Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Snapshot-Sidewalk Art!

Summer ended over the weekend, but I had to share some of the colorful creations my children made last weekend.

They won new sidewalk chalk at the local library in the summer reading program and it was really brightly colored.

They filled up a good part of our outside patio with creations.

Unfortunately they pretty much used up the whole pack on one days work.

Time to start looking to see if anyone has it on sale since it is considered a summer item!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey: A Parody by Fanny Merkin (aka Andrew Shaffer) (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Young, arrogant tycoon Earl Grey seduces the naïve coed Anna Steal with his overpowering good looks and staggering amounts of money, but will she be able to get past his fifty shames, including shopping at Walmart on Saturdays, bondage with handcuffs, and his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick)? Or will his dark secrets and constant smirking drive her over the edge?

My thoughts:
 I did not care for 50 Shades of Grey.  It took me forever to be talked into giving book two a try and I have yet to try book three.  A lot of the reasons I had issues with the book were parodied in this book.  I found it to be funny and snarky in a good way, poking fun at holes in the story and making fun of how Grey throws his money around so much.  Shaffer wove in both the 50 Shades books and parts of Twilight and that saga as well as the movie actors.  While I think anyone could find this book interesting and engaging, it probably helps if you have some background knowledge or have read 50 Shades of Grey and the Twilight series(even seeing the Twilight movies would do the trick!). 

Anna has made it through college without email or any kind of physical contact with the opposite sex.  Her friend Jin is obsessed, with both Anna and My Little Ponies, her parents are divorced and her roommate has issues.  From helicopters to car crashes, to Starbucks and Walmart Anna and her friends visit it all.  What comes through most of all is, as with 50 Shades of Grey, how ashamed you are of the things you like and spend you time on is a reflection of how you think others see you, instead of just being happy with yourself and not worrying what everyone else thinks.

I listened to this book and found myself laughing along with the narrator on multiple occasions.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306821998
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Pages: 224

Meet the Author

Fanny Merkin (aka Andrew Shaffer) is known for causing trouble via his Twitter alter egos, @evilwylie, @andrewtshaffer, and @EmperorFranzen. He reviews romance, erotica, and women’s fiction for RT Book Reviews magazine; his own writing has appeared in many publications including Mental Floss and Maxim. Shaffer is the founder and creative director of Order of St. Nick greeting cards.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater (Wolves of Mercy Falls Series #3)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stiefvater
In Maggie Stiefvater's SHIVER, Grace and Sam found each other. In LINGER, they fought to be together. Now, in FOREVER, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.

My thoughts:
As soon as I finished Linger I couldn't wait to read Forever to find out how everything was going to work out.  The book alternates between Sam, Grace, Isabella and Cole's voices and points of view.  Same is struggling with the wait for Grace to be human again and is suspected of having something to do with her disappearance, either by force or by her choice.  Isabella is attracted to Cole, but doesn't want to be and has trouble getting past her brother, Jack's, death as a wolf when the meningitis hypothesis ended up killing instead of curing him.  Cole is upset that he can't seem to stay a wolf, while Victor can't seem to stay human.  And Grace finds the companionship she always felt was there with the wolves, as well as the danger of the one, very unstable member of the pack.

When a naked girl is found dead near Beck's house things get pushed to a breaking point and Isabella's father manages to use his connections to get an order to have the wolves killed to protect the townspeople.  What is this group of four going to do to save themselves and the other wolves, some of whom no longer change and most of whom will not be able to change in time to save themselves from the helicopter and gunmen?

Using Beck's diaries and journals and Cole's scientific discoveries, they devise a plan, but it has as many chances to fail as the meningitis cure did and even more people and wolves are at risk.

As people encroach more and more on land that was formerly the territory of wild animals we are going to continue to have situations like this, where animals who are acting on their instincts, seem to put people in danger.  Is there a safe plan?  Can they be relocated?  Is it right to shoot them?  Where do we draw the line?

Meet the Author

Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, and Forever. She is also the author of Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

From The New York Times bestselling author of Jemima J and The Beach House comes Jane Green’s most emotional and powerful novel yet:  a story that explores the complications of a woman marrying into a ready-made family.

