Sunday, September 30, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This past week I didn't finish anything.  That almost never happens!  But, as luck would have it I forgot to post to this meme last week so I can record what I finished then.  The books I finished since my last post are:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
When She Woke by Hilary Jordan

I am still reading/listening to:
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madelaine L'engle
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
You Don't Know Me by Susan May Warren

Also in news, the short story I put on Kindle last month is free from October 1 to October 5.  I'd love to get some feedback on it and I promise, it is pretty short!  You can find it here.  It is free starting at midnight tonight.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

My thoughts:
I listened to this book when I was training for an upcoming long race.  It was a good book to have going while doing difficult long runs, as what Cheryl was experiencing was a lot more taxing than my own training.  One recurring thought I had was that, although the solitude and chance to be alone with your own thoughts was tempting, I cannot imagine undertaking something of that magnitude alone.  It seemed unsafe and unwise, for both a man or a woman, to be out there alone and with no way to communicate should a problem arise.  Yes, there were other hikers on the trail and she does run into them from time to time, but she also goes for days at a time without seeing anyone at all.  She encounters wild animals, unexpected weather, rerouting of her expected hike, makes friends, gets blisters, and deals with the life events that have set her on this path at this time.

We all get to tough places in our lives and how we deal with them defines who we become.  Strayed dealt with hers by changing her name, getting divorced and saving up what she thinks she needs to make this solo hike.  She gets boxes ready with her supplies and gives her friend money for postage to mail them to her at stops along the way.  In the beginning her pack is so heavy she can barely life it, as there are so many things she feels she cannot do without.  As she goes along she learns what she needs and what she doesn't, both mentally and physically.  I applaud her for her willingness to go on this trek, but I cannot imagine doing it myself.  Since she did this trip in the 1990's she did it before smart phones and GPS and was guiding herself with maps in a guidebook.  On a much smaller scale I can recall going hiking with a friend at Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas.  We had a guide book with trail markings like "the rock with the dip in it" or around the bend by the evergreen trees.  One day we bouldered our way up to a great spot, then couldn't figure out which way we were supposed to come back down.  The descent was tough!  I can't imagine hiking for months with only sketchy maps and some trail markings. 

I enjoyed reading this.  I think it lent me some strength along the way to my own goal.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307957658
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/20/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber comes a heartwarming new series based in the Pacific Northwest town of Cedar Cove, where a charming cast of characters finds love, forgiveness, and renewal behind the doors of the cozy Rose Harbor Inn.
Jo Marie Rose first arrives in Cedar Cove seeking a sense of peace and a fresh start. Coping with the death of her husband, she purchases a local bed-and-breakfast—the newly christened Rose Harbor Inn—ready to begin her life anew. Yet the inn holds more surprises than Jo Marie can imagine.
Her first guest is Joshua Weaver, who has come home to care for his ailing stepfather. The two have never seen eye to eye, and Joshua has little hope that they can reconcile their differences. But a long-lost acquaintance from Joshua's high school days proves to him that forgiveness is never out of reach and love can bloom even where it's least expected.
The other guest is Abby Kincaid, who has returned to Cedar Cove to attend her brother's wedding. Back for the first time in twenty years, she almost wishes she hadn't come, the picturesque town harboring painful memories from her past. And while Abby reconnects with family and old friends, she realizes she can only move on if she truly allows herself to let go.
A touching novel of life's grand possibilities and the heart's ability to heal, The Inn at Rose Harbor is a welcome introduction to an unforgettable set of friends.

My thoughts:
I listened to this book as an audio download from the local library.  I have loved Macomber's books for years and really enjoyed her Cedar Cove series.  I was sad when it ended last year, but this new series is set in Cedar Cove so some of the characters from earlier books made appearances when Jo Marie Kincaid moves to town to take over a local Bed and Breakfast after losing her husband in a helicopter crash in the conflict overseas.  This book felt like it had a lot of set up in it for the series that will come, giving the reader a chance to get to know Jo Marie and the ways in which her husband is still entwined in her life.  Her first two guests are former residents of Cedar Cove who each left for their own reasons, reasons which left scars in their lives and from which they have never fully moved on.  Through working towards closure, they both grow and change during their stay at the Bed and Breakfast.  Some of the ways in which things are resolved felt a little too convenient, but it was still a nice listen.  Most of my listening was done while on a long run and it was nice to have a story to keep me moving along.  At times this book also reminded me of Macomber's guardian angel series as well, with the ways especially the handy man turn up at the right moment to help someone in their time of need.  I will be looking for the next book to see how the Bed and Breakfast helps some new guests resolve their issues.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345528926
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Pages: 352

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Oh, I'm really late with this!  Usually I set it up so it posts the night before, but I guess I forgot all about it.  Now that I am back at work my blog has been suffering.  I'm still reading, or mostly listening, but reviews aren't really happening right now.

