Sunday, September 28, 2014

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue! (Origami Yoda Series #5) by Tom Angleberger

Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue! (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Origami Yoda Series #5)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

At McQuarrie Middle School, the war against the FunTime Menace—aka test prep—wages on. Our heroes have one battle under their belts, and they’ve even found a surprising ally in Jabba the Puppett. But to defeat the Dark Standardized Testing Forces they’re going to need an even bigger, even more surprising ally: Principal Rabbski. But with great forces—aka the school board—pushing her from above, will the gang’s former enemy don a finger puppet and join the Rebellion—or will her transformation to Empress Rabbski, Dark Lord of the Sith, be complete?

With this timely episode in the blockbuster Origami Yoda series, Tom Angleberger demonstrates once again that his “grasp of middle-school emotions, humor and behavior is spot-on” (Scripps Howard News Service).

Praise for Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue!
"Fans will devour this satisfying and nicely realistic conclusion to the story set up in the previous volume. Characters grow, and non–Star Wars pop-culture references seep in. Readers new to the series are advised to go back to the beginning; they won’t regret it."
Kirkus Reviews
"These books are more popular than a working droid on Tatooine. Expect the usual army of young Jedis to come out swinging for a copy."

My thoughts:
I am not sure if I read book four or not, but that did not get in my way of enjoying this installment of the series.  This was a very quick read!  Angleberger takes a look at test prep series from the point of view of the students and made the test prep materials particularly annoying.  Because McQuarrie Middle School had the worst test scores last year the school board has taken away all of the electives the students formerly enjoyed, like music classes, drama club, and all sports and replaced them with video test prep and worksheets to prepare for the test.  The students are bored, they miss their electives and they hate the singing professor and his rapping calculator.  The teachers are less than thrilled too.  The origami owners get together to plan their own rebellion against this test prep.

How much of this parody is what is actually being done in some schools and classrooms?  How much of a rounded education with challenges and differences are students losing because of scores on tests?  I agree there needs to be accountability and some way to measure what the students have learned, but I have mixed feelings about our current system.  I've seen the tests from an educator's perspective and from a parent perspective and I think a change needs to be made.  My hope is that in the future something better comes into use, but while I agree that some review is necessary on a regular basis to maintain skills and knowledge, whole programs designed to prepare students for one test should not be the focus of the school day for students.  Learning and preparing for life should be the focus, not a test.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419710520
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Series: Origami Yoda Series , #5
  • Pages: 208

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hidden in the Stars by Robin Caroll (Quilts of Love) Litfuse Blog Tour

Hidden in the Stars: Quilts of Love Series


Following an attack that killed her mother and stole her ability to speak, 21-year-old Sophia Montgomery has no choice but to accept her estranged grandmother’s offer to return to their family home. Although detective Julian Frazier is working hard on the case, Sophia unknowingly frustrates him because her inability to speak thwarts her eyewitness evidence. The fact that Julian is undeniably attracted to Sophia doesn’t help either, so Julian hides his feelings as concern for a trauma victim and focuses instead on finding the killer.

Little do they know, the clues to solving the case may be right in front of them, displayed in Sophia’s mother’s “special” quilt design. Who will realize the secret Sophia’s unwittingly been hiding in plain sight? When the truth comes to light, will Sophia find her voice again? Or will the murderer—still at large—silence her forever?

Landing page: 

My thoughts:
In one night, on the eve of the fruition of years of hard work and sacrifice, everything changes for Sophia.  A violent attack that leaves her mother dead and her temporarily unable to talk, lands her in the hospital giving a statement through a lip reader to a police detective. 

A grandmother she thought to be dead, ties to Russian mafia, parallels between a mothers training in dance and a daughters years of training in gymnastics, leave Sophia vulnerable to attack from the same men who hurt her, but whom police are having a hard time tracking down. 

What is hiding in the quilt?  What is the stain her mother always said was cola?  Why has she never met the grandmother who clearly is not dead?  As they circle closer to the answer the danger ratchets up for Sophia and Julian wants more and more to keep her safe, but doesn't know what to do with the romantic feelings he can't seem to stop.

