Thursday, May 31, 2007

Busy busy

Well it's definitely summer in New Mexico and the Summer Reading Program has started at the library, meaning my time is taken up with 1500 kids, instead of with blogging and reading. I've worked overtime every day this week, but I'm not complaining! I've come home with big blisters on my fingers from opening 400 stuck glue bottles and cutting out about 1000 craft shapes for our kick-off Color Carnival this Friday. I got word at about 6pm yesterday that we still have a bunch of money to spend on children's books before our fiscal year is up, which just happens to be today. So myself and the other children's librarian have up until this afternoon to spend it all, which is more difficult than it sounds, but still fun! Spending other people's money on books is great! I'm tired, but still not complaining! I love the craziness of this time of year.... it makes the days fly by, but does leave less time for the fun stuff.

I have, in all of this craziness of the week, finished a book The Quilter's Homecoming, by Jennifer Chiaverini and will have a review up of that tomorrow. I've also decided that I'm going to make Saturday's "Children's Book Review" day for my own blog. I read so many picture books, being that I'm in charge of ordering those for our library, and rarely review them. I think some people could benefit from those, or at least would find them interesting, so I'll have a few every Saturday. Look for those on Saturday and for now, enjoy your Thursday!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sadie's Song and Memorial Day

After a long weekend of cleaning and getting this house back in order after being gone for almost three weeks, I did manage to get a bit of reading in. I'm still working on my final selection for the Spring Reading Thing, that being The Prince of Tides, but it's definitely a slow read, being written in that slow, Southern manner of Conroy's. For this review, I have, Sadie's Song, by Linda Hall. A very quick read, not quite satisfying my need for good Christian fiction however.

Sadie's Song, is the story of a woman lost in her own life. Her husband abuses her and their 5 children, both mentally and emotionally, and Sadie has become so beaten down that she can no longer think for herself. She is constantly telling herself that her husband is not a mean person, that he is simply stressed out at work and taking it out on them. His actions begin to have horrible ramifications on their children, resulting in one son becoming incredibly violent, a daughter extremely sensitive, and the set of twins will cling to and trust only each other. When a local girl goes missing and signs point to her husband, Sadie begins thinking that maybe she and her children really are meant for a better life than they currently are living. With the help of a fellow church woman, Sadie takes steps to come into herself and learn to live on her own.

The plot of this story was pretty good, I just didn't really like the ending. Unfortunately it was a little unrealistic and "perfect." If this situation had really happened, the ending would be a lot more gray, not quite as cut and dry as Hall has made it out to be. This was meant to be a quick read and that it was, so I guess I was satisfied in that aspect. I think I was just a little disappointed with the overall ending. It gets a 5 out of 10 from me.

So now, as I said, I'm working on The Prince of Tides, and am unsure of what to start next. I can't start any of my children/YA titles for the Summer Reading Challenge 2 until Friday, but I do have a stack of library books waiting for my attention. I'll either go with the always satisfying Elm Creek Quilters series by Jennifer Chiaverini, the latest being The Quilter's Homecoming, or I'll get into a good mystery with Harlan Coban's latest The Woods. Check back tomorrow and see what I've chosen!

One final note, thank you to all of the blogger's who posted about Memorial Day, recognizing that today is not simply a free day off from work and the daily grind, but it has an actual meaning. As the wife of an enlisted Airman in the USAF, one with the possibility of returning to Iraq for his 2nd tour of duty this September, Memorial Day means a lot to me and a lot to him. It's great to see people really do appreciate what this day means. Thanks!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

May NF Selection and a JF...

I've been reading a lot since I made it home from my honeymoon, being that I ended up sick in bed with strep throat for 2 days, therefore I have a whole bunch of reviews to get up here in the next couple of days. For today, we have my 1st month's selection for the Non-Fiction 5 challenge, that being A Dad Shaped Hole in My Heart and the newest Newbery award winner, The Higher Power of Lucky. One was fantastic, the other not-so-great.

A Dad Shaped Hole in My Heart by H. Norman Wright, was the not-so-great selection. My father passed away when I was 9 years old, but I have never really read a "self-help" book about losing a father. I believe that I have grown up well, having only one parent, though I know that I have a few issues that probably stem from growing up "fatherless." Right after I became a Christian, I saw this book in the bookstore and the subtitle: "How God Wants to Heal the Wounds Left by Your Earthly Father" caught me and convinced me to buy the book. I was still learning how to look to God as my father and figured this would be a pretty good start (even though I'm just now getting around to actually reading it).