This week I finished:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber

Still Reading:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madelaine L'engle
When She Woke by Hilary Jordan

I am now a day less than three weeks from my first marathon which seems unreal!  When I registered it seemed so far in the future and now it is almost here!  Hope everyone is enjoying their week.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Snapshot! Goats!

Last weekend we picked up six goats so that the total number of goats we are co-owners of is up to 12.

This set has five females and one male.

They are pure blooded Boer goats.

They kids named them all, but the only one I can tell for sure is this one.  This is Cookie with the brown spot on her back.

This one didn't come home with us because she is still growing and wasn't as big as the other females yet.
This meme is hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Series #1) by Rick Riordan (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Since their mother's death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.
One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.
Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe - a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

My thoughts:
I listened to this book in the car with my children.  We loved Riordan's Percy Jackson series as well as the first two books in the Lost Hero series, so this seemed like  it was going to be a good fit.  Something about this one though never managed to grab me.  My children seemed to like it well enough, but I had trouble getting into it and it took us forever to manage to get through it all.  Maybe because I am mostly unfamiliar with Egyptian gods, maybe because the characters were so sarcastic with each other and bickered so much, or maybe it was something else, but I would call this my least favorite of Riordan's books.  I am not sure I will be looking for any more books in the series.

After their mother's death six years ago Carter and Sadie were split up, Carter has been traveling with their archaeologist father and Sadie has lived in London with their maternal grandparents.  Once a year they get together but otherwise Carter lives out of suitcases like a nomad and Sadie has a pretty settled life.  On this one day their father unleashes 5 gods at the London Museum and then is imprisoned with one of them.  Carter and Sadie get a crash course in the powered they hold, magic they were unaware of, family members step out to help them, and they have to work together to put things right while traveling through the duwat, Europe, Egypt and the USA.  It almost felt like Riordan was using the same formula as he used for Percy Jackson and the other hero books and just changing it to Egyptian gods and folklore.  If my children are insistent enough I am sure we will read the next book, but I have no current plans to look for it.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423113386
  • Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
  • Publication date: 5/4/2010
  • Pages: 516
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years            

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This last week I fell behind in writing posts and did not make my goal of blog visits, but it was my second week of being back at work half time and I have to start budgeting my time better.  I did get in another long run this week.  My marathon is now a month away, it gets a bit scarier as it gets closer.  I bought a special shirt to wear as I am running on my birthday.  I'll have to get a picture posted of it.

Onto reading, here was my week:

I finished:
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Nate the Great and the Mushy Valentine by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Go the F*ck to Sleep
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Across the Miles by Jill Buck

Still Reading:
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
Sleepwalker by Karen Robards

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson (audio)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Part blistering espionage thriller, part riveting police procedural, and part piercing exposé on social injustice, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a masterful, endlessly satisfying novel.

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

My thoughts:
I listened to this book on audio, but since I have already seen the foreign movie version nothing was a big surprise.  It was nice to fill in a bit more of what was going on with Lisbeth when she had scenes with a very stony look on her face.  In the movie I wondered what she thinking and why she was just sitting there in her apartment.

I wonder what this would have been like if I hadn't already known what the dark secret Lisbeth had in her past and how she had been drawn into the game at least partially.  I don't know if quite all the past connections were explored in the movie as it has been a few years since I watched it, but I understood a lot more of the inner workings and how things had gotten to the point that they had. 

I enjoyed this on audio, but I am not sure if I would have stuck with it if I had been reading it in book form.  I never got to the point where I was too invested in it or too worried about how it was going to turn out.  This is part of the reason behind my rule, that my children are very familiar with, that I read the book before seeing the movie.  If I see the movie first I am much less likely to ever read the book.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307454553
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/23/2010
  • Pages: 630
  • Series:Millennium Trilogy Series , #2

Friday, September 7, 2012

Saturday Snapshot!