As each of the questions is answered and leads to even more questions, the picture of Sophia's mother Nina's life emerges.  Why she stopped dancing professionally?  What really happened to her best friend?  Sophia never wavers in her trust of God's plan for her life and her path, but Julian has a lot of doubts.   He has been hurt and has lost his faith, can Sophia and her silent acceptance help him find his way back?

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426773600
  • Publisher: Abingdon Press
  • Publication date: 9/16/2014
  • Pages: 240

About the Author: 

Robin Caroll is the author of 22 published novels. When she isn't writing, Robin spends time with her husband of 20-plus years, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in Little Rock, Arkansas. She gives back to the writing community by serving as conference director for ACFW. Her books have been named finalists in such contests as the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer's Choice Award, Bookseller's Best, and Book of the Year.

Connect with Robin: website, Facebook, Twitter
About Quilts of Love: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ballroom by Alice Simpson TLC Book Tour


About the book:
Told in interconnecting stories, Ballroom is a beautifully crafted debut novel—reminiscent of the works of Elizabeth Strout and Jennifer Haigh—about a group of strangers united by a desire to escape their complicated lives, if only for a few hours each week, in a faded New York City dance hall.

Time has eroded the glamour of the Ballroom, but at the end of the 1990s, a small crowd of loyal patrons still makes its way past the floor-to-ceiling columns which frame the once grand hall each Sunday evening. Sweeping across the worn parquet floor under a peeling indigo ceiling, these men and women succumb to the magic of the music, looking for love and connection, eager to erase the drab reality of their complicated lives.

Nearly forty and still single, Sarah Dreyfus is desperate for love and sure she’ll find it with debonair Gabriel Katz, a dazzling peacock who dances to distract himself from his crumbling marriage. Tired of the bachelor life, Joseph believes that his yearning for a wife and family will be fulfilled—if only he can get Sarah to notice him. Besotted with beautiful young Maria Rodriguez, elderly dance instructor Harry Korn knows they can find happiness together. Maria, one of the Ballroom’s stars, has a dream of her own, a passion her broken-hearted father refuses to accept or understand.
As the rhythms of the Ballroom ebb and flow through these characters’ hearts, their fates come together in touching, unexpected ways.

My thoughts:
I loved the idea of interconnecting stories and how we touch the lives of others whether we realize it or not.  The people you see every day or regularly are a part of your life even if you don't know their names or their backgrounds.  Each of the characters in this book had his or her own flaws which seems like an attempt to make them more real, but some of those flaws made it hard for me to like the characters.  I found this to be especially true with the male characters.

Harry Korn has been living in his apartment since before Maria's father, Manuel, moved in to be the super.  He has kept to himself to such an extent that his neighbors barely know him.  He has been giving dance lessons to Maria for years without anyone knowing about them, but the whole time he has been harboring a dream of a future life with Maria.  Maria longs to be a dancer and loves learning from both Harry and her dance partner, Angel.  Joseph always thought he would one day marry, but instead he comes weekly to the ballroom and dances, but barely reveals anything about himself to his partners, including his last name.  Sarah thinks that if only she can improve her dancing she can attract Gabriel who she thinks will bring her life the fulfillment she has been looking for.  Gabriel has been trying to make the perfect life for himself and get away from his memories of his mother and her manipulation to get him to be her dance partner.

