Peak by Roland Smith {52 Books in a Year}

My goal is to read 52 books in 2012.  Good or bad, as I read, I will be reviewing the books here.  Be sure to leave a comment and tell me about your favorite books!

Peak by Roland Smith
(Book overview found on Goodreads.com)

After Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling a New York City skyscraper, he’s left with two choices: wither away in Juvenile Detention or go live with his long-lost father, who runs a climbing company in Thailand. But Peak quickly learns that his father’s renewed interest in him has strings attached. Big strings. He wants Peak to be the youngest person to reach the Everest summit–and his motives are selfish at best. Even so, for a climbing addict like Peak, tackling Everest is the challenge of a lifetime. But it’s also one that could cost him his life.         Roland Smith has created an action-packed adventure about friendship, sacrifice, family, and the drive to take on Everest, despite the incredible risk. Peak is a novel readers won’t be able to put down.

PeakPeak by Roland Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a great adventure story and also have a soft spot for coming-of-age type stories as well. This book was both and did both well.

The story started out really exciting and the opening monologue had a twist I wasn’t expecting that made me curious as to what this book was all about.

Peak heads off to China to discover that he will be climbing Mt. Everest with his estranged father. It is not something he is incapable of doing but it is something that will challenge him to the core and leave him questioning his entire purpose in life.

The story is meant to be told as he is writing in a journal that he is required to keep in order to pass his classes for the year after he is required to leave school. Sometimes the dialog and descriptions take away from the journal feel. Every once in a while you feel like the author suddenly remembers this is supposed to be reading like a journal but then it fades back into a typical story.

There were parts I loved and there were parts that seemed to drag on. Over all it was an interesting and enjoyable book to read. It would be perfect for adventure lovers and teenage boys alike.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.com or click the button below to find more on Eggs and Herbs.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins {52 Books in a Year}

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
(Book Overview from Goodreads.com)

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before-and survival.

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
(Book Overview from Goodreads.com)

Sparks are igniting, flames are spreading and the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol– a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before… and surprising readers at every turn.

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
(Book Overview from Goodreads.com)

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plains–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost.

My Thoughts…

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I put off reading The Hunger Games for so long because I wasn’t sure if it would be a book that I would like. I was so afraid they were going to be similar to the Twilight series of books which I liked in the beginning but quickly became seriously disturbed over the message they were sending to teenage girls about love, relationships and family. But I digress.

Back to The Hunger Games. When the trailer for the movie came out I decided it was finally time that I read the books. I have this rule about not seeing movies based on books until I read the book. So in the midst of a mild winter, I curled up with this book.

I COULD NOT put it down! It was SO good! There was action and drama. It was frightening and exciting. I laughed, I cried, I bit my nails.

Less then two days later I was done and ready to move to book 2! PHEW!

The story itself is slightly far fetched and there is the issue of kids killing other kids for “sport” but that is really the only negative things I can say about the book. It was well written and fast based. And while there are some underlying tones of romance it does not consume Katniss in the way it consumed Bella in the Twilight series.

I absolutely loved this book!

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes sequels have the tendency to disappoint. This one did not! I began reading Catching Fire immediately after I finished The Hunger Games. Once again I could not put the book down!

The story is somewhat similar to the first but with a lot of crazy and unexpected twists and turns. It is a book that will leave you shocked and amazed. You will definitely want more!

 

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While I enjoyed Mockingjay I certainly didn’t like it anywhere near as much as I liked the first two books in the series.

Mockingjay was lacking a lot of the excitement of the first two. There was still a lot going on in the book and a lot of action but it just didn’t hold my attention as well.

The story takes an interesting turn as Katniss begins to fully understand what it means to be the Mockingjay.

Part of what I enjoyed about the first two books was that while there was a definite conflict between Gale and Peeta there wasn’t a major focus on the whole “love life” aspect. This definitely comes into play more in this last book as the story wraps up.

While certainly a well written and exciting book it just didn’t stand up to the excitement and hype generated by the first two books.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.com or click the button below to find more on Eggs and Herbs.

My Summer Reading List

I love to read but for some reason time just got away from me this summer and I didn’t read nearly as much as I typically do. I spent a lot of time blogging and a lot of time painting so I was still doing something good for the brain.

I am still really enjoying the Kindle book reader that I received last Christmas.  I love that I can add books to my wish list and download new books as soon as I finish reading one.  I also really like the ‘sample’ feature.  This allows you to download and read the first chapter or so of a book before you decide to buy it.  There is nothing worse than buying a book only to find out that you don’t enjoy reading it!

