Girls Like Us: Fighting for a World Where Girls are Not for Sale

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Title: Girls Like Us
Subtitle: Fighting for a World Where Girls are Not for Sale
Author: Rachel Lloyd
Pages: 268
Genre: Non-Fiction; Memoir; Sociology
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper)
Pub. Date: April 5, 2011 (hardcover); February 28, 2012 (paperback)


I had been interested in reading this book ever since I saw it when perusing the sociology section at my local Barnes & Noble one day. I never got to it so I was ecstatic when I saw that this was going to be touring with TLC Book Tours. It's fairly short which, from the outside, disguises the immense power and impact that this book has. I read it slowly because I found myself stopping between its pages, pondering everything I was reading. Maybe it's my social work background and experience working with sex crime cases, but I feel like I don't have the words to express how important I think this book is for everyone to read. There was so much I wanted to quote from this book, but I limited it to what I included here.

Girls Like Us is part memoir of Rachel Lloyd, founder and executive director of GEMS (Girls Educational & Mentoring Services) and part exposition on issues related to the commercial sexual exploitation of young girls in America. People tend to relate the trafficking of young girls for sex to other, third-world countries. But it's also happening right within our borders. (Not to mention, for those of you local, a lot in Central Florida as well). Lloyd started GEMS in her mid-twenties after escaping from a life of being commercially sexually exploited. Girls Like Us is very astutely divided into chapters that focus on the different factors that relate to these crimes including risk factors, family dynamics that place girls at risk of being victimized, recruitment of girls, why girls stay in these situations, pimps, johns, stigma, healing, etc. Each chapter provides information about that specific factor and also Lloydy's past experiences that relate to that factor from beginning through the creation of GEMS. She also provides various stories about the many girls who have received support and other services from GEMS.

There is so, so much I could discuss about this book. It was an emotional read for me but often in an intensely angry way. Especially in the discussions about how our society treats these young girls. There is such a disparity between how our society perceives the girls based on their ethnicity and social class; while some are easily perceived as outright victims and given tons of media coverage, others (even those as young as eleven and twelve years old!!) are considered criminals who choose this life of "prostitution" and whose victimizations, sometimes as far as murders, are not even mentioned in the media. As Lloyd points out, how is it that our country considers teens not mature enough and capable of consenting to sex until the age of sixteen, yet girls younger than that who are beaten, manipulated, and essentially enslaved by men much older and forced into sex acts are considered culpable. Even the programs that understand this and provide treatment are limited to how much they can provide.
"No program would take Tiffany: She didn't have a drug problem, a prerequisite for most programs that cater to her age. One night she disappeared for a few hours and returned proudly announcing that she'd smoked crack and was now eligible for the drug program, but we had to hurry [because] she wasn't sure how long it would be in her system." (p.25)
The following quote really spoke to me about the ultimate despair these girls often end up feeling.
"I already feel like my life won't last much longer. I've made arrangements with some of the girls at work that if I don't come in for a few days, they should know that JP definitely did it, the spare keys are under the mat, here's my mum's address, get my stash money from the kebab shop to pay for shipping my body home. I've just turned nineteen, but I doubt I'll make it to twenty. This man will take my life. I'm not even scared anymore, just resigned to the fact." (p.92-93)
Another thing that particularly enraged me was the way our pop culture has elevated celebrities who glamorize the act of pimping; this includes rappers who do so being given multi million dollar endorsement deals. She speaks about her horror when watching the 78th Academy Awards when the song "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" won for Best Original Song.
"As I watched the audience and subsequent presenters embrace the moment, perhaps because they thought it was a great song, perhaps because they thought they were embracing 'black culture,' not understanding that these images did not represent or benefit it, or perhaps because to them, pimps were larger-than-life caricatures, driving Cadillacs and sporting diamond pinkie rings, I couldn't help but think of all the girls I've visited in hospitals, girls with lifelong scars, girls traumatized and broken, girls who've been brainwashed, girls who'd been beaten for not meeting their 'quota.' In my world, pimps are not managers, protectors, or 'market facilitators,' as one research study euphemistically called them, but leeches sucking the souls from beautiful, bright young girls, predators who scour the streets, the group homes, and junior high schools stalking their prey." (p.90)
Despite the horror described within its pages, there are also stories of resilience and girls who eventually are able to overcome their traumatic histories (including the author herself). The writing was also excellent (the author happens to be a book lover as well!) and the layout and organization of the book was superb. I want EVERYONE to read this!! I want my clients to read this (I have specific people in mind), my colleagues for sure, everyone who is a part of our society. These stories are examples of why I pursued social work in the first place and now that I've chosen to work with individuals on a one-on-one basis, it confirms my thoughts and considerations of pursuing a specialization in trauma therapy. If this topic or human rights, in general, interests you at all please consider reading this. Also check out the GEMS website!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour.
Follow the rest of the tour at the websites below.