At times I wasn't sure where the story was going or how most of the storylines could have happy endings.  It seemed to come around to the fact that happiness can only come from being honest to yourself and to others and to find what makes your own heart happy, not someone else's.  IF we take responsibility for our own happiness first, we can bring that happiness to others on our life journey.  Some of these characters learn that lesson, but not all of them.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (September 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062323032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062323033

Alice Simpson.jpg

For more about Alice Simpson check out her website:   Alice Simpson

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Here's the tour schedule:

Wednesday, September 10th: Tutu’s Two Cents
Thursday, September 11th: she treads softly
Monday, September 15th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, September 16th: BookNAround
Wednesday, September 17th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Thursday, September 18th: Walking With Nora
Tuesday, September 23rd: Drey’s Library
Wednesday, September 24th: Books, Books Everywhere
Monday, September 29th: Book Loving Hippo
Wednesday, October 1st: Book by Book
Friday, October 3rd: Stephany Writes
Monday, October 6th: Consuming Culture
Wednesday, October 8th: Reads for Pleasure
Thursday, October 9th: bookchickdi
TBD: cakes, tea and dreams

Friday, September 19, 2014

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield (audio)

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

From the bestselling author of Love Is a Mix Tape and Turn Around Bright Eyes, "a funny, insightful look at the sublime torture of adolescence".—Entertainment Weekly
The 1980s meant MTV and John Hughes movies, big dreams and bigger shoulder pads, and millions of teen girls who nursed crushes on the members of Duran Duran. As a solitary teenager stranded in the suburbs, Rob Sheffield had a lot to learn about women, love, music, and himself. And he was sure his radio had all the answers.

As evidenced by the bestselling sales of Sheffield's first book, Love Is a Mix Tape, the connection between music and memory strikes a chord with readers. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran strikes that chord all over again, and is a pitch-perfect trip through '80s music-from Bowie to Bobby Brown, from hair metal to hip-hop. But this book is not just about music. It's about growing up and how every song is a snapshot of a moment that you'll remember the rest of your life.

My thoughts:
While I do not  have quite as much from the 1980s to remember, I can recall the songs and some of the fascination with MTV from that time.  I love how each of Sheffield's essays start with a song title from the time and bring up.  It was like sitting down with a funny friend who knows a whole lot more about music than I do and finding out all sorts of music history while remembering what it was like before cell phones became so rampant. 

Why Irish sisters act as they do, what it is like to be the only boy in a family of all girls, and how he came to love Duran Duran as more than a way to talk to girls who loved the group.  I did not have MTV growing up, my friend did, but I did not.  I was always a bit jealous about it.  Now I do have MTV but it no longer shows mostly music videos so I don't bother with it, how ironic.  I had to laugh when he described some of the videos that make no sense, like when the band is singing in a junk yard for no apparent reason.

Each song he used as a chapter title reminded me of moments in my own life, either from the eighties or from later on when I became aware of the song.  It was like a trip down memory lane with my own memories wound up with those of a good friend.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452297234
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/26/2011
  • Pages: 288

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Joyful: Return to Sugar Creek Book 3 by Shelley Shepard Gray Litfus Blog Tour

About the book: A young Amish couple gets a second chance at love in New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray's final book in her Return to Sugarcreek series.

Randall Beiler is doing his best to put his family and the farm's needs first, even forsaking love. But though he tries, Randall knows he needs help caring for his younger siblings and keeping the house together.
When his brother offers pretty Elizabeth Nolt a job taking care of the house and cooking for the family, Randall is furious---and guilty about the way he once broke Elizabeth's heart. But when he learns that Elizabeth and her grandmother are struggling to make ends meet, he knows the offer, no matter how painful, is the right thing for everyone.
Elizabeth wants to refuse---to stay far away from the man who hurt her---but she needs the money. Though she vows to protect her heart, spending time in the Beiler household makes Elizabeth realize that, while she's older and wiser, her love for Randall still burns strong.
Randal, too, seems to want something more. But does he want Elizabeth because he truly loves her---or because he needs a housekeeper? If Randall sincerely wants something more, he must find a way to show Elizabeth---or risk losing his chance at love forever.