Andi is a woman who has spent much of her adult life looking for the perfect man, and at thirty-seven, she's finally found him.  Ethan—divorced with two daughters, Emily and Sophia—is a devoted father and even better husband.  Always hoping one day she would be a mother, Andi embraces the girls like they were her own.  But in Emily’s eyes, Andi is an obstacle to her father’s love, and Emily will do whatever it takes to break her down. When the dynamics between the two escalate, they threaten everything Andi believes about love, family, and motherhood—leaving both women standing at a crossroad in their lives and in their hearts.

Another Piece of My Heart is a novel that illuminates the nuances and truths about relationships and is Jane Green at her absolute best.

My thoughts:
I felt this was a good story, but I wasn't totally sold on the narrator. Some of the story is told in Andi's voice and some in Emily's.  Emily was really sullen, angry and whiny.  It was hard to listen to her sometimes.  I'm not sure if that was on purpose or just how it worked out. 

This is the type of situation that many people now find themselves in and I liked that Green showed the situation from the sides of both the step mother and the step daughter.  It was interesting as well that only one of the step children had an issue with their father's new wife.  The younger daughter loved her and spending time with her.

In our times of blended families, divorce, remarriage and any other combinations there are a lot of children and adults going into less charted territory, trying to find happiness and compromise in new situations and also finding people, both adults and children, who are unwilling or unable to compromise to find a happy ground in the new family.

Green shows that it is possible to love but not like someone, to reach a point where you just cannot go on as things are and that there comes a time when a parent needs to see a child as the adult they have become and hold them accountable for their actions and words.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312604165
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/12/2013
  • Pages: 416

Meet the Author

Jane Green
JANE GREEN is the author of twelve bestselling novels dealing with real women, real life, and all the things in-between, with her trademark wisdom, wit, and warmth. She writes a daily blog and contributes to various publications including Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Wowowow, and Self. A foodie and passionate cook, most weekends see her cooking for quests in her home in Westport, Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and their six children.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

This rollicking follow-up to Carrie Fisher’s' New York Times bestselling memoir and Tony Award- and Emmy Award-nominated, one-woman Broadway show Wishful Drinking is packed with madcap memories from her star-studded life: her friendships with Michael Jackson and her once-upon-a-very-brief-time stepmother, Elizabeth Taylor; her dates (and brawls) with senators; and her love affair with electroconvulsive therapy. But it's also a tender chronicle of her rollercoaster relationship with her father, Eddie Fisher, whose unconventional approach to life — to say nothing of parenting — sometimes drove Carrie to the brink, but also taught her about the nature of family, and love.

My thoughts:
This book was a Christmas present, but I just don't always do well with books once I own them.  I am good about finishing library books or oftentimes new releases, but somehow once I own them and put them on my shelf I can turn into the biggest slow poke in getting around to reading them.  No wonder my book shelves are so full!

This was a fun read.  It feels like Fisher is just sitting down with you to dish about her life and reminisce about her past.  She starts out by telling the reader how she has started electroconvulsive therapy and explains how that can lead to memory loss, something she mentions frequently throughout the book.  So she is recording her memories to preserve them in case she forgets.

Her relationship with her father didn't really come to be very close until he was near the end of his life, but she seems to be very grateful that they were able to progress to a close relationship before it was too late showing that it is never too late to reconcile or get to know a loved one who has been mostly absent from ones life. 

Fisher is very candid about her past drug use and drinking and her issues with her weight.  I think many of us can understand her thoughts upon looking at unflattering pictures where she wonders why she ate the food she did and why she ate so much of it!  It is hard to capture her voice here in my own thoughts, but it was a different take on being a celebrity from the point of view of a celebrity who saw fame ruin people like Michael Jackson and how so much in Hollywood that seems everyday is actually staged just like it was back when actors had contracts and had their lives managed by the studios.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743264839
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 176

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- Saturday Fun!

We spent a day at a local Renaissance Faire at the end of the summer.  We've gone a number of times in the past and each time we go we try to let the kids do something new.  This year our new things were archery and crossbow. 

