Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mini Posts

Okay, since I am now officially REALLY behind on my reviews, I'm going to make these short and sweet. I have read 11 books since my last post (this does include a few from the read-a-thon), so here goes:

Title: Absolute Power
Author: David Baldacci
Pages: 480

Can the most powerful man in the United States, the President, get away with murder? As this story unfolds you being to wonder where the lines are drawn with the man who has everything at his fingertips.

This was Baldacci's first novel, and although I can tell a difference in his later writings, this book is still action packed, suspenseful, and character driven. It's kind of crazy to find yourself rooting for a thief, but compared to what he's up against it just feels right. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good page turner.


Title: Miles From Nowhere
Author: Nami Mun
Pages: 304

This was the original pick for our March Book Club, but after the hostess read the book, she felt awful and picked something different. I had already made it through this book but it was definitely not an easy or uplifting read.

The story is about a young Korean girl whose family has moved to the United States. Her father is very unhappy about being in New York and is often running off to be with the flavor of the week. Her mother, always in tears is begging Joon (the daughter) to go after him and bring him back. At the young age of 12, Joon, tired of all the fighting and craziness of her household, decides to run away. While on the streets, she meets up with an older girl named Knowledge and a young man, Wink who is a male prostitute.

I kept hoping this book would have some uplifting ending or that the story would just get better but sadly enough it did not happen. Although there were several very dark spots in this book that I had a hard time getting through, I can see where it would be a good pick for a book club, since there are definitely several things there to discuss.


Title: In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis & the Extraordinary Story of It's Survivors
Author: Doug Stanton
Pages: 320

I happened upon this book in the library and have to say I was totally captured by the cover. I can honestly say I do not remember ever hearing this story and am shocked and appalled that it is not more known. I can see why the Navy would want to keep this under wraps, but I think it is more important that they learn from this mistakes in hopes that it never happens again.

The story is told through the eyes of 3 survivors, Captain McVay, Lewis Haynes (the ship's doctor) and Private Giles McCoy. After setting out from Guam on their way through unknown hazardous waters (since those in command did not feel the Captain was important enough to know what really lay ahead of him and his men) to join up with another unit in Okinawa. During the middle of the night, their ship was hit with a Japanese submarine's torpedo, killing 300 men instantly and sinking the ship within a matter of minutes. Those who survived, totalling 1,196 jumped into the water on the morning of July 30, 1945 and were left to fend for themselves for 5 days. During this time, hundreds of men were attacked and eaten by sharks, others developed symptoms from being in salt water for so long, which were quite gruesome.

After finally being spotted 5 days later only 321 men were still alive, 4 of whom died shortly after being rescued. To cover up their mistakes, the Navy blamed everything on the Captain and had him court martialed. Several of the men that survived fought long and hard to have Captain McVay's record expunged. At the time of the printing, they had made some significant steps in the court system, but sadly enough not before McVay took his own life after living for years with nightmares of what happened to him and his men that one awful night.


Title: My Father's Secret War
Author: Lucinda Franks
Pages: 320

This book has gotten several bad reviews, and although I did find it interesting, it was definitely not one of my favorite memoirs. After believing for years that her father was a secret agent for the OSS she begins not only pushing her father to spill his secrets, but also begins snooping through his things to find proof. She does find a Nazi cap with the insignia and some other documents that do prove he was in Germany during the war. As the story progressed, I began to feel very badly for her father. Here was a person who proudly served his country and whatever the work he did may have been, he was strictly asked to never repeat any of it. As he gets older he developed dementia only to have his daughter who is a reporter for the New York Times interrogating him constantly and trying to pull from him secrets that he long ago buried.

Some things should just be kept in the past where they belong. Pulling whatever knowledge she did out of her father did nothing for him, but only served her own purposes. What does this teach the children of today??

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hours 19 & 20

Well, it's almost 3:00 a.m. here and I'm starting to get a headache. I'm in the middle of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and I'm really enjoying it, so I'm trying to stick it out. I'm also getting really close to my goal of reading 1,000 pages, I only have 51 more to go!!!

So, my updated page count at this time is: 949!!!!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hours 16-18

Well, I finished my third book and I'm getting ready to start Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (I absolutely LOVE the movie), and since I usually read books before watching the movie I'm curious as to how this will go. I can't believe that it's already 1:30 in the morning here. I'm starting to fade a little, but getting up and moving around does seem to help. I may even take another little nap, we'll see how it goes. I'm not ready to give in and actually go to bed, but my eyes would probably really love me if I gave them a small rest!

Here are my stats so far:
Pages: 1 - Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Time: 1:34 a.m.

