"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. ...And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything."

~ Edward Cullen

Monday, January 24, 2011

What are you reading (26)?

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event now hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World Of Books. It's helpful way to take a look at what you have read and what you want to read!

So, I've obviously been missing in action for a few weeks now and I haven't gotten any reading done at all.  But it's been for a good reason.  At 12:30 am, January 13, 2011 my water unexpectantly broke three weeks early.  It was like the 3 Stooges trying to get out of the house and to the hospital.  And I was even organized about everything!!  19 hours later at 7:12 pm, I gave birth to a baby boy weighing in at 7 lbs 9 oz, 21.5 in long.  We named him Anthony Donald, after my brother and hubby's dad.

However, quickly after his birth, the Drs felt that there was something wrong with his breathing.  Anthony was taken to the NICU where he was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome.  Basically, his lungs were about 6 weeks under developed.  They put him on a ventilator and gave him drugs to help with his breathing.  Hubby and I were bedside with him my entire hospital stay.  I went home on Sunday, and Anthony stayed up the hospital in the NICU.  Hubby and I went every day to see him, and things started looking up.  But, because my son has a stubborn streak, he decided he just wasn't ready to come home yet.  On Friday, they transported him the nearest children's hospital because he was having heart rates over 300 beats p/minute.  He was diagnosed with supraventricular tachyacardia.  It's actually a common problem in infants and can be treated with a daily medicine that he has to take the first year of his life.  He's still in the NICU, but is moving from his incubator to an open crib in the next day or so (as long as he can regulate his body temp) and is taking bottles really well.  Once he's eating consistently and everything he gets to come home.  We're hoping for Tuesday or Wednesday!!

Here's a picture of my precious baby boy:

Isn't he cute???

I just can't wait to get him home.  The NICUs at both hospitals have been wonderful but it's extremely hard to leave my little boy each night. 

So as for my reading this week, I don't have anything planned.  Between the hospital, pumping, and just everyday life (like cleaning and paying bills) I barely have time to sleep!!  I'm hoping things will settle just a bit once we get him home and establish some type of routine :)

Hope you all have a happy reading week!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

What are you reading (25)?

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event now hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World Of Books. It's helpful way to take a look at what you have read and what you want to read!

This was a busy week again for me.  We had year end close at work, which is already a stressful time.  Add to the fact that I feel ready to pop, and it was ten times as worse.  Everything worked out well though and we finished on time and correctly!!

Saturday, hubby and I had our birthing class.  It started at 9am and went to 3:30pm.  It wasn't as bad as we thought though and I did learn a lot of useful information.  Plus we got a tour of the hospital, which was nice.  We took both sets of parents up on Sunday and showed them where they will need to park and where they can enter the hospital and check in with security.  It was a lot of walking!!  I also had a doctors appointment this past week, which I wrote about in my "When do you think this baby is coming?" post.

Reading wise, I had a slower week.  I did finish Darkly Dreaming Dexter, which I rather enjoyed.  That review is here.  It was a good start to a series that I'd like to read more of.  I have the next two in the series and would enjoy getting to them this year.

I'm also about half way through Inkheart.  I'm really enjoying the book, but it is not reading nearly as fast as I thought it would.  It's much darker too.  I'm hoping to finish it up early this week.  I don't have a lot of plans - I just want to keep the house clean incase we have to leave for the hospital, and I'd like to clean my car!

Here's what else I plan to read this week:

Murder on the Menu is a repeat from last week.  I just ran out of time and didn't get to it this time around.  These are normally really quick reads though, and I enjoyed the first in the series. 

I've had The Kitchen Boy on my TBR pile for a long time now.  It's a short book, but a very powerful story.  This is also a time period that I don't know a lot about so I'm really looking forward to this one!

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is one that I've hear wonderful things about.  I'm reading this one for the Memorable Memoirs challenge and I'm looking forward to it. 
That's my reading for the week.  What's on your plate?

Friday, January 7, 2011

When do you think this baby's coming???

I had my 36 week appointment today.  I ended up having to see the one doctor in the group that I just don't care for.  Her bedside manner is horrible and for some reason she can never seem to find the baby's heartbeat.  She made me go have a quick ultrasound today because she couldn't locate it.  And, lo and behold, right there it was beating away at 136 beats p/minute.  This is the third time I've seen her, and the third time she can't locate the heartbeat.  None of the other doctors ever have that issue.