Purchase a copy: 
Landing page:
My thoughts:
I enjoyed visiting with the characters in Sugarcreek again.  Finding out how Miriam and Junior are doing in their new marriage and Christine and Aden in theirs.  How Ben and Judith are doing with their foster son and other assorted family and friends in this small Amish community.
This time around the focus of the story is on Randall and Elizabeth.  They have informally courted for years and both thought they would one day be married, but then Randy broke things off after his three older siblings left the family home to start their own lives and he felt he needed to step in and be the head of the parentless family.  Elizabeth is blindsided and hurt, but too proud to talk about it. 
After getting sick of having the same thing for dinner every night, Randy's brother, Luke, offers Elizabeth a job at their home, cleaning and cooking for the four brothers and one sister who still live there together.  This puts the two back into each other's daily orbit and forces them to deal with their unfinished business.
Watching both of them work to be polite and to keep their own personal feelings out of their interactions is a bit painful.  Feeling abandoned and left behind again by Randy, just as she was when her mother remarried and moved away, Elizabeth holds her feelings in.  When Randy is injured at his construction job and needs someone to care for him, Elizabeth gets a chance to see what life is like in his family home and what it would be like to have a large family, instead of the way she grew up as an only child.
In order to grow and change we need to trust that things will work out the way they are supposed to which can be the hardest thing of all, but we also need to be honest and true in all that we do to present our best selves to the world and others to allow this to happen.
About the author: Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.

Find Shelley online: website, Facebook
9/11/2014Crystal | Serving Joyfully
Crystal | Welcome To My World(Of Reviews)
Debra | 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
Laura | Lighthouse Academy
Mary | The Mary Book Reader
Susan | let's eat 2 day

9/12/2014Marjolaine | Books, Beautiful Books
Jalynn | A Simple Life, really?!
Kathleen | Reviews From The Heart
JoJo | JoJo's Corner
Margaret | The World As I See It

9/13/2014JC | J.C.s BookShelf
Megan | When life gets you a book
Debbie | Debbie Jean's

9/14/2014Victor | Vic's Media Room
Amanda | inklings and notions
Erin |For Him and My Family

9/15/2014April | Dixie n Dottie
Gloria | AmishReader
Karen | LyonsLady
Lisa | A Rup Life

9/16/2014Bethany | Perfect Beginnings
Karla | Quiet Quilter
Carole | The Power of Words

9/17/2014Dianna | Savings in Seconds
Leticia | My Daily Trek
Nancy | sunny island breezes
Katrina | Life With Katie
Kav | Best Reads
Amanda | The Talbert Report

9/18/2014Mary | Mary's Cup of Tea
Victoria | deal sharing aunt
Jill | Book Books Everywhere
Jessica | A New Leaf
Jessica | From Me to You ... Video, Photography, & Book Reviews

9/19/2014Cheryl | cherylbbookblog
Shecki | Greatly Blessed
Billy | Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer
Deb | DebsHere
Renee | Little Homeschool on the Prairie
Cindy | Cindy's Book Reviews
Cassandra | Cassandra M's Place
Brittany | Britt Reads Fiction
Pamela | Daysong Reflections

9/20/2014Pamela | pamela black
Joy | Splashes of Joy
Athena | The Loose Screw
Lauri | knits reads and reviews
Julia | Avid Reader Reviews
Ginger | My MisMatched World

9/21/2014Veronica | Veronica's 'Views

9/22/2014Angela | A Busy Mom of Two
Lakin | Wonderous Reviews
Melina | Melina's Book Blog
Margaret | Frugal-Shopping

9/23/2014Amy | A Nest in the Rocks

9/24/2014Tara | This Sweet Life
Kemi | Homemaking Organized

9/25/2014Pam | Southern Gal Loves to Read
Brenda | WV Stitcher
Rachel | Crafts-n-Fitness
Angela | Griperang's Bookmarks
Karen | Karen's Korner
Hallie | Book by Book

9/26/2014Liz | western New yorker
Anne | mommy has to work
Julie | More Of Him
Alison | NOVA Frugal Family
Barbara | Blessed by Grace

9/27/2014Mindy | A Room Without Books is Empty
Kristie | Moments

9/28/2014Lisa | chickensbunniesandhomeschool
Deb | Deb's Book Review
Sarah | Life Isn't Always a Fairytale
Brittanie | A Book Lover