I think shooting the arrows was a bit harder than they were expecting, but they were excited to try it.

The younger two watched them

Then we moved down to the crossbows for them to take their turn.

They younger two then each took a turn shooting suction cup arrows at a dragon.

They  had fun aiming and trying.

While they didn't exactly hit the target marks, they did hit the dragon.

Then we went to their favorite game.  You buy something to throw and break!

They each took a turn aiming and throwing at a big target painted on the wall.

Who wouldn't have fun smashing and breaking?

I don't think they have ever gotten the same thing to throw twice.

Hitting the target!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pros and Cons: A Short Story by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:


Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg have teamed up for a dynamic new series featuring an FBI agent who’s on the hunt—and a master con artist who’s enjoying the chase. The con is on in this eBook original short story that’s a triumphant prequel to The Heist.

FBI special agent Kate O’Hare has made it her mission to nail international con artist Nicolas Fox. When she discovers his plot to plunder a venture capitalist’s twentieth-story Chicago penthouse of all its cash and treasures while the self-proclaimed “King of Hostile Takeovers” is getting married, Kate is 85 percent—okay maybe 92 percent—sure that she’s finally going to bag Nick Fox.

Problem is, first Kate has to convince her boss, building security, and maybe even herself, that wedding planner Merrill Stubing is actually Nicolas Fox. Second, she has to figure out how to corner and capture him without disrupting the event of the year. And third, what’s going to happen once O’Hare finally gets her hands on Fox? It’s going take a pro to catch a con before the fireworks over Lake Michigan go off.

Includes a sneak peek of The Heist, the first novel in the highly anticipated new series from Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg!
My thoughts:
This was a fun, short book to listen to and to garner excitement about the recently released of the book The Heist.  The audio version did not have the sneak peak of the next book.  Kate and Nick are introduced and shown in their elements, as an FBI agent tracking down a criminal who used alias from TV characters of past shows to a con artist who sets up elaborate heists by pretending to be someone else entirely and planning it all out to the last detail.
The book was fast paced, funny and had enough suspense and chemistry to make you wonder what will happen when these two meet?  Will Kate be able to arrest Nick?  Does he want to get caught?  How long can he hide from the law?  And why do the higher ups keep doubting Kate's instincts?  I'm going to have to look into getting a copy of the new book to see how it all plays out!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345549433
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/21/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 28

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls Series #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In Maggie Stiefvater's thrilling sequel to Shiver, love is the question and the answer.
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack. And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

My thoughts:
At the end of Shiver Grace and Isabel has given Sam the injection with meningitis in it hoping that the high fever it will produce will kill the wolf infection and all him to return to being human for good.  They did the same thing for Jack, Isabel's brother, but he died at the end of the first book.  Since she hasn't seen him in so long, Grace is convinced that Sam is dead too until he walks into her backyard.

It seems like that should be the end of the story, Sam is cured and they can live happily ever after, but of course there is more.  Isabel and Grace find a wolf dead in the woods with blood leaking from the nose and mouth, one of the new wolves Beck made before becoming a wolf for what he believes will be his last time has been having a hard time remaining a wolf, and Grace is getting fevers and feeling sick and smelling like a wolf all the time.

Who is Cole? The mysterious new wolf who would rather be a wolf than human.  Who is Victor who has so much anger towards Cole and has a hard time remaining human?  Will Olivia be coming back out of the woods?  How much danger are the wolves in from hunters?  Is Sam really cured?  How does the fever work in killing the wolf infection?  Why do they only get so many years of changing before they are wolves for good?

Grace has a secret, one she isn't sharing but that Isabel and Sam know is there, but only she knows how big the secret really is.  When her parents finally start acting like parents they can't see how she could possibility be mad at them for their absenteeism. 

I think Stiefvater did a good job with the twists and turns and how things work out.  Each of the characters gets fleshed out more than in the first book and seem more like real people.  Cole especially goes through a transformation for the reader where you get a glimpse of what in his life led him to be where he is now and how the choices he made were based on his family and his life.

