"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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review: 14

Title: 14
Author: Peter Clines
Listening Time: 12 Hours and 38 Minutes
Challenges: None
Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s. Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. Or the end of everything....

I've been in an audio book slump for a few months now, but every month I diligently would go to my audible account and pick up any titles that I thought were interesting, and then they would just sit on my iPhone.  In December, I read Sheila's review of 14 (which you can find at her awesome blog Book Journey).  I used my credit that month to buy 14, and on Monday,  I was having a bad day at work so I decided to give it a shot as I punched numbers into the computer.  Within the first 10 minutes I was completely hooked.

14 is like nothing I would normally read.  It has a sci-fi vibe to it, and it's creepy but not on a horror movie level of creepiness.  It's one of those books that seems to stick with you for a few days, and has you questioning all the things that you just take to be normal. 

One thing that really made this novel flow, were the characters.  There wasn't one person that I didn't thoroughly enjoy, and at some points I wasn't sure who to trust, and who knew more than they were telling everyone else.  The story is told through the eyes of Nate, who is new to the rather interesting, and cheap apartment building.  Slowly, we're introduced to his neighbors who all become a pivotable part of the story.  At each turn, we learn a little more about the building, but also a little bit more about the people living among it's walls.

This book blew me away, and one of the reasons for that was the audio.  This book is read by Ray Porter who did an absolutely phenomenal job.  His character voices were spot on, and really helped to make the story real.  In fact, at some points I felt like I was watching a really good movie, rather than listening to a book.  I finished this one in two days, because I simply could not stop listening.  I even found myself taking extra long trying to find parking spaces just so I could get a few more pages in.

Personally, I think everyone should give this one a try, whether you're a sci-fi fan or not.  It's just that good!  In fact, it was voted the best sci fi book of 2012 by audible.com.  It is well worth the time to listen, and its definitely one I would be ok with hearing again!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Living Dead In Dallas

Title: Living Dead in Dallas
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 262
Challenges: Mount TBR, Sookie Stackhouse
Rating: 4/5

Summary from Goodreads:

Sookie Stackhouse likes living in Bon Temps, Louisiana, and she likes working as a cocktail waitress at Merlotte's. But she is having a streak of bad luck. First her co-worker is killed, and no one seems to care. Then she comes face-to-face with a beastly creature which gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn't enjoy it).

The point is: the vampires saved her life. So when one of her bloodsuckers asks for a favour, she obliges-and soon Sookie's in Dallas, using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She's supposed to interview certain humans involved, but she makes one condition: the vampires must promise to behave, and let the humans go unharmed. But that's easier than done, and all it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly...

I had finished Dead Until Dark earlier and the week, and I wanted to continue with the series.  I had liked Dead Until Dark, but it wasn't a "blow me away read."  I was hoping for something a bit more with Living Dead in Dallas.  From the beginning, I knew I'd enjoy this one better.

Because of Sookie's relationship with the vampire Bill, she's intrinsically connected to the much bigger vampire community.  Because of this, when Eric, the big head honcho vampire summons her and Bill she must go whether or not she wants to.  After a harrowing trip to see him, where Sookie is attacked by an evil, scary creature in the woods, her obligations to Eric are even greater.  Soon she finds herself on a plane to Dallas to help one of the big vampires there find his missing brother.

In Living Dead in Dallas, I thought the plot line was a lot stronger, and moved at a much better pace.  I also thought that Sookie was much more like-able.  Something about her had rubbed me the wrong way in Dead Until Dark, but I didn't get that same feeling this time around.  She seemed to have come out of her shell more, and was much more accepting of her role in the vampire society.  I also really liked seeing the different ways in which the vampire communities acted and interacted, especially the vampires in Dallas. 

I'm really looking forward to continuing this series as the year progresses.  I had hoped to read at least 4 books in the series by the end of the year, but I might just find myself reading up to the most current release this year.  We'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review: Dead Until Dark

Title: Dead Until Dark
Author: Charlaine Harris
Pages: 260
Challenges:  Women Authors, Paranormal Reading Challenge, Sookie Stackhouse
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

Sookie Stackhouse is a small-time cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's quiet, keeps to herself, and doesn't get out much. Not because she's not pretty. She is. It's just that, well, Sookie has this sort of "disability." She can read minds. And that doesn't make her too dateable. And then along comes Bill. He's tall, dark, handsome - and Sookie can't 'hear' a word he's thinking. He's exactly the kind of guy she's been waiting for all her life.

