Jodi Picoult challenge

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm joining the Jodi Picoult Challenge hosted by Jennifer at crazy-for-books.

It is sort of an informal challenge in which she requires only that you read at least one of her (JP's) books this year!

I think I posted about my progress in reading her books here recently. I absolutely love her books which I started reading in 2005 with My Sister's Keeper. I continued to read her books and now buy them whenever they come out. In 2008, my mom, sister, and I drove over to St. Petersburg to attend a luncheon/ book signing that she was at for her Change of Heart tour. I believe my sister and mom have read all of her books, and I am aiming for that goal. But sometimes I get comfortable with challenges and never do them, lol! I have had a "goal" of completing all her books for the last 2 years and never got around to it. So in 2010, I will!

Here are what I have left to read:
  • Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992)
  • Harvesting the Heart (1993)
  • Plain Truth (1999)
  • Second Glance (2003)
  • House Rules (2010)

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Publish date: March 2, 2010

Eighteen-year old Jacob Hunt has Asperger's syndrome, and his devoted single mother, Emma, has built their family's life around Jacob's needs, sacrificing her career to act as his caregiver and all but ignoring a younger son, Theo. But when Jacob is accused of murder, that carefully crafted life comes apart, and all of the hallmarks of Jacob's diagnosis begin to make him look guilty. Emma hires a young attorney whose attachment to Jacob brings him close to the family as he struggles to mount a defense for Jacob, whose inability to read social cues makes him less than an ideal client. While Picoult's research is impeccable and she deals intelligently with charged questions about autism and Asperger's, the whodunit is stretched sitcom-thin and handled poorly, with characters withholding information from the reader throughout. Picoult's writing, line by line, is as smooth as ever, and she does a great job of getting into Jacob's head, but the wobbly plotting is a massive detriment.

Books for Christmas!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yes, I know I haven't been around for a while.
Where I once was endlessly addicted to the internet and visiting all my regular sites, I've now become in desperate need of the peacefulness afforded from not even turning on my computer. It's ironic since I've always considered reading and going online and whatnot forms of stress relief, but when I'm not careful these things turn into the source of anxiety and stress because there just isn't time for them and I try to squeeze them in anyway.
So please excuse my periodic absences from here!! Unless I say otherwise, I will always be back!

One real quick thing I wanted to note... has anyone been having trouble with google sites lately? I've had lots which is a problem because I have a work e-mail through there and a calendar I rely on. Not to mention google reader is on there. In fact, I tried to leave some comments this mornings on your blogs and it wouldn't let me. It was trying to make me pick a user profile but nothing was there in the drop down. Ugh!

That being said, how was everyone's Christmas? Mine was wonderful!! We were able to spend a good amount of time with both my family and his and had a great time with each.
I thought I would write a post about all the books I received this year!

The Gift of Therapy is written by a well-known and well-respected therapist, Irvin Yalom. When I say well-known and respected I mean that we learn about him in school and he is written about in our textbooks. This book (which I requested) is in the format of tips for the beginner therapist. Each tip is 1-3 pages long and he uses specific antecdotes from his experience. I started reading this one already and it's pretty good. There are some things he says I don't quite believe in, or at least I would not be ready to do yet, but he has definitely given me a LOT of good things to think about and I'm only about 1/3 through the book!

I've heard millions of wonderful things about this modern classic. My sister also has a copy that she hasn't yet read so hopefully we will read this one at the same time!

I was supposed to read Jane Eyre for my AP english class either junior or senior year. Well, I never finished it and have always (as an adult) wanted to read it. This edition includes a bunch of extras at the end such as essays written about it, critiques of a couple different movie versions, etc. This will also work for my Bronte sisters challenge. Can't wait to read it!

This is such an intriguing book. You know very little about the plot before going into it, but I've heard great things about it. My sister also thought it was great and so I recently borrowed it from her. Then one day my husband started questioning me about all the books I had borrowed/had out from the library. Turned out he had bought me this book after thoroughly checking my shelves to ensure I didn't already own it, and he freaked out when he later saw it on the shelf, lol! But I hadn't actually read it yet so I returned my sister's copy and hope to get this one soon!