Here are the books I read this summer:

  1. Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Olson and Learned to Love Being Hated - Alison Arngrim
    Alison Arngrim played Nellie Olson, the girl that everyone loved to hate, on the NBC Little House on the Prairie Series.  Although I have always been a much bigger fan of the Little House books, I have been know to watch a few episodes of the show.  And although, Nellie really was a “prairie bitch” I knew there was something special about the girl who played her.  The book offers such interesting insight into the production of the show and the personal life of Alison Arngrim. It is funny but informative.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
  2. The House at Riverton - Kate Morton
    After reading The Distant Hours, another novel by Kate Morton, I was looking forward to reading this book.  I found the book to be very slow moving and while the plot line was somewhat intriguing it wasn’t such that I couldn’t put the book down.  The writing was good but the story just didn’t move along quickly enough for my tast. I give this book 2.5 out of 5 stars.
  3. One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, No.1) - Janet Evanovich
    The first novel in the Stephanie Plum (lingerie buyer turned bounty hunter) Series was so much fun!  The series has been growing in popularity for years and even more so with the big screen interpretation due to hit theatres in January 2012.  I loved this book and cannot wait to read more in this series. I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.
  4. Night Road - Kristen Hannah
    I have read many Kristen Hannah books and have loved seeing her style blossom and develop into something amazing over the years.  Night Road was no disappointment.  The story is a mix of tragedy and love.  You will finish the book with a new found appreciation for each new day and realize that even the tiniest of mistakes could cost you dearly.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
  5. Living in a Foreign Language: A Memoir of Food, Wine and Love in Italy - Michael Tucker
    Former Law and Order star Michael Tucker tells of his and his wifes move from LA to Italy.  I had expected a lot more stories about food and wine in this book.  The book is basically a “diary” of their lives as they transition through their career and their “empty nest” syndrome.  The reader is introduced to dozen of characters most of which do not add anything to the story and end up leaving you feeling confused.  Honestly it felt as if the book was written because A) Michael Tucker is famous, B) He has a pretty good agent whom was able to get it published, and C) they needed something to fund their new Italian lifestyle.  I finished the book, albeit begrudgingly.  I give this book 1 out of 5 stars.
  6. Summer Secrets - Barbara Freethy
    A man and his three daughters win a perilous boat-race around the world which is clouded in a mystery that has caused all three daughters to give up sailing for good.  Eight years later a reporter shows up to interview the family about the race and begins to unravel the secret the family has been hiding for years.  The book is interesting but a little winded in spots although I did enjoy it.  I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
  7. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
    Although a lot of racial controversy surrounds this book and it’s subsequent movie; I really enjoyed The Help.  Three women, one white and two black, work together on a book project that puts all of them at risk.  The story is sweet and heartwarming while at the same time disheartening and disturbing.  Taking place in 1960′s Mississippi the perceived societal differences between blacks and white is nothing if not pronounced.  While the rest of the country is making strides towards racial equality, Mississippi is fighting it tooth and nail and one white woman and two black maids (the “help”) set out to change the world.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. (PS The book is WAY better than the movie!)
  8. The Wilder Life: My adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie - Wendy McClure
    Wendy McClure grew up loving the Little House books and feels compelled to go on a quest to visit all of the historical Ingalls/Wilder locations in the United States.  She is on a hunt for “Laura World” a fictional place she has conjured up in her mind through the help of the pictures painted by the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder in her books combined with the famous illustrations done by Garth Williams.  The book is a little slow moving at the start but I did enjoy her humorous insight into the “World” of Laura and the Little House on the Prairie.  I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Disclaimer: Please note that due to a new law in Arkansas I am no longer serving as an Amazon Affiliate. I will receive NO COMPENSATION if you choose to purchase their books via the links I have provided about. I have merely provided the links because I have been a happy customer at Amazon.com for many years! Enjoy and happy reading.

 

 

January 2011 Book List

It has been a LONG time since I did a book review list!  I have read a ton of books since the last list but I guess I just got a little tired of doing it for a  while.  I have 6 books to share for this month.

First, let me tell you about my Kindle!  I got an Amazon Kindle e-Reader for Christmas from my husband and I love it!  It is easy to hold, easy to read and I never have to be without a book.  When I finish one, I can download another and don’t have to make a trip out to the store. (Although I still LOVE to look at bookstores. I just bring my Kindle along and add the books I find to my wish-list to download later.  Plus they are always cheaper on the Kindle than they are in the store!)

There are a lot of e-Readers out there with the two most popular being the Amazon Kindle and and The Barnes and Noble COLOR Nook.  I researched both and decided that for me the Kindle was the best option.  The Color Nook was at first glance pretty cool. It is a lot like a giant iPhone.  It is touch screen, has “apps”, and is in color which means the book covers and any pictures in the books are in color.  There were some things I really did like about the Nook.  First, was the “Library” screen where all your books are on virtual shelves and you pick the book of the shelf that you wish to read. 

