Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This week I finished up two of the books I had listed as still reading last week, and I've gotten about halfway through the third one.  I tried starting the audio for The Book Thief, but it just wasn't working for me.  Either not the right time or not the right book to listen to.  I have a copy on my shelf so I can always read it in book for another time.  Here is my week:
Finished reading:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Strohl
Still reading:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The sequel to Hilary Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize winner and New York Times bestseller, Wolf Hall delves into the heart of Tudor history with the downfall of Anne Boleyn
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.
At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?
Bring Up the Bodies is one of The New York Times' 10 Best Books of 2012, one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2012 and one of The Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2012
Winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize
Winner of the 2012 Costa Book Award for Novel
One of the New York Times Book Review's Top 10 Books of 2012

My thoughts:
I wish I had read Wolf Hall before reading this, I was browsing for an audio book and saw this one on the list.  I knew I had read a review of it in a magazine and it seemed like it was well liked.  I'm not sure if I will go back and read Wolf Hall now.  While I enjoyed this book, I got a little tired of all the intrigue and behind the scenes maneuvering that ended with Anne Boleyn being beheaded.

While I know that this is a fictional account, based on facts from that time, I have to say that this book made the details much more real.  For me, I can remember history so much better when it is more than just a list of facts and details, but when I can put faces to the names and think of them as the real people that they were.  I think this is why I also like biographies because it makes someone from the past real, especially if the writer does a good job with the book and doesn't bother with listing details but puts them into the story.

I enjoyed this book, but I felt at times that it moved a bit slowly and I got frustrated with the English court and the way they did things.  Obviously I knew Anne had no chance, so it seemed like such a slow build up to what I knew the final outcome was going to be, and she seemed so unaware that there was going to be no way to save herself.  I wondered too if the accusations about Anne and her brother were actually from the time or fabricated for the story, this isn't an area of history that I've ever delved into very much.  It was very well written so I can see why it won so many awards.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805090031
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432

Meet the Author

Hilary Mantel is the bestselling author of ten previous novels, including Wolf Hall, which sold more than 200,000 copies and won the 2009 Man Booker Prize. Her previous works include her novel, A Place of Greater Safety, and her memoir, Giving Up the Ghost. She lives in England with her husband.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

One day in 2009, twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. A wristband marked her as a “flight risk,” and her medical records—chronicling a month long hospital stay of which she had no memory at all—showed hallucinations, violence, and dangerous instability. Only weeks earlier, Susannah had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: a healthy, ambitious college grad a few months into her first serious relationship and a promising career as a cub reporter at a major New York newspaper.

Who was the stranger who had taken over her body? What was happening to her mind?
In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. A team of doctors would spend a month—and more than a million dollars—trying desperately to pin down a medical explanation for what had gone wrong. Meanwhile, as the days passed and her family, boyfriend, and friends helplessly stood watch by her bed, she began to move inexorably through psychosis into catatonia and, ultimately, toward death. Yet even as this period nearly tore her family apart, it offered an extraordinary testament to their faith in Susannah and their refusal to let her go.
Then, at the last minute, celebrated neurologist Souhel Najjar joined her team and, with the help of a lucky, ingenious test, saved her life. He recognized the symptoms of a newly discovered autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain, a disease now thought to be tied to both schizophrenia and autism, and perhaps the root of “demonic possessions” throughout history.
Far more than simply a riveting read and a crackling medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity and to rediscover herself among the fragments left behind. Using all her considerable journalistic skills, and building from hospital records and surveillance video, interviews with family and friends, and excerpts from the deeply moving journal her father kept during her illness, Susannah pieces together the story of her “lost month” to write an unforgettable memoir about memory and identity, faith and love. It is an important, profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.

My thoughts:
I listened to this audio book earlier this month.  I had read a review of the book in a magazine and it really interested me.  Cahalan put together the things she can remember, journals and notes kept by her parents, interviews she did after the fact with doctors and family and some surveillance video to piece together the month of her life that she has no memory of.  There are so many things we do not know about how the brain works, it is such a complex organ, that reading about this was fascinating.  I have to admit that sometimes details felt a bit repetitive, but it was still fascinating.