Though this book does not center on only individuals whose fathers have actually died, but instead on simply being "fatherless." Whether that is being one whose father has left the family, betrayed him or her, or just isn't there in presence or emotions, the book does cover all the angles.

Wright has created a book that focuses on how instead of being depressed or feeling distraught over being "fatherless,"we should instead pray to the Lord and he will resolve us of those feelings. A great sentiment that does indeed help, but often, God wants us to do more or He knows that we need more of a solution to this aspect of our lives. Those prayers to Him for resolve of depression or pain, often lead us to other actions, which can be excellent for our self worth and our wellbeing. I just feel that Wright was a bit too "preachy" and makes the reader feel as if the only solution is to pray and know that God is our true father and will always take care of us. This is very true, but we need to think beyond this box and have the Lord help us through our depression and our grief and our personal issues, rather than just know we are safe with Him. I'm not sure if any of this makes sense, but I'm trying to get my thoughts out there! This book gets a 4 out of 10 from moi.

Next, we have a simply delightful book, The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron, this years Newbery award winner. After all of the controversy surrounding this book and the author's use of the word "scrotum," I was a little wary as to what my feelings would be when I finished, however I was very pleasantly surprised and would really recommend this for all to read. I loved it!

Lucky is a young girl, somewhat lost in her life. Parentless for one reason or another, Lucky is cared for by her French guardian, a woman who desperately wants to return to Paris and resume her normal life. And Lucky is just plain desperate. She is on a constant search to find her "higher power" which she believes will make everything right in her life. When she finds out that Bridgette, her guardian, is indeed making plans to return to France, Lucky decides that running away is her only answer to staying out of orphanages and losing her dog.

I loved the plot of Patron's book, I loved the characters, and I loved the little anecdotes of wisdom that often accompany Lucky's thoughts. This is a must read for adults and children of all ages. 9 out of 10 from me! The one star deduction is mainly for the illustrations. I wasn't all that impressed with them, I thought they were a little "cartoonish" but hey, the story was great and that's what matters!

I'm almost done with my final selection for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge, that being The Prince of Tides, a reread for me. I'm also working my way through Sadie's Song by Linda Hall, which is turning out to be pretty good, despite my dislike of the first quarter of the book. Look for reviews soon. Have a great Memorial Day tomorrow!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I've been tagged!

I like memes, what can I say? CeeCee tagged me for one AND Deena tagged me for another, so I had to go ahead and fill them out!

CeeCee's Meme
The Rules Are:Post your responses. Tag anywhere from 1-5 friends. Leave comments to let them know they've been tagged. Come back and leave a comment when your post is up. Ok, here goes:

Next 5 books on your to be read shelf:

  1. The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson, I've been wanting to read this series FOREVER, but my library doesn't carry it. Just gonna have to break down and buy.

  2. Sadie's Song by Linda Hall, if you like Christian fiction, you have to love Linda Hall! I'm just getting caught up on all of her books now.

  3. The Quilter's Homecoming by Jennifer Chiaverini, newest book in a series I love.

  4. The Lost Flower Children by Janet Taylor Lisle, one for my newest challenge and a new one in my library

  5. Wish You Well by David Baldacci, a book I've had on hold for quite awhile and finally got in today

Last 4 books you've read:

  1. The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

  2. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

  3. Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson

  4. Scrap Everything by Leslie Gould

Last 3 books you've borrowed (library or friend): Besides the ones I listed in #1:

  1. The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Bettie Birney, another new one to my shelves at the library and one for my summer challenge

  2. The Woods by Harlan Coben, a great mystery author, I hope I have time to read this one
  3. Aleutian Winter by Karen Hesse, again a new one to my kids shelves at the library and one for a challenge

Last 2 non-fiction books you've read:

  1. The Bible inspired by God, always reading that.

  2. I'm in the middle of A Dad Shaped Hole in My Heart. Review will come when I'm done!

The 1 book you wish everyone would read:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Love, love, love that book!

Deena's Meme

This one has made the rounds!

1. Grab the book closest to you
2. Open it to page 161
3. Find the fifth full sentence
4. Post the text of the sentence to your blog
5. Don't search around for the coolest book you have, use the one that is really next to you.
6. Tag five people to do this meme.

The book is The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson.

Pg. 161
5th Sentence:

"I suddenly felt appalled."

Well folks, that was a short and sweet one.