Anyway, I got all checked out and I am 1 cm dialated.  She said the baby is still high but didn't let me know if I was effaced or anything.  I've been having quite a bit of cramping and sporadic contractions.  Like my mom said, "You could stay like that for another four weeks, or have the baby in the next few days."

So in all fun, I'm asking you my faithful readers, "When do you think I'm going to have this baby?"

EDD: 2/3/2011

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Title: Darkly Dreaming Dexter
Author: Jeff Lindsay
Pages: 288
Rating: 4/5

Meet Dexter Morgan, a polite wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s handsome and charming, but something in his past has made him abide by a different set of rules. He’s a serial killer whose one golden rule makes him immensely likeable: he only kills bad people. And his job as a blood splatter expert for the Miami police department puts him in the perfect position to identify his victims. But when a series of brutal murders bearing a striking similarity to his own style start turning up, Dexter is caught between being flattered and being frightened–of himself or some other fiend (Cover Blurb).

When the television show Dexter first came out in 2007, hubby and I watched the first couple of episodes together.  I somehow managed to quickly lose interest, while he has continued to watch through the four seasons.  I did however, buy the first few books, and absolutely was going to read them right there and then.  Now four years later, I can say I read the first one!
Needless to say, Darkly Dreaming Dexter is totally different than almost all other books that I have read.  A mix between a dark comedy and a slasher horror film, Dexter leaves the reader with a lot of confused emotions.  On one hand, I feel a bit sorry for our vigilante serial killer.  On the other hand, I'm extremely disturbed by his whole story.  After reading this book, I almost want to go back and try re-watching the first season.  The book, of course, has opened up a whole series of questions for me now that I didn't realize even existed when I watched the show.

Despite the subject matter of the book, I really enjoyed Lindsay's writing style.  He took a subject that was extremely dark and created something extremely fresh and rather enjoyable.  I definitely had a hard time putting this book down and finished it in two days.  The character of Dexter is entertaining, and it's definitely interesting to see the different places that his mind takes him.  I like really knowing the inter workings of a main character.  However, I wouldn't want to read these books one right after the other either.  The subject matter is still quite heavy and can be thoroughly chilling at times.

There are five books total, so far, in the Dexter series.  I'd like to continue reading them, but I'll need to space them out over time.  I own the next two in the series: Dearly Devoted Dexter and Dexter in the Dark and hope to get to them sometime later this year. 

This book counted towards the 1st in a Series Challenge and the Mystery and Suspense Challenge of 2011.

Tuesday Teaser (9)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

**Grab your current read
**Open to a random page
**Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
**BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
**Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser for the week:

I woke up covered with sweat, not sure where I was, and absolutely certain that another murder was about to happen.  Somewhere not so far away he was searching for his next victim, sliding through the city like a shark around the reef.

~Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay (pg 82)    


Monday, January 3, 2011

What are you reading (24)?

It's Monday! What are you reading this week? is a weekly event now hosted by One Persons Journey Through a World Of Books. It's helpful way to take a look at what you have read and what you want to read!

It's the first Monday of the new year and I'm looking forward to a happy and wonderful 2011.  This was a busy week for me in blogland.  I signed up to participate in way to many challenges that I'm super excited about.  I have all my books picked out and I've spent the last two days organizing my stacks and reading.  I've already finished two books here in 2011 and I'm half way through the third.  I also wrote my 2010 wrap up post, where I also listed my top five reads of the year.

I do have a horrible head cold that is keeping me down some.  It doesn't help that I still can't take any medicine so I'm just having to wait it out until it goes away.  I'm going to try and not let that get me down though :)

As for reading and reviews, I reviewed Meg Cabots Size 12 Is Not Fat here.  It was my final read in 2010. 

This week I finished both Sarah, Plain and Tall and Number the Stars.  These reviews can be found here and here.

As for this week, I'm looking forward to finishing Darkly Dreaming Dexter.  I'm a little more than a 100 pages into this and very much enjoy it.  Hubby watches this TV show religiously but I've always found it to be a bit too disturbing for me.  I seem to be enjoying the books much more.

I would also like to read and finish Murder on the Menu by Miranda Bliss.  This is the second book in the Cooking Class Mystery series.  I really enjoyed the first in the series and hope that this one is equally entertaining.

Finally, I'd like to read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.  I've had this one sitting on the shelves for a quite a while and I've heard really good things about it.  Plus, I've been waiting to see the movie until after I finish the book.