Wednesday, February 29th: The House of the Seven Tails
Thursday, March 1st: Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, March 5th: The Feminist Texican
Tuesday, March 6th: Book Hooked Blog
Wednesday, March 7th: Sidewalk Shoes
Thursday, March 8th: Melody & Words
Monday, March 12th: Elle Lit
Tuesday, March 13th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Wednesday, March 14th: Books Like Breathing
Friday, March 16th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Monday, March 19th: The Englishist
Wednesday, March 21st: Buried in Print
Thursday, March 22nd: Broken Teepee

Winner: The Darlings

Saturday, February 25, 2012



The lucky winner of the giveaway for The Darlings by Cristina Alger is.....


JHS!!!






2012 UCF Book Festival

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


It's about that time of year... the third annual UCF Book Festival (in Orlando, Florida) will be taking place on Saturday, March 31, 2012!!

I blogged about last year's event here. It was seriously so much fun!!

(And for fellow bloggers, we will have another get together!! Let me know if you'll be there so I can have an idea how big the group will be.)

From now until the event, I will be posting some reviews (or book spotlights, at the very least) of books whose authors will be there. The full list of authors is below but includes some blogger favorites such as Joshilyn Jackson, Ted Dekker, Sharyn McCrumb, Daniel and Michael Palmer, Jessica Martinez, Ellen Hopkins, and Karen White.

So who all (besides Heather and Sandy who will be there for sure!) plans on being there??

Keynote Author
Featured Authors
Authors
Children's Authors

Drifting House (Review & Giveaway)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Title: Drifting House
Author: Krys Lee
Pages: 207
Genre: Fiction; Short Stories
Publisher: Viking (Penguin)
Pub. Date: February 2, 2012


Drifting House is made up of nine short stories about Korean families dealing with loss and the separation of their families. They were all heart breaking in different ways but were true to the dynamics of all families across the board.

My favorite story, though it was so sorrowful, was actually the title story, Drifting House. Two boys and their young sister are abandoned by their mother who defects to China from North Korea. The siblings take off on their own to escape and find their mother. But it's a difficult and scary journey and the children are forced to make some horrible, awful decisions in order to catch up to their mother. Their decisions haunt them as they try to finish an already terrifying journey. As they often do, stories about children dealing with such adult issues tears at my heart, so even though this story was so sad, I felt so much for the children and wanted to protect them. And imagine the initial horror of being abandoned by their mother in such a way!

A few of the stories told about families who were separated between Korea and the U.S. In A Temporary Marriage, a woman saves up money to move to the U.S. and find her daughter who has been taken there by her father. In The Goose Father, a man learns to live alone while his family lives overseas, and he takes in a young boy for a roommate who brings with him a goose. The Salaryman is told in second person narrative and is about a man who becomes homeless after losing his job, leaving him separated from his family. Other families are separated because of death or, in one case, a mother who is institutionalized.

The stories were all well written, BUT I didn't always *get* them. It's sort of a common affliction for me when it comes to literary short stories. But I think that anyone who enjoys short stories and stories about other cultures will enjoy this one. The Korean culture was reflected subtly throughout the various stories; things like respecting those who are older than you, older siblings, etc; the different titles to refer to older siblings; the pridefulness in some of the men; the situations the characters were dealt. All that being said, if you've read my blog for a while you may know that I DO NOT LIKE stories involving incest. That is the one thing I tend to have extreme difficulty reading, so I was highly disappointed to find that in one story in Drifting House. It wasn't as unnecessary as I thought in other books... if I wanted to think about it I guess I could see the point of it in the story, but, ugh, I am just not a fan of that. I can say, though, that you shouldn't let that sway you if you are otherwise interested in reading these stories.