But Bill has a disability of his own: He's a vampire. Worse than that, hangs with a seriously creepy crowd, with a reputation for trouble - of the murderous kind.

And when one of Sookie's colleagues is killed, she begins to fear she'll be next ...

It's been years since I originally read this book.  I can remember reading it, thinking it was pretty good, and then going no further in the series.  I thought the 2013 Sook Stackhouse Challenge would be a good way to motivate myself to go back to this series.

Dead Until Dark is a pretty quick read.  I read it in one day, and found that it was good, but not too thought provoking which is what I needed after finishing Winter Garden.  Dead Until Dark introduces us to Sookie Stackhouse, a small town waitress with a secret.  She can hear people's thoughts.  She's like Edward Cullen but female, and not a vampire.  However, it isn't until she meets her first vampire, Bill, that she realizes that she can't read vampires thoughts. 

I liked seeing the relationship between Bill and Sookie grow and develope and I'm curious to see where Harris takes the whole relationship.  I think the mystery of the "murderer" really played second fiddle to this relationship, and the book, for me was much more of an introduction to the vampire life and how this whole change for Sookie would start to play out.  Because of that, I rated the book a little lower because I wanted a bit more mystery and a little less angst, if you know what I mean.

I don't watch True Blood so I can't really compare the two.  I watched the first few episodes a few years back, but it gave me really vivid nightmares about vampires and I'm not really interested in a repeat performance.  Plus, being pregnant always enhances my dreams and fears so I certainly can't watch it now.  That's why I have an entire season of The Walking Dead hanging out on my DVR.  Even the commericals instill a panic and fear in me that normally isn't there...oh hormones how sometimes I loath thee.

Anyways, I'm going to give Living Dead in Dallas a try this coming week, and I'm curious to see if I enjoy it more than I did Dead Until Dark.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What Are You Reading?

Another week here and gone.  I can't believe how fast time seems to be going lately.  I had a much better week this time around.  Work is still busy and crazy, but I didn't let things bother me as much.  Anthony loves daycare, which makes this mommy happy.  I still hate him having to be there, but at least I can rest assured that's he's doing well.  We'll still waiting to hear back on hubby's dad's test results from the past week.  Hopefully we'll get some positive news.

We had a wonderfully relaxing, do nothing kind of weekend.  I did all my big Saturday cleaning on Thursday night.  My bathrooms were sparkling, the floors were mopped, and everything polished and shined.  All I had to do cleaning wise this weekend was few loads of laundry which I finished up early Saturday morning, and the normal day to day maintance cleaning.  It was wonderful.  I spent the weekend playing and watching movies with hubby and Anthony, but I also got in some pretty good reading time.  I finished three books this weekend and I'm about half way through a fourth.  Yay me!!

This week I finished:
Winter Garden was absolutely amazing, and I recommend it to EVERYONE.  It is certainly a can't miss read.  I posted my review on Saturday, and my review for The Secret of the Old Clock is also up.  I'm hoping to have Dead Until Dark up sometime soon :).
This week should be another pretty good week for me reading wise.  I'm hoping to finally finish To Die For.  I've had it on my TBR pile all month and it just keeps getting pushed aside.  I started it about two weeks ago, but I'm having a seriously hard time connecting with the main character...to be honest, I don't like her one bit.  If I don't read it this week, I think it will probably be the first DNF of the year.  Here's what my reading pile looks like this week:

Hope you have a great reading week!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review: The Secret of the Old Clock

Title: The Secret of the Old Clock
Author: Carolyn Keene
Pages: 180
Challenges: Classic Children's Books, Mystery and Crime
Rating: 3/5

Summary from Goodreads:

Nancy Drew's keen mind is tested when she searches for a missing will.

Ahh, good old Nancy Drew.  Back when I was much younger, my aunt bought me the first five or six Nancy Drew books in hardcover.  After that, each year for Christmas, I'd find a few more of the books in my Christmas gift.  I'd love to say I read them all, but I know that I did not.  However, The Secret of the Old Clock was always one of my favorites.  When I saw the Mystery and Crime Challenge this year, I knew the perfect books to read for the challenge - I was going to re-read my Nancy Drew collection.  Over the years, I've bought the books I hadn't recived and own nearly the entire collection in the yellow bound hardcovers...I'm quite proud of it...:)

I started The Secret of the Old Clock late in the afternoon, and after a few hours had completed the story and felt quite satisfied with the neat and tidy way it was wrapped up.  I again discovered why I had loved Nancy Drew so much as a young girl.  She's spunky and brave, but smart and clever also.  She isn't afraid to take anything head on, and she's always willing to help others.  It made me happy to read about her and sleuthing, and I was glad to take the afternoon to discover her again.

