Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- Block towers!

The school year started for the older kids this week, but my youngest has a couple weeks to go, so in between helping me get the house back in order we took breaks to build castles with blocks.

His rule was that every block had to be used for us to be done.

And he wanted a picture of each one.  This one he used the lid so that it had a moat around it, the blue was the water of course!

Friday, August 30, 2013

From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #8) by Charlaine Harris

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

"The supernatural community in Bon Temps, Louisiana, is reeling from two hard blows - the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina and the man-made horror of the explosion at the vampire summit the month before in the up-north city of Rhodes. Sookie Stackhouse is safe but dazed, yearning for things to get back to normal. But that's just not happening. Too many vampires - some friends, some not - were killed or injured, and her weretiger boyfriend, Quinn, is among the missing." "It's clear that things are changing, whether the Weres and vamps of her corner of Louisiana like it or not. And Sookie - friend of the pack and blood-bonded to Eric Northman, the leader of the local vampire community - is caught up in the changes." In the ensuing battles, Sookie faces danger, death... and, once more, betrayal by someone she loves. And when the fur has finished flying and the cold blood flowing, her world will be forever altered.
My thoughts:
Amelia, the witch, and Bob, the cat who is really a man, are still living with Sookie.  Amelia due to damage to her home in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina and fear of the witch community for turning Bob into a cat and being unable to change him back.  Sookie is wondering why she hasn't heard from Quinn, her weretiger beau, who killed a powerful vampire to keep her out of his clutches in the aftermath of the explosion in Rhodes.  Is her done with her?  Why hasn't he called to let her know either way?  Then there is Eric who is starting to remember his time at her house, when he was under a memory loss curse from a witch and Bill who wants to get back in her good graces.  Her brother's marriage to Crystal the werepanther is falling apart and Tanya a werefox is back to cause trouble for Sandra Pelt who still thinks Sookie had something to do with her sister's disappearance.  Just a usual day in Sookie's life.
I was glad to be introduced to her Fairy Grandfather since I just finished watching the season of True Blood with the character.  It is nice to know that he came from the pages of the books.  Also, some of the things that happened in earlier seasons of the show came to pass here, although perhaps not quite the same as they did on screen.
I think the reason I stopped reading the series last summer, besides that it was the end of the summer and this tends to be a summer read for me, is that I got tired of how Sookie is always in danger and being in danger all the time makes it hard for her to have a real relationship with anyone.  If you are always relying on someone in the moment to have your back, you don't get a real chance to get to know them on any other level and I wonder if that too plays into her short lived relationships.  I am hoping that the blood bond with Eric, teamed with his now having memory of their past, might lead to a real relationship.  That remains to be seen in the next book, I never read the backs of these books so that I don't have any spoilers ahead of time, just my own little quirk I guess, like not wanting to watch too many previews for a movie.

Product Details

Thursday, August 29, 2013

All Together Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #7) by Charlaine Harris

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse has her hands full with the shapeshifter Quinn, a possible new man in her life, and the upcoming vampire summit. With her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans, Vampire Queen Sophie-Anne is vulnerable to those hungry for a takeover. Sookie's job at the summit is to support Sophie- Anne. But she'll soon discover just how dangerous that job can be, as she is drawn further and further into the vampire world.

My thoughts:
I ended up rereading this book, skimming some parts as I was trying to figure out where I left off with the series last summer.  I wish the numbers were listed on the actual books and not just on online stores, the titles are all so similar that I have such a hard time figuring out where I am when I need the next book!

Sookie and Quinn are dating and running into trouble with his frequent travel for his compaby E(E)E and her association with the vampires in Lousiana.  She is commited to attending a Vampire Summit to be a human lie detector as well as the sole witness to the death of the King of Arkansas, who was at the time married to Sophie-Anne and trying kill her to take over her territory.  There is a lot going on at the summit, from trials to weddings to dances and violence and once again Sookie's life is in danger.  Once humans get a taste of how her powers, along with those of Barry Bellboy from Living Dead in Dallas, can help in a crisis, Sookie needs to hide out from supernaturals and humans to keep herself safe.

It is really obvious how the TV Series True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse series are different,  I can see the elements that have been pulled from the books and then the many areas where changes have been made.  I wonder how Harris feels about that?  Does it bother her to see the changes made to her ideas or is it just nice to have so many people interested in seeing her characters come to life on screen?

Product Details

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

When First They Met by Debbie Macomber

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street and Cedar Cove series have won thousands of fans, thanks to her signature blend of heartfelt romance, delightful humor, and warm wisdom. Now, in this original short story available exclusively as an eBook, Macomber shares a sneak peek into her new series set in Cedar Cove, which features Jo Marie, before she becomes the owner of the beloved Rose Harbor Inn.

