Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our 12 Best Reads of 2011




Here is a list we each made of our top 12 reads this year. It is never easy to choose only 12 because we read so many, but these are the ones we narrowed it down to. We've included the links to our reviews of the books for your further reading. You will note that several are on both of our lists.

Our Top Favorites That We Both Liked:

Gerard's Other Top 8 books of 2011 out of 157 books:


Karen's Other Top 8 books of 2011 out of 106 Books


Gerard bought me a Kindle for my birthday so I'm not sure if we can always include our books in our header like we have been doing, but so far we have.  I get the book from the library as well so I can take a picture of the cover to include it.  I am also considering changing our blog template to show more of our posts but think I'll lose our header.  We appreciate all our readers and are excited to see this blog has actually caught up to our Right Where We Belong one in number of followers!  HAPPY NEW YEAR AND HAPPY READING!

Have you read any of these? If so, feel free to share the link to your review.  If not, you definitely should! Do you have any "best reads" you think we should read?

Last day to help The Cleveland Pregnancy Center just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo

Abby thinks you should read this one!
Because of Winn-DixieBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a young girl who befriends a dog that she names Winn-Dixie, after the store where she found him. Because of the dog, she gets to become friends with other people in the neighborhood. It's a very short children's book but I enjoyed it! The story is well told.
(Gerard's Review:  My rating: 3 of 5 stars)



Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Friday, December 30, 2011

"The Boy in the Moon" by Ian Brown (Non-fiction)


I enjoyed The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown, a non-fiction book. Ian's son, Walker, is severely disabled with C.F.C., a rare condition that only 100 people in the whole world have! This disease is a hodgepodge of a lot of issues. I respect Ian and his wife for all they did to help their son. It's a 24/7 job for sure. I also enjoyed the stories about the other people who have to raise sons or daughters that have C.F.C. They definitely have my admiration.

(Gerard's review:  My rating: 4 of 5 stars)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Murder Past Due" by Miranda James


Murder Past Due by Miranda James is a cozy mystery that almost put me to sleep.  It's about a college librarian who takes his Maine Coon cat with him practically everywhere, even to a funeral!  This was the fun part of the book.  The college librarian's curiosity and concern for his college student boarder draws him into his private investigation of the murder of one of the alumni authors who came to speak at the college and donate all his materials to the archives.  There was a lot of lying by the characters and the reader was kept in the dark as to who the murderer was until the very end.  

This was slow moving and presented many possible suspects, some of which lied which caused more confusion for me.  The subplot of who boarder's biological father was somewhat interesting.  I liked the cover but was relieved when I finished it!
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it? You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs!

We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope" by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly


Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly is the true story of Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Gifford's recovery after being shot in the head. It is a very inspiring story and is told by Mark, her astronaut husband. It reads like a novel and I enjoyed it a lot.
(Gerard's review:  My rating: 4 of 5 stars)


Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"Legend" by Marie Lu (UPDATED 1-4-12)







Legend by Marie Lu is teen fiction that takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles.  It is told by a young boy named Day and a young woman named June.  Day is an outlaw and is wanted by the Republic.  June is a member of the Army of the Republic.  They are on opposite sides, or are they?  Legend is so good that the movie rights have already been sold.  If you loved "Hunger Games" and "Divergent," you will love Legend too.  I look forward to the second book in this series.
(Gerard's review)



Legend by Marie Lu is a futuristic teen romantic thriller about a fugitive 15-yr.-old, Day from the slums, who is passionate about protecting his family and helping people, even if it means going against the Republic. When June, a Republic agent and military prodigy from a wealthy family, thinks Day is responsible for killing her brother when trying to steal the cure for the plague to cure his youngest brother, she hunts Day down. This is a fun, adventurous novel that is a page turner. 

Favorite quote from this book:
“I never did ask you about your street name. Why 'Day'?”
“Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time.”
I liked how the author alternated telling the story between Day and June.  It kept my interest and was also easy to follow.  Although somewhat predictable, I enjoyed it very much and was rooting for Day and June to become friends from the start.  I recommend this to anyone who likes action and romance.

(Karen's review:  My rating: 5 of 5 stars)


Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: "Legend" and "Murder Past Due"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser.   
Gerard's:
"You're too late," she says. "Because today the plague patrol is coming for your family. They're taking them away."
From pg. 145 of Legend by Marie Lu.