The Secret of the Old Clock tells the story of Josiah Crowley's missing will.  Along the way, we meet a bevy of wonderful and charming characters, all of whom fall in love with the sweet and kind Nancy Drew.  I had a fun time figuring out the mystery, and slowly remembering bits and pieces from when I read the book as a child. 

I'm so glad I re-read this one, and can't wait until I get to read the second book in the series The Hidden Staircase.  It promises to be even more rewarding!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Review: Winter Garden

Title: Winter Garden
Author: Kristin Hannah
Pages: 391
Challenges:  Monthly Key Word, Mount TBR, Women Authors
Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

A few years ago, I discovered and read Firefly Lane, also by Kristin Hannah.  I was amazed at the raw emotion that was evoked through the writing, and I immediately started to seek out other titles by her.  It was at this time that I obtained a copy of the Winter Garden.  When I pulled it off the shelf this past week, I saw that at the time I must have started it, but didn't get further than 20 pages or so and never went any further.  I'm not sure why, but I started it over, hoping that I would enjoy Winter Garden as much as I had enjoyed Firefly Lane.  My expectations were thoroughly met and exceeded.  Winter Garden is probably one of the best books I have read in years.

Once I started, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, but often found myself pausing and letting the story sink in.  It is a very emotional read, and I soon found myself in need of many, many tissues. 

Meredith and Nina Whitson have always felt distant and unloved from their mother.  Upon the death of their father, this distance is even more evident.  However, on his deathbed, their father had made them promise to hear the rest of the fairy tale, and to let it be told in its entirety one last time.  With much coaxing, Anya, the girl's mother, slowly begins to tell her fairytale.  And it is through this fairytale, that Anya not only finds herself, but her children find a love and understanding that they never expected to have.  As the story alternates between past and present, it's like a flower slowly unfurling.  We begin to see the layers of Anya's life, and understand why she is the way she is.  And slowly, her daughters begin to see their mother in a different and much more distinct light. 

Kristin Hannah has a way with words and written that is unbelievable.  Never has an author's novel's touched me so deeply as do hers.  As I finished the last sentence of Winter Garden, I found myself in awe and wonderment of the feelings that Hannah had touched so deeply within me.  But even besides that, the history that this novel brings to life, and the story that it tells, even beyond the story of Anya and her daughters is unbelievable. 

In many years, I have not closed a book and felt this emotionally moved - to the point where I had to take a few minutes to myself to reflect on the journey I'd just been through.  I think it will be a long time before another novel touches me as deeply as Winter Garden, and I do believe this is a one that I will return to again.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Anthony's Book of the Week

It's been a big week for Anthony.  He started his first day of daycare this past Monday, and despite all of mommy's fears he did absolutely wonderful.  He really likes it, and enjoys all the kids and different activities.  He's sleeping well, still picking at this food, and painting and coloring.  I'm happy for him, and glad he likes it.  It makes it a little bit easier on the days I know he's there.

This week, we returned to an oldie but a goodie.  My aunt got Anthony this one when he was first born and it's been a favorite since then. 

Summary from Goodreads:

Geckos everywhere Number 1 is the cool gecko with the blue shades. Number 6 does push-ups and number 4 sleeps through it all. Ten lively geckos are having fun in this entertaining board book - can you count them all?

Counting Little Geckos is a colorful, wonderfully illustrated board book by Charline Profiri.  This is a great starter book for smaller children, but older children will enjoy it too because of the fun pictures and counting fun. 

Anthony has always loved the little illustrations in this board book, and even I'm a little enamoured by the adorable little geckos as they share their adventures with us.  I look forward to continue reading this one with Anthony, and some day letting him count the geckos for me!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review: Sit, Stay, Slay

Title: Sit, Stay, Slay
Author: Linda O Johnston
Pages: 2945
Challenges: Women Authors, Animal Challenge, Cozy Mystery Challenge, Mount TBR
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

Introducing Kendra Ballantyne... Former high-powered litigator (temporarily on the outs) Hollywood pet-sitter (desperately in need of cash) Crime-Solver (currently at wit's end) Canned from her L.A. law firm, Kendra Ballantyne is now a freelance pet-sitter. When her clients start getting knocked off one by one, Kendra fears she's being set up. Aided by sexy detective Jeff Hubbard, she's got to find out why, and fast. This killer's animal instincts are downright dangerous.