Totals so far:
867 pages read
835 minutes reading
135 minutes blogging
3 books finished - Matrimony, Sunday's at Tiffany's, A Cut Above
2 1/2 carbonated beverages
2 mini-challenges
1 trip to IHOP

How is everyone else out there doing? Are people hanging in and having a good time???

Hours 14 & 15

Took some time out to meet up with some friends at IHOP, yes pictures are included. Thanks to Krystal for coming to cheer us along tonight and for all your comments.

I didn't get as much accomplished in the past 2 hours, but now I'm back home, armed with a large drink from Sonic and ready to get back to reading. Hope everyone is having a great time and reading some great books.

Stats so far:
Pages: 59 of A Cut Above
Time: 7:42 p.m.

Totals so far:
659 pages read
610 minutes reading
115 minutes blogging
2 books finished - Matrimony, Sunday's at Tiffany's
2 1/2 carbonated beverages
2 mini-challenges
1 trip to IHOP

There is nothing like having a good breakfast for dinner :)

Mid-Event Survey

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken (first book by her, we'll see how it goes)

2. How many books have you read so far? 2 (Matrimony and Sunday's at Tiffany's)

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Either Wishful Drinking, The Shack or Happiness Sold Separately

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Nope, free as can be.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
A few. Just had to stop and handle some things, and then I was ready to jump back in with my reading bells on :)

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
How amazing and encouraging everyone has been. There are so many people out there, I just love it!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope, I think everyone has done a wonderful job putting this together! You guys are GREAT!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Nothing I can think of.

9. Are you getting tired yet?

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Just commenting on as many people as possible. Something I need to be doing even more of. So many wonderful blogs out there to discover! Way to go everyone!

Hours 11-13

Well, I'm finished with book 2 and already into book 3 - A Cut Above. I've never read anything by Ginny Aiken before so we'll see how it goes. I'm getting ready to join some friends and other R-A-T's at IHOP for dinner, so I'll be MIA for a little while. Hope everyone is having a great time! I am definitely enjoying my first experience.

Here is my count so far:
Pages: 38 of A Cut Above
Time: 7:42 p.m.

Totals so far:
638 pages read
580 minutes reading
105 minutes blogging
2 books finished - Matrimony, Sunday's at Tiffany's
2 1/2 carbonated beverages
2 mini-challenges

Bought some baseball ticket's for my Dad's upcoming birthday... he's going to be super excited!!! Hopefully the weather will be nice, I hate going in August when it's like 110 (YUCK).

Hours 9 & 10

All those dark clouds, but no rain yet. I love rainy weather it's perfect for curling up with a good book and just getting lost in the story. I'm almost finished with Sunday's at Tiffany's and loving it!!! James Patterson is a wonderful author and very easy to read.

Here are my updates so far. Everyone keep up the great work and HAPPY READING!!!

Pages: 236 of Sunday's at Tiffany's
Time: 6:04 p.m.

Totals so far:
527 pages read
520 minutes reading
95 minutes blogging
1 books finished - Matrimony….almost 2!!!!
2 carbonated beverages
2 mini-challenges

I'm almost 1/2 way to my goal... gotta keep it up!!! Maybe I'll run a few laps and then it will be time to focus focus focus. I've enclosed a picture of me... and one of the clouds clearing up.

Hours 7-8

I can't believe it's already been 8 hours. Oh how I would love to just spend my days lounging around reading :) But since I can't (work pays the bills), I am so happy that there are things like this out there to participate in and meet other people who are as excited about books as I am!!

Well, I'm about half way through my latest book and really enjoying it. Did a few things around the house so that I'm not trying to play catch up tomorrow when I'm sure I'll be needing some sleep! Looks like it could start pouring here any minute, which would be great!!

Hope everyone is having a great time and keep up the great reading!!!!

Stats so far:
Pages: 141 of Sunday's at Tiffany's
Time: 4:21 p.m.

Totals so far:
431 pages read
400 minutes reading
75 minutes blogging
1 books finished - Matrimony
2 caffeinated beverages
2 mini-challenges


Decided to sit on my bed for a while with turned out not to be such a great idea, since I ended up taking a little nap, but I did finish my first book... Matrimony! I really enjoyed it and found the writing so flowing and easy to read. It took me a little longer than I thought, but no fear, it's only just now hour 8! Plenty more time to read.

So here are my stats so far, and of course I've added a couple of pictures finally! One of my cat, Gizmo, upset for being disturbed from his window watching and a picture from this morning of all my books :)

Hours 5-7
Pages: About to start page 1 of Sunday's at Tiffany's
Time: 2:06 p.m.