From the moment Jo Marie sits next to Paul inside the Seattle Seahawks’ stadium, she feels a spark. Paul’s striking blue eyes and kind smile tell her that he’s someone special—different from any man she’s met before. When they strike up a conversation, Jo Marie and Paul realize how much they have in common, yet there’s one thing keeping them from a fairy-tale ending: Paul is in the military and will ship out of Seattle within the next six weeks. As Jo Marie wonders if she should once again open her heart, she decides that, no matter the stakes, she can’t forgo her chance at true love.

Includes a heartwarming excerpt from The Inn at Rose Harbor, the upcoming first novel in Debbie Macomber’s new series.
My thoughts:
I read this one out of order, I don't recall seeing anything about it last summer before I read The Inn at Rose Harbor, but I decided to give it a try now.  It is very short!  It can be read in a sitting and even then a short sitting.  Honestly, while I did enjoy the book, I do wish it had been a bit more fleshed out.  It was a nice look at how the two of them met and the obstacles they overcame, but I would have liked to have seen more about what it was like for them once they married and before the next book.  Getting engaged and falling in love is exciting, but having and building a life together always touches me more.  Macomber does such a good job with creating lives for her characters that have believable struggles and ups and downs that I would have liked to have seen more of that here.  Still a nice in between read.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345539366
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/18/2012
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 17

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Maybe This time by Jennifer Crusie

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Andie Miller is ready to move on with her life. She wants to marry her fiancé and leave behind everything in her past, especially her ex-husband, North Archer. But when Andie tries to gain closure with him, North asks one last favor: Since the death of a distant cousin, he’s become the guardian of two orphans who have already driven away three nannies. North needs someone to take care of the situation—and he knows Andie can handle anything.

Carter and Alice aren’t your average delinquents, and the creepy old house where they live is being run by the worst housekeeper since Mrs. Danvers. Complicating matters is Andie’s fiancé’s suspicion that this is all a plan by North to get Andie back. He may be right because Andie’s dreams have been haunted by North since she arrived at the old house, and that’s not the only haunting. As Andie copes with the ghosts of her past and present, she begins to see that what she wants is the same thing that everyone in the house wants—a second chance—and that maybe this time she’ll get it.

My thoughts:
I haven't read a Jennifer Crusie novel in a few years and I forgot how much fun they are!  This one was a bit different than the others that I remember, but different in a good way.  Usually there is a dead body and a lovable dog, this time the dead bodies are ghosts who live in the creepy house that Andie is living in while watching her ex-husbands wards.  Andie is practical and no-nonsense, she doesn't believe in her mothers Tarot readings or premonitions.  After one year of marriage to North, who she knew a very short amount of time prior to marrying, Andie left because she felt she was being ignored.  She has traveled around for ten years and is ready to marry a writer, but wants to address her ex one last time.  One last time ends up with her agreeing to do a favor and traveling to the south part of Ohio to watch two orphans.

The house is creepy, the kids are quiet and weird and unwilling to try new things, the housekeeper is rude and drinks, and the house is falling apart.  It was brought over from England years ago and is said to be haunted, but Andie doesn't believe in ghosts.  That is until she sees them, hears them and interacts with them, then she is willing to let ask for help.  During her time in the house she comes to love the children and see them as her own.

This book really got to me in the ways in which the past, both our own and the collective past, affects our future and what we do with it.  How Andie is running away instead of facing a difficult conversation.  How the two children are stuck as prisoners of a past they were not even a part of and feel helpless to ask for help.  How much of what we do today is because of beliefs and assumptions we have about the past that may or may not be true?  What does it mean to have a soul and is it possible to live a meaningful life without one? Deep thoughts from a fun book I read on the beach during our family vacation.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312584160
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Jennifer  Crusie
Jennifer Crusie is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of Tell Me Lies, Crazy for You, Welcome to Temptation, Faking It, Fast Women, and Bet Me.


