Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day and Summer Reading

Memorial Day FlagsImage by eddiecoyote via Flickr

First things first, Happy Memorial Day! Take some time before your pool parties and BBQs to remember why we get this day off. Today is not just about kicking off the beginning of summer. It's a time to remember and honor those men and women of the armed forces who fight and die for our freedoms everyday.

Now because Memorial Day does hold the reputation of being the start of the summer season I began to think about summer reading. We've already started hearing about beach reads and the like, most of which are fun, light, romantic reads. Often those books considered 'chick-lit' will be high up on the list of great beach reads.

Now, I'm unfortunately stuck in a land-locked state and the only beach nearby is a big, stinky, salty, lake that I'd rather not sit and read by, so I don't really do the beach reads. However, I noticed that my reading does tend to lean towards the light and fun during the summer time. So, I'm wondering why are some books better suited for certain weather. I have many classics on my TBR shelves but as the weather warms I find myself is less of the mood to pick those books up. Yet, in the winter those classics are the ones I gravitate towards.

Am I the only one who does this? Maybe I'm just a freak. I am a summer girl through and through so maybe because my mood is lighter the warmer the weather, I'm just more drawn to the books who match my mood. Who knows? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter and your light, summer reading suggestions as well.

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day!

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Children's Book Review: Walking With Spohie by Adam Webb

Walking with Sophie
Take your child on a special journey, with an enchanting little girl. Explore the magic of childhood memories and the imagination that captures each precious moment. Tiptoe into Sophie's world once. Keep her in your heart forever.  -Summary taken from Goodreads

I read this book to my 5 year old daughter. It's a very touching story of a little girl visiting all of  her favorite people and places on her birthday. As she visits, she's remembering all of the special times she's had in each place. I don't usually get emotional over kids books but I'll admit this one got me a little choked up. It's a very sweet story with beautiful vivid pictures on each page.

I asked my daughter what she thought and she hugged the book to her chest and told me that she loved it before running off to make it a home in her bookcase. If that's not a great recommendation, I don't know what is.

*Disclaimer- I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Friday Blog Hop: Books to Movies

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-For-Books and is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read!

This week's question is:
"What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked?  Which have you disliked?"

 Oh I LOVE book to movie adaptations because they combine my 2 favorite things of course. I think Harry Potter was pretty well done. They left out a few things but I imagine it's pretty hard to squeeze some of those books into 2 hours. Memoirs of a Geisha is a beautiful movie and the music is amazing. I just finished reading Fight Club and I think the movie is pretty darn close. I saw Water for Elephants a few weeks ago and thought it was a pretty decent adaptation.

As for the bad ones, well, My Sister's Keeper completely changed the ending. FAIL. The Count of Monte Cristo with Jim Caviezel is a good movie on it's own but when compared to the book, not as awesome. They just cut out and changed so much. The Time Traveler's Wife was ok but I was bummed they changed the ending. 

Well, those are the ones that come to mind. I'm excited to hear all your thoughts.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud

The Sentimentalists: A Novel

Johanna Skibsrud's debut novel connects the flooding of an Ontario town, the Vietnam War, a trailer in North Dakota and an unfinished boat in Maine. Parsing family history, worn childhood memories, and the palimpsest of old misunderstandings, Skibsrud's narrator maps her father's past.

Napoleon Haskell lives with Henry in the town of Casablanca, Ontario, on the shores of a man-made lake beneath which lie the remains of the former town. Henry is the father of Napoleon's friend Owen, who died fighting in Vietnam. When her life comes apart, Napoleon's daughter retreats to Casablanca and is soon immersed in the complicated family stories that lurk below the surface of everyday life. With its quiet mullings and lines from Bogart, The Sentimentalists captures a daughter's wrestling with a heady family mythology
. -Summary taken from Goodreads

I related a lot to the characters in this book. I am also the daughter of a Vietnam vet. I'd always thought I'd heard most of dad's stories about the war growing up. As my dad's health is deteriorating, I've heard new stories, some he'd even forgotten or pushed out of his memory until now. So, when the narrator comes to live with her dad and his friend and he begins telling her his story of what happened in Vietnam to his friend, Owen, it was something I related to in a way.