9/29/2014Linda | Faithful Acres Books & More
Carla | Working Mommy Journal
Shirley | A Mom After Gods Own Heart

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tempting Fate by Jane Green (audio)

Tempting Fate

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

From the New York Times bestselling author of such beloved novels as Jemima J, The Beach House, and Another Piece of My Heart comes an enthralling and emotional story about how much we really understand the temptations that can threaten even the most idyllic of relationships….
Gabby and Elliott have been happily married for eighteen years. They have two teenaged daughters.  They have built a life together. Forty-three year old Gabby is the last person to have an affair.  She can’t relate to the way her friends desperately try to cling to the beauty and allure of their younger years…And yet she too knows her youth is quickly slipping away.  She could never imagine how good it would feel to have a handsome younger man show interest in her—until the night it happens.  Matt makes Gabby feel sparkling, fascinating, alive—something she hasn't felt in years.  What begins as a long-distance friendship soon develops into an emotional affair as Gabby discovers her limits and boundaries are not where she expects them to be. Intoxicated, she has no choice but to step ever deeper into the allure of attraction and attention, never foreseeing the life-changing consequences that lie ahead.  If she makes one wrong move she could lose everything—and find out what really matters most.

A heartfelt and complex story, Tempting Fate will have readers gripped until they reach the very last page and have them thinking about the characters long after they put the book down.

My thoughts:
Aging is such a complex thing, we might think we feel one way until it comes time to test that theory out in person.  Gabby is comfortable and loves her husband, but the way some of her friends act and look make her feel old and frumpy.  on a Girls Night Out evening she meets a charming, younger man who shows an interest in her in a friendly way.  They exchange numbers casually and she thinks there is no way someone this successful is going to get in touch with her, but her does.  They are friendly and casual, acting as friends and her is aware that she is married, but she looks forward to his emails and texts just a little too much.  She starts to take better care of herself, buying new clothes and coloring her hair.  But they are just friends, he is just a friend she hasn't mentioned to her husband, but still just a friend.

Marriage is a complex thing, and it takes two really communicating to make it work.  Gabby always wanted a third child, but Elliot did not and when he makes a decision to have a vasectomy resentment starts to grow inside of Gabby.  More about the fact that he never even took the time to discuss it with her to see her side than from the fact that he went through with it, she had a dream of another baby and feels he took it away from her with very little thought.  So she feel flattered than someone ten years younger than she is finds her attractive and wants to spend time with her.

Friendship too has multiple layers.  Can you be friends with both sides of a couple when they split up or do you have to choose sides?  Can you support a decision that is not the one you would have made?  How do you continue to co-parent with someone you no longer cohabitate with?  How does separating affect the children and how much acting out is normal?

This story plays out in some expected ways and in some unexpected ones, but it shows that family does not always have to be related by blood and even sometimes the closest friend can fail us in a time of need, but we have to be open to the idea that there is a plan for us and everything will work out in the end, with some detours and roundabouts along the way.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312604189
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/4/2014
  • Pages: 384

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers

Diary of a Mad Diva

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Following up the phenomenal success of her headline-making New York Times bestseller I Hate Everyone...Starting With Me, the unstoppable Joan Rivers is at it again. When her daughter Melissa gives her a diary for Christmas, at first Joan is horrified—who the hell does Melissa think she is? That fat pig, Bridget Jones? But as Joan, being both beautiful and introspective, begins to record her day-to-day musings, she realizes she has a lot to say.
About everything. And everyone, God help them.
The result? A no-holds-barred, delightfully vicious and always hilarious look at the everyday life of the ultimate diva. Follow Joan on a family vacation in Mexico and on trips between New York and Los Angeles where she mingles with the stars, never missing a beat as she delivers blistering critiques on current events, and excoriating insights about life, pop culture, and celebrities (from A to D list), all in her relentlessly funny signature style.
This is the Diary of a Mad Diva. Forget about Anais Nin, Anne Frank, and that whiner Sylvia Plath. For the first time in a century, a diary by someone that’s actually worth reading.