I passed up the opportunity to early review this one. I've made a pact to accept only a very small number of reviews and only if I'm reallly interested in the book. In doing so, I run the risk of sometimes passing up great books, and so many people said this book was so great. So my husband remembered that and bought me this.

I've been intrigued in this book and have heard great things about it. Plus it incorporates the children's book The Secret Garden which is a wonderful book. It's also one my mother loves and I thought maybe if I love this too then I can lend it to her.

Best city ever! It covers generations and generations of a family living in New York as it grows and changes into the city it is today. I've heard some disappointing things about this but overall everyone seems to really like it. And I really love the cover!

And last but not least... my husband pre-ordered for me...

It was supposed to come in the week after Christmas, but the shipments all got delayed so mine will be shipped the week of January 4th. I'm super excited about it and already know a couple books I want to purchase for it. My hubby also got me a cover for it... the front picture is actually an insert where you can put your own picture.

And here are the two books I plan on buying when the nook arrives:

Keep an eye out for reviews of all these books!!!

Reviews still pending for books I have read:
  • Hunger Games
  • The Christmas Sweater
  • Through the Grinder (Coffeehouse Mystery #2)

Throwback Thursday

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Throwback Thursday – this is a weekly event hosted by me! It is the time each week to recognize those older books… an older book you’ve always wanted to read, or one that you have read and love; maybe one from your childhood; or review an older book -- how about even a classic! Leave a comment here and feel free to take an icon and use it on your blog!

This week's throwback is: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

From School Library Journal via Amazon:
This beloved classic by Barbara Robinson (HarpCollins, 1972) about six very unruly children who teach a whole church about the true meaning of the birth of Christ is brought to life by the narrator, C. J. Critt. By using only her voice, she gives each character its own personality. With slight voice inflections and gentle changes in the pacing of the narration, she gives listeners a real understanding of the story. While the pacing of the narration is at times a little fast during the body of the text, the pauses at commas, periods and between paragraphs are longer than normally heard in general conversation. While this doesn't distract from the pleasure of just listening to the story, it will cause some problems if used as a read-a-long with older students. Due to the subject matter, public school libraries will find its uses limited. Since the book and the TV movie are so popular, public libraries will find a built in audience.

I hardly even remember the details about this book but I remember it was funny and great! This was the cover on the one I had, but I don't know what ever happened to it!

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. I love the new icon!!!

Here's my pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection:

(can't believe I forgot to use this one until now)....

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 fails 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.

Release date: February 2, 2009

I love Kristin Hannah's books!!! Can't wait for this one to come out too!

Year of the Male Writers

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One of my goals for the upcoming year is to read some new authors I have been wanting to read. I've had many recommended to me and some are authors my husband loves to read but whose books I have yet to try. And when I was compiling a list of the authors I would like to read, realized they are ALL............... boys!! I felt sort of sexist when I realized the authors I was interested were all male, lol. Especially when I still read about injustices between the genders when it comes to publishing books. What I always found interesting was that I read mainly female authors, so it's actually very surprising to me that the ones I'm interested in are male. Here are a list of some of the authors I have on my list to read (or read more of if I've read only one).

  • Haruki Murakama
  • Nick Hornby
  • Christopher Moore
  • Chuck Palahniuk
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Jess Walter
  • Jonathan Tropper
  • Joshua Ferris
  • Stephen King
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Dennis Lehane
Not that I need them, but any other suggestions??

I think I'll also try another personal goal which I attempted but failed badly at this year: Complete all the books written by Jodi Picoult and Chris Bohjalian. I've read most of Jodi Picoult's books. In fact, I've read all but 3 of the 16 she has published. These 3 include the first 2 and then one other one that I put off because I already saw the Lifetime movie adaption on tv, lol. I love her books, so I don't know why I put off reading the other 3.