Totals so far:
291 pages read
360 minutes reading
65 minutes blogging
1 books finished
1 carbonated beverage
2 mini-challenges

Hope everyone is having a wonderful time so far!!!

Hour 5

Here we are at hour five and I am still going strong! Sat outside and listened to the soft rain for a little while. I'm one of those people that needs it to be pretty quite when I read, but listening to the rain was so soothing and I just got lost in the story.

Here are my stats so far:
Pages: 85 more pages from Matrimony
Time: 11:03 a.m.

145 pages read
210 minutes reading
30 minutes blogging
0 books finished
1 caffeinated beverage
2 mini-challenges

Hour 1 Questions

Good Morning Everyone!!! I have now been reading for about an hour and a half, and since I was at a good stopping point, I decided to head on over and see what our wonderful hosts and cheerleader had for us to do for Hour 1. Below are some questions that are being used to help us all get to know each other.

So here goes....

Where are you reading from today? I am reading at home today, in a town right outside Dallas, Texas.

3 facts about me …
- I of course LOVE to read and have ever since I was little.
- I was a wedding planner for 3 years, but now work for a small insurance company in Dallas as a Jr. Account Manager.
- I am a native Texas (except for my 5 year stint in Oklahoma for college and work)!!

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
I have 11 books in my pile! There is no way I will read them all, but I wanted to have options if I picked up a book that just wasn't working for me. Instead of having to scrounge around to find something else, I can just go back to my pile and try again.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? I am an optimist, so I'm hoping to last the full 24 hours, but we'll see! My page # goal is 1,000 and I'm hoping to comment as much as possible! When I first started blogging, I was (and still tend to be) shy about posting comments on other blogs. I read several of them, but don't always leave anything. My goal today is to overcome that and really encourage other people on and get involved!!

Stats from hours 1&2
Pages: 60 pages (from Matrimony by Joshua Henkin)
Time: 8:45 a.m.

Totals so far:
60 pages read
90 minutes reading
20 minutes blogging



For some reason this year, I just cannot seem to keep up with my blogging. There are still several books that I have read and would love to talk about that I have not yet gotten to. Well, all of those wonderful books will just have to wait a bit.

I am participating in my first ever Read-A-Thon today and am really looking forward to it. I have listened to Trish and Laura talk about this for a little while now and they made it sound so wonderful that I just had to check it out myself!

So wish me luck, because it is now 7:00 a.m. and I am off to read!!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Title: The Things They Carried
Author: Tim O'Brien
Pages: 246

I have been wanting to read this book for a while after a family friend and I got to talking about it. I have always found it interesting what soldiers carry with them. Things that they are required to have, but what other little things to they keep close to them to keep them connected to loved ones they are separated from?

The writing style seemed so broken and scattered, but as I continued to read, it started to make sense as to why it was written that way. Things in times of war are not logical. Bad things happen to those around you and there are times when you have to distance yourself from them. Memories come back in splashes of images and are not usually conjoined in perfect form. This is kind of how the story was presented. He did have a great explanation of why he writes the stories he writes -

"I feel guilty sometimes. Forty-three years old and I'm still writing war stories. My daughter Kathleen tells me it's an obsession, that I should write about a little girl who finds a million dollars and spends it all on a Shetland pony. In a way, I guess, she's right. I should forget it. But the thing about remembering is that you don't forget. You take your material where you find it, which is in your life, at the intersection of past and present. The memory-traffic feeds into a rotary up on your head, where it goes in circles for a while, then pretty soon imagination flows in and the traffic merges and shoots off down a thousand different streets. As a writer, all you can do is pick a street and go for the ride, putting things down as they come at you. That's the real obsession. All those stories." Pg (34-35)

The only thing that started to aggravate me was trying to figure out which pieces of the stories being told were things that actually happened to Mr. O'Brien while he was serving his country and which were figments of his imagination. All that aside, it was a wonderfully told story of the things that become important to a soldier while he is in a combat zone away from his family, friends and loved ones. The things they carried, were often times of significance to them, or things they would need to do their jobs and survive.

"The things they carried were determined to some extent by superstition. Lieutenant Cross carried his good-luck pebble. Dave Jensen carried a rabbit's foot. Norman Bowker, otherwise a very gentle person, carried a thumb that has been presented to him as a gift by Mitchell Sanders. The thumb was dark brown, rubbery to the touch, and weighed 4 ounces at most"(Pg. 13).

After the things that soldiers see and experience during a time of war, the smallest memento or memory from home can be a powerful thing. This was definitely a eye-opening book, and being a war story, there are some very descriptive parts and some that just made my stomach ache. It also made me appreciate even more the things our soldiers do to protect us back home.