 There were some major drawbacks to the Nook.  First the Color Nook was HEAVY!  The Nook weighs 15.8 ounces! Just shy of a pound where as the Kindle only weighs 8.7.  Even with a lighted cover for my Kindle it still weighs less than the Nook without a cover.  Second was the price.  The Nook Color is currently $249.  My Kindle was only $139 and even after I added in a lighted leather cover for my Kindle and a few book purchases it was still cheaper than the Nook.  But the biggest draw back to me was the back-lit LCD screen of the Nook.  Sure it looks pretty but I look at a computer screen or a smart phone all day.  I read books to relax and I do not think of a bright LCD screen as relaxing.  My eyes get very tired looking at a computer screen but I have never experienced that tired eye feeling from the screen of my Kindle. 

I think the Nook has some GREAT features but in effort to be the “First” to offer a color e-Reader I think they jumped the gun a little. I applaud Amazon for making the decisicion to research color options more and to develop e-ink technology that is up to Amazons high standards before putting an inferior product on the market.  I love the Kindle and it was the right choice for me.

Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology

You can click the picture to purchase you very own Kindle e-Reader for only $139.00!

 

 

 

 

 

Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie  ****

Sweetie

This book is about Friendship and the lengths to which friends will go for each other.  Two girls who are labeled as social outcasts come together and become close friends until tragedy and heartbreak touch the lives of both girls and their friendship is tested.  This book was well written and was hard to put down. It was happy and sad, made me laugh and made me cry. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Click here to purchase the book in paper back for $14.50.

Click here to purchase the Kindle e-book for $9.99.

 

 

Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent *****

Fireflies in December

Fireflies in December takes place in the 1930 South where the rights of black people are still being tested and challenged.  A young white girls family decides to adopt the black daughter of a couple that worked on the families farm after they are killed in a tragic accident.  The book tells the story of two unlikely paired girls who grow up as sister. It chronicles the good times and the bad times and the heartache and joy both girls must face as they grow up in a community which refuses to understand or accept their relationship as sisters and a family.

Click hereto purchase Fireflies in December in pape back for $10.41.

Click here to purchase Fireflies in December e-book for $8.79.

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Cottonwood Whispers

Jennifer Erin Valent  has also written two sequels to this book.  Both were equally as good as Fireflies in December.

Click here to purchase Cottonwood Whispers in paperback for $10.59.

   Click here to purchase Cottonwood Whispers for Kindle for $8.79.

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Catching Moondrops

  Click here to purchase Catching Moondrops in paperback for $10.13.

  Click here to purchase Catching Moondrops for Kindle for $8.59.

 

 

 

 

The Justice Game by Randy Singer ****

The Justice Game

  Randy Singer is a real-life attorney turned author so his writing is authentic and well detailed.  This book was based on a real trial that looks at both sides of the never-ending gun rights battle.  The book was exciting and thrilling and was hard to put down. By reading the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book I learned that while writing this book he presented the facts of the case to his readers and allowed his readers to cast the verdict in the book.  I thought this was a really neat and interesting concept.  There are a lot of characters in this book, some with slightly similar names, so you do have to pay close attention to the character introductions. 

Click here to purchase the Justice Game in paperback for $11.41.

Click here to purchase the Justice Game for Kindle for $9.39.

The Perfect Women by James Andrus ***

The Perfect Woman

 The Perfect Women was the only book I read in January that I didn’t enjoy 100%.  It was a well written book and the story line was interesting but it was also very creepy and scary.  I don’t usually like things that scare me.  I found that I was unable to read this book close to bedtime because I would have nightmares about it.  In the book a Detective John Stallings discovers a body while searching for a runaway teen.  After the body is discovered the police begin to realize they have a serial killer on the loose.  The story is told from the perspective of the detectives, the girls involved and the serial killer. It gets very creepy and gruesome at times.

Click here to purchase The Perfect Women in paperback for $6.99.

Click here to purchase The Perfect Women for Kindle for $4.39.

You can view many of the books I have read in the past by clicking over to my Amazon aStore.  Thanks and happy reading!

Book Review – Chew on This by Eric Schlosser & Charles Wilson

The book Chew on This is brought to us by the authors of the well know book Fast Food NationChew on Thisis geared towards young adult readers and is intended to show kids the “truth” behind the fast food industry and the effects of fast-food and other poor eating choices on health and nutrition.  The book is said to be appropriate and useful for “health classes and nutrition units, it will also be an eye-opener for general readers who regularly indulge at the Golden Arches,” according to the School Library Journal.  The book is published by HoughtonMifflin a popular publisher of grade school textbooks.

I found the book to be very interesting and informative.  It was a quick read and I finished it in about three days of casual reading.  As with most propaganda (and YES this is propaganda…just look at the cover of the book!) the issue is skewed to meet the opinions of the authors.  The opinions they want you to buy into.  Although I largely agree with what the authors are saying and/or implying throughout this book I do think it is paramount to understand that they are biased.  The authors are presenting a single side of a story.