And if you are interested, you're in luck because the publisher is allowing me to do a giveaway for Drifting House! This is for the U.S. and Canada only. Just fill out the form below. I will choose and announce a winner on Saturday, February 3, 2012.

Kristin Hannah Book Signing

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This past Thursday my sister and I went down to the Vero Beach Book Center for a book signing event with Kristin Hannah. I've read nine of her books including her latest, Home Front, which I just reviewed earlier this week. She talked about how she became a writer and how she originally wrote historical romances before switching to contemporary stories. She also identified her four favorite books she's written! (Magic Hour, Firefly Lane, Home Front, and Winter Garden). She wouldn't say, though, which were her least favorite. ;) She talked about writing her books long-hand while sitting on the beach in Hawaii (where she lives for six months out of the year). She also talked about how her son thinks all the books are written about him which was funny, especially the story she told along with it. It was a fun event and we were both glad we went. I purchased the reprint of Magic Hour for her to sign since that remains my very favorite of the all her books that I've read. I recently introduced my sister to Hannah's books, so she purchased Firefly Lane (my second favorite!) for her to sign and which she has yet to read (and will love!) My sister started with Magic Hour at my recommendation and loved it too. I love when that happens!

As always, the Vero Beach Book Center was wonderful. I love their set up, and they always have great author events! It's definitely a great independent book store, if you ever happen to be in the southern central Florida area!

(However, one thing I wish would have been done better... they said that we should go up one row at a time, in order, to have our books signed. As soon as it was over, the majority of the people rushed to the front into a blob of a line while a few of us rule-followers waited in our seats as we were told!)

Picture is me, Kristin Hannah (duh), and my sister, Jackie.

The Darlings (review & giveaway)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Title: The Darlings
Author: Cristina Alger
Pages: 338
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking (Penguin)
Pub. Date: February 16, 2012


Don't you just love the cover for this?  This is what initially peaked my interest, especially since it's clearly New York City! And then I read that it was about a wealthy New York family and a financial scandal and I was hooked. Last year I was fascinated when I read Tangled Webs, a non-fiction book about perjury which included the story about the Madoff ponzi scheme scandal. The Darlings definitely paralleled this scandal in many ways.

The Darlings is centered around the Darling family comprised of dad Carter, mom Ines, and their daughters Lily and Merrill. Adrian and Paul, married to Lily and Merrill, respectively, both work for Carter at his financial company, Delphic. For Paul, especially, the job as general counsel for Delphic is sort of a godsend, as his last place of business, Howary, was closed down during the financial crisis of 2008 after being investigated by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). But then admidst the financial difficulties, when a close family friend and CEO of one of Delphic's fund management companies (ack, I do NOT know these terms accurately even after reading this) commits suicide, things start to quickly unravel and a financial scandal of epic proportions is revealed. Paul figures things out and has to decide if whether to risk his marriage by separating himself from the Darlings to save himself or to stick with the family he's grown so close to, potentially going down with them.

This story was actually a lot less about just Paul than I expected and more about all the various people related to the scandal. The chapters are narrated from the viewpoints of various people including Paul, Lily, Merrill, Carter, Ines, Carter's lawyer, Sol, Sol's secretary, Yvonne, journalist and friend of the family, Duncan, and his assistant, Marina. I really liked that it was narrated this way for a couple reasons. First, for me it provided the symbolism of this overarching scandal falling upon all these people. I liked this following description about how fragile everything had become.
"'What are you going to do?' Paul asked. He spoke as quietly as he could, as if they were inside a china teacup. The world felt so fragile that the very reverberations of his voice might crack it." 'What are we going to do?'" (p.247)
While they weren't all affected financially (for instance, the assistants didn't have, I don't think, money invested with Delphic) they all had a part in perpetuating and/or revealing the scandal while others were affected on a more personal level. Each chapter was also titled with the day and time (most of the book taking place over Thanksgiving week), and this maintained a feel of immediacy in the story. There was also a subtle tension that kept me hooked to the story, not wanting to be away from it for long.