So that's my week.  I'm keeping it small because I have year end close at work until Wednesday which will probably leave me pretty exhausted.

So what are your reading plans for the week?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Review: Number the Stars

Title: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Pages: 137
Rating: 4.5/5

Ten year old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think about life before the war. But it's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching in their town.

The Nazis won't stop. The Jew of Denmark are being "relocated", so Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be part of the family.

Then Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission. Somehow she must find the strength and courage to save her best friend's life. There's no turning back now (Cover Blurb).

I can't remember when I first read Number the Stars, but I think it was sometime around the fifth grade.  This was one of the first books I read about World War II and the Resistance movement.  This book helped cement my admiration for the heroes of this time that helped save their fellow man.  It also opened up an entire new world for me, one in which I have always found myself being drawn too.

Number the Stars tells the story of the young Annemarie, a young Danish girl who is best friends with Ellen, a Jewish citizen.  At the start of the Jewish New Year, the Nazis begin to gather up the Jews of Denmark to relocate them.  It is at this time, that Annemarie's parents take Ellen in as part of their family and help her to escape to freedom.

Annemarie is a brave young girl, who not only has to face losing her best friend, but also takes her own life into her hands when she must deliver an important package to her Uncle.  It is not until the end of the story that we learn just how important that package really was.

I enjoyed this book just as much now as I did when I read it so many years ago.  It will always be one that I keep one my shelves to return to again and again.

This book counts toward by 2011 YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Review: Sarah Plain and Tall

Title: Sarah Plain and Tall
Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Pages: 67
Rating: 4/5

Their mother died the day after Caleb was born.  Their house on the prairie is quiet now, and Papa doesn't sing anymore.  Then Papa puts an ad in the paper, asking for a wife, and he receives a letter from one Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine.  Papa, Anna, and Caleb write back.  Caleb asks if she sings.

Sarah decides to come for a month.  She writes Papa: I will come by train.  I will wear a yellow bonnet.  I am plain and tall, and Tell them I sing.  Anna and Caleb will wait and wonder.  Will Sarah be nice?  Will she like them?  Will she stay? (cover blurb)

Picking the first book of a new year is always hard.  You want it to be a book with some meaning.  You want to start the year off right.  What if you hate the book?  What if you don't want to finish it?  It could ruin the rest of the reading year for you.  In picking Sarah Plain and Tall, I knew I wouldn't hate it.  I read this book years and years ago when I was in elementary school and adored it then.  I still find this book to be touching and was the perfect quick start to 2011.

Anna and Caleb lost their mother the day after Caleb was born.  Since then, they have been raised on the prairie with their Papa.  Both children horribly miss having a mother, and often talk about her singing and the fact that now that she is gone, Papa no longer sings.  When the day comes that Papa tells them about Sarah, their whole world changes.  They have a chance to have a mother, something they want so badly they can practically taste it.

I think this book pulls at the heart strings because it introduces us to two children who just want to be loved.  Plus, Sarah is a great character - strong at heart, a good worker, and a wonderful mother to both Anna and Caleb. 

I'm glad I took the time to sit down and re-read this book in the new year.  It's definitely one that I will someday share with my own children.

This book counts toward by 2011 YA Historical Fiction Challenge.

2010 In Review

2010 was a pretty good year for me reading wise. I read and reviewed 59 books, which is 14 more than I completed in 2009. I also posted 132 blog posts, up from 68 in 2009. Not too shabby considering the fact that I was MIA for a few months when I was having such problems with my pregnancy.

Personally, 2010 was a big year for me and hubby. We found out we'd be expecting our first child, lived through the scariness of several hemmorhages that first trimester, and have grown together as a couple through it all. This winter we helped sell and pack up my grandfather's home, while at the same time placing him in a nursing home. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it was wonderful to be able to be there to support my mom through this struggle. I'm excited and looking forward to 2011. In the next few weeks we should be meeting our little boy and nothing could be more exciting than that!!

Now back to the books. I had several favorites this year, but the following five were my top reads for 2010:
  1. Hate List - Jennifer Brown: This was the first book I finished in 2010 it was amazing.  Still a year later I find myself thinking of this book.
  2. Shutter Island - Dennis Lehane: I'm not sure if any book has ever kept me on my toes as much as this one.  I still can't get over the ending!
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee: I still don't understand why I waited as long as I did to read this wonderfully written American classic.
  4. Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson:  An amazing book that everyone should be required to read!
  5. The Thorn Birds - Colleen McCullough: Another unforgettable read that I waited way too long to read.  One of the most amazing sagas ever written.
All in all, not a shabby year for me.  I hope to read at least the same amount of books if not more in 2011, and continue to blog and post and meet new people!!