A few years ago I had to take a statistics class when I was working on my masters degree.  It didn’t take long to realize that statistics could easily be manipulated and presented in such a way to make them appear to support a lot of things.   Sometimes its not so much about the numbers as it is about the choice of words that are placed before and after the numbers.  I believe it was Bill Cosby, in an episode of the Cosby Show, who told Vanessa’s boyfriend he didn’t like him.  When the boyfriend questioned him about it, Bill Cosby replied, “You see, it’s in the presentation.  That’s the way she brought you here…on a garbage can lid.”  I think the same can be said for statistics.  I honestly believe that you could take all of the facts and statistics presented in this book and use them to place a positive spin on the other side of the story!  But isn’t that what propaganda is about?

All that aside, I DO think that Chew on This is a really good book.  I would love to share this book with my students at school and if I had children of my own, I would share it with them.  There are a lot of problems with fast-food, obese and over-weight adult and children and problems with the meat packing industry in this country.  I think the book lays out a lot of fine points that should make you seriously consider where your food comes from.

One of my favorite parts of the whole book is when they talk about Alice Waters the chef of Chez Panisse and the founder/creator of the Edible Schoolyard Program.  Alice Waters is one of my heroes and the kids who are able to take part in this program are really blessed!  If you haven’t heard of Alice Waters or the Edible Schoolyard you need to check out the website and be sure to read the blog and see what the kids are up to!

I would highly suggest that you read Chew on This.  As always, you can purchase this or any of the other books I discuss at Amazon.

Book Review – The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor

I must admit that 8 times out of 10 I am drawn to a book by it’s cover.  I know, “Never judge a book by it’s cover.”  But some of the covers just look so nice.  Truthfully I HATE knowing anything about a book before I read it.  I RARELY read the book jacket.  I always find they give away too much.  I like to be suprised.  So that leaves me three options for choosing a book.  8 out of 10 times I choose based on the cover.  1 out of 10 I choose based on a recommendation by a friend and 1 out of 10 I choose based on genre.

I chose “The Blue Orchard” based solely on the cover.  There is a woman in an oldfashioned looking car driving towards an orchard.  Based on the cover I could sermise that the main character was a woman, the setting was early 1900′s and had something to do with an orchard.  Sounds like a winner to me because I love anything to do with farming, especially when set in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s.

The book begins with the arrest of Verna Krone, the main character.  Unclear as to what is really happening we only know that it is likely around 1950 -1960, she is working with a black doctor and is accused of performing “illegal surgeries”.  As she is awaiting trial, she retreats to the family peach orchard where she take us through her life chronicaling the events which led to her arrest.  We begin with the eight grade Verna. She is forced to drop out of school to work as a maid to help support her poor farming family.  Her mother has arranged a maid position with another family, so Verna packs her things and heads to the nearby farm to be the live in maid.  When Mr. Wertz takse inappropiate liberties with Verna which result in a very unwanted pregnancy we catch a glimps of the path Verna’s life will take.

Abortion continues to be a very hot and controversial topic.  The Blue Orchard remains neutral never speaking for or against it.  The book, a true story based on the authors grandmother, Verna, chronicals a real-life scandle.  The book illustrates a time in American history when illegal abortion was rampant and many times ended in tragic results not only for the unborn babies but also the women recieveing the procedures.

This book was heartbreaking but extreamly eye-opening.  It is not written in a way that will sway your opinion for or against abortion.  The Blue Orchard is riveting and memorable and will astonish you in more ways than one.

Please visit my Amazon store to purchase this book!

Through Black Spruce – Joseph Boyden

It has been a long time since I have posted any reviews of the books I am reading.  I’ve still been reading, I just got out of the habit of posting about it.  A friend recently requested that I start doing it again because she always found the reviews helpful.  So…I will do my best to keep on top of this again!

I just finished reading BThrough Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden and although I enjoyed it, it certainly wasn’t one of the best books I have ever read.  The book is told from the perspective of two characters.  The chapters switch back and forth between Will Bird and his niece Annie Bird who are both Cree Indians from Moosonee, Ontario, Canada.  Will Bird is in a coma in a local hospital and Annie faithfully comes to visit him each day.  The story switches between present day and the past all leading up to the discovery of why Will is in the hospital which you do not learn until the very end.  It is a touching story of love, loss and discovery.  The way it was told was unique and interesting but a little confusing.  When I read I tend to get so caught up that I do not realize the changing of chapters.  Since each chapter switches back and forth between Will and Annie and is told in first person, I would sometimes be confused about who was talking.  The only thing I really felt was missing was a sense of urgency.  I like a book where I feel compelled to read in order to discover or uncover the mystery within.  The story presented a mystery but it kindof took a back seat to the rest of the story and when finally resolved was somewhat disappointing.  Overall, the book was well written and was interesting enough that I could recommend it to someone else.

Through Black Spruce – Joseph Boyden
Rating 4/5 Stars

Click on the book to purchase through Amazon.com.