I wanted to really like this book. However, the writing got in my way. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad or anything like that. It's very lyrical and quite poetic in places but I had a hard time following it. I spent much of the book, not quite sure what was going on. The time frame jumps back and forth and it took me awhile to figure out which decade we were in only to have it change again.I read a review on Goodreads that mentioned that it sounded like it was being narrated by Captain Kirk. That's exactly how I felt about it. It was sort of disjointed and the sentence structure was downright confusing sometimes. If I have to go back and re-read just to understand what's being said, it pulls me out of the story.

Overall, I liked the premise and the story that lay at the heart of the book. I just had a hard time getting there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper: A Novel
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.-Summary taken from Goodreads

Oh this book! I've seen the movie so I thought I knew what was coming and had prepared myself accordingly. I knew they had changed the ending but I figured it would be slight. I didn't think it would be as drastic a change as it was. Then I got sucker-punched in the gut. Not cool.

As a mother, I had the hardest time reading this. I was completely torn. I wanted to shake Sara and scream at her for obviously favoring Kate and for everything she was putting Anna through. But, on the other hand, if one of my kids was as sick as Kate, I can't say I wouldn't do anything and everything to save them as well. Sara is in an impossible situation and it took me most of the book to truly understand that. It's easy to sit back and say "You need to let go" but we mothers, we just don't let go. Not when it's one of our children.

I don't necessarily agree with the idea of having a 'spare parts' baby but again, none of my children are in need of spare parts so I can't say I wouldn't feel differently if they did. To me, this is where science gets scary. Where does one draw the line? At what point do you stop, stand back and say 'Enough, I won't sacrifice any more of this child for the other'? I think where Anna's parents had the issues, is that she was born specifically for this purpose. So it gets harder to draw the line than it may be for a regular sibling, one who wasn't engineered with her sister in mind. That is why I think the idea of designer babies is a scary one.

Overall, my heart broke for just about everyone in this book. It broke for Anna, being used as a sort of shopping mall of body parts for her sister. It broke for Sara, so overwhelmed by Kate and her disease that she completely forgot about every other portion of her life. It broke for Kate, so tired and beat down by this disease and living with a mother who wouldn't listen to her plea to be let her go. It broke for Jesse, the forgotten child who wasn't sick and couldn't help his sister so he became completely irrelevant to the family. And, it broke for Brian, who'd rather run into a burning building than deal with the collapse of his family.

This book really forces you to examine the question. 'How far do you go?' It's a question I couldn't answer and I hope I never have to. I recommend this book but with a warning, bring tissues.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

In My Mailbox: May 15-21

New (to me) this week!

For Review:

R.A.K. (Random Act of Kindness)
Across The Universe by Beth Revis 
(Big Thanks to Jen D of Not Now... I'm Reading!)

Here's to more rapidly expanding TBR piles and less Rapture discussions in the next week! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris

Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 11)
With her knack for being in trouble's way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte's, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit - and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can't 'read' vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his 'child' Pam well - and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human - and that there is a new Queen on the board . . .-Summary taken from Goodreads

Alright, this series is my little guilty pleasure. It's light, fun, campy and easy to read. This installment of the series is no different. However, I feel like it might be time to pack it in. I'm starting to feel like Harris has grown bored of these characters and is just going through the motions. It feels like the same story over and over. Sookie has people trying to kill her, Sookie's rag-tag group of supernatural friends show up to help out, Sookie & Co are victorious. Along the way, there is some relationship drama and much talk of being a good Christian woman. There is plenty going on in the book but very little of it actually progresses the story in terms of the whole series. It felt a little like a filler book, like Harris was trying to stretch the story until she can finally end it.

One of my main complaints is how out of character so many of my favorites were. Pam, my all-time fav vamp was lovesick and depressed. She lost so much of her wit and snark that she was almost unrecognizable. Eric was moody, broody and a little clingy while Bill was funny and flirty. What the heck? It was like Bill and Eric traded places there for awhile. Not cool.