I also love the few books by Chris Bohjalian that I have read 4 of his 10 (well, 10 if you count the compilation of his weekly columns). I own most of the rest but, again, have put them off despite wanting to finish reading the rest. So, these are two things I think I'll try to again work on this year.

My other goal for the past 2 years has been to finish the Harry Potter series (I still need to finish #4). Again, a wonderful series that I do love, yet I keep putting it off.

What is my

My Year in Reading (2009)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's crazy how fast each year goes by, increasing in speed each year I get older!
I like looking back at what I read all year. It's crazy how the things I read in the beginning of the year I feel like I just read!

So here is a summary and smattering of my year in reading:

How amusing and ironic is it that I started off the year reading Multiple Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosselin! I'd only seen a few episodes of the show but was interested in the memoir they wrote. It was a quick, interesting read and I finished it that first day. Who knew just how much of this year would be taken up by news of the couple!

I read both New Moon and Eclipse that month, as well as Chelsea Cain's Sweetheart which is a great thriller series! I also read The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb, and ugh(!), that was sooo long and boring. It had good potential but tried to do too much.

Another that had good potential but ultimately disappointed was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I read in February. I enjoyed the first half but didn't like where it went after that. I also spent a few days that month away at a conference and have very clear memories of the books I took with me on that trip, lol! They include The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst, True Colors by Kristin Hannah, Oxygen by Carol Cassella, and While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky. (Actually I think I bought a couple of those while I was on my trip). I definitely didn't read all those while on my trip, but they were all very good!

The next 4 months were lacking in anything memorable. I did read Breaking Dawn that month which I did not like and thought was so weird. One of the prettiest covers of books I read this year was from June, Moloka'i. It was also very good. July brought the absolutely adorable Ella Minnow Pea. I started reading this one while laying out on a beach towel at the springs. Love when books bring back great memories from when I was reading them!

I started on a roll of great books in August, including my favorite of the year, Shanghai Girls by Lisa See!!! I also thoroughly enjoyed, that month, Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain, Crossing Washington Square by Joanne Rendell, and these were followed in my level of enjoyment by The Shadow of the Wind and Olive Kitteridge.

September brought a non-fiction book, which is different for me, NurtureShock. I loved this book though and thought it was so interesting! A great read for those who are interested in child psychology. Another great one from that month was the mother-daughter memoir, Bending Toward the Sun.

In October I took the latest from my favorite chick lit author, Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl, with me on my trip to NYC!! Despite a plane ride there and back and a few days spent with family in which I had plenty of reading time, I only read about half during that entire time! My trip was sooo fun and exciting that it even took away from me wanting to read. Anyway, though it was quite a bit ridiculous, I enjoyed that book. This was a slow month for me and the only other book I read was by a new-to-me author, Jess Walters. I reviewed his The Financial Lives of the Poets and will be looking for more books by him in the new year!

November and December were also filled with some wonderful books, but those are more recent so I'm sure you remember including The Help which FINALLY got around to reading and was so glad I did! I read Push by Sapphier prior to seeing the movie, Precious. I recently finished, but have yet to review, Little Bee, which is one I still need time to think about. And my last book of the year is After You by Julie Buxbaum which I'm enjoying!

In all, assuming I finish my current read by the end of the 31st, I will have read 85 books!

Below is a list of my top books for the year!

Best Published in 2009
  1. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  3. April and Oliver by Tess Callahan
  4. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
  5. NurtureShock by Po Bonson and Ashley Merryn
Runners Up Published in 2009
  1. Crossing Washington Square by Joanne Rendell
  2. The Memory Collector by Meg Gardiner
  3. While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky
  4. Oxygen by Carol Cassella
  5. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
  6. Matters of Faith by Kristy Kiernan

Best Series (started or continued) in 2009
  1. Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series by Chelsea Cain (Heartsick, Sweetheart, Evil at Heart)
  2. Jo Beckett series by Meg Gardiner (The Dirty Secrets Club, The Memory Collector)
  3. White House Chef series by Julie Hyzy (State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef)
Best Read in (but published prior to) 2009
  1. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  2. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
  3. The Dirty Secrets Club by Meg Gardiner