Sit, Stay, Slay is the first book in the Kendra Ballantyne Pet-Sitter Mystery series.  This is the second cozy mystery I've read this year and I'm definitely starting to see what the attraction is.  I'm really looking forward to continuing with this series in the months to come.

Kendra Ballantyne was once a successful LA lawyer.  That is, until someone sabatoged her career.  Now to make ends met, she's reneted out her house, sold most of her possessions, and taken up pet sitting.  Along side her trust King Cavalier Spaniel, she's waling dogs, feeding cats, and discovering murder victims...not your typical day on the job.

I read a lot of mixed reviews for Sit, Stay, Slay before I started reading.  The overall consensus between the lower rated reviews - Kendra was an unlikeable main character.  However, despite some of her flaws, I realy liked her.  I felt that everything she had been through really helped shape her and make her a stronger person.  Plus, I liked the fact that she was a strong woman who knew what she wanted.  She made herself known in a mainly male field and I enjoyed that.  Furthermore, I loved Kendra's relationship with PI Jeff Hubbard.  I'm glad they connected, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this relationship progresses throughout the series.

Overall, I'm glad I picked up Sit, Stay, Slay.  It was a cute and fast read and the mystery kept me turning pages.  There were a few bumps along the way, but nothing to stop me from finishing.

Monday, January 21, 2013

What are you Reading?

I love this meme posted by Sheila over at Book Journey. It's a great way to reflect on the week just finished and the days ahead. You can check out her blog here.

What a week!  Work was horrific.  I spent a few days in tears, which I contribute more to just stress and pregnancy hormones than anything else.  Then, to add more stress to the situation, Hubby's Dad was diagnosised with prostrate cancer.  He's in the early stages, and we should hopefully find out more this week, but we're trying to stay positive about everything.  It's definitely a scary situation though. 

Tomorrow is Anthony's first day of daycare, so I've been busy today preparing myself for tomorrow's emotional morning.  I spent a lot of time today chasing down toy cars and balls, and dancing to silly songs.  Me and the little guy were both exhausted by the time he went to bed!

As for reading this week, I didn't get to nearly everything I wanted to.  I did read two books, both of which I found to be pretty enjoyable:

I posted the review for Catch of the Day, and should have the review for Sit, Stay, Slay up sometime this week.
As for this coming week, I have a few stragglers from last week to read, and a couple new ones I'd really like to sink my teeth into.  I probably won't be able to get to all of them, but I'd sure like to try!
Looks like a busy but fun reading week for me.  What's on your reading plate this week?


Friday, January 18, 2013

Anthony's Book of the Week

It's been a busy, busy week here and we have a lot of changes ahead of us.  Anthony goes to his first day of daycare on Monday.  We've had some things come up, and hubby's mom can't watch him as much as before, so it's with a heavy heart I researched schools to see what I could find.  After talking to as many parent's as possible, and reading reviews and visiting, I think I found a good one.  We'll see how it goes though.  It will probably be harder on this mom then it will be for my little boy.

This week, Anthony and I have been loving Sesame Street.  He's been enthralled with Elmo and Zoe, and much to my husband's chagrine, Abby Cadabby (At least I think that's how you spell it!).  Because of this, we've been reading Sleep Tight! by Constance Allen.

Summary from Goodreads:

All the little monsters on Sesame Street are getting ready for bed in Sleep Tight. Snuggle up with the whole gang as they wish you good night.

This is a simple book, with short, quick sentences, so it really kept my two year entertained.  Plus, the illustrations are bright and colorful and contain all his favorite characters.  He was content to listen as each character went through their bedtime ritual, and at the end, he laid now his little had and he also slept tight. 

Despite it's simplicity, I think this is probably one we'll be returning to again and again in the next few months which is ok with me.  I've always found the neighborhood on Sesame Street to be very comforting!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Catch of the Day

Title: Catch of the Day
Author: Kristan Higgins
Pages: 377
Challenges: Women Challenge, Mount TBR, Contemporary Romance, Animal Challenge
Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

What's the market price on a decent guy these days?