Karen's:
The last thing I wanted was to get involved in the life of one of my boarders. If Justin's problem turned out to be serious, he would have to go home to his parents.
From page 13 of Murder Past Due by Miranda James.

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"Weight of Silence" by Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of SilenceThe Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf is a page-turner that grabbed my attention right from the start. A young girl is abducted and her friend, Calli is also missing. Calli is seven but hasn't spoken since she was four. I liked this book because it wasn't predictable and deals with a lot of different issues such as family dynamics, alcoholism, old flames, police investigation, selective mutism and friendship. It is a fast read and contains discussion questions at the end. I recommend this book if you like contemporary fiction about families.


(Karen's review 2/11/10)--Also enjoyed These Things Hidden

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises" by Lawrence Katz



This is a quick-read but very interesting and practical. The gist of the book is to improve memory, you need to keep your brain active and use all of your senses. “Routines can be brain deadening.” Basically, learn to enjoy new experiences, change things around, interact with people and change up routines.

The most startling thing I learned from reading this book is: "Research has shown that watching television literally numbs the mind: The brain is less active during TV-viewing than during sleep!" (p. 117)

Gerard gave me this one for my birthday--thanks, honey!  You need to read it too!

(Karen's review--My rating: 5 of 5 stars)


Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Double Booked For Murder" by Ali Brandon


Double Booked For Death—a Black Cat Bookshop Mystery by Ali Brandon is about solving the mystery of a popular author’s death when at a book signing in an independent book store owned by Darla.  This is a cozy mystery that Darla and her ex-cop friend, Jake, who also acts as her security guard for the bookstore tries to solve.  This is a fun read because it includes Hamlet, the bookstore cat and some interesting twists along the way as clues are eventually connected.  

I just couldn’t resist reading a mystery about a cat and a bookstore but was a bit disappointed the cat didn't have a bigger role.  Although the cat is on the cover, it really is incidental to the story.  The ending was really fun!  I’m not much on cozy mysteries, but this is the best I’ve read so far.  

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"A Time to Kill" by John Grisham


A Time To Kill by John Grisham tells the story of two men who brutalize a ten-year-old black girl in the deep south in the USA.  When the father learns of this, he decides to deal out his own brand of justice and shoots the two men in cold blood before they go to trial.  When his trial takes place, he and his white lawyer are in a battle for both of their lives.

I know this book has been out for years but somehow I missed it.  I'm glad I read it now though--it's very good!  The trial and all that surrounded it was outstanding.  As usual for John Grisham, the writing is top-notch.  If you haven't read this one yet, you should because it is well worth it.
(Gerard's Review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tuesday Teasers: Four This Week!


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser.   
Gerard's:
Naw, Jake, that's why I got you. I don't plan to go to no gas chamber. I saw you get Lester off, now just get me off.
From page 100 of A Time To Kill by John Grisham.

Early each Saturday morning, the keepers would take Gita [an elephant] on a long, rambling walk around the grounds before the zoo opened, and it was my privilege to be invited to go along, several times. Those are the memories etched in my mind.
From page 54 of Betty and Friends by Betty White.  (Karen reviewed this non-fiction one already.)

Karen's:
Maybe my parents will forget about what the neighbors think and welcome me as their daughter again. And maybe, just maybe, Brynn will forgive me.
From page 45 of These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf.  (Gerard's review of this one is up.)

On her first day running the store, she'd been the unwitting victim of a lightning-fast swipe from Hamlet's claws. The attack had occurred as she'd moved his downstairs food bowl from its usual spot, in front of the local author showcase, to the corner of the science-fiction section.
From page 2 of Double Booked For Death by Ali Brandon. (a cozy mystery)

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Betty & Friends" by Betty White is a Must Read for Animal Lovers!


Being an animal lover myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this book of fantastic photographs of animals Betty White has met and got to know in various zoos. She gives some interesting facts about the animals, shares her special one-on-one encounters she's had with many and manages to include some humor as well. The only thing I object to was that she gives "Mother Nature" credit for the animals instead of God, the creator.  This book is centered around the photographs that are true works of art.  Tad Motoyama, the L.A. Zoo's official photographer, gave her some of his photos that she chose to share with the world through this book.    