Tim O'Brien really puts you on the front lines of action, has you holding a weapon that just ended the life of an enemy, that upon further reflection was just doing their job,too, all the way into the mind of someone who is juggling with the idea of being drafted into something he doesn't believe in or taking that step to dodge and run for the Canadian border. No matter where each chapter drops you, you always feel as though you are right there with them. Experiencing and seeing whatever they happened to be a part of at the moment.

Definitely a good read for anyone interested in Vietnam, or any war for that matter.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Title: The Historian
Author: Elizabeth Kostova
Pages: 909

This was not a typical book for me. I have never really been one to be super interested in witchcraft and Dracula and other mythical characters. When I was younger I watched Buffy a little, but just never really felt drawn to it. After being given a short synopsis from a friend at work, I knew it was something I had to at least try to read. Well, I can definitely say that I was completely surprised by how facinated I became with the story and how much I've wanted to read Bram Stoker's Dracula since I finished.

The descriptions in this book are wonderful! They are so vivid and alive, that you feel like you are standing there with the character, seeing everything around them for yourself. There are some places that were mentioned in the book that I would love to travel to. The writing flows so smoothly that you do not get caught up in the number of pages that are just flying by. Large books can often times be daunting, but I believe that a good writer can make you forget about the number of pages, because you become so wrapped up in the story being told you forget about the number and often times end up wanting more at the end.

The way that she used letters, journal entries and research to reveal details about the story as it was unfolding in both the past and present was very entertaining. The story unravels over four decades, from the 1930's to the 1970's as the main character learns about her father's most precious secrets. Traveling all over Europe to find his missing mentor, who was also a recipient of the special dragon book. Pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place, but will they be able to solve their mystery before it's too late?

Here is one of my favorite passages:

"Looking back at that moment, I understand that I had lived in books so long, in my narrow university setting, that I had become compressed by them internally. Suddenly, in this echoing house of Byzantium - one of the wonders of history - my spirit leaped out of its confines. I knew in that instant that, whatever happened, I could never go back to my old constraints. I wanted to follow life upward, to expand with it outward, the way this enormous interior swelled upward and outward. My heart swelled with it, as it never had during all my wanderings amoung the Dutch merchants." (pg. 258-259)

I was kind of disappointed in the ending, but I'm also a little confused by it. I'm just feel like there is something there that I'm not completely understanding. This is definitely one of those books that I wanted to keep going. I do love that in this book Dracula himself has quite a literary collection. I find it amusing that he would have such a love for books.

This is a great book that I would highly recommend to anyone who has not yet read it!

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Woman in White by Wilke Collins

Title: The Woman in White
Author: Wilkie Collins
Finished: February 2009
Pages: 564

This was the January pick for the IRL book club that I am a member of, and I have to say that I am so grateful to have been exposed to this particular book. It was some rough going at the very beginning (since it is a Victorian novel that was written in the 19th century), but once I got the rhythm down, it was incredibly enjoyable! I love the way the book is set up, with the story being told by different narrators. This is such an interesting concept, since not everyone is privy to every aspect of every storyline in real life. You also learn along the way which narrators you trust and those you question. Did things really happen they way they are being portrayed or was this their own personal manipulation of the other characters involved?!?! Very interesting to say the least!

Laura Fairly is a young maiden, striving to uphold the wishes of her father on his deathbed. One of his last acts was to betrove her to marry Sir Percival Glyde. In a perfect world this would be a magical thing, with him being a Sir and all, but what is a young woman to do when she discovers that her heart belongs to someone else? Luckily she has her best friend Marian there by her side helping her through life's obstacles.

Walter Hartright is asked to come to Limmeridge (the Fairlie's mansion, to teach Laura and Marian to paint. On his last night in town Walter encounters a woman dressed in all white strolling the streets in the middle of the night. She appears to him out of no where and asks him to point her in the right direction towards London. Once they get closer, he finds her a carriage and she is whisked away. Moments after her carriage leaves, another set of horses enters the street, looking for a woman dressed in all white. Walter is hidden from view as these men inquire about the woman in white, only to overhear them say she has escaped from an asylum. From this moment on, their lives and fates and very much intertwined.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery! My only words of advice and to know up front that it may take some pages to get used to the language and really get into the storyline, but it is very much worth the time!! I thought this was a great pick for a book club because of all the wonderful aspects that are there to discuss!

There are so many wonderful things about this book that I would love to share, but I wouldn't want to spoil the story for anyone who is interested in reading it. I feel like this is one of those books that I will pick up again in a few years to re-read and will probably end up finding it even more enchanting and find things that I possibly missed the first time.