Product Details

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shiver(Wolves of Mercy Falls Series #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

In all the years she has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house, Grace has been particularly drawn to an unusual yellow-eyed wolf who, in his turn, has been watching her with increasing intensity.

My thoughts:
I got this book from quite some time ago, but it just kept sitting on my book shelf.  I decided to try the library audio version instead.  I knew I wanted to read it, but for some reason I was never picking it up.  I listened to it a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it.  I liked the world that Stiefvater created, with people who turn into wolves when it is cold, but get to spend the summer as themselves again.  Grace has been obsessed with the wolves since she was attacked and bitten as a child, but somehow that experience has not made her scared of the woods or the wolves.  She and her friend Olivia share this passion, with Olivia using photography to watch and document the pack that is present in the winter, but missing in the summer.

A boy in Grace and Olivia's class is attacked and killed by the wolves, making the people of Mercy Falls go on a rampage to hunt and kill the wolves even though they are protected by Minnesota laws.  Grace tried to protect the wolves by telling the hunters that Olivia is in the woods taking pictures.  When she returns home she finds a naked boy who has been shot in the neck on her back porch.  Sam isn't sure at first how he ended up there, by Grace has an idea and is intrigued by his striking yellow eyes.

So begins the relationship of two teens who have a big secret to hide from the world who also have to deal with the time constraints placed upon them by these special circumstances.  Grace finds out more about "her" wolf and more about how she managed to survive her attack, although they are baffled as to why she never went through the change herself since she was bitten.

Grace's parents bothered me.  They were so wrapped up in their own lives that they spent very little time with her or in their home.  Imagine being alone all the time as a teenager.  It made me wonder if part of her obsession with the wolves was to feel like she had a family or because she was jealous of the closeness of the pack and how they looked out for each other, something that was lacking for her in her own family.  It will be interesting to see how some of the developments at the end of this book play out in the next two.

Product Details

Meet the Author

Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, Forever, and The Scorpio Races. She is also the author of Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. You can visit her online at

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me (And Other Concerns) My Mindy Kaling

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

My thoughts:
This has been on my wish list for a year now and I found it as an audio download from the library.  I had it on my iPod all ready for a half marathon and I forgot my iPod in the car that dropped me off.  I think it would have helped distract me especially around mile 11 when I really didn't want to be running anymore.

Mindy Kaling reads the book so it is like you are sitting down with her one on one hearing funny stories about her life.  I envy people who are able to be this entertaining and who make it seem effortless.  I am sure she put lots of thought into this book, but she makes it seem so effortless and funny.  It was really nice that she shared both success stories and times she failed in some way, when she didn't get the job or part, was stood up for a date, or hated riding her bike.

It was nice to hear about how much she valued her friends and first roommates as well as how she discovered who her real friends were in high school.  Everyone has hope and dreams and goes through some sort of struggle to be successful.  It is easy to think that people who are famous have had it easier than others, but books like this that demonstrate in an entertaining way that everyone has struggles serve two purposes, they entertain and they remind us that everyone can work hard.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307886279
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author

MINDY KALING is an Emmy-nominated writer and actress on NBC's The Office. She is also the creator and star of a new show, FOX's The Mindy Project. You can find her on Twitter (@mindykaling), or at her desk pretending to be writing a screenplay but actually online shopping with a memorized credit card number. She resides in Los Angeles. Her billing zip code is 90067

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Last year in September I self published a novella I wrote on Amazon for the Kindle.  A couple weeks ago I reread it to see what I thought of it.  I noticed that I needed more commas!  But besides that, I really do like the story.  To celebrate that it has been out there for a year I made it free for Kindle from today through Thursday.  I would love some feedback!  Here is a link if you are interested in getting it for free to read.