But second, this book also briefly told the stories of each of these individuals and how they came to be New Yorkers and what that meant for them. I thought this was a great way to incorporate the essence of New York City into a story about high society New York's financial scandal.  And the thoughts about the city were told from both angles. For instance:
"One thing he loved about New York was the sharpness of the seasons. There was something electric about winter coming to the city. It was gritty and cold but also wondrously beautiful. The dark army of trees on Park Avenue came alive with lights at night; the store displays on Fifth Avenue were gaudy and gorgeous, as were the throngs of holiday shoppers that clogged the sidewalks. Snow in New York turned quickly into a blackened slush along the curbs, but for the first brief moment, it would dust the sidewalks like confectioners' sugar and transform the city's skyline into a perfect, tiered wedding cake." (p. 32)
Overall, I thought The Darlings was the perfect amalgamation of white collar suspense and homage to life in New York City. (Clearly, this will be added to my New York Shelf)!

I'm super excited to be able to offer a giveaway from the publisher for a copy of The Darlings! To enter just fill out the form below! The winner will be chosen and announced on Saturday, February 25, 2012.


I've Got Your Number

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Title: I've Got Your Number
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Pages: 448
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: The Dial Press (Random House)
Pub. Date: February 14, 2012


Every time Sophie Kinsella has a new book come out, I'm taken back in my memories to my college days when the first book in her shopaholic series came out, Confessions of a Shopaholic. Since then I have had so much fun reading her books. And, sadly, I was able to relate to her shopaholic character a little too much. (Thank goodness I grew.. okay mostly grew... out of that!) Since those days my reading tastes have changed and I don't really read any other similar authors, but I've still read all of Kinsella's books (with the exception of the two most recent in the Shopaholic series). So I was intrigued when I saw that she had a new one coming out. Turns out this one was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I read it!

I've Got Your Number starts out when Poppy Wyatt loses her engagement ring which happens to be a family heirloom that her wealthy husband gave her upon his proposal. As she's searching the hotel ballroom for it, the hotel has a fire drill that rushes everyone outside. Then while she's frantically holding her cell phone out in front of her to find a signal to call someone about the ring, someone rides by and steals it out of her hand. But wait, shortly after, she finds a cell phone discarded in a bin (a garbage can, I think) and uses that. (I know, so unrealistic, but still fun to read about). Turns out the phone belonged to a personal assistant who quit her job in the middle of the day. While Poppy freaks out about finding her ring (and other marriage related things), she also has to field all the e-mails and text messages that are sent to the boss of the former personal assistant. So then Poppy and this other guy start to communicate through text messages which leads to a bunch of funny and awkward situations.

The synopsis sounded just "eh" to me when I first read it, but it worked really well. And although there are text messages and e-mails throughout the book, it was in no way one of those books based around that type of communication. It fit in just like regular dialogue. Poppy is a naive and somewhat flighty girl that could really be the same character as in any of the other books. But the hijinks she gets herself into were hilarious! Especially the ones at the times that really mattered like when getting together with her future in-laws or when she decides to deal with the boss's e-mails all on her own.

I'm a lot like Poppy in the way I send text messages and e-mails... lots of emphasis on exclamation marks and smiley faces! And it irks me when I interact with others who are very curt or short. It's something I've had to adjust to and learn from! So I thought that was funny. And while the story was predictable, I also thought it had a good message about being more assertive and feeling more confident about yourself. If I were younger like maybe in college, I think I would have really benefited from that message shown through this funny and lighthearted story.

And I love this cover! Love the silhouettes against the pink and black skyline backdrop, and those text bubbles comfort me... I love texting, haha!

I would recommend I've Got Your Number to all Kinsella fans and anyone who is looking for a light, funny read!

Home Front

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Title: Home Front
Author: Kristin Hannah
Pages: 400
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
Pub. Date: January 31, 2012


In her latest book, Kristin Hannah takes on the topics of both marriage and war and the dynamics of a marriage affected by war. Home Front was what I've come to expect from Hannah, another great story with characters I care about and a story that gives me a good cry.