Don't expect to see Fabio's flowing mane on the cover of any of Jennifer Crusie's romance novels. She completely eschews the tradition of overwrought melodrama and heaving bosoms to toss a comic gauntlet into the romantic arena. Her fun, funny, and frisky books are a refreshing breeze in a genre that could easily grow stale.
Former schoolteacher Jennifer Smith got her Master's degree in Professional Writing and Women's Literature at Wright State University. She wrote her thesis on women's roles in mystery fiction before trying her hand at penning romance novels using her grandmother's family name Crusie. Despite her impressive credentials, she dismisses her debut novel Sizzle as "lousy" even as her fans clamber to gets their hands on this long out-of-print pulp romance. "That damn book is following me around the way early porn films follow actresses," so says Crusie one her web site of Sizzle.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

This was the last week of summer for kids in our area, school starts back on Monday.  That made it a busy week with getting ready for school, dealing with a rental car while our car was being fixed, and a 12 hour car trip.  I still managed to get some reading in though!  Here is what I finished this week:

Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield (audio)
The Council of Mirrors by Michael Buckley (audio)
The Inside Story by Michael Buckley (audio)
All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris (reread- I have such a hard time keeping track of where I am in this series that I think I may just finish it so I know that I've read it all!)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- Beach!

We loved getting to the beach early and being among the first ones to start our day!

On the last morning we let the kite go all the way to the end of the string, it was so far away it was hard to see!  This isn't anywhere near the end of the string, those shots are way too blurry.

Sand, sun and little toes!

Where did he go?

Building with the shovels to make a machine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper (Jane Jameson Series #1)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children's librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that's sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she's mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.

Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She's forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn't enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What's a nice undead girl to do?

My thoughts:
At the beginning of this book I thought it seemed as though it was a cross between Queen Betsey from MaryJanice Davidsons Dead series and Sookie Stackhouse (minus being a vampire) in Charlaine Harris's Dead series.  After the beginning though it gained its own momentum and style and I really enjoyed it.  I read it on the beach last week and I found myself wishing that I had packed books two and three from the series as well, which unfortunately I had left on my bookshelf at home.

Jane Jameson is a children's librarian in the town she grew up in.  Her boss hates her, but she loves what she does.  When her favorite aunt died she inherited the family home, although everyone keeps trying to get her to admit that her married sister would be a better fit for the home,  Her mom hates that she is single, her dad loves her unconditionally and her sister thinks she is the better sister.  Then her boss fires her because of budget cuts, but really just to give her niece a job instead, and hands her a gift certificate for a chain restaurant.  One drink turns into more and she meets a mysterious handsome man.  On her way home her car breaks down, a drunk mistakes her for a deer and shoots her from his truck, and she wakes up undead three days later.

While finding her way in her new lifestyle, Jane meets people and vampires who might be friends or might have it in for her, and she has to figure out motives while avoiding telling her parents her news.  She makes a friend or two and an enemy or two and then is accused of killing a vampire.  She is learning her way in this new society, verbally sparing with potential suitors, has conflicted feelings for her sire and spending time with her ghostly aunt while looking for a new job that allows her to work nights.

It was well paced, amusing and fun.  Who wouldn't love a book about someone who worked around books and considers them her first love?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416589426
  • Publisher: Pocket Star
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Series: Jane Jameson Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384

Meet the Author

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

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

Last week my family took our annual vacation to the beach.  I enjoyed being unplugged for the week, no Internet and no email and we spent a lot of time playing in the water, walking on the beach, playing in the sand and reading.  Even with all that time I didn't really seem to read much more than usual book wise, but I did read a number of magazines.  Here was my week:

Finished reading:
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper (I have books 2 and 3 and wish I  had taken them with me, but I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy reading this one!)
Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
1022 Evergreen Place by Debbie Macomber
The Twelve by William Gladstone (audio)
The Everafter War by Michael Buckley

I have a number of other books started, but I don't know which one I plan to actually focus on next, so I am skipping my usual list of still reading books

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Snapshot-Summer!

 Last night we returned from a very fun week at the beach.  Our family vacation featured hours on the beach playing in the sand and on the waves.
We were lucky and had nice weather and nice water conditions.  We all had fun!

Since I take most of the pictures here is one of the two shots I am in, both of which I took myself!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beautiful Chaos (Beautiful Creatures Series #3) Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Ethan Wate thought he was getting used to the strange, impossible events happening in Gatlin, his small Southern town. But now that Ethan and Lena have returned home, strange and impossible have taken on new meanings. Swarms of locusts, record-breaking heat, and devastating storms ravage Gatlin as Ethan and Lena struggle to understand the impact of Lena's Claiming. Even Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals is affected - and their abilities begin to dangerously misfire. As time passes, one question becomes clear: What - or who - will need to be sacrificed to save Gatlin?

For Ethan, the chaos is a frightening but welcome distraction. He's being haunted in his dreams again, but this time it isn't by Lena - and whatever is haunting him is following him out of his dreams and into his everyday life. Even worse, Ethan is gradually losing pieces of himself - forgetting names, phone numbers, even memories. He doesn't know why, and most days he's too afraid to ask.