What do you do when you can no longer rely on yourself to judge what is real or not?  When you can't tell if you are being paranoid or having a panic attack, when you can't get your body to do what you want it to or to speak in a way that can be understood by others?  How many people who end up in mental institutions or homeless shelters have something that could be treated but is missed because the brain is so misunderstood?  Why do some people get better and some are never the same?

As well as being fascinating this book was scary as well.  If it can happen to a seemingly healthy 24 year old, who else is at risk?  How can we know that we are safe?  I can see that this book might actually alarm people and make them start thinking that anytime they did something that didn't make sense it might be a sign that they had an inflamed brain.  This is not a book for hypochrondiacs!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451621372
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 288

Meet the Author

Susannah Cahalan is a news reporter at the New York Post whose award-winning work has also been featured in The New York Times. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Not a very impressive reading week, but as always, not a week goes by without some reading!  Here is my recap:

Finished this week:
Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret? by Judy Blume (audio)
Eternal by H.G. Nadel (review book, review is written and scheduled to post on Feb. 5)

Still Reading:
Beautiful Creatures(audio)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Gone Girl

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

High in the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century, Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, meets Enza, a practical beauty. But when scandal rocks Ciro's tiny village, unbeknownst to Enza, he is sent to hide in America. When disaster strikes Enza's family, she, too, is forced to go to America.
Ciro and Enza build fledgling lives—until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza finds success in the costume department of the Metropolitan Opera House. Over time, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Inspired by Trigiani's own family history, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with operatic scope that will live on in the imagina-tions of readers for years to come.

My thoughts:
I listened to this book in it's audio version.  I love that Trigiani took the story of how her grandparents met and turned it into a novel.  It seems like a great way to keep family history alive and to share what life was like for immigrants in the early part of the twentieth century.

This story covers many years, from when Ciro was around six years old and is dropped off by his mother at a convent until she can come back to the time he is in his thirties and working in America.  Ciro and Enza meet on the mountain, again when she arrives in New York, and a number of times after that, but it is never the right time it seems.  I found myself wishing that Trigiani had used a different title for the book.  Ciro becomes, surprise, surprise, a shoemaker and Enzo works as a seamstress in a number of different capacities from being in a sweatshop to working for an opera.  The details made it seem very real, but I found myself waiting for when they would find each other since it seemed unlikely it would be called The Shoemaker's Wife if they were not going to end up together at some point.  Even when it seems like they are going to be happy with someone else I found myself wondering what was going to happen to end that happiness.  I personally would have liked a bit more suspense, but I did enjoy the book.  I have not read Danielle Steel in years, but this book had me remembered the books of hers I read in high school, it is in a similar style.

The book is rich in history from how immigrants crossed the sea, to Ellis Island, to working in mines and on roads, to arranged marriages and apprenticeships, to new traditions and old traditions, to the way workers were treated in sweatshops, to building railroads, and much more.  I find I absorb more details about the past when they are embedded in a book that seems real, it all came alive which is quite a feat for an author.  So while I would have liked more suspense, I enjoyed the vividness and detail of the writing and came to really like Ciro and Enza.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061257100
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/21/2012
  • Pages: 496

Meet the Author

Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. The author of the bestselling Big Stone Gap series, Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; The Queen of the Big Time; andRococo, she has also written the best-selling memoir Don't Sing at the Table as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. Her books have been published in 36 countries around the world. She has written and will direct the big screen version of her first novel, Big Stone Gap. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

               "Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, inveigles his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. And onward, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history." But the story doesn't even end there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.
Finalist for the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

My thoughts:
I listened to this as an audio book.  The story jumps right in with Adam Ewing and the journal he is keeping of his voyage home to California and the Native groups and seamen he interacts with along the way.  All of a sudden you are on a new character in a new time and I felt a bit disoriented as the readers for the two characters had similar voices and the two stories blended together.  Then the story jumps again and again and introduces new times and new characters.  I was a bit worried that we wouldn't get to see if Adam ever made it home, if Robert finds a way to finish composing his song, if Luisa will find a way to get away from corruption and so on, but the book loops back and picks up with each of them so you can see some resolutions. 

As I was reading I was also thinking about the previews I have seen for the movie and pictured each of the actors in the parts I paired them with.  I wondered at times how the stories were connected, and I am not convinced every story is, but pairs of them have strings that connect them to others and move chronologically into the future and show ways in which our world has already changed and ways in which more changes could come.