Guilty Pleasure Reads
(I really liked them but they don't go on a best of list)
  1. Unsweetined by Jodi Sweetin
  2. sTori Telling by Tori Spelling
Biggest Let Downs which means they wer built up really high first!
  1. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
  2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wrolbrewski

While I'm Falling

I've seen discussions by several different bloggers in which they talk about how their impressions of a book change over time. You might love a book when you first finish it only to later realize it was pretty forgettable after all. Or you may think a book was just 'meh' -- not so great and then realize later it has reached you in some way you didn't realize it would.

That was sort of how I felt with While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty. I "read" (audio book) The Rest of Her Life last year and really enjoyed it so I had high hopes for this one. In While I'm Falling, Victoria, a junior in college, is living every girl's typical college experience when her parents unexpectedly separate. They were living the outwardly perfect marriage until the father comes home to find another man in his wife's bed.

This leads to the demise of the parents as Victoria knew them. She finds herself moving from the position of child to that of the adult having to care for her parents. It's a situation that many adults will relate to. Moriarty tackles that awkward moment when you realize your parents aren't the perfect adults you may have once thought they were.

There were things I didn't care for in this book, and this was why I had the initial feelings of dislike. The plot seemed a little stifled. Conflict would arise but then fizzle out without having moved in any direction. A few times I wondered what the point was or where that storyline went. I disliked both the parents but especially that of the mother. I believe the reader was supposed to have some empathy for the mother, but I found her ridiculous. I know people can fall hard when their lives change so much, but it didn't seem justified to me. The overall tone was glum, and the main character, Veronica, was pretty depressing. The narration maintained my interest at times and lost me at others. And although most of the book was from Veronica's point of view, there were one or two random chapters from the mother's point of view; the randomness of that threw me off.

My initial thoughts upon finishing the book were that the author could have made her points with a more engaging storyline (and I still agree). I was sure this would be a forgettable book. But like an aftertaste, I held onto something and I realized I liked the main character after all, despite her sullenness. I didn't care for the family and all the situations, but then, neither did Veronica most of the time. She managed with what she had and grew a little as a person throughout.

This book was okay. I would recommend it if you're already a fan of Laura Moriarty, but otherwise, I wouldn't start with this one.

The Help

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett has been lauded throughout the blogosphere and bookstores as one of the best books of 2009. It has been on the best selling list since its release in February of this year. In fact, it was slated to come out in paperback, but this date was pushed back due to the generous sales in hardcover that have yet to slow down.

You might have been able to tell by some of my reviews lately that I am sometimes hard on books, especially when I hear such rave reviews and am less than crazy impressed. But I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Help and agree with it being one of the best of 2009.

A quick summary for those of you who haven't read it a million times already (hehe)... The book takes place in 1960's Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights era. Minny and Aibileen are two African American maids that work for yuppy/junior league society women. One of the women, "Skeeter" Phelan, is more forward thinking than the other women and takes the injustices of the civil rights into her own hands by deciding to write a book about it. She enlists the help of Aiblieen and Minny to gather stories from many different maids in the community. Meanwhile, she writes the book anonymously without deluging the town because of the unrest and controversy she would start.

The Help is told from three narrative points of view; Minny, Aibileen, and Skeeter. The characters are immediately engaging and maintained my interest throughout the book. The storyline was well paced and put together as well. Seeing as how I wasn't alive in the 1960's, and even if I were, my family was not the kind that had maids of any race or ethnicity, I was appalled at the way in which these women were treated. What makes it worse is that the white women actually believed they were being nice and/or were doing their maids a favor by treating them what they thought was kindly. As I said in my Sunday Salon post after I finished this, " it [definitely] roused some passionate feelings in me about race, prejudice, ignorance, and hypocrisy." This is a book that has stayed with me and that I will share with others and read again. It makes you think a little about social injustices, how far we've come, and yet how far we have to go.