Michael and Jolene Zarkades have been married for 13 years, and their marriage is in a rut. They met when they were young and were both at a time in their lives when the other fit what they needed and were looking for at the time. But as it often happens, they've grown up and changed in many ways, and their marriage has started to stall. Jolene has been in the National Guard reserves, and just when her marriage starts to really crumble, she is deployed to Iraq. As unimaginably difficult as that is, it's worsened by the fact that Michael lacks any support for his wife. Instead, he feels anger toward her for leaving the family for him to take care of and partaking in a war that he doesn't even believe in. Jolene, on the other hand, does her best to protect her family by sheltering them from the truths of her situation, even telling them, falsely, that female pilots are not allowed in combat. Then a tragedy happens, and the entire family has to learn to cope with the scary aftermath and adjust to the new dynamics in their family. There's also a minor secondary storyline regarding a client that Michael, a defense attorney, is working to defend. His storyline supplements the main one regarding Michael and Jolene's marriage.

What I liked about Home Front was that it took an important topic of military families coping with the effects of a family member being a soldier and puts the unique spin of having the matriarch of the family the one who is in the military. It's unique because it's a perspective we don't often hear about, though there are many women in our military. We see how having the wife and mother of the family at war has a tremendous impact on the family. Michael and Jolene have two daughters, 12 and 4, neither who can truly understand Jolene either. Her 12-year-old has an especially difficult time with it and acts out angrily, especially toward her mother. And we also see the turmoil that Jolene deals with as she balances her desire to serve her country with the terrible feelings of having to be separated from her children.

The thing that most got me in Home Front, though, was the portrayal of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Hannah did an excellent job of portraying the nuances of the disorder and the subsequent dynamics it produces in the family. It's a mental health issue that is frustrating from both sides but devastating for the person affected who is never at peace; it's devastating for the family members who have essentially lost the person they knew. As a reader, it was frustrating to see the wall that was built by the affected person and their inability to connect in any way with other people, even family members. It was so saddening to see the continued hurt in the loved ones who yearned for the person they loved. I thought this was realistically done and also really exemplified the tremendous need we have for more resources and services to be available to those suffering returning from war, specifically those suffering from PTSD.

Home Front gave me a close look at a family affected by war. I truly admire the bravery, courage, and strength of the those in our military as well as their families. It's a role I don't know if I could fulfill sanely. I do wonder, though, if those who have loved ones in the military and/or currently deployed would be able to handle this story. If it were me, I wouldn't want to read about the things Jolene knows and thinks about in Home Front. While I'd still consider a few others of Hannah's books my favorites, I enjoyed this one and would continue to recommend any of her books.

**My sister and I will be attending Kristin Hannah's book signing later this week!! I will write a post about that soon!**

The Orphan Master's Son

Friday, February 10, 2012

Title: The Orphan Master's Son
Author: Adam Johnson
Pages: 443
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: January 10, 2012


I was so excited to read this book. So much so that I decided to purchase the hardcover rather than wait maybe a couple more days to be approved for the digital netgalley version (which is free! and for which I was approved shortly thereafter). But I figured I'd want to own it anyway and loan it out. Well, as it turns out, I had an incredibly difficult time getting through this one. I trudged through this book that took me almost two weeks to read!! Here's the thing, though. It's received so many rave reviews from the professional book reviewing industry that, though I know the casual reader sometimes has differing opinions, I still wonder if it's just me. I will say that in some ways I was reminded of my experience with The Tiger's Wife where yes, I could see that it was beautiful and good and all but where a lot of it just went over my head.