June Reading List

This month’s books:

Home: A Memoir of my Early Year – Julie Andrews
Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Alice’s Tulips – Sandra Dallas
Summer Snow – Amy Warwick
The Persian Pickle Club – Sandra Dallas

Home: A Memoir of my Early Year – Julie Andrews

In Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, Julie Andrews takes her readers on a warm, moving, and often humorous journey from a difficult upbringing in war-torn Britain to the brink of international stardom in America.

I found this book about Julie Andrews to be truly fascinating.  I have been a fan of Julie Andrews work since I was a young girl.  It was really great to read about her life as told in her own words.  She faced many hardships and struggles that you would not guess.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the work of Julie Andrews.

Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

To me this story is about girlfriends.  The truest of friendships, yet also the most heartbreaking.  It symbolized to me the type of friendship I think most women are looking for.  The book follow Kate and Tully from their first meeting and throughout their lives.  It follow them when they are close and when they are far apart.  It is well written and very touching and heartfelt.  I really enjoyed this book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

I struggled with this book from the very beginning!  I had such high hopes because I had heard so many great things about this book.  Although it is something I RARELY do, I put this book down at page 116.  I just couldn’t get into it.  I like a book that can capture me.  I like to feel as if I am a part of the story or watching it unfurl before my eyes.  I just never got that with this book.  Maybe I’ll go back to it at another time, it just wasn’t for me.

Alice’s Tulips – Sandra Dallas

Alice Bullock is a young bride whose husband, a Union soldier in the Civil War, leaves her on his Iowa farm with his formidable mother. Equally talented at quilting and gossip, Alice fills her letters to her sister with accounts of her daily life, from the local quilting bees, to the rigors of farm life, to the customs and restraints of small-town America. No town is too small, however, to escape intrigue and treachery, and when Alice finds herself accused of murder, she must rely on support from unlikely sources. Rich in details of quilting, Civil War-era America, and the hardships and rewards of a woman’s life in the 19th century, this is Sandra Dallas at her best.

I typically enjoy any book that falls into the Historical Fiction genre and this was no exception.  I couldnt put this book down.  As Alice stuggled with life on the farm while Charlie was off fighting in the civil war I was right there with her.  I enjoyed every page of this book.

Summer Snow – Amy Warwick

In the rural farming community of Glendale, Washington single mother Mystery Abbott struggles daily with three children, an overbearing mother, and the town gossips led by her neighbor Liv. Liv Randall strives to be seen as the pillar of the community, a complete antithesis to her neighbor. Twins Dana and Janie Abbott struggle with their own coming of age issues, independently fighting against the stereotype of being Mystery Abbott’s daughters. When Mystery’s dilapidated roof caves in after a series of unseasonable storms exposing a secret lover hidden in Mystery’s closet, the women are forced not only to deal with their feelings about one another, but also with the self-imposed limitations they have placed on themselves.

This is Amy Warwick’s debut novel.  It was well written and easy to follow.  The story line was captivating and moved quickly.  The chapters switched back and forth between the four main characters until they all come together in the end.  If Mrs. Warwick’s future novels are anything like this one, I can not wait to read them.

The Persian Pickle Club – Sandra Dallas

It is the 1930s, and hard times have hit Harveyville, Kansas, where the crops are burning up, and there’s not a job to be found. For Queenie Bean, a young farm wife, a highlight of each week is the gathering of the Persian Pickle Club, a group of local ladies dedicated to improving their minds, exchanging gossip, and putting their quilting skills to good use. When a new member of the club stirs up a dark secret, the women must band together to support and protect one another. In her magical, memorable novel, Sandra Dallas explores the ties that unite women through good times and bad.

This book was set during the time of the Dust Bowl when crops were withering and rain was scarce.  This was not my favorite of Sandra Dallas’ books but was still very enjoyable.  I read it in just a few hours.

Well there you have it, my June Reading List.  I hope you have enjoyed this months selections.  As always you can purchase any of the books listed above by clicking the pictures or by visiting my Amazon Store.  Thanks and Happy Reading!

February, March, April & May Reading Lists

WOW! I have REALLY gotten behind!  School is out now though and I have the lazy days of summer ahead of me to get all caught up.  I am certain I am going to miss a few book here.  I also know that I did not get to do nearly the amount of reading as I had hoped.

I am looking for recommendations for my summer reading list right now.  If you wish to recommend a book that you loved, that you think I will love or that you haven’t read yet but thinks looks interesting, please leave a comment.  I will do my best to get to it and will blog about it when I do.

As always, books listed here will be available through my Amazon store and several are still available for FREE through my PaperBackSwap store.

   A Walk Across America
   By Peter Jenkins

Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey — a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country.

“I started out searching for myself and my country,” Peter Jenkins writes, “and found both.” In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago — from the timeless secrets of life, learned from a mountain-dwelling hermit, to the stir he caused by staying with a black family in North Carolina, to his hours of intense labor in Southern mills. Many, many miles later, he learned lessons about his country and himself that resonate to this day — and will inspire a new generation to get out, hit the road and explore.