The week before school started our family took our annual beach vacation.  The first day is always long with traveling there, getting stuck in Saturday traffic and getting unpacked and set up at the condo, but we still managed to get an hour in at the beach before going to the grocery store.  This week I chose this picture from our trip to use as the cover photo for a story I self published on Amazon as an ebook.  The story isn't about my children but is just one of my favorite shots from this year.  The book is something that I had planned to be much longer, but I finished it for a contest and actually liked how it turned out as a shorter story.  It is available free for Amazon Prime members.  If you are interested you can check it out.  I hope to get some feedback to help me with some of the writing projects I have going on currently.

My youngest wasn't in the first shot so he is getting his own picture.  I love how the sun at the end of the day is coloring the shot.  A whole different light than the early morning sunrise light and colors.
This is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New Book!

I did something a little bit out of character last night, I took a short story that I had planned to work into a longer novel length book and I self published it on  I have always wanted to be a writer and I am always in the process of writing something, but I almost never let anyone read any of it.  This year I have done a lot of out of character things to stretch and grow and to get more comfortable taking risks.  I would love to have feedback, even if it is things to improve upon.  I published the book so it is free for Amazon Prime members and only $.99 for others.  The link to get to it is here.  I feel like I have been keeping a secret all day and it feels good to have shared it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Swim by Jennifer Weiner

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The short story that inspired Jennifer Weiner’s forthcoming novel The Next Best Thing.
Ruth has left her job writing for a hit television show for reasons she’d rather not discuss and is supplementing her increasingly dwindling savings with freelance writing projects—namely, helping anxious high school students craft a perfect college essay and lonely souls craft captivating online dating profiles. When she’s not working, she’s swimming—lap after lap at the local indoor pool, in a desperate attempt to wash away the sting of professional failure and heartbreak that she can’t seem to shake. It takes an unexpected client to show her that appearances can be deceiving, and that sometimes the bravest thing you can do is simply dive back in.

My thoughts:
I haven't read a Jennifer Weiner book in a few years now.  When I discovered her writing I read four in a row, which was all she had at the time, but somehow I haven't gotten back to her since.  I started this short story in the waiting room of a doctors office and got about halfway through at the time.  When I picked it up again I found I only had a couple more pages to read as the second half is a preview of her new book.  Since I hope to read the new book I skipped reading the preview so I can read it all together when I get the chance.

Ruth is an interesting character and I can see how she would be fun to read about in a full length book.  Hollywood seems so glamorous from a distance, but up close it most likely is not at all what many of us imagine.  Ruth relocates with her grandmother to pursue her dream of writing and gets a job on a television show.  But something happens and she ends up working freelance on her own.  She is hired by parents to help their children with college applications and also approached about helping build profiles for dating websites.  She discoverers that people are not always what they appear to be on the surface, which is a good lesson for all of us.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451690323
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 48

Monday, September 3, 2012

Her Amish Man by Erin Bates

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A touching novel set in the heart of the beautiful Amish country. . . .
Because Leah McKenzie’s mother was “shunned” for marrying an outsider, Leah has never known her Amish relatives. Then she is framed for a murder she didn’t commit, and she needs somewhere to hide until she can clear her name. Confident no one would think to search for her in an Amish community, she heads for her grandmother’s home in Illinois. A safe haven is all Leah is looking for, but she soon finds herself entranced by the simplicity of the old-fashioned lifestyle. What she doesn’t expect is to find a man there who stirs her heart.
When John Miller left his Amish village to attend college and join the military, he never thought he’d return. After the horrors he witnessed in war, however, he longed for a tranquillity he knew that he could find only among his own people. Working as a craftsman, making beautiful furniture, John has found in the soft warmth of the wood the peace he feared might be lost forever. But his world is soon turned upside down when he falls for the “English” woman who has come to be reunited with her kinsfolk. When danger follows Leah, John must not only protect her but decide if her love is worth the risk of being “banned” forever.

My thoughts:
Earlier this summer I found this book was sent to me by the publisher.  It looked interesting but i didn't start it right away.  When the same book arrived again a few weeks later also from the publisher I decided it was a sign that I should read the book.  I didn't love the cover art, but the story itself was a lot of fun to read.