Split Second by David Baldacci

Title: Split Second
Author: David Baldacci
Date Finished: January 2009
Pages: 512

Split second... that's all it takes to ruin the careers of two Secret Service agents. Sean King's story takes place a few years back but is still talked about around the Service. His fallout occurred when the Presidential candidate he is protecting is shot while King was momentarily distracted at a meet and greet in a small town. Michelle is living through her career ending moment right now, when her presidential candidate is kidnapped right under her nose at a funeral home.

These two "scapegoats" join forces to find out who is behind the killing and kidnapping not knowing at first that they could be connected. Michelle was new to the Secret Service about the time of King's exit and she does a little research to better acquaint herself with his situation. There is something about that day that really disturbs Michelle, but she cannot seem to put her finger on it, and Sean King is definitely not talking about it. Another important character comes into play as the story progresses, Joan. She was not only an agent herself, but has now left the Secret Service and started her own detection agency. When she asks Sean to help her find the kidnapped presidential candidate, he eventually accepts.

Baldacci was in fine form again, twisting and turning his plot to keep you guessing and surprised. I'll admit, some of the story is a little far fetched, but isn't that the beauty of fiction. What about all those people out there who still question the conspiracy behind the death of JFK??? Having not read the series of King and Maxwell in order, it was nice to see how their broken pieces became a deep connection for a partnership. Definitely a good read for anyone who is willing to let go for a while and enjoy the roller coaster of a plot that is split second.

Anne Frank Remembered by Miep Gies

Title: Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family
Author: Miep Gies
Finished: January 2009
Pages: 272

I first heard about this book from Trish's blog as a book giveaway. After reading this blurb and talking to her, I knew this had to be on my list of books to read. It has been years since I've read the Diary of Anne Frank, but I remembered how much it touched me as a child, and how interesting it would be to hear another person's perspective who was also there at the time.

Miep comes to know the Frank Family before they go into hiding, as an office worker for Anne's father, Otto Frank. Miep earns the trust of Mr. Frank not only in the business aspect, but also as a friend. When it comes time for the Frank family to go into hiding, Miep is one of the workers that is in trusted with this important information. Miep is the one who is in charge of gathering food the for families hidden upstairs.

The stories that she shares of the Frank family give us a more intimate look at not only Anne, but the other family members as well. It is obvious that Miep adores Anne, and she gives the reader a different glimpse than that in the Diary of Anne Frank. When reading of such a tragedy, it is often easy to forget that Anne was only a child when all of this happened, and how hard it must have been for those in hiding to remain so still and quite throughout the day for fear of being detected. Children long to run and play and sing and dance around, but while in hiding, there was not space or time for the joys of childhood to play out.

Miep does a great job of telling you not only the story of the Frank family but of her own life as well. During this awful time of war, Miep falls in love and marries a wonderful man, who is also a helpful in hiding the Frank family and coming to visit with them when he can. Miep also gives you an idea of what it was like to be a Jew in hiding by sharing with us her experiences. Anne so desperately welcomed when Miep or one of the other workers came up to visit that Miep and her husband were asked to stay the night one night. Staying late int he office after everyone else was gone, they snuck up the staircase and were treated to a wonderful dinner by the families in hiding and were given Anne's room to stay the night. When morning came, Anne was curious as to how they slept that night. Needless to say, sleep was not easy, there were lots of sounds that kept them awake, as well as being fearful of being discovered. Her description of the night spent up in the office gives you a first hand experience of what it must have been like for them day in and day out for years.

When reading stories that occurred during World War II, I often wonder what I would do in their place. Everyone likes to think they would be strong enough to protect others without regard for what was to become of themselves, but if we were actually put in that position, what would happen? I think it takes amazing strength and courage to do something like this. Miep knew what the punishment would be if it was discovered that the Frank family was upstairs, and when they were found, it was her courage to say a few words to the guard that kept her safe.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who, like myself, was touched by the Diary of Anne Frank.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Last Man Standing by David Baldacci

Being a part of the HRT (Hostage Rescue Team) an elite branch of the FBI, means putting your life on the line every day in hopes of taking out the bad guys and saving the good. What do you do when your entire life changes in a matter of minutes. Web London, for some unknown reason, freezes as his team rushes a courtyard, only to watch them all be gunned down. As he deals with the loss of his friends who were as close to him as brothers, Web is also left to wonder why not him, and what after all these years caused him to freeze?

As Web tries to discover what happened in the courtyard that day, he is faced with three separate tasks. Finding out why his team was set-up and who is behind it; finding out what caused him to freeze up after years of being a member of the HRT and always putting his life on the line, and discovering what happened to the only other survivor that day a 10 year old boy who has since disappeared. The family members of his fallen comrades are grieving themselves and lashing out at Web who is also grieving.