Last week I never got around to posting what I read and now I can't quite sort out what books were last week and the week before, but here is what I've read recently:

Kicking and Dreaming:  A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll by Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson and Charles R. Cross 
Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green
Pros and Cons by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I  might have forgotten something, but that looks like my past two weeks.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
My thoughts:
In each of Hannah's thirteen reasons she explains how her actions and those around her led her to conclude that her only option was suicide.  In the beginning of the tapes, thirteen sides of narrative, she has difficulty saying the word, but as time goes by and she becomes more comfortable and firm in her resolve she starts to be able to say it.
I've read a number of other bloggers reviews, since this book came out a few years ago there are a lot to read, and they seem to be divided.  Some loved it and felt the book really resonated with them and stayed with them while others felt it might be inappropriate for teen readers since Hannah has decided that she is going to end her life and that might give teens the idea that suicide is an option.  I think that teens are very aware of suicide and think about it a lot more than adults do, perhaps having more to do with immaturity and hormones and less security in being themselves.  Since teens know about and think about suicide, this book would not necessarily make them think that suicide is okay, but might show how there were options that Hannah didn't take and help she could have asked for that she did not, it might actually help them to see that even when things seem helpless, there is always the chance for a change for the better.
In reading this book I was reminded of a number of cases recently of teen girls who committed suicide due to rumors, bullying and rape.  This book is a window into what those teens might have been thinking and, in reading it, perhaps teens could be taught ways to change.  I am no longer a teenager, but I can easily remember how rumors traveled and how many of the rumors circulating at a school were not real.  How sad that when Hannah moved to a new school a boy started an untrue rumor about her that colored how everyone saw her.  How sad that the one rumor had ripple effects for the rest of her time at the school.  Even Clay, who had a crush on her, had qualms about spending time with her thinking that her reputation might rub off on him.  He waited too long to try to get to know her, not knowing that it was too long, but even he let that one rumor color the way he saw Hannah instead of believing his own instincts about her.
I wish there were a better way to teach teens that words can hurt.  The silly saying that, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me" is not true and has never been true.  We would like to think that names and rumors can't hurt us, but they do.  As adults we are more secure and can often move past a situation due to experience, but as a teen stuck in a school for four years with a lot of the same people, there is no where to go.  At the same time, Hannah had options for getting help that she did not explore.  She could have used her words better and she could have told someone before it was too late.  What I hope teens get from this story is that word can hurt and that if you need help you have to be proactive in asking for it, you can't expect people to read between the lines and give it to you, value yourself enough that you ask for help and keep asking for it until you get what you need because your life is more important than any kind of embarrassment.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595141880
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/14/2011
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

Jay Asher
Jay Asher is the author of the young adult novels The Future Of Us and Thirteen Reasons Why. Thirteen Reasons Why, his first novel, was published in hardcover in October 2007, going on to spend 65 weeks on the New York Times children's hardcover bestseller list, with foreign rights into 31 countries and 750,000 copies currently in print in the US alone. Visit his blog at and follow him on Twitter at

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- News time!

Last weekend we went on a tour of a local television station.  At the end of the tour the kids got a chance to sit in the same chairs that the news anchors use when they report from the station.

It was an informative and fun tour.  There was a guide, a map and a scavenger hunt.  I think my kids were more interested in the free stuff, but I learned a lot about the station from the guide.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thumped by Megan McCafferty

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Megan McCafferty’s Bumped series of books are must-read teen dystopian fiction, along with Ally Condie’s Matched series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy.

Thumped, the sequel to Bumped, manages to be satiric, scary, and romantic at the same time. It continues the story of separated-at-birth twins, Melody and Harmony, girls as engaging as McCafferty’s Jessica Darling. These sisters are the most popular teen girls on the planet. To their fans, they seem to be living ideal lives. Harmony is married to Ram and living in Goodside, the religious community that once meant everything to her. Melody has the genetically flawless Jondoe as her coupling partner, which means money and status—and a bright future.

But both girls are hiding secrets. And they are each pining for the only guys they can’t have…. The biggest risk of all could be to finally tell the truth.

My thoughts:
In this dystopian world, fertility doesn't last past the teenage years so young teens are encouraged to "bump" for pregnancy.  These highly sought after children are then adopted by couples desperate to have a child of their own.  It has become such a market that sometimes couples are willing to pay large amounts of money to pair up teens who have sought after characteristics to give them the most genetically blessed child.  In Bumped, Melody was paired with Jondoe to "bump" for a child for a couple.  At the same time her identical twin sister had left the religious compound to meet her and ended up falling for Jondoe.  Now, Harmony is back at Goodside with her husband and Melody is going to school.  Both twins are being closely watched as they are twins pregnant with twins at the same time, quite a rarity in the world.  Only, things aren't as they seem.