While I may not have seen excellent reviews for the movie version of the book, I am looking forward to it being released on video so I can see how it was adapted for the screen.  I like to read books before seeing movies so I have a chance to experience them using my own imagery and imagination first.  I find that once I see a movie I have a much harder time enjoying the book, but the reverse does not seem to be the case.  Often times if I see a movie before reading the book I end up never actually picking the book up.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375507250
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/17/2004
  • Edition description: First U.S. Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 528

Meet the Author

David Mitchell
David Mitchell is the author of the international bestseller The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, named a best book of the year by Time, The Washington Post, Financial Times, The New Yorker, The Globe and Mail, and The New York Times; Black Swan Green, which was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by Time; Cloud Atlas, which was a Man Booker Prize finalist; Number9Dream, which was short-listed for the Man Booker as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and Ghostwritten, awarded the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best book by a writer under thirty-five and short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. Hailed as “the novelist who’s being showing us the future of fiction” by The Washington Post, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. He lives in Ireland.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic by Jenny McCarthy

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Dearest Reader,
By now you might be wondering: Jenny McCarthy has more to say?! After six New York Times bestsellers, I've talked about pregnancy, autism, and motherhood. I hope you've enjoyed it. I hope it's made you laugh and cry and all those things that bestselling books about such topics are supposed to do.
But this book is about something entirely new—a subject that has pervaded my life since birth and confused the f*ck out of me for about the same time: Catholicism. As I enter into adulthood (play along, thanks), I think I may have finally figured out this faith thing. And what it means to me. But first, I had to reflect on my life. And my memoir, Bad Habits, is the fruit (not the Eve's apple kind) of that labor.
Bad Habits is my journey from aspiring nun at an all-girls Catholic school in the suburbs of Chicago, to Playmate of the Year, to autism awareness activist, to bestselling author, to host of my very own talk show... and all the Hail Marys in between. After reading this book, you'll know why you should wear underwear to church, why Jesus was my Justin Bieber, and why I had to give up giving shit up for Lent.
Bad Habits is also my personal examination of faith and how it turns out to surprise us at the most unexpected moments. It is a book of confessions about confession! I've tried to be brutally honest though it might read as more like embarrassingly entertaining, and I'm always outlandish so that's in here too; but truly, this book is sinfully hilarious (My publisher made me say that).
Bless you my children,

My thoughts:
I love reading memoirs.  It all started in fourth grade when I discovered the shelf of biographies and autobiographies.  Up to that point I think I had mostly been checking out fiction and to find out that there were more things than fictional picture books and chapter books made a big impression.  Every week when my class went to the school library I would pick a someone new to read about.  The people who made the biggest impression on me were all women.  Elizabeth Blackwell, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller are a handful that I can remember reading about to this day.  Over the years I have read all sorts of books, but I now love humorous memoirs and McCarthy sure fits the bill on that one!  I have read a few of, but not all of, her other books.  I really enjoyed Belly Laughs as I read it either while pregnant or soon after one of my children was born and I could totally understand where she was coming from.

I grew up Catholic, but I did not go to Catholic school, I attended CCD on Sundays.  The nuns who came by to see how we were doing with our lessons always intimidated me a bit, other kids talked about them hitting knuckles with rulers and I think I was always afraid i would get caught not knowing the answer and that would be my punishment.  I never actually saw this happen to anyone, but it seemed like it was possible.

McCarthy has such a great knack for taking embarrassing moments from her life and making them funny.  Having a poster on her wall of Jesus that she treated like a girl might treat a poster of her favorite actor or singer, thinking that her family had won the McDonald's Monopoly game, and being traumatized by  a scary movie all come out as funny and amusing.  I envy people who have the ability to make so much funny and humorous and to be able to put a spin on a story that was not at all funny at the time it happened.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book so much so that I almost bought another one at the book store last week, but as I have my Kindle fully loaded with books and my shelves are starting to bow, i think it is time to read from my shelves for now before adding to my collection!