2011 YA Historical Fiction Challenge

This will probably be the last challenge I'll enter to 2011 (except for the Chunkster Challenge which will be crossovers).  This challenge is hosted by Yabliss and has the following rules:

  • You are not required to review the books unless you wish to enter one of the exclusive giveaways for participants that will be offered during 2011 for which the entries will be reviews.
  • Books do NOT have to be 2011 releases nor do they have to be debuts.
  • All books must be YA or MG to count.
  • You do NOT have to run a blog to participate, although there must be a public website where I can find you (Goodreads, LibraryThing, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Tumblr, etc)
  • Your blog does NOT have to be a book blog.
  • If you enter with your blog link, you MUST post about the challenge so I may link.
  • Books that are paranormal or urban fantasy set in a historical setting (Clockwork Angel) are still technically Historical Fiction. They DO count towards your total. I dont have them in any of the lists because the idea was to promote realistic historical books that are less popular.

Level 1: 5 YA HF books in 2011

Level 2: 10 YA HF books in 2011

Level 3: 15 YA HF books in 2011

I'm choosing to partipate at Level 2.  Here's my list:
  1. A Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray
  2. Rebel Angels - Libba Bray
  3. The Sweet Far Thing - Libba Bray
  4. Number the Stars - Lois Lowry
  5. The Luxe - Anna Godbersen
  6. Rumors - Anna Godbersen
  7. Envy - Anna Godbersen
  8. Splendor - Anna Godbersen
  9. What I Saw and How I Lied - Judy Blundell
  10. Sarah Plain and Tall - Patricia Maclachlan

2011 South Asian Author Challenge

S. Krishna's Books is hosting this challenge this year.  Below are the rules.  This challenge is completely out of my comfort zone so I'm looking forward to the challenge!!

What books are eligible for the 2011 South Asian Challenge?

There are two ways for a book to qualify for the South Asian Challenge

1.A book must be by a South Asian author. For these purposes, South Asia includes the following countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives. There are no limitations on what the book can be about.

2.A book must be about South Asia. In this case, it can be set in a South Asian country or be about South Asians living abroad. It can also be a biography or memoir of a South Asian, or of a non-South Asian traveling or working in South Asia. In this case, the author does not need to be South Asian, as long as the subject matter focuses on the region, peoples, or cultures in some way.

Any type book qualifies, as long as it meets one of the two guidelines above - a cookbook, short story or essay collection, travel guide, etc...AND if only part of a book is about South Asia it still qualifies.

Other guidelines:

•Everyone is encouraged to participate.

There are several levels of participation:

•South Asian Encounter - 1 book
•South Asian Wanderer - 3 books
•South Asian Explorer - 5 books
•South Asian Adventurer - 7 books
•South Asian Hero/Heroine - 10 books
•South Asian Guru - Over 10 books (you can set your own goal)

I'm looking to read 7 books for this challenge:
  1. Brick Lane - Monical Ali
  2. The 20th Wife - Indu Sundaresan
  3. The Feast of Roses - Indu Sundaresan
  4. The Splendor of Silence - Indu Sundaresan
  5. Gifted - Nikita Lalwani
  6. The Space Between Us - Thrifty M Umrigar
  7. The Dowry Bride - Shobhan Bantwal

2011 War Through the Generations Challenge

I'm joining this challenge because it is so different from anything I've ever participated in before. This is forcing me to read a few books I probably would never have picked up before. I'm choosing to read three books about the Civil War era. All three books are fiction:

  1. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  2. Enemy Women - Paulette Jiles
  3. Cold Mountain - Charles Frazier

2011 YA Reading Challenge

This challenge should be super easy for  me.  The majority of books that I currently read are YA. This challenge is hosted by Jamie loves YA and looks fun!  The rules are below:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Create a post about the challenge and link your challenge post up in the linky below.
--Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post.
2. There are four levels:
--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.
--The "Fun Size" YA Reading Challenge – Read 20 Young Adult novels.
--The Jumbo Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 40 Young Adult novels.
--The Mega size YA Reading Challenge – Read 50+ Young Adult novels.
3. Audio, eBooks, paper, re-reads all count.
4. No need to list your books in advance. You may select books as you go. Even if you list them now, you can change the list if needed.
5. The Challenge starts on January 1, 2011 and goes until December 31, 2011.