Sometimes there isn't just one answer or one choice. Sometimes there's no going back. And this time there won't be a happy ending.

My thoughts:
Ethan and Lena are back from the tunnels and back together, but Gatlin is falling apart after Lena managed to claim herself both light and dark, with both a green eye and a gold eye to show for it.  Locusts swarm and eat everything that is green, the recording breaking heat leads to the lake drying up, the church going community is convinced that they are experiencing the plagues from the Bible.  The Far Keep wants to try Marion for Olivia's role in helping and taking a side in the tunnels when she helped Ethan go after Lena, Abraham and Sarafine pop up more than once and a prophesy says that the one who is two must be sacrificed.

Lena finds a box that belonged to her mother and, just as with magical objects in the first book, when she and Ethan touch them together they see images of the past.  They see Sarafine broken hearted when she is claimed for the Dark on her seventeenth moon, they see Sarafine and John try to make a home for themselves and Lena while cut off from their families and they see the struggle Sarafine goes through to maintain herself against all the pressures she feels.

Meanwhile, Ethan feels he is losing parts of himself.  He can't remember which shoebox holds certain prized possessions, no longer likes chocolate milk or Amma's cooking, doesn't know phone numbers and is having new dreams like he had when he met Lena, but this time it is a faceless teen he is encountering.  Amma is not herself anymore either.  Nothing is Gatlin is going right and something must be done, but who must make a sacrifice for the good of all?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316123518
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/12/2012
  • Series: Beautiful Creatures Series , #3
  • Pages: 576

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dream Dark (Beautiful Creatures Series) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

When Link joined his best friend, Ethan Wate, on a quest through a mysterious network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, he knew the journey would be dangerous. But returning home to Gatlin, South Carolina was just the beginning...

Wounded during a climactic battle, Link discovers that tending his injuries won't be as simple as visiting a doctor and that healing his arm should be the least of his worries. For being bitten by a Supernatural does more than break the skin -- it changes a person, inside and out, turning Link into someone more and more like the dark creature who injured him.

In this never-before-seen short story by New York Times bestselling authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, listeners witness Link's heart-racing transformation. Dream Dark is set before the much-anticipated third Beautiful Creatures novel, Beautiful Chaos, and as a special bonus includes an exclusive sneak peek at the first five chapters.

Dream Dark
word count: ~10,000
My thoughts:
It turns out that I read this one out of order.  I thought there were just four books in the series, and there are just four regular novels in the series, but this is an in between novella that should have been read in between books two and three.  I know when I was reading book four I kept wondering if I had forgotten parts of book three even though I had read it quite recently.  Now I know the scenes it was referring to that I thought I must have forgotten were in this book instead.
Link has been changed due to having been bitten by John Breed and is now a quarter Incubus.  He no longer needs to sleep or eat regular food and has grown taller and is more filled out.  He is still the lovable Link, who is in a really bad rock band and drives a beat up car, but he is also something more now and needs to work on understanding his powers and the new world that he belongs to.
This book reveals more of the tunnels and the supernatural community of dark and light casters, incubuses and more.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316197045
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 8/2/2011
  • Series: Beautiful Creatures Series
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 75

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beautiful Darkness(Beautiful Creatures #2) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena's family of powerful Supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan's eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there's no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town's tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

My thoughts:
This book was more of a slog for me.  I wanted to find out what happened between Lena and Ethan, but I was frustrated by how little they actually talked to one another and by how much space Lena put between then.  She wanted to protect him, which was understandable, but her attempts to run away with him running after her actually ended up putting him in more danger, not less.  Parts of it felt repetitive, perhaps on purpose, to show how we all do things over and over again when we want different results and keep getting the same thing.

It was interesting to see them explore the Tunnels more and to see how the way the Tunnels connected places was a lot shorter than if they  had gone above ground.  It was kind of like the magical tunnels in Harry Potter, but much more sinister and with permanent structures and residents below the ground.  There were a lot of groups chasing after other groups who all manage to converge in an area for a final showdown, Supernatural style.

The book is necessary in the series, but it was my least favorite of the books.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316077040
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/19/2011
  • Series: Beautiful Creatures Series , #2
  • Pages: 528

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beautiful Creatures (Beautiful Creatures Series #1) Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

My thoughts:
I really enjoyed this book and actually read it before the movie came out.  As usual, I pictured all the characters differently than the ones cast in the movie, but the only issue I really had with the casting for the movie was that Ethan was very tall in the movie and the actor that was chosen for the role was not.  Minor detail, but distracting all the same.