Knowing that something isn't right, but not knowing who is friend and foe makes Web's job that much harder as he searches not only for the missing boy, but for answers to all his questions. After finding out the identity of the child (little brother to well known drug lord), Web is even more determined to find him. Drugs, money and territory all have a large role in this plot, but will Web find the answers he needs before those looking for the lone survivor find him?

David Baldacci has quickly become one of my favorite authors. His books are very detailed but give you that "edge of your seat suspense" and keep you guessing until the very end. I would definitly recommend anything by him if you are a suspence lover like me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

This book was the January pick for my IRL book club. I have had this book sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year, but had yet to open it. I followed some of the hype that was generated by this book and was deeply saddened to hear that Randy Pausch died on July 25, 2008 leaving behind a wife and three children.

I was not sure going in, if I was going to like this book. I had heard some very mixed reviews and admit I was hesitant. Knowing that this book was written for his children, I started to think of what I would want to leave behind for my children if I knew that my days were very limited and coming to and end quickly. Would my thoughts be profound and have an impact on them when they got older, or would they shrug them off, would they be meaningful, or would they have preferred I spent my time differently... so many thoughts and I don't even have children yet.

I very much enjoyed this book, and hope that as Randy Pausch's children grow up, realize what a wonderful and loving father they were blessed with, who was taken away from them too quickly. There were moments in the book when I was get irritated with his arrogance, or lack of flexibility, but I never once doubted the love he had for his family. His lessons for life were pretty straight forward, but the stories he used to explain them made them great! Easy to understand and also motivational at the same time. It made me think about the things that I do, and why I waste time on the small things sometimes, without looking at the bigger picture.

Realizing that the theme of his book is about achieving your childhood dreams was a little far fetched for me. I think that some of the dreams I had as a child were good for me to have, but to actually do them all seems very unrealistic to me now. I think it's amazing that he was able to do so many of the things he dreamed about as a child. That shows great determination and perserverance.

There were two things that really resonated with me. The first was that he got married later in life. He was ambitious in his career and had just not found the right person yet. I think sometimes there is this untold pressure to marry young and start having children at a certain age and when that doesn't happen, it can cause disappointment and many questions. Not being married yet, I could appreciate his wanting to wait to find the right person, yet while he was waiting for that to happen, took that opportunity to do things for himself. Get himself the jobs he wanted and do some of the things he wanted. He was able to be a good uncle to his sister's children, and take them on small vacations and just spend time with them in general. This was important to me on a personal level, because I had an uncle like this. Who got married later in life, but was there with my brother and I as we were growing up. He was there to play with us, and take us with him to do things, and now that he has passed, we are able to tell his children about him. Which is both sad and a blessing. Like Randy, my uncle was taken early from his children and they may not have very many memories of him, so it is our job to tell them what he was like and share our stories with them. The second thing has to do with his niece and nephew. Right before taking them on vacation with him, Randy's sister was telling them not to spill anything in Randy's new car. Well, while this was happening, Randy turned around and poured a soda all over the backseat, explaining that it was just a car, and that it wasn't a big deal. This turned out to be a great thing, since on the way home, his newphew got really sick and threw up all over the backseat. Another example is when his wife backs into his car in the driveway and he explains that they don't need to get the scratches fixed, it's just a car, that gets you from point A to B and it's not how they claim their social status.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and for those of you who read it, hopefully you are able to connect with one of the many stories that he shares. There were so many great ones that I didn't even mention but connected to. I have a feeling that this book with stay with me for a while.

(224 pages)
January 2009

Echoes by Danielle Steel

This was the first Danielle Steel book that I have read in quite some time. It was recommend to me by a friend, and I have to admit, I loved it! I didn't want to put it down. It's a story about a German Jewish girl, Beata, who falls madly in love with a Catholic French man, Antoine, during World War II. Both of their families banish them when they want to get married. Hoping that as time passes their families will once again accept them, they give in to the strength of their love and decide to get married.

As their lives progress and they have children, they do not tell the children that they are 1/2 Jewish, considering the times and that all their lives they have been Catholic. Beata converted before they were married, and with everyone knowing that Antoine was Catholic, no one ever suspected differently. As the Germans start deporting the Jews, Beata reaches out to her family only to be denied access to them by her father, who said she is dead to them.

Beata's oldest daughter decides to enter the convent and when her mother refuses, she tells her she has been called and knows that is where she belongs. Soon after entering the convent, another sister is moved because she is a well known Jewish activist. She is considered a threat to the Germans and is moved in hopes of protecting the other sisters at the convent.