Ok, I'm going to tag Miss Erin, Debi, and Joy, for both or either, if you're interested! I know it says 5 people, but most on my blogroll have already done these and I know several of them (um...Deena hehe) gets tagged like 8 times per meme. So, do them if you would like, don't if you don't want to!

A new challenge for Summer!

Another wonderful blogger named Amanda is back with her 2nd annual Summer Reading Challenge, which of course I had to sign up for right away! It's a very "liberal" challenge, that allows the blogger to choose to read whatever he or she wishes, making it very easy to read us of some of the hundreds of books in our TBR piles. I urge you to check it out!

For my choices, I focused on YA/Juvenile books I've been meaning to read, which are incredibly important in my profession. I love to read these books and I really do need to stay up on them in order to be good at my job, but they often fall behind in comparison to my beloved Christian fiction and regular old adult fiction. This challenge will at least get me caught up on 12, if not 14. Wish me luck and be sure to check out Amanda's challenge!

As always, you can watch my progress on the right side of this blog, along with any other challenge I happen to be participating in at the moment. As for my challenge list, here it is:

1. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
2. Uglies by Scott Westerfield
3. Al Capone Does My Shirt by Gennifer Choldenko
4. The Treasures of Weatherby by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
6. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
7. The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty Birney
8. Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix
9. Among the Barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix
10. Aleutian Sparrow by Karen Hesse
11. The Lost Flower Children by Janet Taylor Lisle
12. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

13. Pretties by Scott Westerfield
14. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Love to know what you think on any of the titles!

Oh and as a quick side note, one of my favorite bloggers, Deena, is doing a fabulous book giveaway once a week starting June 1st and ending August 24th over at her blog. Click the button, check it out and win free books! Plus, Deena's reviews rock, so you'll be sure to add more to your TBR pile for the Summer Reading Challenge!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Promised Reviews

So, even though it was my wedding and honeymoon, I did get a few books read during my time away. Mind you, one was during the plane ride to NY and one on the plane back to NM, but I did get one read while lying on the beach in Mexico or on the actual cruise ship deck. And Aaron read a book too, so don't be picking on me for reading during my honeymoon! I haven't heard the end of that yet from the ladies at work. Anyways, here 3 adult fiction reviews for you to ponder. I'd love to hear your thoughts on any and all!

Scrap Everything by Leslie Gould was my "to NY" read. The pacing was quick, the plot easy breezy (meaning it required no real thinking on my part), which was great for the state of mind I was in a week before my wedding. It's Christian fiction, which I love AND it was about scrapbooking...a major plus on my end!

Used to moving her family around due to her husband's Army career, Elise Shelton should be happy they are settling in a place for awhile. Unfortunately, this place is Forest Falls, Oregon, somewhere she just doesn't want to be. After wandering into a scrapbooking store, Elise begins forming bonds with the women who frequent the store, all of whom rally around Elise when her husband is again called overseas. The overall plot centers on Elise and her friendship with Rebekah, the shop owner, a woman living a very difficult and trying life. Elise and Rebekah help each other take steps towards happiness and health, each stumbling along the way (Rebekah's daughter is very ill and their family is short on money, while Elise battles selfishness and stubbornness).

Though the story ended a little too "sweetly" for my liking, this was still a good, quick read. I loved the scrapbooking elements and the characterization was pretty good too. If you're interested in scrapbooking I would definitely recommend this book, as well as if you are just looking for some nice, Christian women's fiction to pass the time. God speaks through these novels, He does! I give Scrap Everything 6 out of 10 stars.

Next up is my "vacation" title. After reading many posts on Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson, I had to give it a try for myself. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed, but not so much that I can't say I didn't enjoy reading the novel.

Heather Curridge is having a tumultuous battle within herself. She has seemingly everything: wealth, a lovely family that cares about her, talent in cooking, yet she is incredibly unhappy and feeling as if she is worth nothing in the world. Lisa begins a relationship with with a nun running a homeless shelter in a bad section of town, as well as with two Quaker sisters making a life for themselves in a small cabin in the woods. Those three women assist Heather in finding out who she really is and what exactly she is meant to be doing in the world.

The plot concept was great. The characters, for the most part, were great. I loved the Quaker sisters, I loved Heather's son and husband, I guess I just didn't like Heather. She just whined a lot and though I understand she was having a personal crisis, her rants about her life came out as whiny and selfish, rather than truly just troubled at heart. I don't know, maybe I just didn't get where Samson was coming from when she wrote Heather's thoughts. Though I did love her descriptions of her cakes! Overall, I really did enjoy the story, I think maybe due to the fact that I was on vacation, a novel about personal crisis just wasn't my cup of tea. Lots of others enjoyed it though, or so I've read, so that's a good thing! Quaker Summer gets 5 out of 10 stars.