This book is perfect for anyone with an adventurous spirit.  Peter’s journey is filled with fun and laughter, sorrow and heartbreak, and keeps you in its grasp till the very end.  I couldn’t put this one down!  A word of advice though, if you don’t like knowing what happens ahead of times – AVOID THE PICTURES!!! The pictures are WONDERFUL, BUT they give away some things in the book!

On Mystic Lake: A Novel
  By Kristin Hannah

Annie Colwater’sonly child has just left home for school abroad. On that same day, her husband of twenty years confesses that he’s in love with a younger woman. Alone in the house that is no longer a home, Annie comes to the painful realization that for years she has been slowly disappearing. Lonely and afraid, she retreats to Mystic, the small Washington town where she grew up, hoping that there she can reclaim the woman she once was–the woman she is now desperate to become again.

In Mystic, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower unable to cope with his grieving, too-silent six-year-old daughter, Izzie. Together, the three of them begin to heal, and, at last, Annie learns that she can love without losing herself. But just when she has found a second chance at happiness, her life is turned upside down again, and Annie must make a choice no woman should have to make. . . .

I have read several Krisitn Hannah books in the past and enjoyed this one as well.  The story is romantic and heartfelt and could really happen.  Kristin Hannah is a down to earth writer.

Light of the Moon
By Luanne Rice

Against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, and in the shadow of a mysterious family legend, one woman is about to discover that to find your way home, sometimes you must travel far away.…Rice delivers a spellbinding story set within a breathtaking landscape where secrets and revelations have the power to change lives forever.Luanne, New York Times bestselling author

An accomplished anthropologist, Susannah Connolly suddenly finds herself adrift in the wake of a failed love affair and the loss of her mother. Boarding a transcontinental flight on the evening of her birthday, she’s decided to give herself a long-deferred gift. Encouraged by her late mother’s magical stories, she is traveling from the Connecticut shore to the fabled French Camargue, to see its famous white horses and find a mysterious “saint” linked to her family’s history.

Amid the endless silvered marshes, she will find a lonely man, his wounded daughter–and a part of herself she hadn’t known she’d lost…until she realized how hard it would be to lose it again. In Light of the Moon

This book is whimsical and fun.  A little romance, a little mystery and a little magic.  You are on the edge of your seat until the end to see how it all turns out.
 
The Blue Nowhere: A Novel
By Jeffery Deaver

His code name is Phate– a sadistic computer hacker who infiltrates people’s computers, invades their lives, and with chilling precision lures them to their deaths. To stop him, the authorities free imprisoned former hacker Wyatt Gillette to aid the investigation. Teamed with old-school homicide detective Frank Bishop, Gillette must combine their disparate talents to catch a brilliant and merciless killer.

This was my second experience with a Jeffery Deaver novel and it was just as thrilling and intense as the first.  He stories grip you from the beginning, leave you questioning multiple characters, throw some curveballs at you and then leave you totally shocked in the end.  Cleverly written and very knowledgeable this will excite any suspense loving reader!

Resolution
By Robert B. Parker

 A greedy mine owner threatens the coalition of local ranchers in the town of Resolution, pitching two honorable gunfighters, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, into a make-shift war that’ll challenge their friendship —and the violently shifting laws of the West.

I always enjoy a good homesteader/wild west type novel.  This book was descent in that the story was interesting and fast-paced.  The writing style was amateurish in my opinion. There was a lot of dialog followed by, “‘so-and-so’ said.”  It got a little mundane after a while.  And while the story itself was interesting I was SHOCKED at the use of foul language throughout the book.  I purchased this book at walmart who is so well known for their censorship of music, not allowing any un-edited CD’s with a parental advisory sticker to be sold in their store.  Well clearly they aren’t policing their books.  The F-word was used on nearly every other page throughout the book! So, while the story was good, I’ll leave it up to you to decide about the quality of the book!

Testimony: A Novel
By Anita Shreve

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora’s box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices–those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal–that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

Although the book starts out with a very explicit description of the sexual scene which unfold on the tape I really found this to be a compelling book.  As a teacher who works with teens I think the message in the book was very real and very relevant.  The situation described in the book is likely one that many teens are faced with and the book shows the many views and effects of a single split-second decision.

Jack’s Shop: Beyond the Front Porch
By James P. Herndon

Follow the antics and adventures of a young boy growing up in rural Virginia during the1950s and ’60s. It may bring to mind a far simpler and, in some ways, misguided period in the history of the south. A bygone era of outhouses, skunks, and the simple pleasures of country living is fondly recalled with a unique sampling of poignant humor. Through his eyes, the serenity and simplicity of the day is continually questioned until finally a life-threatening illness forces a painful reality.