Overall, it's still a light fun read. I just feel like it's becoming formulaic and stale. Unless Harris can infuse more life into the series, I think it's best to call it a day and let us say goodbye to the series while we still care.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Minor Characters

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is a fun weekly feature in which we all make book related lists about various topics.

This week is all about the Top Ten Minor Characters

10 & 9 Fred & George Weasley from Harry Potter- I think I find a way to add the Weasley twins to as many lists as I can. That's how much I love them. They added some much needed humor, even when the outlook was pretty grim. Can't help but love the funny guys.

8 & 7  Mad Hatter and March Hare from Alice in Wonderland- I've loved these two for ever. That could be because I happened to play the March Hare in my elementary school production of Alice in Wonderland. These two just hold a special place in my heart. I love that they are totally crazy and couldn't care less about it.

The Hunger Games

6 Cinna from The Hunger Games- He actually turns Katniss into the Mockingjay, turning her into the face of the rebellion with his wicked sense of style. Plus, who doesn't love a guy who can rock the gold eyeliner.

5 & 4 Pam and Bubba from The Southern Vampire Mystery series

I couldn't choose between the two because they are so different. Pam is snarky and bitchy and all around awesome. Bubba is sweet and a little slow but a good guy to have around and every so often he'll sing to anyone willing to listen. Always a plus.

The Help

3. Celia Foote from The Help- Most of the employers in this book are downright despicable. But, Celia is just silly and helpless and quite sad but she's got good intentions and she tries real hard.


2 & 1 Walter/Kinko & Camel from Water for Elephants- These two are the only real friends Jacob has and they pay dearly for it. I figured that was worth a mention.
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Review: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress
Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.

The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right.-Summary taken from Goodreads

This has been a difficult review to write. I just didn't have any strong feelings one way or another after finishing the book. The writing is beautiful and it gives you a good sense of the setting. I could picture everything in my head easily and there was a good pacing and flow to it, making it easy and enjoyable to read.

The story is about 3 women during WWII, before the US entered the war. Iris is the postmistress who thrives on order and stability. She likes everything in it's place and relies on a system she refuses to let fail. Emma is a newly married woman, her husband is the town doctor who, after a tragedy, feels compelled to head to London to contribute to the war effort there. Frankie is a reporter in London struggling with the need to make the people back home sit up and pay attention  to what's really going on. Each woman was unique and strong in her own way.

However, I just never really connected to the characters. There were several tragic deaths throughout the book and I found myself just being ambivalent about each one. I don't know if this is the fault of the book or because I read this at a stressful, chaotic time. Perhaps, I was just too busy and stressed to really invest any emotion in to the story. Other than that, it was a beautifully written, enjoyable, story and I did like it. I just had trouble connecting. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In My Mailbox: Birthday Edition

Ok, this is actually the books I've received over the last 2 weeks but I saved them up for a special, big post. Today is my birthday so lining up all my new books makes me feel like I got a great big birthday haul. I'm caring for a fairly sick child today so I have to get my small pleasures where I can.

On to the books!

For Review:
The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy
Walking With Sophie by Adam Webb ( daughter is so excited to review w/ me)
Baking with Cookie Molds by Anne L. Watson (who doesn't love to bake cookies?)

R.A.K (Random Acts of Kindness)

& The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown 
both from Jessi at The Elliot Review
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen 
from Jennifer E (Rain Maiden)

Thank you so much! 

From Goodreads First Reads

The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrub
Sentimental Bulls#*t by Magenta Periwinkle
Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest

I only win on Goodreads once in a blue moon so to win 3 in the last 2 weeks is awesome.

Of course, there is also all the free classics I downloaded on to the Nook that my hubby bought me for my birthday.

Yay for birthdays! Of course, this is my last birthday where I'm turning 20-something. Next one is the big 3-0 so it's all downhill from here. Kidding! (kind of)

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