Ethan has been having dreams on a regular basis of mud and a beautiful girl that he just can't hold onto.  Then she shows up at his school for the fall term and is living in the plantation the townspeople all avoid.  They become friendly and slowly she reveals her secret.  Her family is part of a society of Supernaturals.  She is a Castor.  Each member of her family has different magical strengths from being able to see all that has happened in one spot in the past, present and future, to being able to tell if a person is telling the truth or not, to being a Siren and being able to control the actions of others.  Some Castors are Light and others are Dark, but they don't become either until their seventeenth birthday, which for Lena is just a little while away.

Lena is a very powerful Castor who can control the weather.  She is much sought by both Dark and Light Castors to join their side and this, along with the usual drama of being a teen, especially a new teen in a small town, lead to a lot of stress and strain.  Questions remain about whether or not Ethan and Lena can have any kind of future together and how her claiming on her seventeenth moon is going to affect the community in Gatlin, in the Supernatural world and beyond.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316231657
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 11/20/2012
  • Series: Beautiful Creatures Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 592

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

I've been doing a lot of reading on my Kindle lately and really enjoying it.  Here was my past week.

Finished reading:
Thumped by Megan McCarthney
Dream Dark (A Beautiful Creatures Story) by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Still reading:
The Everafter War by Michael Buckley
The Twelve by William Gladstone
Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon
The Alchemyst: The Secret of the Immortal Nicolas Flamel by Michael Scott
Lean In by Sherly Sandberg

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

TIME Magazine’s #1 Fiction Book of 2012!
The Fault in Our Stars is a love story, one of the most genuine and moving ones in recent American fiction, but it’s also an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.” —Lev Grossman, TIME Magazine
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning-author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My thoughts:
I had been wanting to read this book for quite a while when I saw it on the shelf at the library.  I am so glad that I decided to read it and, while some reviews I've read have featured readers lamenting that they waited so long to read the book, I am not upset about the wait.  I thinks sometimes books are read by a reader when they are ready for them versus when they are popular or new.  Maybe a year and half ago I wasn't in the right place at the right time for this book.

Hazel has been living with her terminal diagnosis for a number of years.  Since her cancer progressed she carries her oxygen tank with her where ever she goes, sleeps with a different tank, and has needed to be homeschooled.  Since she has little interaction with people her own age, having since started attending community college after getting her GED, her mother takes her once a week to a support group for teens with cancer.  The leader of the group, a man who had testicular cancer but has been in remission for years, holds meetings in the basement of a church in the "literal heart of Jesus" with a group of teens.  When he prays at the end of the meeting he says the names of all the members they have lost since the groups started, with each new name being added onto the end of the lengthy list.  One night a new member is there to support his friend.  Hazel meets Augustus and so begins a love story.

Even though cancer is always there, it is a backdrop and this is not a book about cancer.  It is a book about continuing to live with the life you have.  Even in times of great stress, we are all striving to have meaningful relationships with the people in our lives and to find and give love.  Hazel worries about the impact  her eventual death will have on her parents, about whether or not she looks pretty and about whether or not having a relationship with Augustus is a good idea. Being that the main characters both have or have had cancer, there is an element of sickness and hospital stays in there as well.  But overall, the book shows that with or without cancer, these are two teenagers who have the same hopes and wishes as anyone else, just with a much lower expectation of reaching a ripe old age.

Hazel has a favorite book, that she rereads regularly that ends in the middle of a sentence.  She has wondered for years about what happens after the book.  Why did the main character stop mid-sentence?  What happened to the girls mother?  Is the Dutch Tulip man trustworthy?  She has obsessed over this book and she shares it with Augustus, while agreeing to read a book based on a video game that he in turn recommends.  This book is another backdrop to the story.  Cancer and a reclusive writer and two teens who fall in love and form a bond in an uncertain time.  I cried while reading it over something I was not expecting. (I must state here that I am always optimistic, so I can be caught off guard at odd moments.  My husband's reaction was along the lines that I was reading a book with quite a few characters with cancer, how was I surprised that they all did not maintain good health?  Surprise might be the wrong word, but I always hope for the best so can be surprised by the worst if that makes sense.)

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525478812
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Pages: 336

Meet the Author

John Green
John Green is an award-winning, New York Times–bestselling author whose many accolades include the Printz Medal, a Printz Honor, and the Edgar Award. He has twice been a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. With his brother, Hank, John is one half of the Vlogbrothers, one of the most popular online video projects in the world. You can join John’s 1.1 million followers on Twitter (@realjohngreen). John lives with his wife and son in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- Park Fun!