My thoughts:
I put this on hold at the library before Joan died and had mixed feelings when my turn came up last week.  It was a fun, fast read with some funny jokes and some really mean ones, but what was morbid for me was all the jokes she makes about her own death.  Yes, she was eighty at the time she wrote this, so she knew she had way more years behind her than ahead of her, but it retrospect some of the things she wrote just seemed a bit tough to read now. 

I know a number of stars were hurt or upset by the jokes she told about them, there was even a disclaimer in between June and July about how this book was mostly a work of fiction and humor and should be read in such a manner, but joking that stars are gay or fat didn't always feel like it was made in the pursuit of fun.  That said, the book did have me laughing at times especially when she writes about herself and her family and leaves the critique of others alone.  Her vacations and chauffeurs and other passengers on planes brought smiles and laughs.  It was great that she was able to spin everything into a humorous situation, even not being able to find a man to date or having copious amounts of plastic surgery on a regular basis.  Her book reminded me at times of Chelsea Handler's latest book, perhaps because they both spent at lot of time on planes and on vacation in other countries, but also in the way they both use humor in their lives and writing.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425269022
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Pages: 304

Monday, September 15, 2014

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (audio)

Peter Pan

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

The character of Peter Pan first came to life in the stories J. M. Barrie told to five brothers -- three of whom were named Peter, John, and Michael. Peter Pan is considered one of the greatest children's stories of all time and continues to charm readers one hundred years after its first appearance as a play in 1904.
The adventures of the three Darling children in Never-Never Land with Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up. Illustrations compiled from late nineteenth and early twentieth century editions of the book.


My thoughts:
I have never read Peter Pan so I checked it out in audio form from the library.  Amazingly enough, it followed the Disney movie version very well.  There were no surprises and  no real revelations either.  I think we all have those moments when we would rather not be grown up and responsible, but I love how Wendy realizes that at some point it has to happen and it is not the end of the world.  The rest of the boys don't seem to end up quite as happily as she does.  I also never go the sense that they were gone for quite as long as they were in the books, that their parents were waiting and hoping for their return for months.  Peter seems even more selfish in the book, with the way when they play pretend games he views them as just as real as reality, as if being in Neverland has causes him to be unable to differentiate real from pretend.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Gareth Stein (audio)


Overview from Barnes and Noble:

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope—a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

My thoughts:
My habit of never reading a synopsis, back cover or inside flap of a dust jacket makes reading and listening to books even more interesting, I had thought this book was going to have something to do with bike racing.  Not sure what I saw or read that made me think that, but I was surprised when I found out that the racing referred to was car racing.  Not in a bad or good way, just a sort of general surprise.

Hearing a story told from the perspective of a dog was a nice change.  A lot of the miscommunication people create in trying to be polite or avoid hurt feelings was taken away because Enzo told the story as he saw it, with his own emotion, but he saw things as they were without the circling around that people sometimes do to be polite.  Enzo loved Denny and felt some jealousy and resentment when he met and married Eve, but he loved their daughter Zoe and came to accept Eve. 

Denny dreams of making it in racing, but still works at a garage as a day job.  He can sometimes be gone for long periods of time and Eve's parents are less than thrilled with their daughters choice of husband.  Events come into play that are so frustrating to watch play out.  The truth can be an important thing and not everyone uses it as they should.  Their was pain and heartbreak and love and loss and joy and happiness, as there are in all lives.  Enzo is there for all of it, watching, participating and helping. 