Harmony is being shunned by her house sisters and is being isolated with her husband while pregnant.  Melody has to go to events to promote her "brand" and wear a band that keeps track of her heart rate and blood pressure to insure the health of the babies she is carrying.  There are tons of behind the scene secrets and the fact that none of these teenagers is really considering the pregnancy as a child, but as a commodity is disturbing.  None of the words associated with these pregnancies sounds like a baby.  They take medication to keep themselves from bonding with the child they carry, they "bump" to create them and they have made being pregnant the biggest status symbol.  High profile pairing are celebrities and are followed on their version of the Internet.

What do we as a society value?  How do we show what we care about?  Are we rewarding the wrong behaviors?  What does it take to stand up for what you really believe and feel and how do you take responsibility for yourself and your decisions?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061962776
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/23/2013
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 290

Meet the Author

Megan McCafferty
Megan McCafferty is the author of Bumped as well as the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series, which includes Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds, Fourth Comings, and Perfect Fifths. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with her family.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

1022 Evergreen Place by Debbie Macomber

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Dear Reader,
Guess what? I'm falling in love! With Mack McAfee.
My baby daughter, Noelle, and I have been living next door to Mack since the spring. I'm still a little wary about our relationship, because I haven't always made good decisions when it comes to men. My baby's father, David Rhodes, is testament to that. I'm so worried he might sue for custody.
In the meantime, the World War II letters I found are a wonderful distraction. Both Mack and I are trying to learn what happened to the soldier who wrote them and the woman he loved.
Come by sometime for a glass of iced tea and I'll show you the letters. Plus I'll tell you the latest about Grace and Olivia, my brother Linc and his wife, Lori (who tied the knot about five minutes after they met!), and all our other mutual friends. Oh, and maybe Mack can join us….
Mary Jo Wyse

My thoughts:
This was one of my beach reads.  Seeing as Cedar Cove is now a series on the Hallmark Channel, it seemed like a good time to catch up on the books from my shelf that are part of the series.  One more to go and I will have read them all!  I love how Macomber has made Cedar Cove a place that feels real with characters who seem like friends.  I was disappointed when I read that book twelve was her last book in this series, but then she started the Inn at Rose Harbor series and it has some of the same characters making an appearance, along with friends from Blossom Street, so her characters are still out there, making their lives and coming by from time to time to share their stories.

In 1022 Evergreen Place Mary Jo Wise and Mack McAfee are living on two sides of a duplex that at one time was just one house.  Mack owns the building, but hasn't told Mary Jo thinking she will be upset about the break he is giving her on rent.  They are both attracted to each other and falling in love, but his lie about the duplex and her fear that men are like her daughter Noelle's father get in the way.  Meanwhile you get to see how Charlotte's memory issues are going, how Olivia is recovering from cancer and how Gloria is doing fitting in with her birth family.  How are Bruce and Rachel coping with teenage Rachel and her hostility about their marriage, will Linc and his new wife be able to stand up to her father and how will Will react to a woman he is pursuing not jumping for him?  It seems like you get to see a little bit of what all the characters from the first nine books are up to.

I really liked the added element of the letters Mary Jo finds under a board in the closet.  The added element of a mystery and the addition of some history about World War II kept the book moving and exciting.  Finishing this book was like saying goodbye to friends after a visit.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778328063
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Series: Cedar Cove Series , #10
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 366

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber, with more than 100 million copies of her books sold worldwide, is one of today's most popular authors. The #1 New York Times bestselling author is best known for her ability to create compelling characters and bring their stories to life in her books. Debbie is a regular resident on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times (70 times and counting), USA TODAY (currently 67 times) and Publishers Weekly (47 times). Visit her at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Twelve by William Gladstone (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The Twelve is a novel about a most unusual and unsuspecting hero. As a child, Max lives in a world of colors and numbers, not speaking until the age of six. As an adult, Max ventures on a journey of destiny to discover the secret behind the ancient Mayan prophecy about the “end of time,” foretold to occur on December 21, 2012.