Leah is a lawyer at a law firm in St. Louis.  When the senior partner she has considered her mentor and friend is killed in front of her she is thrown for a loop.  Then she finds herself becoming the wanted suspect for his murder.  She decides to go to see her maternal grandmother, who is Amish.  They have never met because her mother was shunned for leaving the Amish to marry and missed her family terribly until her recent death.  On her way to the settlement Leah is in an accident and ends up meeting the Miller family who agree to rent her a room in their home.  Leah learns about the Amish while working with them side by side in their home and on their farm while she is staying with them and trying to build a relationship with her grandmother.  At the same time she is getting to know the Miller's better, especially John.

John has his own invisible scars from his time in the military fighting in the desert.  He came home to feel whole and heal his soul, but isn't quite the same man he was when he left.  He agrees to help Leah get to know her grandmother and to learn more about the Amish way of life but they get even closer than either one of them bargained for.

Leah knows that eventually she is going to have to deal with the false charges against her but her time away from all she knows is comforting and helps fill in some of the gaps she felt in childhood when her mother acted a certain way or said certain things.

I really enjoyed this book and I am glad it ended up on my doorstep!

Product Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781451662092
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 304

Sunday, September 2, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

I had another high audio week.  This was back to school week for my three oldest children and I worked three half days in my classroom to get ready for our first day which is fast approaching.  I also got in my first 20 mile run in my marathon training.  As the date for the marathon gets closer I keep getting a little more nervous about it.  It is just over a month away now.  I have a feeling that audio books are what I am going to be reading a lot of in the weeks to come as I start teaching again and continue my marathon training.  Plus we also had two picnic/parties this weekend for the holiday so I spent a bunch of time outside enjoying visiting with others.

Finished this week:
Come Home by Lisa Scottoline (audio)
Her Amish Man by Erin Bates
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson (audio)
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (audio)
Nate the Great and the The Lost List  by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (audio)
Nate the Great and the Sticky Case by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat (audio)
Swim by Jennifer Weiner

Still Reading:
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
Sleepwalker by Karen Robards
The Giver by Lois Lowry

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Lisa Scottoline has delivered taut thrillers with a powerful emotional wallop in her New York Times bestsellers Save Me, Think Twice, and Look Again. Now, with her new novel, Come Home, she ratchets up the suspense with the riveting story of a mother who sacrifices her future for a child from her past.
Jill Farrow is a typical suburban mom who has finally gotten her and her daughter's lives back on track after a divorce. She is about to remarry, her job as a pediatrician fulfills her—-though it is stressful—-and her daughter, Megan, is a happily over-scheduled thirteen-year-old juggling homework and the swim team.
But Jill’s life is turned upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep late one night and delivers shocking news: Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that he was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer. Jill reluctantly agrees to make a few inquiries and discovers that things don’t add up. As she digs deeper, her actions threaten to rip apart her new family, destroy their hard-earned happiness, and even endanger her own life. Yet Jill can’t turn her back on a child she loves and once called her own.
Come Home reads with the breakneck pacing of a thriller while also exploring the definition of motherhood, asking the questions: Do you ever stop being a mother? Can you ever have an ex-child? What are the limits to love of family?

My thoughts:
This was my iPod read last week.  I listened while running and working around the house.  This is the first fiction title of Scottoline I've read.  I listened to Best Friends, Occasional Enemies:The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter earlier this spring and I've thought about reading some of her other titles, but this was my first thriller.  Years ago I used to read this genre a lot, but I think after too many of them I was ready for some different types of books.

In this book Jill is blindsided when her ex-step daughter, who she was asked to stay away from and not communicate with by her ex-husband, shows up drunk on her doorstep to tell her that not only has her father died but that she believes he was murdered.  At one point in time Jill was a mother to Abby and her sister Victoria, but when the marriage ended in divorce her ex barred her from having contact with the girls she loves and stopped communicating with Megan, Jill's daughter from her first marriage.  Jill has been left feeling incomplete due to the circumstances of the divorce.  She has finally found her grove with a new medical practice, a fiance and Megan has been doing well with school and swim team.  Steven, her husband to be, is not thrilled with Abby and the chaos she brings into their lives by Jill can't seem to let go of Abby's claim.  As she looks at different details she becomes more and more convinced that something more than an accidental overdose is going on.

There was plenty of suspense, mystery and tension to keep me listening and running longer than I might have otherwise!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312380823
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

Lisa Scottoline
Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award—winning author of eighteen novels. She has served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America and her recent novel Look Again has been optioned for a feature film. She is a weekly columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and her columns have been collected in two books and optioned for television. She has 25 million copies of her books in print in the United States, and she has been published in thirty countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets. Visit her at