Along with his participation in family life, Enzo also has an ongoing tension with the crows and a fear of the crazy zebra inside us all.  Through it all life lessons are related to driving, where ever your eyes go the car goes- where you look there goes your life.  Think about where you want to be and look that way, stop being so focused on the right  now that you lose sight of your goal.  If you focus on the wall you are going to crash, look ahead and have faith.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062349538
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/16/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320

Meet the Author

Garth Stein
Garth Stein is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Art of Racing in the Rain (and its tween adaptation, Racing in the Rain), How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, Raven Stole the Moon, and a play, Brother Jones. He is the cofounder of, a nonprofit collective of sixty-two Northwest authors dedicated to fostering a passion for the written word. Garth lives in Seattle with his family and his dog, Comet.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Before Your Dog Can Eat You Homework, First You Have to Do It: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog to a Young Boy by John O'Hurley (audio)

Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to DoIt: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog to a Young Boy

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

From the New York Times bestselling author and his dog more woofs of wisdom
In his first book, John O'Hurley wrote of the many life lessons he'd learned from dogs'lessons that carried him from the New England woods of his childhood to his life today as an award-winning actor, composer, and writer amidst the bright lights of Hollywood. Now, in Before Your Dog Can Eat Your Homework, First You Have to Do It, John once again finds himself seeking the wisdom of a canine companion. After years of parenting pets, last December, he became a father to his first child, William. Along with the many new joys of being a dad, John faced a new set of challenges and it was Scoshi, his wizened white Maltese and faithful confidant for nearly two decades, who, at every turn, pointed the way.

At once poignant, profound, and laugh-out-loud funny, this book is a one-of-a-kind celebration of the joys of parenting pets and children alike, and further testament to the enduring wisdom of man's best friend.

My thoughts:
O'Hurley shares his advice for his newborn son through "letter" his old dog and first child has left under the foot of a stuffed elephant in the nursery.  Everything from, worms for fishing work better if you roll on them first to you have to do your homework before the dog can eat it.  Mostly though, O'Hurley is showing that as much as he knows that his old dog, Scoshi, will not live to see William grow into a child who can play with him, he himself worries that as a father he will not be there to see William through his adulthood.  He wants to make sure his son knows that he is loved and one of the most important things in life is to be true to oneself and to do what makes you happy.  Don't be too worried about money or too cavalier with it, but treat it with respect and believe that if you are careful it will be there, no need to hoard or to overspend.  And most importantly, spend time with the people you love because they matter more than anything else in your life.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452289819
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176

Meet the Author

John O'Hurley
John O’Hurley is the host of NBC’s The National Dog Show. He is well-known for his award-winning role as J. Peterman on Seinfeld, and as the ultimate champion of Dancing with the Stars.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (audio)

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

In Lean In, Sandberg digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the lives and choices of working women. She recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right choices for herself, her career, and her family. She provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.”  She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home. 

Written with both humor and wisdom, Sandberg’s book is an inspiring call to action and a blueprint for individual growth. Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.

My thoughts:
Third time is the charm, I started this book twice before this, but the due date at the library always came up before I finished it and it was never able to be renewed.  This time I tried it on audio and listened to it in a couple of days.  It brought up a lot of good points for both men and women and about changes that still need to be made in the workplace and in our minds to encourage a better future for everyone.  Pitching a new client and asking to use the restroom, only to find out that the man who has worked at this site for months doesn't know if there is a women's room or if a woman has ever been at a meeting there in the past year, being the first person to suggest expectant mother parking at Google, being brave enough to set hours that are family friendly and advocating for oneself and others are all example Sandberg uses. 

Not only do women shy away from tooting their own horns, but they are looked at worse than men if they do.  They are damned if they do and damned if they don't/  I loved the story about four powerful women who ate lunch together regularly and then talk up each others achievements, so they advocate for one another and let people know about the great thing they are each doing, but without falling into the bossy, arrogant unliked woman trap.

How does society go about changing the perception of women with power and start judging them the same way men are judged?  How do we make fair family medical leave for both men and women that doesn't come with unfair repercussions?  How do we allow women and men to be comfortable with their family decisions and what works for them, who stays home or doesn't stay home, how long a maternity or paternity leave is taken and how do we stop judging each other? 