I wish I had thought to do a picture like this last year so I could watch how the kids grow from year to year.  I also wish they had all been standing up straight, but I decided in case we got separated it was a good idea to have a picture of what each child was wearing and an approximate height to help us to be reunited.

Raven by Lauren Oliver (Delirium series)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

This captivating 50-page digital-original story set in the world of Lauren Oliver's New York Times bestselling Delirium series focuses on Raven, the fiery leader of a rebel group in the Wilds.
As a teenager, Raven made the split-second decision to flee across the border to the Wilds, compelled to save an abandoned newborn—a baby girl left for dead and already blue from the cold. When she and the baby are taken in by a band of rebels, Raven finds herself an outsider within a tight-knit group. The only other newcomer is an untrustworthy boy known as the Thief until he finally earns himself a new name: Tack.

Now she and Tack are inseparable, committed to each other, the fledgling rebellion, and a future together. But as they both take center stage in the fight, Raven must decide whether the dangers of the revolution are worth risking her dreams of a peaceful life with Tack.

As her story hurtles back and forth between past and present, Raven transforms from a scared girl newly arrived in the Wilds to the tough leader who helps Lena save former Deliria-Free poster boy Julian Fineman from a death sentence. Whatever the original mission may have been, Raven abides by a conviction that she believes to her core: You always return for the people you love.

By turns surprising, revelatory, and poignant, Raven's story enriches the Delirium world and resonates with a voice that is as vulnerable as it is strong.

My thoughts:
I am on the waiting list for the final book in the Delirium trilogy, but this was a nice reminder of the world.  Sometimes I like discovering a series after most of the books are written, because if you read them in order it is easier to remember the world the author has created.  I enjoyed the first two books in the series and I am looking forward to reading the last one.

This story is told from Raven's point of view.  Raven is the leader of the group Lena meets when she escapes to the wild alone, as Alex doesn't make it past the fence.  After time has passed she is trained to go back into the society to work towards the resistances goals.  There she meets Julian who she decides that she wants to save from death.  Raven and Tack are helping her with the mission of rescuing him.  This story takes place at the same time as book two, it is just a part of the story and it is told from a different perspective.  Already knowing the outcome of the rescue mission takes away some of the suspense or tension, but finding out how Raven and Tack ended up in the position they are in now makes them more relateable characters.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062267771
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/5/2013
  • Series: Delirium Series
  • Sold by: Harpercollins
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 36

Meet the Author

Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver captivated readers with her first novel, the New York Times bestseller Before I Fall, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. She followed that up with her stunning New York Times bestselling trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem. Oliver is also the author of two luminous novels for younger readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, both of which were named Kirkus Best Books of the Year. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU's MFA program, Lauren Oliver lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lost and Found In Cedar Cove by Debbie Macomber

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Debbie Macomber’s heartwarming new series, set at the Rose Harbor Inn in  picturesque Cedar Cove, displays the author’s signature talent for creating characters who feel like friends, and small towns that feel like home. In this original short story available exclusively as an eBook, Jo Marie Rose readies her inn for spring, turning to her new friends Grace and Olivia when she needs them most.
Jo Marie has big plans for her bed-and-breakfast. With the help of handyman Mark Taylor, she intends to plant a beautiful rose garden in time for her upcoming open house. Jo Marie and Mark rarely see eye to eye—especially on matters of home improvement—but she knows he has her best interests at heart. After the two walk the grounds, Jo Marie realizes that her beloved rescue dog, Rover, is missing, and at a time when she most needs a friend, Mark abruptly leaves. Confused by Mark’s behavior and worried for Rover’s safety, Jo Marie searches for her precious pup all over Cedar Cove. Rover is on an adventure of his own—one that will lead to a delightful surprise for two unlikely people.
My thoughts:
This short story is short and sweet, about making meaningful connections, not being afraid of what other people think of your friendships, and about how much love people can feel for the animals they share their lives with.  In the first book in the series about Rose Harbor Inn Jo Marie bought the bed and breakfast after losing her military husband.  The Inn is located in Cedar Cove, the setting of another one of Macomber's series and all her favorite characters are still living there.  I was disappointed when Macomber announced that she was ending the series, so it is nice to see that the friends I've read about in the pages of her books will continue to live on. 
This book came out right before Macomber's TV series began on the Hallmark channel.  I watched the first episode and enjoyed it, but forgot all about it the second week.  Saturday night isn't a usual TV watching night at our house and think we were playing outside.  Now I have to see if I can catch up on what I missed.  I love the way these characters seem like real people and work through real emotions.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804177863
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/15/2013
  • Series: Rose Harbor Series
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 36