This book was written by a friend of my parents.  It was very enjoyable.  The writing style is a little “rough-cut” but only adds to the charm of the book.  Through your reading you will feel as if Jim has pulled up a chair beside you on the porch and is sharing stories of the “good-ol-days” with you as you sip iced tea.  The stories in the book are funny and heart-warming.  I look forward to reading more of Jim’s work.

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection
By Michael Ruhlman

In his second in-depth foray into the world of professional cooking, Michael Ruhlmanjourneys into the heart of the profession. Observing the rigorous Certified Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America, the most influential cooking school in the country, Ruhlman enters the lives and kitchens of rising star Michael Symon and renowned Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. This fascinating book will satisfy any reader’s hunger for knowledge about cooking and food, the secrets of successful chefs, at what point cooking becomes an art form, and more. Like Ruhlman’s The Making of a Chef, this is an instant classic in food writing-one of the fastest growing and most popular subjects today.

In the last few years I have begun to realize my dream to become a chef.  Although it is highly unliklythat I would uproot my life to attend culinary school, I do try to read as many cooking resources as possible to improve my technique and broaden my knowledge of the culinary world.  Michael Ruhlman in an excellent author in this field.  In this book he follows several chefs as they face the challenges of becoming better and making it in a dog-eat-dog world.   The book was funny, intriguing and eye-opening.  Additionally, it contains a full section of recipes at the back! YUM!

Two Rivers
By T. Greenwood

In “Two Rivers”, Vermont, Harper Montgomery is living a life overshadowed by grief and guilt. Since the death of his wife twelve years earlier, Harper has narrowed his world to working at the local railroad and raising his daughter, Shelly. Still wracked with sorrow over his loss and plagued by his role in a brutal, long-ago crime, he wants only to make amends for his past mistakes. Then one day, a train derails in Two Rivers and Harper finds a chance at atonement. One of the survivors, a pregnant fifteen-year-old girl, needs a place to stay, and Harper offers to take her in. But soon he suspects that Maggie’s appearance is not the simple case of happenstance it first appeared to be.

This book was a good read but was quite on the predictable side.  It was enjoyable to read and the story is built well.  The characters are charming and the transition between past and present keep you interested in the book.  I liked it but also couldn’t help but feeling that something was missing in the end.  Something was left hanging but I cant quite put my finger on what it was.

The Way Life Should Be: A Novel
By Christina Baker Kline

Angela Russo finds herself in Maine thanks to a sailing instructor, an impulse, and an idea that in Maine, people live “the way life should be.” But reality on Mount Desert Island is not what she expected. Far from everything familiar, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up. Relying on the flair for Italian cooking she inherited from her grandmother, she begins to discover the pleasures and secrets of her new small community—and to connect her heritage to a future she is only beginning to envision.

Having spent nearly every summer of my childhood in Maine, I am drawn to books about the coast.  I stood in some of the place that Kline describes in this book and was immediately transported back their through her words.  The story is part love story, part soul searching, part cookbook.  Maine and Food! What more could I ask for in a book??!  I really enjoyed this read and love the fact that all the recipes she talks about are included in the back!

 

Thanks for checking out my list of books!  You can purchase all of these books in my Amazon store and many of them are listed in my PaperBackSwap shop!  ENJOY!

January Book List

Okay so I am a little behind!  We were hit with a major ice storm the last week in January which put us with out power for 5 days and without Internet for 7.  I got to take a trip to visit my nephews in Illinois and then the first two weeks of February flew by in a flash!  Partially thanks to the cold icy weather and long airport layovers I have lots of reading to share with you this month!

 **** Dakota Home – Debbie Macomber

“Buffalo Valley has found new life. People have started moving to this town—people like Lindsay Snyder, who came as a teacher and stayed, marrying local farmer Gage Sinclair. And now Lindsay’s best friend, Maddy Washburn, has decided to pull up stakes and join her in Buffalo Valley, hoping for the same kind of satisfaction. And the same kind of love…

Jeb McKenna is a rancher, a solitary man who’s learned to endure. Maddy—unafraid and openhearted—is drawn to Jeb, but he rejects her overtures. Until one of North Dakota’s deadly storms throws them together…

Those few days and nights bring unexpected consequences for Maddy and Jeb. Consequences that, one way or another, affect everyone in Buffalo Valley.”

This was the second book in the Dakota series.  I found this to be an enjoyable book but also somewhat predictable.  It was a fast paced read and didn’t require a whole lot of thinking. 

 **** Always Dakota – Debbie Macomber

“Buffalo Valley, North Dakota, has become a good place to live— the way it used to be. People here are feeling confident about the future again.