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401324650
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 240

Meet the Author

Jenny McCarthy
Jenny McCarthy
Jenny McCarthy is the former host of the enormously popular MTV dating show "Singled Out." She has starred in many films, including Dirty Love, the Sundance 2005 film that she also wrote. She is the author of several New York Times bestselling books such as Baby Laughs: The Naked Truth About the First Year of Mommyhood and Louder Than Words: A Motheras Journey Healing Autism. In 2002, McCarthy and her director ex-husband John Asher had their first child, Evan.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Slow reading week.  I finished some from last week and that is about it.  Most of my reading was audio as well!

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Suzanna Cahalan
Bad Habits: Confessions of a Recovering Catholic by Jenny McCarthy

Still reading:
Gone Girl
Eternal Love
50 Shades Darker (so many people told me books 2 and 3 were better than the first that I finally caved and decided to try it on audio)

Let's Pretend this Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.
Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

My thoughts:
I saw a blurb about this book in People Magazine at one point and itlooked like a fun read.  I am glad that I checked it out of the library.  I haven't read a book that made me laugh this hard in quite some time!  Lawson has a knack for making things that are embarrassing or disturbing into something hilarious.  Sometimes all it takes to turn something catastrophic into something funny to tell all your friends and readers about is perspective, somethign we could all benefit from.  Many times it is how we look at something and our own attitude that defines if that moment is going to make us cry or laugh, make us weaker or stronger.

Jenny's family lived in a small Texas town.  Her father practiced taxidermy and their house had a large collection of animals displayed.  Her high school offered classes in taking care of farm animals as well as the regular assortment of subjects.  Her sister became teh high school mascot, Jenny herslef tried out drugs to try to be more comfortabel interacting socially, she met her husband in college and has a hard time interacting socially, being much more comfortable with the written word than the spoken one.

It is hard to put into words how she is able to take embarrassing or uncomfortable events and make them hilarious, but she does!  I am going to have to check out her blog.  I often feel like I don't laugh enough, so this was the perfect little book to finish the old year and start the new year.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101564479
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/24/2012
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson is a columnist and one of the most popular bloggers on Twitter (hundreds of thousands of followers). Her blog,, averages between 2-3 million page views per month. Jenny lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband and daughter.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- Blast from the past!

Two years ago my children were on a fall soccer team.  One of the parents took pictures at a couple games and I got a disk with some shots of my own children, but it got lost in the bag we keep in the car.  A couple weeks ago I came across it again and decided to check them out.  They are so good!  I can't believe that it took me this long to look at them.

This is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Knife-Throwing Scene by Veronica Roth

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth retells a pivotal Divergent scene (chapter 13) from Tobias's point of view. This thirteen-page scene reveals unknown facts and fascinating details about Four's character, his past, his own initiation, and his thoughts about new Dauntless initiate Tris Prior.

My thoughts:
I had this on my wish list for a while and decided to go ahead and buy it last week.  I wish I had read it closer to when I read Divergent.  It's not that I don't remember the book, but the details are not as sharp as they would have been had I read it sooner. 

It was nice that Roth supplied a different point of view of the story.  When a book is told from just the main characters perspective there can be a lot that goes on behind the scenes that he or she is not privy to.  Knowing Tobias, or Four's, reasoning behind why he threw the knives the way he did when Tris took the place of one of the other initiates.  It also holds a bit of a lesson for us all, without knowing what is going on inside of someone else it is hard to judge their actions.  What someone may do usually  has a reason and an intent behind it, but the reason and the intent are not always what they seem.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062237422
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/7/2012
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 16

Meet the Author

Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth is the New York Times bestselling author of Divergent, the first book in a trilogy that she began writing while still a college student. Now a full-time writer, Ms. Roth and her husband call the Chicago area home.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mermaid: A Twist on a Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Two sheltered princesses, one wounded warrior; who will live happily ever after?

Princess Margrethe has been hidden away while her kingdom is at war. One gloomy, windswept morning as she stands in a convent garden overlooking the icy sea, she witnesses a miracle: a glittering mermaid emerging from the waves, a nearly drowned man in her arms. By the time Margrethe reaches the shore, the mermaid has disappeared into the sea. As Margrethe nurses the handsome stranger back to health, she learns that not only is he a prince, he is also the son of her father's greatest rival. Sure that the mermaid brought this man to her for a reason, Margrethe devises a plan to bring peace to her kingdom.