How do we all learn to come to the table together and sit together and accept one another, to find a mentor or become a mentor to someone regardless of gender, to make sure the best person for the job gets the job without prejudice?  I am afraid that there is still so far to go, but I hope that as our children come into the work force that changes have been made and continue to be made so they can have a whole world of opportunity open to them and not just bits and pieces of it.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385349949
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/11/2013
  • Pages: 240

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (audio)

Big Little Lies

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Check out the #1 New York Times bestseller Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, called “a surefire hit” by Entertainment Weekly.

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .
A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.
But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My thoughts:
This was a fun, twisty read.  Some of the story takes place chronologically, but through out the book there are snippets and reactions from less front and center characters about what happened at the parents night out fundraiser.  You know someone is dead, but no one seems to know exactly how it happened and the name of the person who has died is not revealed until very near the end.  I found myself hoping for a certain character to be the one to meet the oncoming demise, but at the same time I very much hoped it wasn't some of the other characters for one reason or another and very much feared it was going to be a certain one.

It starts in a small, beachside town in Australia, at kindergarten orientation day.  One experienced mom of three, whose youngest is starting school, one mom of twins and one single, very young mother meet on the first day and become friends.  The veteran mom, Madeline,  tells all about the school politics involved in the PTO, what to do and what not to do and the whole hierarchy of parents.  Celeste seems distracted and confused, but as a mom of twins with boundless energy everyone accepts it without looking for any other cause and Jane, a young single mother new to town, desperately wants to fit in without making waves.  Then a girl accuses Jane's son of having choked her and he denies it and things start to happen.

How can we teach children to tell the truth when adults are just as apt to tell lies in both big and small ways and is there really a big lie and a small lie?  Is it lying to not tell the truth because a friend asked you not to?  As secrets from the past and the present are told and revealed, each character has to come to grips with who they are now and where they are going from here and how honest they are going to be.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399167065
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
  • Publication date: 7/29/2014
  • Pages: 480

Meet the Author

Liane Moriarty is the author of five novels, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist’s Love Story, and the best-selling Three Wishes and The Husband’s Secret. The Husband’s Secret reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, was a number one bestseller in the UK, sold close to two million copies worldwide, has been optioned for a film, and will be translated into more than thirty-five languages. Moriarty lives in Sydney with her husband, son, and daughter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Walking Dead Compendium One by Robert Kirkman,

The Walking Dead Compendium, Volume 1

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Introducing the first eight volumes of the fan-favorite, New York Times Best Seller series collected into one massive paperback collection! Collects The Walking Dead #1-48. This is the perfect collection for any fan of the Emmy Award-winning television series on AMC: over one thousand pages chronicling the beginning of Robert Kirkman's Eisner Award-winning continuing story of survival horror- from Rick Grimes' waking up alone in a hospital, to him and his family seeking solace on Hershel's farm, and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot: The Governor. In a world ruled by the dead, we are finally forced to finally start living.

My thoughts:
While I liked having so much of the story in on volume, this was so heavy to hold.  I had to take breaks from reading in bed because it would put my hands to sleep!  It made me feel like a bit of a wimp.

I am current with the TV series, so it was interesting to see which storylines and characters stayed the same as the book and which ones were changed or missing from the show.  Which relationships happened and which ones never actually happened and if it happened in the same order as the book.

The kids were so much younger than the show, but I know they started out younger, the years of production have had to make accommodations for them getting older.  it still seems like there are things they could be doing better to survive a bit easier and I found myself getting frustrated with them at times and they actually do call the walking dead zombies which they never do in the show.

I think I am going to hold off on reading the next compendium because I would like to be surprised by what happens in the show, not anticipating the next move from having read the books.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781607060765
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Publication date: 5/6/2009
  • Series: Walking Dead Series
  • Pages: 1088

Meet the Author

Robert Kirkman
Robert Kirkman
ROBERT KIRKMAN is best known for his work on The Walking Dead and Invincible for Image Comics and SKYBOUND. He is one of the five partners of Image Comics and is an executive producer and writer on AMC's critically acclaimed television series The Walking Dead.