It is a very touching and heartbreaking story of trying to make it in a time where you religious denomination meant life or death. I have been on quite a war kick lately and this just happened to fit right in. There is also a hint of a love story for those of you who enjoy love stories. I myself love a good love story, but it's not a genre I could read every day.

(464 pages)
January 2009

Witch Hunt by Ian Rankin

What if the only person in the world who could answer the one question you have is a female assassin you have been tracking for years? If and when your paths cross again, will you be given the answer you so desperately desire to have, or will you not have that storybook fairytale ending? So many possibilities for Dominic Elder, who has come out of retirement to help the British police in their latest search for the woman known as "the Witch."

After making herself known to be in the area (blowing up the boat and crew who brought her to shore) all authorities are on alert. With the upcoming summit bringing several Heads of State to London to have dinner with the Queen, everyone is convinced that one of these diplomats is the intended target for the Witch. In the past, she has often followed through with the target she is given, and then once she has enough money, goes after a target of her own. Will this encounter be the same, and is her own personal target going to be Dominic Elder?

Dominic is given a chance to help educate a young and ambitious officer who is tiring of paperwork and ready to be in the field. At the insistance of Elder, the young officer is put into the field and sent on missions to find out any relevant information that was possibly missed. The young officer is greatly appreciative, but does not realize that he is in turn being used by Elder who since having retired from the force no longer has the power and insightes that he once had.

This suspenseful novel by Ian Rankin keeps the readers attention and has you trying to figure out when and where the Witch will strike again. As the story unfolds, twists and turns are presented to keep the reader on their toes and suspenseful awaiting the ending. This was my second book by Ian Rankin and I really enjoyed it.

(512 pages)
January 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wedding Belles by Haywood Smith

Wedding Belles was a book I picked up at the library for some fun, light-hearted reading and I loved it!! If you are looking for a funny, easy read about love, friendship and family, you should pick this up.

When your daughter tells you that she is getting married, it should be an incredibly happy time for you both, especially in the South! 27 year old Callie is thrilled to have found the love of her life and cannot wait to tie the knot. However, her parents are having a harder time wrapping their heads around the idea since her soon to be groom is her father's best friend.

Back in the day, Wade (the soon to be groom) was a wild man and an alcoholic, and the ladies of the Red Hat Club (Georgia, Teeny, Diane, Linda and Pru) know all about his wild man shenanigans, and conquests of the past, as well as the fact that he is an alcoholic with children who are not too far from Callie's age.

When your in love, does age really matter? How do you explain the connection you feel to someone else? How far will the ladies go to try to stop Callie from going through with this marriage?

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

This book was my pick for my IRL Book Club and I have to admit a part of me was really disappointed after I finished. Since around middle school, I have been very fascinated with the Holocaust and World War II. Not because I think what happened was good, but more along the lines of, how could something so incredibly awful happen and go unnoticed for so long. How does someone get away with trying to rid the world of an entire set of human beings because of their religion? I have so many questions and since I did not live during the time this happened, I rely on books, both fictional and non to try to gain more of an understanding to what really went on during this time.

One thing I really enjoyed about this book was the insight into the Polish view point. With the zoo being not far from the Warsaw Ghetto, it gives a different prospective than any other book I have read before. Diane Ackerman does a wonderful job describing the animals in this book giving you a connection to them. Her being a nature writer was great for this part of the story. However, this is also where I found the biggest disappointment to be. Her writing of the actual zoo owners (Jan and Antonina) is very lacking. You feel no emotional connection to the couple and their child as they harbor Jews and other people trying to escape the horrors of the Nazi Germans. Using the zoo as a safe house, was an ingenious idea and also very risky.

The relationship between Antonina and her husband Jan was kind of frustrating. He would go out of the house each day and work in different parts of the town making connections and helping to send signals for those who were needing a place to hide until further transportation was available. However, when Antonina did heroic things and stood in the face of a German and was calm and collected, he has no respect or praise for her. It always felt like he thought he was the only one out there doing anything or sacrificing himself that was so incredibly untrue. Even when Antonia is bed ridden with illness, she is still strong and in charge of the house and zoo where people are hiding.

Using the diaries from Antonina was a wonderful idea, but the information was put forth so harshly that you do not really get much insight into what was going on in their minds or hearts. Every item is just a fact. Don't get me wrong, I love facts and they do help to keep the story accurate, but it just left me feeling cold and disconnected with the story. As things were happening, I felt no connection to the character or what they must have been going through, which is something that I enjoy in books.