At fifteen years old, Max has a near-death experience during which he has a vision that reveals the names of the twelve unique individuals. While Max cannot discern the significance of the twelve names he is unable to shake the sense that they have deep meaning. After completing his schooling at Harvard and Yale, eight years pass before Max meets the first of The Twelve.

With this first meeting, Max’s voyage of discovery begins, as he strives to uncover the identities and roles of the twelve individuals he will meet during his journey toward the truth. All of The Twelve seem connected, and all of them are important to what will happen at the exact moment the world as we know it will end.

The novel take the reader on a serious of spectacular adventures to Jerusalem, Athens, London, India, Istanbul, China, Japan, and Mexico, culminating in a understanding of why and how Max and The Twelve are destined to unite and discover the true meaning of December 21, 2012.

The outcome of their meeting could fulfill an ancient Mayan prophecy, controlling the future of life on our planet. Only The Twelve can provide the answers, as the fate of all humanity rests in the balance.
My thoughts:
I wasn't paying enough attention when I downloaded this book from the library online audio books.  I saw the title and thought it was past of Justin Cronin's series.  I spent my first treadmill run wondering when the vampire/zombie people were going to show up!  It turns out it was for the best since The Twelve is not the first book in Cronin's series.
This book was a bit slow moving for me and I felt like the author did a lot of telling instead of letting his story unfold naturally, he gave a lot of information about characters and what they were thinking instead of revealing it through scenes.  I listened to three quarters of it and then took a break for a week, finally deciding that I might as well see how it all played out since I had listened to more than half of it already.
The metaphysical aspects and the explanation of the Mayan prophesy were nicely done, but overall I was just ready for the book to be done.  I didn't feel connected to any of the characters, it felt like the book lacked an emotional connection to the reader and the characters seemed to lack one with each other.  Max kept getting engaged and having it not work out, but his heart was never broken, he just kept moving forward.  It was a good concept, but disappointing in the end.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781937856892
  • Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/30/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288

Meet the Author

William Gladstone is coauthor of the books Tapping the Source and The Golden Motorcycle Gang and author of the international bestselling novel, The Twelve. Gladstone is considered an international expert on indigenous cultures and the meaning of 2012. He is also coproducer of the highly acclaimed film Tapping the Source.

As a literary agent, Gladstone has worked with some of the most respected and influential authors of our time, including Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Barbara Marx Hubbard. As a pioneer in the publishing industry, he contributed to the creation of the first print-on-demand book publishing company as well as the first ebook company. Throughout his career, Gladstone has worked with prominent visionaries, including Tom Anderson, founder of Myspace; Peter Norton, founder of Norton Computing; and Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system.

Gladstone is a trustee of the International Club of Budapest whose honorary members include the Dalai Lama, Dr. Jane Goodall, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Gladstone has served on the boards of public and private companies and was the founding president of the Alumni Association for School Year Abroad, based in Andover, Mass. He attended Yale College and earned a graduate degree in cultural anthropology from Harvard University.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky Series, Book 2) by Veronica Rossi

Overview from Barnes ands Noble:

A world-defying love is put to the ultimate test in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling sequel to Veronica Rossi's "masterpiece," Under the Never Sky ( ). In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, bestselling author Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and dystopian elements to create a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable.

It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

My thoughts:
Sometimes I wish I could just wait for a whole series to be written to start it, that way there would be no wait time in between books and no struggling to remember what happened in the last book, but that is not the case this time. 

In Rossi's dystopian world, the earth has become very inhospitable.  Three hundred years ago technology allowed some members of society to move inside pods that have everything they need, but there was not room for everyone so other people were left out in the elements to fend for themselves.  Within these pods aging was slowed and reversed and technology is very prevalent.  In order to get away from the boredom of the gray clothing and walls Realms were developed in computer game like areas, people can use their Smart Eye (like a Smart phone but attached at all times to their left eye and having a clear screen they can look through) to visit realms and see opera houses, gondolas and canals, beaches and more.  They feel like they are living a full life without ever having to leave their rooms or their lounges.  Outside, people have formed into tribes and are struggling to survive, the sky is filled with Aether, a blue substance that causes lightning strikes so large it burns up fields and knocks over homes.  The storms come frequently and once something is burned it doesn't grow back.