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber, the author of Starting Now, The Inn at Rose Harbor, Angels at the Table, A Turn in the Road, 1105 Yakima Street, Hannah’s List, and Twenty Wishes, is a leading voice in women’s fiction. Eight of her novels have hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, with three debuting at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly lists. In 2009 and 2010, Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle were Hallmark Channel’s top-watched movies for the year. Debbie Macomber has more than 170 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Diamond of Darkhold (Books of Ember Series #4) by Jeanne DuPrau

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

When a roamer trades them an ancient book with only a few pages remaining, Lina and Doon return to Ember to seek the machine the book seems to describe in hopes that it will get their new community, Sparks, through the winter.Months have passed since young Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow were forced to escape the dying subterranean city of Ember and flee to the town of Sparks, where they must struggle through a harsh above ground winter. The situation seems hopeless until they chance upon a battered, fragmentary book that contains references to a device that could save them and their doomed city. To find that wondrous machine, the pair must descend to a realm where every hope seems but an echo….

My thoughts:
Doon and Lina come up with a plan to try to help their new home city of Sparks get through a tough winter.  Sparks is struggling with it's new population and the general difficulty of winter as well as a lack of medicine for those who are sick.  The two former Emeberites decide to go back to their old city to find out what the builders left for them that is hinted at in the book they bought from a roomer.  They also hope to salvage some food and materials from the city below the ground.

Unfortunately when they get there they find out that their old home has been found by someone else and their mission is nowhere near as easy as they thought it would be.  They both need to use some courage, daring and imagination to find a way out of the situation they find themselves in.

This book had a lot of embedded teaching moments, for example what becomes of a civilization when we lose access to history and technology.  How reading can, and is in some places still today,  a luxury.  How even those who act most confident and exude a mien of knowing it all can be totally wrong.  Just as book three gave a lot of history of how the world came to the terrible point we encountered it in the other books, this book reaches out years into the future and shows how it is possible to regain civilization and to move forward.  How this fictional dark age doesn't mean that all people will give up, how we always retain the will to move forward and make things better.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375855719
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/26/2008
  • Series: Books of Ember Series , #4
  • Pages: 304

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It's Monday, What are you reading?

So, I meant to get to this yesterday and never found the time.  Here is what I finished last week, along with a book that I never recorded from last month by Nora Roberts.  Two books were audio books.  All the finished books were checked out of the library.
Finished reading:
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katharine Boo
The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts
The Star Runner by S.E. Hinton

Still Reading:
Courting Carolina by Janet Chapman
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
The Twelve by William Gladstone
Dream Dark by Kami Garci and Margaret Stohl
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

The Prophet of Yonwood (Books of Ember Series #3) by Jeanne DuPrau

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

It’s 50 years before the settlement of the city of Ember, and the world is in crisis. War looms on the horizon as 11-year-old Nickie and her aunt travel to the small town of Yonwood, North Carolina. There, one of the town’s respected citizens has had a terrible vision of fire and destruction. Her garbled words are taken as prophetic instruction on how to avoid the coming disaster. If only they can be interpreted correctly. . . .
As the people of Yonwood scramble to make sense of the woman’s mysterious utterances, Nickie explores the oddities she finds around town—her great-grandfather’s peculiar journals and papers, a reclusive neighbor who studies the heavens, a strange boy who is fascinated with snakes—all while keeping an eye out for ways to help the world. Is this vision her chance? Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war?
In this prequel to the acclaimed The City of Ember and The People of Sparks, Jeanne DuPrau investigates how, in a world that seems out of control, hope and comfort can be found in the strangest of places.

My thoughts:
While reading The City of Ember and The People of Sparks I wondered how the world got to point where they needed to build an underground city to preserve humanity.  This book had a interesting story embedded in the framework of how our world let things escalate to the point that weapons of mass destruction were unleashed upon countries, causing civilization to lose so much.

Nickie and her aunt go to clean out the home of Nickie's great-grandfather.  Everyone is wary of strangers and thinks anyone could be a terrorist.  After a woman has a vision while taking her wash off the line, the citizens try to interpret her sketchy proclamations to save themselves.  In the small town, things after thing is outlawed in the effort to save the town from the coming destruction.  They get rid of music and dancing, lights and dogs, all following the prophets rants.  At first Nickie wants to help the woman who is trying to rid the town of evil to protect them all, but then she begins to question how God could want all these things done in his name.