So, as a whole, the story in itself is a very powerful one. This family risked their lives to help others on their way to safety from the Germans during a time when being caught meant death. They knowingly sacrificed themselves for the greater good of others and that is a very admirable thing. All the lives that were saved because of people like them is wonderful.

Closing up the Book on 2008

Well, here I am 10 days into the new year and I'm finally ready to close the book on 2008. Getting sick is never fun, but when it happens over the holidays is can really be a bummer. I was sick through both Thanksgiving and Christmas, which in turn caused me to become delinquent with my library books. I cannot even remember the last time I had to pay a library fine.

2008 was a very big year for me in my book reading. I started blogging and actually made it through the whole year keeping a list of all the books I read. However, I did not write a review for each and every book, but will try to in 09 even if it's a short little blurb. I had always been curious how many books I read during a year, and this year was a big one. I ended 2008 with a total of 93 books. As much as I love reading, this kind of got to me. I was actually embarrassed to tell anyone how many books I had actually read. I have vowed this year to continue to read (because I love it), but to also make sure that I get out more and do more things with friends and family. For me, reading has always been a pleasure. It is relaxing and I love getting caught up in the descriptions and stories that are being told to me. Just something about turning the pages of a book that I love.

There are still a few books that I would like to review from 2008 that I thought were great reads. But for now, here is my list of book from 2008... all 93 of them!

1. P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
2. If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern
3. Rosie Dunne by Ceceila Ahern
4. Missing Persons by Stephen White
5. Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters
6. Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk
7. Five Things I Can't Live Without by Holly Shumas
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
9. Hello, Darkness by Sandra Brown
10. Rhett Butler's People by Donald McCaig
11. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
12. Interview With the Devil by Clay Jacobsen
13. The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
14. Dead Watch by John Sandford
15. Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper - Case Closed by Patricia Cornwell
16. Trace by Patricia Cornwell
17. The Last Precinct by Patricia Cornwell
18. Blow Fly by Patricia Cornwell
19. A Brother's Blood by Michael C. White
20. Blinded by Stephen White
21. Songs Without Words by Ann Packer
22. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
23. At Risk by Patricia Cornwell
24. Predator by Patricia Cornwell
25. Hornet's Nest by Patricia Cornwell
26. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
27. You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs by Laurie Graff
28. Black Notice by Patrica Cornwell
29. From Potter's Field by Patricia Cornwell
30. Fame (Series of 5 by Karen Kingsbury) *Part 2 (which I accidentally read first)
31. Forgiven
32. Found
33. Family
34. Forever
35. Redemption (Series of 5 by Karen Kingsbury) *Part 1
36. Remember
37. Return
38. Rejoice
39. Reunion
40. Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell
41. The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen
42. Dry Ice by Stephen White
43. The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
44. All That Remains by Patrica Cornwell
45. War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk
46. Without Warning by Eugenia Lovett West
47. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
48. The Inner Sanctum by Stephen W. Frey
49. Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk
50. Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods
51. Tell No Lies by Julie Compton
52. True Evil by Greg Iles
53. Where Yesterday Lives by Karen Kingsbury
54. Between Sundays by Karen Kingsbury
55. Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
56. Final Betrayal by Elaine Taylor
57. You've Been Warned by James Patterson
58. The First Patient by Michael Palmer
59. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper
60. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
61. The Celestial Bed by Irving Wallace
62. Fatal by Michael Palmer
63. Blacklist by Sara Paretsky
64. Conversations with a Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
65. Silent Treatment by Michael Palmer
66. My Enemy's Cradle by Sara Young
67. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
68. On Every Side by Karen Kingsbury
69. Bitter Medicine by Sara Paretsky
70. Miracle Cure by Micahel Palmer
71. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
72. Sala's Gift: My Mother's Holocaust Story by Ann Kirschner
73. Ride the Wind by Lucia St Clair Robson
74. The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer
75. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
76. The Hot House - Life Inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley
77. Nothing Lasts Forever by Sidney Sheldon
78. Stone Cold by David Baldacci
79. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
80. Book of the Dead by Patricia Cornwell
81. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
82. A Vengeful Longing by Roger Morris
83. The Wolves at the Door the True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy by Judith L. Pearson
84. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
85. A Good Hanging by Ian Rankin
86. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
87. The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen
88. Simple Genius by David Baldacci
89. The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
90. Wedding Belles by Haywood Smith
91. The Collectors by David Baldacci
92. Dead Time by Stephen White
93. Hour Game by David Baldacci

There you have it folks! My list of books from 2008!! There are some really great ones in this list that you should pick up if you haven't had the chance! My bookshelves are overflowing with many more to recommend and hopefully 2009 will be just as great of a reading year as 2008 was.

So long 2008!