I do have to mention that I didn't care for the ending. It wasn't awful but I would have liked it better if some certain things had been different. Also, I'm unsure how I feel about the fact that this story is very similar to the author's upbringing. I truly disliked the majority of the "employers" in this book and wonder how much of this story was true to the author's own life experiences. But regardless, the author did do a good job in both the writing of this book and in telling the story.

This is also the only book I have yet to read from the Fall Into Reading Challenge!

The Sunday Salon

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Sunday everyone! I am off to work. Again. I literally work every day when you count my counseling internship, so it's really been no fun lately! I have been somewhat disconnected/unplugged lately and it's actually been pretty nice. I tend to get "sucked in" to the internet and will literally be online for hours. So it's pretty relaxing and peaceful to not have that mind addiction!

I still haven't done a whole lot of reading though. I finished The Hunger Games and also just finished last night The Christmas Sweater. That was the first one in the holiday challenge and I was disappointed in it. =( I still have reviews to do for those two and the two I mentioned last week. I've just been so busy! I have a few days off next week so I'm really looking forward to that. (And I also have a request pending for a few days after Christmas too, so hopefully I'll be getting some rest soon). I haven't yet chosen the next book to start reading. I have a ton of library books as well as a bunch I've bought recently.

Hopefully I'll get all those posted soon!

The Outlander Reading Challenge

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Okay, I am going to attempt to do the Outlander Reading Challenge. I've only heard a million times that this series are the best books ever. I started to do a read-a-long on paperbackswap sometime last year but got about halfway through and for whatever reason never got any further. So I'm going to try this again, though I'm not going to pressure myself too much. Haven't decided yet if I'm going to start all over or pick up from where I'm already at. We'll see how far I get!

Here are the rules:

1. Anytime between Nov. 17th, 2009, and Nov. 17th, 2010, read the entire Outlander series. ((You do not have to start on Nov. 17th you can start the challenge anytime in the course of the challenge you like there is not any right or wrong way to do it.)) Read Outlander through the latest book An Echo in the Bone. (Any format is acceptable - be it paperback, hardback, ebook format, or audio *the unabridged audio is best as you will miss a LOT of the stories if you get the abridged versions, but is not strictly required*.

**There is also a companion book to the series called The Outlandish Companion this is a fun and informative look at the series, but is NOT required to be read for this challenge. However if you would like to add it to your list feel more than free to do so. It is a lot of fun and there are a lot of things that Diana explains in it from her point of view think of it as a behind the scenes look at the series.**

2. Sign up here by leaving a comment to this post telling me that you would like to join. Please include your blog address as well if you would like to blog about the challenge, so that I can link to your posts. *Please note that you do not have to have a blog or website to participate.*

3. Come back and leave a post at the seperate book posts here *see the list on the right side of the blog here there is one for each book* and I will link your progress and your posts to the books as you complete each one.

4. Enjoy yourself don't stress and have fun with it! That's all there is to it now see that was pretty painless wasn't it. :)

2010 Young Adult Reading Challenge

Hosted by Jkaye

Rules are listed below. I will be doing: The Mini YA Reading Challenge -- Read 12 Young Adult novels.

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. --Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:--The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels. --Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.--Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.--Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

3. Audio, eBooks, paper 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. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.

2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge

Hosted by Jkaye

The rules are below. I am going to do: The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books
I'm constantly checking books out and not getting a chance to read them before I return them. So I guess I'm still supporting them, but I will try to actually read those books too, haha.

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. --Non-Bloggers: Post your list of books in the comment section of the wrap-up post. To learn how to sign up without having a blog, click here.

2. There are four levels:--The Mini – Check out and read 25 library books. --Just My Size – Check out and read 50 library books.--Stepping It Up – Check out and read 75 library books.--Super Size Me – Check out and read 100 library books.(Aim high. As long as you read 25 by the end of 2010, you are a winner.)

3. Audio, Re-reads, eBooks, YA, Young Reader – any book as long as it is checked out from the library count. Checked out like with a library card, not purchased at a library sale.

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. Crossovers from other reading challenges count.

6. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.