For my "back to NM plane ride" book, I read my 2nd to last selection for the Spring Reading Thing Challenge, this being The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle. And let me tell you, I loved this book! If you remember, a few posts back, I posed the questions "is it weird to absolutley love books that are completely tragic in nature?" and all of you said "no way!" which is a great response, especially as I was reading this book and loving it. It's horribly tragic in story, but the writing is beautiful, the characters real and honest and I really loved this book.

Sarah Laden is a young widow raising two boys and running a successful catering company, all keeping her hands full. When a tragic revelation is brought to attention about one son's closest friends, Sarah is rocked. She feels the need to do something big and decides to foster young Jordan in her home. Throughout this process, Sarah is forced to question her beliefs, her family, and her friendships, all while trying to provide care to her sons and a safe haven for a scared, young boy. Love, forgiveness, and healing are huge factors in this story, one I promise you will not soon forget.

I have never read a novel of Kittle's, but The Kindness of Strangers will certainly not be the last. The characters in this book were so incredibly real and vulnerable. I was able to connect not just with Sarah and Jordan, but with Sarah's sons Nate and Danny. All of the characters touch you in different ways, but will stay with you for a long time. This book gets 10 stars. Loved it! But be prepared to have tissues and lots of thinking time after reading this one.

2 good, 1 great. Not so bad!

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm Back and now a Mrs.!

Oh how I've missed blogging!! It's true, really, I missed it, but I was having such a blast getting married and all that there just wasn't much time for it. Now that I'm back in NM (as Mrs. Aaron Snow), I can get back down to the business of reading all of your posts and making my own. For all of you interested in the wedding/honeymoon stuff, here's a brief rundown:

Our wedding day was beautiful and sunny and just plain perfect. Everything went the way it was supposed to, which was great after a week of complete chaos and stress on my end. I basically went into panic mode the week before the wedding and was finally able to calm down on the actual day. During the ceremony we both teared up quite a bit, but not so much that we couldn't get our vows out! The reception was a blast and we had people coming up to us all night telling us how good the food was and how much fun they were having, so I guess we scored points on that end! I secretly had rented a popcorn machine, just like they have at the theaters, as a surprise for Aaron at the reception (we go into the movie theater just to buy popcorn, we don't actually stay to watch a movie...he loves it that much) and he was thrilled with that. Lots of fun over all!

The honeymoon was GREAT!! We went on a cruise to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico and then spent a day and a half in Fort Lauderdale and we had such a good time. The cruise was amazing and I would recommend anyone to take one of those. We were skeptical at first, having heard mixed reviews from past cruisers, but it ended up being great. Key West was fantastic, though a bit rainy. That didn't deter us from walking all over the island, seeing Hemingway's house, the Southern most point, and the lighthouse (for my sake). Cozumel was beautiful, sunny, and very warm, so we spent our day there at a beach club, snorkeling and swimming in the ocean, which was lots of fun. Once back in Florida, we drove down to the Everglades and saw lots of alligators, geckos, turtles, and herons, all in the wild, which was a nice change from zoos!

Now it's time to head back into reality, with work starting up again tomorrow morning for both of us and our house search starting. We can't decide whether we want to move onto the Airforce base, keep renting off-base, just in another area, or actually buy a house. We'll see I guess! Oh and I did manage to read 3 books on my vacation, so reviews will be up tomorrow, but for today there was a meme Deena tagged me for a couple weeks back that I've been meaning to do, so for tonight, that's what I'm doing! Enjoy!

First, these are the rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

My Random Facts:

1. I collect teapots! :-) Such a fun hobby, let me tell you! I search for them everywhere I go and it always makes vacation souvenirs shopping more interesting. My latest find was at the butterfly conservatory in Key West. The teapot has 3-D flowers all over it, giving it quite the unique look. Love them!

2. I am fanatical about having natural light in my house. From the minute I get up until it's dark outside, I want the blinds and curtains wide open! This, of course, drives Aaron nuts because our house gets so incredibly hot during the day, with the sun beating in. The air conditioner can be going full blast, but it's still hot in here. I can't help it though, closed blinds during the day make me feel like I'm living in a cave!