Stalled lives are moving forward. People are taking risks—on new ventures and lifelong dreams. On happiness. And one of those people is local rancher Margaret Clemens, who’s finally getting what she wants most. Marriage to cowboy Matt Eilers. Her friends don’t think Matt’s such a prize, but Margaret’s aware of his reputation and his flaws. She wants him anyway. And she wants his baby.…”

This was the third book in the Dakota series.  Macomber uses this book to further develop some of the characters that were introduced to us in the first two books.  As with the second book I found it to be enjoyable but also somewhat predictable.   

**** Shadow Dance – Julie Garwood

“Jordan Buchanan is thrilled that her brother and best friend are tying the knot. The wedding is a lavish affair–for the marriage of Dylan Buchanan and Kate MacKenna is no ordinary occasion. It represents the joining of two family dynasties. The ceremony and reception proceed without a hitch–until a crasher appears claiming to be a MacKenna guest. The disheveled and eccentric professor of medieval history warns that there’s “bad blood” between the couple’s clans, stemming from an ancient feud that originated in Scotland, and involving the Buchanan theft of a coveted MacKenna treasure.

Jordan has always led a cautious life and has used her intelligence and reason to become a successful businesswoman. So she is intrigued but skeptical of the professor’s claims that the feud has been kept alive by the grave injustices the Buchanans have perpetrated over the centuries. But when Noah Clayborne, a close family friend and a man who has never let a good time or a pretty girl pass him by, accuses Jordan of being trapped in her comfort zone, she determines to prove him wrong and sets out on a spontaneous adventure to the small, dusty town of Serenity, Texas, to judge the professor’s research for herself.

Maneuvering through a close-knit community in which everyone knows everyone else’s business, Jordan never anticipates the danger and intrigue that lie in her path, nor the threat that will shadow her back to Boston, where even in familiar surroundings, her life is at risk.

A powerful thug who rules by fear, a man who harbors a simmering secret, and an unexpected romance that pierces all defenses–beloved author Julie Garwood weaves these dazzling elements into a brilliant novel of romantic suspense. Shadow Dance is a searing tango of passion and peril.”

This book combined murder, suspense, love and even a little humor.  So different from what I normally read I really found myself enjoying this genre.

 *** Francesca’s Kitchen – Peter Pezzelli

From Publishers Weekly
Pezzelli (Home to Italy) returns with another tale of an everyday Italian-American family, this one an empty nest. Mamma and all-around good egg Francesca Campanile, widowed with children and grandchildren all elsewhere, is floating aimlessly in her Providence, R.I., house. When she decides what she needs is to be needed, Francesca answers the babysitter-wanted ad of Loretta Simmons, a single mother working full-time. Pezzelli nicely renders Loretta’s anxieties as she first rejects, and then, out of desperation, hires Francesca, who is not the student-type sitter she’d imagined. He’s also lovely on Francesca’s reminiscing about husband Leo and on the mutual sniffing-out processes as Francesca parses Loretta’s harried home, and neglected children Penny and Will slowly learn to trust Francesca. Francesca’s adult son Joey then unexpectedly returns to the nest. He meets Loretta, sparks fly, and suddenly Francesca isn’t certain any of this was such a good idea. Most of the action happens in kitchens: home cooking, good pasta and traditional family values conquer all in this amusing and touching story.

I thought this was a sweet and fun book.  It was fairly lighthearted but also a little predictable.  I guessed where the story was going almost from the beginning.  The food aspect was enjoyable but also a little on the “traditional, old-world Italy” side.  I love to cook but I cook for me, not a man! (Sorry, Richie!!)

  ***** The Sleeping Doll – Jeffery Deaver

When Special Agent Kathryn Dance — a brilliant interrogator and kinesics expert with the California Bureau of Investigation — is sent to question the convicted killer Daniel “Son of Manson” Pell as a suspect in a newly unearthed crime, she feels both trepidation and electrifying intrigue. Pell is serving a life sentence for the brutal murders of the wealthy Croyton family in Carmel years earlier — a crime mirroring those perpetrated by Charles Manson in the 1960s. But Pell and his cult members were sloppy: Not only were they apprehended, they even left behind a survivor — the youngest of the Croyton daughters, who, because she was in bed hidden by her toys that terrible night, was dubbed the Sleeping Doll.

I found this book to be very enjoyable and very exciting.  This was my first Jeffery Deaver novel but it wont be my last.  Although there were some typically slow parts where the author took time to develop the characters there were certainly some exciting action packed portions as well.  There were even some really great, unpredicted, twists and turns.

**** Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

I think everyone has met some quirky person who always had a cure for this or a remedy for that.  They gave advice that always made sense and their potions always worked and cured the ailment.  Well this book was about such a family.  It was a magical book, while somewhat unbelievable at first, had you hoping and wishing it were all true at the end.  Garden Spells was a great book about love, family, life and finding what makes you truly happy in this world.  I really enjoyed it.

 

Well, that does it for January!  If you are interested in ordering any of these books, they are available in my Amazon Store by clicking here.  I also have several of these book listed in my PaperBackSwap store.  You can access these by clicking here.

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