The Orphan Master's Son is mostly about Pak Jun Do who grows up in a North Korean orphanage that his father runs. Yet, his father treats him just like the other orphans. This part of the book is really about a page (or maybe a chapter) long... this book is NOT about Jun Do's childhood. Instead it races through that part quickly showing us how he spent time as a kidnapper and then on a fishing boat, one of few North Koreans who is exposed to life outside their country. Because of good deeds he had been sent to an English language school and was able to pick up some of the language which helped in some of the future missions. One such mission is to travel to Texas to build a relationship with a senator and some other important people. The theme coursing throughout this entire book is the characters slowly realizing the true ways of their country so, in a way, this trip starts to make Jun Do really think. Then the whole second part of the book is the actions and recourse taken after the return from Texas. Jun Do impersonates a famous person and begins to try to manipulate "The Dear Leader" whose name I choose not to write in my blog! (On another note how weird that in real life he passed away just before the release of this book!) We then learn the story of all the events that occur after the Texas trip through three narrators, Jun Do, an interrogator, and through the unreliable narration of the North Korean loudspeakers relating the story to their citizens.

I will say the three-part-narration was interesting and artsy. I imagine Johnson's writing style in that sense is part of what the critics love about this book. That and the imagined life inside a country shut off from the entire world. Initially I had some difficulty getting into the book because the characters were so different than what I had read about last year in non-fiction Nothing to Envy... There I read about characters who believed everything they were told and adored their country (which we have in this book too), but the ones in that book who thought about defecting seemed much more progressive in their thinking whereas the characters in this book who even considered it were more ambiguous in their thinking... I just had a difficult time relating. Then it was the fishing boat thing which didn't interest me and I didn't really understand what was going on. I just spent a lot of time not completely sure what was happening or what the point was. The second half of the book was better, specifically the last quarter or so of the book when we start to learn about what all really happened.

Another thing that probably swayed me was the overwhelming and oppressive melancholy in the story. It's a feeling very similar to what I had when reading 1984... scary in a true nightmarish kind of way. I'd say it's natural based on the topic, but the aforementioned non-fiction on the same topic had a much more hopeful feel. This book imagined a very harsh peek inside the closed up country where every moment of every second of these people's lives was controlled and anxiously unpredictable.

Johnson is a good writer and he put together a feat of a book. I do foresee this potentially being movie material and maybe ending up on some literary lists. I can't really say that I enjoyed the reading experience, and I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to many people; but I can say, since it's been a couple weeks since I read it, that I can appreciate it a little better now looking back. But that's it.

Faith

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Title: Faith
Author: Jennifer Haigh
Pages: 318
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: May 10, 2011 (hardcover); January 17, 2012 (paperback)


I was incredibly excited to read this book because of all the amazing reviews I read from other bloggers. I wasn't disappointed; it was a great story, though sad. Faith is told mostly from the viewpoint of Sheila McGann, as she comes to terms with the fact that her priest brother, Father Breen, has been accused of sexually abusing a child. This allegation moves the story forward, but it is really about the family's reaction to the allegations as well as how their family members became the people they were.

More so than the family's reaction, though, this is about the reactions of Sheila and her other brother, Mike, as they deal with the thought that their own brother did what he was accused of. One of them believes the allegations and one doesn't, but both find themselves doubting their initial thoughts. We also learn about the relationship between the priest and the boy he is accused of molesting and that child's mother. The story is told by Sheila relating it from what she learned after the fact from talking to all the people involved.

This was a quick and absorbing read. What kept me reading was not just wanting to know the truth but also being alongside the siblings as they worked through their own struggles. The details provided make you wonder and doubt back and forth about what really happened. I had read other reviews that said the book never does say what really happened, but that's not true at all... the book makes clear one way or another what happened. This book was also less about religion than I expected, though there is discussion among the characters about Catholicism. But regardless, Faith was more about the family and sibling dynamics, and I recommend it for anyone interested in those kinds of stories.

Follow the entire tour for the reviews of not just Faith, but Jennifer Haigh's first three books as well:

 