A lot of questions about how the world reached the point it has when we see it for the first time in The People of Sparks are answered here.  Through the forward and the afterward some of the missing pieces are filled in.  This book opened up a lot of discussion points for having faith, using your own common sense, following the crowd and believing in yourself, and the importance of working things out and using your words.  It offered a very bleak picture of what can happen if we allow our pride to get too wrapped up in our dealings with others.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739331095
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/9/2006
  • Series: Books of Ember Series , #3
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged, 5 CDs, 6 hrs
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Jeanne DuPrau has been a teacher, an editor, and a technical writer. The People of Sparks is the sequel to The City of Ember and her second novel. She lives in Menlo Park, CA, where she keeps a big garden and a small dog.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tales from the Hood (Sisters Grimm Series #6) by Michael Buckley

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Funny, suspenseful, and fast-paced, The Sisters Grimm continues to charm readers with its outrageous take on familiar fairy tales.
In Ferryport Landing everyone gets a day in court—even the Big Bad Wolf, a.k.a. Mr. Canis. When Canis is put on trial for past crimes, Mayor Heart’s kangaroo court is determined to find him guilty. It’s up to the Grimms to uncover evidence to save their friend, though Sabrina starts to wonder whether they would all be safer with the Wolf in jail. Despite her misgivings, Sabrina and her sister, Daphne, investigate what actually happened in the Big Bad Wolf’s most famous tale—and the real story is full of surprises!

My thoughts:
Daphne and Sabrina engage in research through the records their family has been keeping for hundreds of years to find out what really happened the night that Red Riding Hood's grandmother was killed.  They search for the woodcutter and interview Red herself to try to get to the bottom of the story.  Meanwhile, the Mad Hatter is presiding as judge over the case and Robin Hood is trying his best to defend Mr. Canis.  The robed jury seems to be against the family and Mr. Canis and Mr. Canis seems to have given up on himself.  Sabrina breaks Daphne's trust and this puts a rift between the girls.  What they discover through interviews is much different than they had thought, but will they be able to present any of their evidence in court with an erratic judge who never gives the defense a chance to cross examine or question any of the witnesses?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810989252
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/4/2009
  • Series: Sisters Grimm Series , #6
  • Pages: 304

Friday, August 2, 2013

Saturday Snapshot- Cave Adventures!

 We took a day trip to a local cave this week.  It was a very informative tour and our whole family seemed to enjoy it.
This picture is sideways, but if you look from the side you can see a formation that they say looks like an eagle.

We learned about stalactites and stalagmites and saw many different formations.

This one reminded me of snow!

This is a very large rock that fell over at one point and we had a chance to view it from both sides and see how it divided the cave when it fell.

Exiting the cave peoples glasses were fogging and so did my camera lens!

Magic and Other Misdemeanors (Sisters Grimm Series #5) by Michael Buckley

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

When the past and future start mixing with the present, Sabrina and Daphne have their first case to tackle solo—with a little help from the troublemaker Puck. The girls suspect that a rash of magical thefts may be at the root of the problem, but with Mayor Heart’s outrageous taxes to pay and Mr. Canis’s continuing transformation into the Big Bad Wolf, the Grimms have a lot to worry about and not a lot of time to waste. Can Sabrina and Daphne solve the crime and change the future for the better?

My thoughts:
I think it is always fun when time travel gets involved, and there are always so many questions about ripple effects and what happens if you change something in the present to course of events in the future.  Holes in time are opening all over Ferryport Landing.  Strange people from the past or the future show up on the streets and Sabrina and Daphne are taken into the future where they meet themselves and find a very grim reality in their town.  Some of what they see is funny, you won't believe who Sabrina is married too, most of if is upsetting.  The Scarlett Hand has taken over and the Grimm family are outlaws.  Their parents are still under the sleeping spell, some friends are now enemies and some important people are dead.  The girls are determined, with the help of Prince Charming, to change the course of events to avoid the future they have seen.  In keeping secrets from a friend they cause a rift in a friendship and Mayor Heart and Sheriff Nottingham continue to force all the non-Everafters from the town.  Can their friends and their town be saved?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810972636
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/23/2008
  • Series: Sisters Grimm Series , #5
  • Pages: 304

Meet the Author

Michael Buckley
Michael Buckley’s previous books include a New York Times bestseller, a Kirkus Reviews Best Fantasy Book, and two Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award winners. He has written and developed television shows for several networks. He lives with his wife, Alison, and their son, Finn, in Brooklyn, New York. Peter Ferguson is a comic book and editorial artist living in Argentina.