Meanwhile, the mermaid princess Lenia longs to return to the human man she carried to safety. She is willing to trade her home, her voice, and even her health for legs and the chance to win his heart….
A surprising take on the classic tale, Mermaid is the story of two women with everything to lose. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, it will make you think twice about the fairytale you heard as a child, keeping you in suspense until the very last page.

My thoughts:
I borrowed this as an e-book from the library.  I found the pacing of the first half to be a bit slow.  It was hard for me to get invested in either Lenia or Margrethe.  It was interesting to see how Margrethe construed Lenia's intentions one way when it was actually the exact opposite.  Margrethe thinks that the mermaid saved the Prince for her and brought him as a gift, when really Lenia has fallen in love with the prince and can't bear to see him die in the water.  I could understand this to a certain extent because Margrethe was a princess on land and was used to having gifts given to her.

Somewhere around the mid point I was hooked and wondered how things were going to play out.  The prince could not choose them both so someones heart was going to be broken.  Was Lenia going to turn to foam in the ocean or was Margrethe going to be spurned causing war to break out again between the North and the South?  I have never read the Hans Christian Anderson version of the tale, I only have Disney's The Little Mermaid to compare it to, but I was satisfied with the ending.  Someday I am going to need to read the Anderson version.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307589972
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 256

Meet the Author

Carolyn Turgeon
CAROLYN TURGEON is the author of Rain Village and Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

finale by Becca Fitzpatrick (hush, hush sage #4)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Fates unfurl in the gripping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Hush, Hush saga.
Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return, new enemies are made, and a friend's ultimate betrayal threatens the peace Patch and Nora so desperately want. The battle lines are drawn—but which sides are they on? And in the end, are there some obstacles even love can't conquer?

My thoughts:
This was one of my Christmas presents this year.  I've been looking forward to reading this book, but made myself wait until Christmas to read the final installment in the series.  I read it in one day.  I admit that I had to stay up since we had some other stuff going on during the day, but once I got into it I just wanted to keep going to see how everything resolved in the end.

I was a bit worried at the beginning that I didn't remember the end of the last book well enough.  Up until a couple months ago I could have gone to my shelf to look back, but I sold the rest of the series on ebay this fall while I was clearing off my shelves, so I had to go by memory.  Luckily Fitzpatrick does enough to job readers memory of past events by having them mentioned or remembered by one of the characters, so I was fine.

Nora is now the leader of the Nephilim since her biological father's, Hank who was also the Black Hand, death.  She swore an oath to lead the Nephilim against the fallen angels to stop the angels possessing the bodies of the Nephilim every Cheslem.  If she breaks her oath, she and her mother die, if she keeps it she and Patch can't be together.  She is looking for a loop hole and also realizing how being a Nephilim has it's drawbacks as well.  Her first lieutenant, Dante, starts training her for the upcoming confrontation.  Thrown in is her biological half-sister Marcie, who  has been her nemesis for years, her best friend Vee acting mysterious and keeping secrets, her mother believing that Hank is going to come back for her, Archangels, blackmail, and Patch's exgirlfriend.  A lot is going on leading up to the final showdown.  I was not expecting the way in which things ended, but I was satisfied with this book.  I stayed away from other readers reviews so that my opinion could be wholly mine and not influenced by others.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442426672
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/23/2012
  • Pages: 455
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Series:Hush, Hush Saga Series , #4

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

I went back to work this week and my reading has fallen WAY off.  It was so nice to be off those extra days over Christmas.  I feel like I barely managed to pick up a book this past week!  Also, I am having a problem adding pictures to my posts in Blogger.  It doesn't give me the option to pick from ones on my computer, just my phone, blog and a few other things.  I'm sure the answer is simple, but if anyone has a pointer I would love to hear(read) it!

This week I read:
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Let's Pretend this Didn't Happen: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Bring in the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Still Reading:
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Suzanna Cahalan
Bad Habits:  Confessions of a Recovering Catholic by Jenny McCarthy
Looking at it it doesn't seem like I had an issue reading, but I finished Cloud Atlas and Let's Pretend on Monday, so they were mostly read the week before.  The Shoemaker's Wife I had to borrow again from the library because I was two thirds of the way through when I had to return it, so I didn't have very much to actually read.  I've only just started my two still readings and I have a bunch of paused books from a couple weeks ago that I plan to get back to at some point.