Tuesday, January 17th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner (Baker Towers)
Tuesday, January 17th: The Lost Entwife (Faith)
Wednesday, January 18th: The Feminist Texican [Reads] (The Condition)
Thursday, January 19th: Book Addiction (Mrs. Kimble)
Monday, January 23rd: Teresa’s Reading Corner (Mrs. Kimble)
Tuesday, January 24th: Book Hooked Blog (Faith)
Thursday, January 26th: Amusing Reviews (Faith)
Friday, January 27th: Book Journey (The Condition)
Monday, January 30th: Melody & Words (Faith)
Monday, January 30th: Coffee and a Book Chick (Baker Towers)
Tuesday, January 31st: Write Meg (Faith)
Wednesday, February 1st: Unabridged Chick (Baker Towers)
Thursday, February 2nd: Broken Teepee (Faith)
Monday, February 6th: Unabridged Chick (Faith)
Tuesday, February 7th: Take Me Away (Faith)
Wednesday, February 8th: The Crazy Life of a Bookaholic Mom (Baker Towers)
Thursday, February 9th: Elle Lit. (The Condition)
Tuesday, February 14th: A Bookish Way of Life (The Condition)
Wednesday, February 15th: Book Club Classics! (Faith)
Wednesday, February 22nd: Chunky Monkey (Faith)
Thursday, February 23rd: Life is Short. Read Fast. (Faith)
Monday, February 27th: The Scarlet Letter (Faith)
Wednesday, February 29th: Reflections of a Bookaholic (Baker Towers)
Thursday, March 1st: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom (Baker Towers)
TBD: A Cozy Reader’s Corner (Mrs. Kimble)

January in Review

Thursday, February 2, 2012

J A N U A R Y

Reading and Reviews
One month down already! January is usually THE BEST month for reading for me, typically taking down 10-15 books easily. I wasn't quite so fortunate this year (read 7), but I do feel that I'm slowly but surely returning to my previous reading days and figuring out how to maximize my time with work so that I can take advantage of some free time. I'm also getting more into audio... I listened to the same number of audio books this month as I did in the past five years total, LOL.... that number is very low, but it's helping out with my total count. (I just got my "free" credit from the month from Audible... I'm thinking of 11/22/63.. but first I need to finish the one I'm listening to now!)

Here are the books I reviewed this month:
  1. Little Princes by Connor Grennan
  2. The Submission by Amy Waldman
  3. The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 1 by hitRECord & Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  4. The Chalk Girl by Carol O'Connell
  5. American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar
  6. The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen
  7. Bond Girl by Erin Duffy
  8. Helpless by Daniel Palmer
I doubled my goal so far for posting at least ONE review per week. I love these lists too because the months always seem to fly by but when I recap everything I read, the earlier books feel like they were reviewed or read sooo long ago that I realize that time is actually not flying by so scary fast, haha!

Books read this month but not yet reviewed here:
  1. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (okay..)
  2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (loved!)
  3. Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman (okay..)
  4. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson (my feelings are complicated... you'll see what I mean when I post my review).
And in case you missed it, here's my book-to-movie review of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Giveaway Issue?
One thing I noticed was interesting, I had a giveaway recently for Bond Girl. I really enjoyed it, but I wonder if my review didn't demonstrate that. I had an extremely small number of people enter the giveaway... I don't think I've ever had that low of a turnout. I wondered if it was because I added a field for address in the giveaway form. Is it possible that people didn't want to leave that so they didn't enter? My page views, which I rarely check but did in this case because I was confused, were average. I'm not going to use the address field on my next giveaway and see if that changes anything!

Savannah Trip!
Oh, I'm super excited.. a few friends and I are planning a trip to Savannah later this spring. I wasn't sure what all there was to do there but I looked around online and found some things that look fun. Any suggestions? Also, I saw they have a tour related to the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which I have NOT read yet so my plan is to read that soon because I'd like to do the tour. I hear it's a good book (and I want to watch the movie). So any suggestions for things to do, bookish and non, are appreciated!!

I need to discuss this book..
I have written the review already for The Orphan Master's Son and will probably post it soon (I'm trying to keep my reviews spaced out), but I'm interested in talking about it. I was really disappointed in it but the more I think about it the more I appreciate it. Yeah, it's one of those for me. Has anyone else read this yet?

UCF Book Festival and Blogger Get Together
Oh, one more thing... Heather and Sandy have already mentioned it, but this year's UCF Book Festival is this year on March 31, 2012! (I'm trying to make sure my girls' trip doesn't coincide with this...!!) We talked briefly about doing another get together this year for local bloggers... who all would be interested in attending??

Okay, I think that's it for now. Happy February!