships: one with Alex, a widowed store owner with a kind heart and two young children; and another with her plainspoken single neighbor, Jo. Despite her reservations, Katie slowly begins to let down her guard, putting down roots in the close-knit community and becoming increasingly attached to Alex and his family.
But even as Katie begins to fall in love, she struggles with the dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her . . . a past that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, to the sheltered oasis of Southport. With Jo's empathic and stubborn support, Katie eventually realizes that she must choose between a life of transient safety and one of riskier rewards . . . and that in the darkest hour, love is the only true safe haven.

My thoughts:
When I started listening to this book I was reminded of the Julia Roberts movie Sleeping with the Enemy.  It didn't end up quite the same, but there were similarities between the two.  Katie is living in a small cottage with no car, working as a waitress and saving half of her paycheck every week in a can in the floor in case she needs to move again in a hurry.  Alex has been a widow for two years.  He has been focusing on his two small children, but thinks back to how his wife made him promise to find someone to love when he was ready, for himself and for his children.  Jo is a grief counselor who works with families who have lost loved ones and becomes Katie's friend, pushing her to get outside her boundaries and start living again.  Behind all of this is the shadow of what Katie ran away from in her old life with her real name.  It is a wonder that people are able to disappear at all with how connected everyone is with technology and social security numbers. This story also showed how anyone can be resourceful enough to find their way when they really need to.  Part of why I selected this one to listen to is that I had read it was being made into a movie.  According to IMDB Julianne Hough will play Katie, Josh Duhamel will play Alex and Cobie Smulders will play Jo.  It does not look like the movie is going to be out until next year which is fine by me.  I like to read a book before seeing the movie, but I also like to have some time between reading and watching so that the details can get a little fuzzy so I am not bothered by the unavoidable differences between the movie version and the book version of the story.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446547604
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Pages: 368

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

It's the literary equivalent of buried treasure! Seuss scholar/collector Charles D. Cohen has hunted down seven rarely seen stories by Dr. Seuss. Originally published in magazines between 1950 and 1951, they include "The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga " (about a rabbit who is saved from a bear with a single eyelash!); "Gustav the Goldfish" (an early, rhymed version of the Beginner Book A Fish Out of Water); "Tadd and Todd" (a tale passed down via photocopy to generations of twins); "Steak for Supper" (about fantastic creatures who follow a boy home in anticipation of a steak dinner); "The Bippolo Seed" (in which a scheming feline leads an innocent duck to make a bad decision); "The Strange Shirt Spot" (the inspiration for the bathtub-ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back); and "The Great Henry McBride" (about a boy whose far-flung career fantasies are only bested by those of the real Dr. Seuss himself).
In an introduction to the collection, Cohen explains the significance these seven stories have, not only as lost treasures, but as transitional stories in Dr. Seuss's career. With a color palette that has been enhanced beyond the limitations of the original magazines in which they appeared, this is a collection of stories that no Seuss fan (whether scholar or second-grader) will want to miss!

School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Fans of Dr. Seuss had their fondest wish come true when editor Charles Cohen collected these seven lost stories (Random, 2011) which were originally published in Redbook magazine in the 1950s. They are read here by some of the finest actors of our day. Neil Patrick Harris's voice rises spectacularly as he builds to the ridiculous climax of wishes that might be had by wishing on "The Bippolo Seed." Anjelica Huston lays it on as the clever rabbit who expounds on the tragedy of a predatory bear having one eyelash too few in "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Sanniga." Edward Hermann introduces lost Seussian creatures the Gritch, the Grickle, the Nupper, and the Ikka looking for "Steak for Supper" at the home of a panicked boy who bragged. Only in a Seuss story could a spot become so capricious a thing as it is when transferred from shirt to towel to tub to cat in "The Strange Shirt Spot," read by William H. Macy. Other stories include "Gustav, the Goldfish," read by Jason Lee; "Tadd and Todd," read by Joan Cusack; and Peter Dinklage reading "The Great Henry McBride." These classic Seuss tales are full of his trademark social commentary, outrageous imagination, and lyrical language. They beg to be read aloud and are done so with consummate drama by these gifted actors. Cohen ties up the production with the story of how he discovered and collected the stories, adding interesting asides. This recording is pure gold.—Constance Dickerson, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, OH

My thoughts:
After listening to 15 hours of Inkheart this was the perfect break.  This one hour disk had stories that were a lot more accessible for my younger listeners.  They were not able to put a face to most of the names reading the stories, but I was and here were our thoughts on each one:

The Bipplo Seed (Neil Patrick Harris)- A duck finds a box with one seed.  On the box are directions that state that once planted, you can ask for anything you want and it will grow on the tree.  The duck plans to ask for a weeks supply of food until a cat comes along and starts filling his mind with idea of money and opening a store.  They plan to ask the tree for more than either one of them could ever use so that they can get rich, until the seed flies out of the ducks hand and into the river.  Their selfishness and greed costs them to chance to get anything at all.

The Rabbit, the Bear and the Zinniga-Zannigo (Angelica Huston)- A rabbit saves itself from being eaten by a bear by convincing the bear that he is off balance because one eye has one less eyelash than the other.  Shows how quick thinking can save someone even if they are smaller or weaker.

Gustav the Goldfish (Jason Lee)- Very much like A Fish out of Water which was written by Seuss's first wife, except that this version rhymes.  Not sure if Lee had the right voice for the story though.

Tadd and Todd (Joan Cusack)- Two twins, one of whom wants to look different and be his own person, who somehow always look the same even when one attempts to do something outlandish.

Steak for Supper (Edward Hermann)  Reminded me a lot of To Think that I saw it on Mulberry Street as the boy is walking home and says out loud how his family always has steak for supper on Saturday who gets a crazy assortment of beings who want to tag along and eat his expensive, $1 a pound, steak.

The Strange Shirt Spot (William H. Macy)- This idea was later used in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, but was still fun to listen to.

The Great Henry McBride (Peter Dinklage)- Similar to other stories by Seuss about what someone could grow up to be.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375864353
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Pages: 72
  • Sales rank: 23,034
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years