Maggie Beaumont's luck is about to change. Sure, she's known for her bad romantic choices—her former boyfriend broke up with her by bringing his new girlfriend home for a visit. And then there was the crush she had on a gorgeous young Irishman, who turned out to be Father Tim, the parish's new priest.

But romantic salvation has arrived in the form of handsome, if surly, fisherman Malone. It turns out there's a heart of gold underneath his barnacle-clad exterior. Will this catch of the day turn into the dish of a lifetime?

It's been a long time since I've picked up a Kristan Higgins novel.  At least three years.  And after finishing, Catch of the Day, I'm kicking myself for waiting around as long as I did.  I'm so glad I have a few more of her books awaiting for me on the TBR pile this year!

One of the best things about Higgans books are her characters.  Catch of the Day was definitely no exception to this!  There wasn't a single character in this book that I didn't absolutely fall in love with, especially the main character Maggie.  Maggie is a small town diner owner, looking for love in a very small, very quaint, Northern Maine fishing village.  Right now, her best friend is her dog Colonel, who has been with her since her first huge breakup. 

Maggie has a huge crush, on the town priest, and she doesn't think that she'll ever get over him.  To help, Father Tim sets Maggie up on a number of blind dates, each more amusing than the last.  Things are looking doubtful, until one night, Maggie sees Malone, the local lobsterman in a different light.  And that's when things get really good!

I just can't say enough good things about this book.  Kristan Higgins writes a good strong plot.  Gideon's Cove is a wonderful place, and her writing completely emerges you in the story.  I found myself reading a few quick pages whenever I had a chance, and I hated putting this one down to go to bed.  If it wasn't for these pregnancy hormones, I probably would have pulled an all nighter to get it finished!  I smiled, I cried, and I laughed as I moved through the pages of this book, and chapter by chapter I found myself falling in love with Maggie, Malone, and Joe's Diner. 

I can't wait to read more of Kristan Higgins this year, and I'm looking forward to checking out her whole back list.  Plus, I hope someday, she'll return to Gideon's Cove and give us just a sneak peak on what is going on in the lives of Maggie and Malone!

Monday, January 14, 2013

What are you reading??

I love this meme posted by Sheila over at Book Journey. It's a great way to reflect on the week just finished and the days ahead. You can check out her blog here.

This past week was a another busy one for me.  Our computer network at work picked up a huge virus, and had us virtually frozen for two days.  We'd be up, and then within a half hour everything would go down again.  It made for a couple of long days.  Then, Anthony's second birthday was this weekend, and we had family parties on both Saturday and Sunday.  It didn't leave a lot of time for reading, and this mommy is exhausted.  I'm looking forward to a normal, relaxed week and hoping, with fingers crossed, that my swollen pregnancy ankles return to normal size!

This week I read and completed:

It was an ok reading week for me.  I still loved The Notebook, but neither of the other two books left me dying for more. 

Coming up this next week, I'd love to finish up:

I can't wait to read these, especially Catch of the Day.  I've read one of Kristan Higgins other novels in the past, and really enjoyed it.  To Die For is a left-over from last week, and I'm can't wait to finish it.  This looks like a great week to me!

 Hope you have a wonderful week and happy reading!!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Just Desserts

Title: Just Desserts
Author: Mary Daheim
Pages: 220
Challenges: Women Authors, Mount TBR, What's in a Name, Cozy Mystery Challenge
Rating: 2.5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

When the garishly grotesque clan of wealthy carpet-sweeper magnate Otto Broadie sweeps down upon Judith McMonigle's Hillside Manor Inn, it looks like there'll be a wild night of drinking, dining, and fortune-telling in the offing. But when their soothsayer-for-hire Madame Gushenka drops dead after someone douses her tea leaves with bug killer, harried hostess Judith and her irrepressible cousin Renie are left to clean up the mess. One of the Brodie bunch would dearly love to sweep the Madame's murder under the rug, however, and that might mean eliminating the nosy Ms. McMonigle as well. But with the help of her one-time beau, policeman Joe Flynn, Judith is determined to rattle the dust off some closeted family skeletons, in order to coax a killer out of hiding before coffee is served.

Just Desserts has been sitting on my shelf for a long, long time.  I thought this year would be a perfect time to brush it off and give it a spin.  Sadly, it wasn't one of my favorite books, and I probably won't be continuing with the series.