3. I was head cheerleader in high school. And the prom queen. Yes, quiet, shy little Amanda had her outgoing moments! I loved basketball cheerleading, not so much football, but I did it anyways. And I was lucky enough to be pretty much friends with everyone in high school, so the prom queen thing was a nice compliment to me. Though I have this whole social anxiety thing, and had it even during those years, I'm always ok as long as I'm not the only center of attention, therefore cheerleading and prom court were fun!

4. Sometimes I sneak a peek at the last page of a sad story, just to make sure it turns out ok. I know, I know, that's a horrible thing for a devoted reader to do, but sometimes I just get so attached to characters that I just have to know they are ok in the end. Doesn't always work out for me though.

5. I love reality television. It's addicting and I just can't help it, so leave me alone! I love Survivor, The Amazing Race, anything Real World/Road Rules related, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, etc. The "bad" reality shows (Real World/Road Rules) I end up shouting at the tv during, because I really can't stand them. Unfortunately I can't turn them off either.

6. I love the ocean and find myself at peace when I am near it or standing in it with the waves at my feet, however I HATE swimming in it. I know what is in that water and I do not like it! No thank you to sharks, jellyfish, crabs, lobsters, biting fish, etc. I am an excellent swimmer, but in the ocean won't go out farther than where I can see my feet on the bottom. On our honeymoon, if Aaron wanted to go farther than that, I had to be on his back, not touching the sand. I'm weird, I know. I just don't like creepy crawly things!

7. I cannot stand anything related to peoples' mouths or teeth. I went to nursing school for a bit and the sight of blood and yucky stuff like that doesn't bother me in the least. The surgery channel, I love to watch it. But show me the inside of someones mouth and I am completely grossed out. At my dentist he likes to put a little camera in patient's mouths and show them on a huge tv screen what exactly he is doing in there. He told me I'm the only patient that ever told him to shut off the tv. Mouths are gross!

8. I can't go to sleep if my house is messy, especially my bedroom. I can be dead tired, but if there are clothes on the floor or bills on the counter needing to be filed, anything really, I have to clean up and put things away before I can rest. Trust me, this can get very annoying on busy days when I'm exhausted, but both Aaron and I have worked all day and the house is a bit messy. Gotta clean it up before sleepy time though! I'm anal about silly things!

Ok folks, that's all for now. Since I've been out of the loop a bit I'm actually not going to tag anyone for this meme because I know most of you have already done it. If you do want to do it though, please leave me a link to your blog so I can read your answers! Reviews tomorrow!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Quick hello

I just wanted to send a quick hello to all of my blogging friends and thank you for all your congratulatiosn and wishes for myself and Aaron. It's been an insane 4 days since I got to NY, with final planning to get done, a minor dress snafu, and my bridal shower yesterday, but it's also been fun. I certainly haven't been reading very much, though I did finish a book on the plane ride. Hopefully I'll get a review up this week, but the chances are looking slim! I miss my daily blog reading and can't wait to catch up with you all. Until next time!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Bye New Mexico, Hello New York!

In about 3 hours I'm flying out of sunny New Mexico and into (hopefully) sunny New York. It's the week before our wedding, so I probably won't be around the blogging world for awhile...but don't you worry, I will most certainly be back (I know you all were SO worried). I'm taking a bunch of books for the plane rides, so hopefully I'll have a good set of reviews for you all. See ya in a bit!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Non-Fiction 5 and April List

I've finalized my list for the Non-Fiction Five Challenge, which begins today. The books I'll be reading are:

A Dad Shaped Hole in My Heart by H. Norman Wright
From Baghdad With Love by Jay Kopelman
Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace by Greg Mortensen
Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog by John Grogan
Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez

The Bookseller of Kabul by Seierstad

I think that is a great combination of books that I've not only been wanting to read, but have been recommended to read. Hopefully I'll enjoy!

After looking over my list of books read in April, I realized I read a lot more than usual! I don't really know how this happened, with all the wedding planning and such, but that's a good thing. I love accomplishing a lot of reading!

April Reads

by Cornelia Funke
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Family by Karen Kingsbury
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Used and Rare by Goldstone
Forever by Karen Kingsbury
At the Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice
These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Day of Reckoning by Kathy Herman
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Vital Signs by Kathy Herman
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
Kaleidoscope Eyes by Karen Ball
Left Behind by Tim Lahaye
The Crying Rocks by Janet Taylor Lisle
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

A very enjoyable bunch of books for the most part. Some I loved, some I didn't care for so much, but overall, it was a good mix of adult, juvenile, YA, humor, and serious topics. Hopefully May will be just as good!