Aria grew up in a Pod, but ended up outside due to an accident and met Perry, whose help she needed to survive in this new land.  In the first book they worked together to get her back to her home and to get his kidnapped nephew away from the Pods.  Aria ended up back inside to see what she could do to save Talon and Perry went back to lead his Tribe.  Now she is back, tasked with finding the Still Blue- a place where it is still safe and unravaged by Aether, in order to get Talon back.  The Tides Tribe does not take kindly to a Dweller (or Mole as they are referred to in slang) and Aria is in danger while she is there.  Both Aria and Perry wonder if they will ever be able to be together and if they will be able to save Talon, save the Tides Tribe and find the Still Blue in time.

Along with the powerful survival story is the question of who much we rely on technology and if we would be able to survive without it.  As well as to what extent is our reliance in technology causing possibility irreversible changes to the environment.  Are we killing ourselves while remaining so distracted by technology and entertainment that we would remain in a burning building believing that the fantasy we have built is more real than the actual world.  How much would we all benefit from unplugging and experiencing life for real?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062072061
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Pages: 341

Meet the Author

Veronica Rossi
Veronica Rossi graduated from UCLA and studied fi ne art at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She began writing fiction for teens and received first-place awards in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and SouthWest Writers annual contests before completing Under the Never Sky, the first book in her Under the Never Sky trilogy. It's since been embraced by publishers in more than twenty-six countries worldwide and optioned for fi lm by Warner Bros. Veronica lives in northern California with her husband and two sons. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Marriage can be a real killer.
   One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
   On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
   With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

My thoughts:
I started this book as an audio book and then switched to print so that I could read it faster.  (I also read it a few months ago so it isn't as fresh in my mind as it was when I finished it.)  I just had to see what was going to happen.  At first it seems like Nick is the worst husband in the world, making his wife leave the city she loves to come to his hometown where she has no friends and no hope of a job, but from there things change.  Amy is missing, and has gone missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, Nick is having an affair with a younger girl and working at a bar he owns with his sister, the police think he is responsible for whatever befell his wife.

From the beginning I wondered if Nick could really be that self centered and cold and if Amy could really be as perfect and accommodating as she seemed in her diary, but from there it just goes.  Hearing Amy in her own voice, not her journal voice, but her actual voice changes everything.  Is she alive or is she dead, where did she go and why, who is she with and is it because she wants to be there or has she been taken.  The book leads you through quite a few twists and turns and each time I thought I was onto how it was going to play out something new would be thrown into the mix.  I don't want to give anything away, although at this point I am sure there are plenty of spoilers out there, but I have to say I have some conflicted feelings about the ending, it just doesn't seem fair, but nothing about this book or this marriage really seem fair.

The book also brings up questions of what we are all capable of doing and being.  How much manipulation can twist a relationship and when should someone feel guilt.  Can someone be so broken inside that he or she is unable to feel guilt or see things from someone else's perspective.  This was well written and suspenseful, but quite unsettling.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307588364
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 432

Meet the Author

Gillian Flynn
GILLIAN FLYNN is the author of the New York Times bestseller Dark Places, which was a New Yorker Reviewers’ Favorite, Weekend TODAY Top Summer Read, Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2009, and Chicago Tribune Favorite Fiction choice; and the Dagger Award winner Sharp Objects, which was an Edgar nominee for Best First novel, a BookSense pick, and a Barnes & Noble Discover selection. Her work has been published in twenty-eight countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- Butterflies!

 Over Labor Day weekend we went to the local fair.  One of their exhibits was a butterfly farm.
You paid to go in and they gave you a q-tip soaked in Gatorade that attracts the butterflies.

As you walked around the landed on you or the stick or else you could try to pick them up from the plants and canvas walls.

They had different types of butterflies flying around for you to see and interact with.

This was our favorite attraction at the fair.