I'm looking to read at least 20 YA books, but could and most likely will read more:

1. Sarah, Plain and Tall - Patricia MacLachlan
2. Number the Stars - Lois Lowry
3. If I Stay - Gayle Forman
4.  What I Saw and How I Lied - Judy Blundell
5. Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta
6. Bitter End - Jennifer Brown
7. Fallout - Ellen Hopkins
8. I Heart You, You Haunt Me - Lisa Schroeder
9. But I Love Him - Amanda Grace
10. Hearts at Stake - Alyxandra Harvey
11. Fearscape - Simon Holt
12. Ruby Red - Krysten Gier
13. Forgive My Fins - Tera Lynn Childs
14. The Iron King - Julie Kagawa
15. Firespell - Chloe Neill
16. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
17. Cloaked - Alex Flinn
18. Chain Reaction - Simone Elkeles
19. The Juliet Spell - Douglas Rees
20. Pretty Little Liars - Sara Shepard


Historical Fiction Challenge 2011

The ladies at Historical Tapestry are hosting the 2011 Historical Fiction challenge.  Historical Fiction is actually what brought me back to reading after many years away and I'd like to read a bit more of this year then I've read in the past.  The rules are simple:

•Any kind of historical fiction is accepted (HF fantasy, HF young adult,...)

•You can overlap this challenge with others kind of challenges

•During these following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

1.Severe Bookaholism: 20 books

2.Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books

3.Struggling the Addiction: 10 books

4.Daring & Curious: 5 books

5.Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books
The challenge will run from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2011.

I'll be joining at Level 3.  Here is my tentative list for 2011
  • Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
  • Memoris of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
  • The Boyleyn Inheritance - Philippa Gregory
  • Pope Joan - Donna Woolfolk Cross
  • The Tea Rose - Jennifer Donnelly
  • Forever Amber - Kathleen Winsor
  • The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B - Sandra Gulland
  • Here Be Dragons - Sharon Kay Penman
  • The Kitchen Boy - Robert Alexander
  • The Bronze Horseman - Paullina Simons

Review: Size 12 Is Not Fat

Title: Size 12 Is Not Fat
Author: Meg Cabot
Pages: 345
Rating: 4/5


Or, at least, she did. That was before she left the pop-idol life behind after she gained a dress size or two—and lost a boyfriend, a recording contract, and her life savings (when Mom took the money and ran off to Argentina). Now that the glamour and glory days of endless mall appearances are in the past, Heather's perfectly happy with her new size 12 shape (the average for the American woman!) and her new job as an assistant dorm director at one of New York's top colleges. That is, until the dead body of a female student from Heather's residence hall is discovered at the bottom of an elevator shaft.

The cops and the college president are ready to chalk the death off as an accident, the result of reckless youthful mischief. But Heather knows teenage girls . . . and girls do not elevator surf. Yet no one wants to listen—not the police, her colleagues, or the P.I. who owns the brownstone where she lives—even when more students start turning up dead in equally ordinary and subtly sinister ways. So Heather makes the decision to take on yet another new career: as spunky girl detective!

But her new job comes with few benefits, no cheering crowds, and lots of liabilities, some of them potentially fatal. And nothing ticks off a killer more than a portly ex-pop star who's sticking her nose where it doesn't belong . . . (megcabot.com)

I finished this one a few weeks ago and am just now getting around to writing the review.  This was actually my last read of 2010.  This is the second Meg Cabot book that I've read and I really really enjoyed it.  She is a wonderful author with a fun way with words.

Size 12 is Not Fat introduces readers to Heather Wells, a quirky ex pop star turned assistant dorm director.  Heather is full of energy, funny, and just plain suspicious of everyone around her.  Especially when several of the dorm residents are found dead in the elevator shafts.  I loved reading about Heather, and how she went about solving the mystery.  Plus, her relationship with her boss and landlord Cooper is a nice (looking) extra edition to the story.  I love how Heather swoons over him and he seems almost clueless.  It will be exciting to see where Cabot takes this relationship in the coming books. 

There are two more books written so far in this series: Size 14 is Not Fat Either and Big Boned.  I have both of these and dabbled with Size 14 but ended up getting distracted by other things and haven't gotten back to it.

All in all, I recommend these to readers who are looking for a light, fun read with a bit of mystery tossed in!

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