I liked the mystery of this book, and I try as I might, I still couldn't figure out who the killer was.  However, I couldn't connect with any of the characters.  I'm not sure if it was because they were more one dimensional, or if it was just that I didn't like any of the them.  For whatever reason, I didn't really find myself rooting any of them on.  I thought the main character, Judith, was flighty one minute and then snarky the next.  I just couldn't figure her out.  The introduction of her old flame, Joe Flynn was good, but there was something odd there too that made it hard for me to like him. 

The writing in Just Desserts was decent, and like I said above, I thought the mystery was well thought out, but there were a lot of characters to keep seperate, and sometimes that made it confusing.  In fact, I found myself flipping back to the beginning a few times, trying to figure out who someone was talking about because I had them confused with someone else.  That doesn't always make a book as enjoyable as it could be!

All in all, this was a horrible book, it just wasn't my kind of book.  I'm still looking forward to trying out more in the cozy mystery genre and seeing if I can find some I really enjoy.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Anthony's Book of the Week

I'm going to need to update the picture of the my little guy soon.  This one was just after his first birthday, and he'll be two here in a few days.  Maybe I can get him to sit still for a few minutes this weekend!!

Each week, Anthony and I pick out a new book to read throughout the week.  He's two, and honestly has the attention span of a gnat sometimes.  Some nights we may only get through one or two pages before he's off and going again. 

However, he's been completely enthralled this week with Bad Dog, Marley by John Grogan and it's proving to really hold his attention.

Summary from Goodreads:

Make way for Marley!

Mommy, Daddy, Cassie, and Baby Louie welcome Marley, a lovable puppy, into their home. But Marley doesn’t stay a pint-sized pup for long. He grows and grows, and the bigger Marley gets, the bigger trouble he gets into. Big, bad-boy trouble. Will this family have to find a new home for their misbehaving pooch, or will he prove he can be a good boy?

First off, not only does Anthony love this book, but so do I.  It's an adorable story, and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Marley.  The illustrations in this book are wonderfully colorful and hold Anthony's attention and he loves to point and talk to the characters. 

I'm pretty sure that's there are a few other Marley books out there written for children, and I'm going to be looking them up in the next few days.  Marley seems to be a great way to get Anthony to connect with a book, and I'm not giving that up for anything!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Review: The Notebook

Title: The Notebook
Author: Nicholas Sparks
Pages: 213
Challenges: Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge
Rating: 5/5

Summary from Goodreads:

A man with a faded, well-worn notebook open in his lap. A woman experiencing a morning ritual she doesn't understand. Until he begins to read to her. The Notebook is an achingly tender story about the enduring power of love, a story of miracles that will stay with you forever. Set amid the austere beauty of coastal North Carolina in 1946, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, thirty-one, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories. . . until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Allie Nelson, twenty-nine, is now engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments, and fundamental changes that affect us all. Shining with a beauty that is rarely found in current literature, The Notebook establishes Nicholas Sparks as a classic storyteller with a unique insight into the only emotion that really matters.

For years, I have considered The Notebook to be one of the best books I've ever had the pleasure of reading.  I've read it multiple times, and each time learn a little something more from it.  It's the type of love story that is meant to be savored, and thought over.  The story of Noah and Allie will stay with me for days.  Because of this, there was no question in the fact that it would be one of the Nicholas Sparks books that I would choose to read for the 2013 Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge.

Sparks has always been one of my favorite authors, and I'm always shocked that such love stories can come from a man.  For me, Sparks has a way a creating characters and love stories that reach the soul.  Every time I read one of his books, especially his earlier ones, I feel this warmth and love surround me.  And, I need about a dozen tissues to get through the end...

This is probably the first time I've read The Notebook in about four or five years, and this time it felt different, deeper and more meaningful.  I'm not sure if those changes are because in those five years my marriage has grown in love and strength, or if it is because I've became a mother.  Because being a mother changes EVERYTHING.  I found that parts of the story that never really affected me, now had me in tears.  I felt joyful at different parts, and happier at others.  It was an odd sensation, to have such a different reaction to the book, but one I'm glad I was able to enjoy and savor.

It's been almost 17 years since The Notebook was first published.  It's a major motion picture (well worth sitting down to watch, by the way) and the first in a long line of books by Nicholas Sparks.  And still, even after all this time, it is one of my favorite books of all time and definitely my favorite from such a well liked author.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: Stuart Little

Title: Stuart Little
Author: E.B. White
Pages: 131
Challenges: Pre 1960s Children Classics
Rating: 3/5

Summary from Goodreads:

Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he's shy and thoughtful, he's also a true lover of adventure.