Legend by Marie Lu

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.
Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

My thoughts:
I didn't read any overviews of this book before I started reading it.  The title kept coming up as a recommended book for me based on my browsing history on Amazon so, when it came up as a Kindle Daily Deal one day, I bought it.  I started it as soon as I finished a different book on my Kindle.  It read fast and I enjoyed it.  I am getting a bit dystopianed out though, so it may be time to take a break from this genre for a little while at least!

June's parents were killed in a car crash leaving  her older brother, Metias, as her only family.  All ten-year-olds in society take a test to determine their aptitude and the best placement for them in the working of a society that is constantly at war with everyone around them.  June is supposedly the only one to every achieve a perfect score, so she has been placed in college early.  The possible careers are in the military, as a worker or in the labor fields for those who fail to pass the exam.  June is being groomed for government and the military, but she has a bit of a stubborn streak and a penchant for getting into trouble.  Her brother keeps her in line but, one night he is killed and the criminal Day is blamed with the crime.  June takes an undercover assignment to find Day and bring him in, but the boy she meets on the streets doesn't seem like the cold blooded killer the government is looking for.  He is a bit more like a Robin Hood who is living on the streets to protect his family. 

June finds a message from her brother that sheds some more light on the facts of society and lends some credibility to what Day has told her of life away from the privileged sectors of society.  Together they make some more discoveries that tell a more sinister story of what the society has been doing and what it plans to do. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142422076
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 95,838
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Series:Legend Series , #1

Meet the Author

Marie Lu
Marie Lu ( is the author of Legend. She is also art director at Online Alchemy—a video game company—and owns the business and brand FuzzAcademy. Marie lives in Los Angeles, California.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

How do we make decisions--good and bad--and why are some people so much better at it than others? That's the question Malcolm Gladwell asks and answers in the follow-up to his huge bestseller, The Tipping Point. Utilizing case studies as diverse as speed dating, pop music, and the shooting of Amadou Diallo, Gladwell reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, he shows how the difference between good decision-making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but on the few particular details on which we focus. Leaping boldly from example to example, displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Gladwell reveals how we can become better decision makers--in our homes, our offices, and in everyday life. The result is a book that is surprising and transforming. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.

My thoughts:
You know how sometimes you just know something, but can't explain how you know it?  Well that is what this book is about.  Gladwell goes through example after example showing how the way we think you need to know as much as possible about something before you make a decision isn't really the case.  Often times knowing more and more actually leads you off in the wrong direction.  Many times we know what we need to know from a snapshot, extra information just manages to mix us up.  Marriage counselors were more accurate when they looked at a snapshot of a couple and counted how many times they were passive aggressive to each other, when the looked more at body language than the words that accompanied it.  Doctors needed to look at a certain criteria to see if a patient was ind anger of a heart attack, instead of listening to all sorts of secondary information, they needed to know a list of things and from there they were much more accurate at predicting risk.

Basically, trust your instincts.  If something feels wrong, let yourself believe it is wrong even if that thought doesn't make sense.  Snap judgements don't have to be wrong just because they are fast.  We used to need to make decisions on the fly to stay alive and those instincts are still inside of us.  Trust yourself and see how your life changes.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316010665
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date: 4/3/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is a staff writer for The New Yorker. He was formerly a business and science reporter at the Washington Post.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man-the man called only the Giver-he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives.

My thoughts:
I first read this book in college for a class and I loved it.  I've reread it a few times since then.  This time around I decided to listen to the audio version and I was disappointed.  It fell flat somehow.  I don't know if it was the way it was read, if I wasn't in the right mind frame for it or if I felt too rushed.  I kept thinking it would get better, since I know I have enjoyed it before, but  it never did.

I read an interview with Lowry after her most recent book, Son, was released and was struck by how people considered this book to be controversial when it first came out.  With a society that has taken away peoples choices in the name of their own good.  Who has taken away colors, weather, hills,physical relations and even having your own children. There are now so many books that take away so much more, that this one seems quite tame.  I think Lowry paved the way for a lot of the dystopian young adult books that are out there to be read and enjoyed now.

Everything is regulated and polite and has an order, but something is missing. Jonas has sensed this missing for some time, but not until he becomes the received of memories does he start to understand.  The Giver starts with simple, pleasant memories like snow and the color red, but Jonas must also start to receive unpleasant memories like pain.  Learning the truth about what the Ceremony of Release is all about changes something inside of Jonas.