Stuart's greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?

I honestly can't remember if I read Stuart Little when I was growing up or not.  I think it may have been read to me at some point, but even that is a little fuzzy.  Because of this, I thought Stuart Little would be a great choice for the Children's Classic Challenge I'm participating in.

Written in 1945, by famed author E.B. White, Stuart Little tells the story of a small mouse with grand ideas.  Born to human parents, Stuart is only 2 inches tall and must adjust to life where everything around him is ginormous.  Stuart loves his life and family, but soon finds himself on a great adventure, as he tries to find his best friend, the missing family bird.

All in all, Stuart Little wasn't at all like I suspected, and I actually found it to be a bit boring.  I feel horribly guilty even saying that, but to me the story felt disjounted and I can't believe it would hold the attention of a younger reader.  But, I've found out before that sometimes as an adult, the books I thought were so amazing when I was six, don't hold the same spark now as they did then.  Almost like a lose of innocence, and I find that to be sad.  But anyways, despite my thoughts, I'm still glad I read Stuart Little and look forward to reading some more children's classics throughout the year.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review: Red Lily

Title: Red Lily
Author: Nora Roberts
Pages: 351
Challenges: Women's Challenge; Mount TBR, Color Coded
Rating: 4/5

Summary from Goodreads:

A Harper has always lived at Harper House, the centuries-old mansion just outside of Memphis. And for as long as anyone alive remembers, the ghostly Harper Bride has walked the halls, singing lullabies at night...

Hayley Phillips came to Memphis hoping for a new start, for herself and her unborn child. She wasn't looking for a handout from her distant cousin Roz, just a job at her thriving In the Garden nursery. What she found was a home surrounded by beauty and the best friends she's ever had--including Roz's son Harper. To Hayley's delight, her new daughter Lily has really taken to him. To Hayley's chagrin, she has begun to dream about Harper--as much more than a friend...

If Hayley gives in to her desire, she's afraid the foundation she's built with Harper will come tumbling down. Especially since she's begun to suspect that her feelings are no longer completely her own. Flashes of the past and erratic behavior make Hayley believe that the Harper Bride has found a way inside of her mind and body. It's time to put the Bride to rest once and for all, so Hayley can know her own heart again--and whether she's willing to risk it...

Oh Nora, I hope you haven't already spoiled me for the year!

I can't say enough good things about this trilogy!  I absolutely loved and adored each and every one of the three novels.  There wasn't a single character that I didn't completely fall in love with, and Red Lily tells the story of my two favorites Harper and Hayley.

Harper and Hayley made a great romantic match.  From their very first meeting, they made me smile, and I loved that we got to see them grow throughout the first two books of the trilogy, and that we knew they were in love with each other long before they did.  It made their union that much sweeter.  Plus, Harper is my new book crush for the year 2013.  He was adoringly sweet to Hayley and I loved the fact that he was so in love with her daughter Lily.  Since becoming a mother myself, and seeing my husband with our child, there's just something that makes me all mushy and gushy inside when it comes to a doting daddy.

However, the best part of this whole book was the conclusion of the Harper Bride.  It was jaw dropping, and I didn't see it coming from a mile away.  Perhaps I'm naive, but Roberts really threw me for a loop on this one, and I loved it!  It was all so shocking and scary and absolutely perfect.  I just couldn't get enough of it.

Red Lily, and the entire In the Garden series will definitely be books that I'll turn to when I need to read something that I know I love.  These books were a great way to start out 2013!

Monday, January 7, 2013

What are you reading??

I love this meme posted by Sheila over at Book Journey.  It's a great way to reflect on the week just finished and the days ahead.  You can check out her blog here.

This past week was a busy one for me, with the new year starting and everything that entails at work.  Plus, I came down with a horrible cold the day after Christmas and it stuck with me through the new year.  I'm finally feeling better, and it feels wonderful to sit down tonight and type up a few posts here on the blog.

This week I read and completed:

Both were absolutely phenomal books.  The review for Black Rose is up here, and the review for Red Lily should be up tomorrow.

Coming up this next week, I'd love to finish up:

I'm really looking forward to reading all of these, especially The Notebook, which is one of my favorites.  It's always a nice re-read and then I can finish it off by watching the movie!
Hope you have a wonderful week and happy reading!!

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