I would love to read the other three books in this series.  I checked Son out of the library before Christmas, but decided to return it until I can read the other two so I can enjoy them in order. 

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547995663
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/25/2012
  • Pages: 225
  • Sales rank: 10,995
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Series:Giver Quartet Series , #1

Meet the Author

Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry is a multi-award-winning author who has written many popular books. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of the popular Anastasia Krupnik books and was the recipient of the Newbery Medal for Number the Stars and for The Giver.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows: An Outlander Novella by Diana Gabaldon

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Available for the first time as an exclusive eBook in this original Outlander novella, Diana Gabaldon reveals what really happened to Roger MacKenzie Wakefield’s parents. Orphaned during World War II, Roger believed that his mother died during the London Blitz, and that his father, an RAF pilot, was killed in combat. But in An Echo in the Bone, Roger discovers that this may not be the whole story. Now, in “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows,” readers finally learn the truth.

My thoughts:
I preordered this book and read it pretty soon after it was released, I am just behind on actually reviewing things.  I guess I need to work on my time management skills a bit more.  I enjoyed this novella and I found myself wishing it were a longer and that there might have been a few more details.  Every time I read one of Gabaldon's books I also wish I could carve out the time to go back to the beginning of the Outlander series and reread them all in order.  I have done it before, but that was before i had children and had more reading time.  I did attempt to do my rereading earlier this year, but I only made it through Outlander.  I still have her last two books partially finished because I was going to do the rereading and was waiting to go back to them when I got to them in order.

I never thought too much about Roger's parents or about the hypothesis that being able to travel through the stones could be a genetic trait and that therefore Roger had to have gotten it from someone.  It was also interesting to see that Claire's first husband knew Roger's father.  In our heads we know what a small world it is, how we cross paths with so many people in any given day and that, in doing so, we make all sorts of connections, both small and large.  So just as Claire's life has crossed Roger's when he was a child in Reverend Wakefield's house after he was orphaned and then again with her daughter when she decides to travel back to Jamie and then again when he arrives in the past searching for Brianna, Roger's life has also crossed hers indirectly through his father and Frank Randall, her husband in the early 1900's.  If two lives can cross so many times both in the present and in the past, imagine how many times many of ours are crossing now just in one regular lifetime?

I like how Gabaldon gives us this sideways glimpse into Roger's parents and how they really lived and died.  I would have loved more details about exactly when his father traveled to, but it was a great story to read while waiting for the next book in the series.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345545374
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/3/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 59

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Third Wheel (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #7) by Jeff Kinney

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Greg Heffley is not willing to be the odd man out.
A dance at Greg's middle school has everyone scrambling to find a partner, and Greg is determined not to be left by the wayside. So he concocts a desperate plan to find someone — anyone! — to go with on the big night.
But Greg's schemes go hilariously awry, and his only option is to attend the dance with his best friend, Rowley Jefferson, and a female classmate as a "group of friends." But the night is long, and anything can happen along the way. Who will arrive at the dance triumphantly, and who will end up being the third wheel?

My thoughts:
My children love these books.  We preordered this one from the Scholastic book order in one of their classes and they got it the day after it was released.  Both of them read the whole book almost immediately.  My daughter read it the first day.  Their school has early dismissal on Wednesday's and she had read the whole thing by the time I came home from work a couple hours later.  I picked it up because I was curious.  We listened to some of the other books in audio form in the car, but I had never picked one of them up to read with the illustrations.

The book read really fast and made me laugh, although not as much as my children did!  As with the other books I have read in the series, Greg knows what he wants, but his way of going about getting his aim never seems to work out quite right.  Middle school can be a really awkward time and Kinney does a very good job of showing it to be that way.  Not knowing how to talk to girls, experiencing pimples for the first time, trying to figure out how dating works, and more dominate the pages of this book along with ways Greg tries to make himself look "cool".  My children all love to read as it is, but I see these books as a plus for children who might be a bit more on the fence about reading.  With all the illustrations you feel like you are speeding through the book which has to be a bit of an ego boost for slower readers.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419705847
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/13/2012
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Series:Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series , #7