My favorite experience she shared was that she developed a bond with a baby gorilla named Lulu, and when it was older, it blew her kisses.  Years later when visiting another zoo, she saw a gorilla do the same thing and mentioned that Lulu used to do that with her too.  It turned out that was the same gorilla!  

I highly recommend this as a must read for all animal lovers--a great animal book and a fast read with no boring parts! I loved it!
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"These Things Hidden" by Heather Gudenkauf

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf tells the story of Allison Glen.  She's a young teen girl who was her parents' pride and joy--good grades, great athlete, had it all until an unwanted pregnancy and a chain of events changed all that.  She gets a chance to get back into society but her parents shun her although she keeps trying to reach out to her sister.

WOW!  This book is Good!  This is a page turner that I did not want to put down.  I got into it from page one!  I love this author's first book (The Weight of Silence) and this one is just as good, if not better!  The ending is shocking!

“These Things Hidden” by Heather Gudenkauf is a sad book about two sisters, adoption, guilt, infanticide and relationships.  It certainly kept my interest but had a surprise ending that I didn’t expect.  This shows how far teenagers will go if they feel isolated and desperate.  I think “These Things Hidden” would be a good Book Club book.
(Karen's book)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?  We also liked Weight of Silence by this author.

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Come a Little Closer" by Dorothy Garlock


Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock is a historical romance set in the 1940s.  Christina was an army nurse who decides to switch gears by leaving Minnesota to be a nurse in the small Wisconsin town.  She finds herself in a love triangle with two brothers who both are attracted to her but very different.  Both the Doctor she assists and one of the brothers have issues that she helps them overcome.  She finds herself being attacked by a jealous obsessive woman and chased by an alcoholic out for revenge for his brother’s death.  She chooses one of the brothers and lives happily ever after. 

This book is about taking risks and making changes to improve your life.  It reminded me of a fairy tale but was an enjoyable read.  I was surprised at the brother she decided to marry—thought she would have picked the other one.  Although basically a romance novel, it had enough action in it to keep my interest.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Unlikely Friendships" by Jennifer S. Holland


Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland is a remarkable non-fiction book about animals bonding together that you would not think would (like a lion and a tiger, a polar bear and a sled dog, a kitten and a gorilla). The pictures alone are worth getting this book and the stories are interesting. From just looking through it looking at the full-page color pictures, Karen noticed that cats/kittens appeared most often. If you like animals, this is a must read for you. The library has labeled this book a “sizzler”—it’s that good!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it? You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs!

We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"The Litigators" by John Grisham


What a great read The Litigators by John Grisham is! A small law firm, Finley and Figg, unexpectedly gets a new person in David Zinc, who quit a huge law firm to join them. When they get a really big case that could make them millions, the fun begins. The trial is very interesting! The writing, as usual for Grisham, is excellent. John Grisham is on top of his game with this book. It's both funny and sad. Don't miss it!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Tuesday Teasers: "The Litigators" and "Come a Little Closer"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser.   
Gerard's:
He ricocheted off the podium and landed hard on the carpeted floor, still groaning and grimacing as if in enormous pain. There was a wild scramble as Wally and David sprinted for him, as did two uniformed bailiffs and a couple of the Rogan Rothberg attorneys.
From page 284 of The Litigators by John Grisham.

Karen's:
With every step, her heart raced, pounding in her chest. Ever since she had left Holden Sutter's room, it had been a struggle to contain her emotions;what began as confusion became anger, then disappointment, before turning into still something else, something she could not identify.
From page 61 of Come A Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock.

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"The Baker's Wife" by Erin Healy


"The Baker’s Wife" by Erin Healy is a really good book.  Audrey and her husband work at a bakery.  Her husband used to be a Pastor, but when her son got a church deacon’s daughter pregnant, they got booted out.  One day Audrey gets into an accident and the blood is the deacon’s wife’s who got her kicked out.  The problem is, there’s no body so where is she?  Her husband, a detective, decides to take matters into his own hands and has a hostage situation at the bakery:  “Find my wife or everyone dies!”  This is a page-turner for sure!  It includes lots of scripture and references to God as well.  Give it a shot.
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Part Wild" by Ceiridwen Terrill (UPDATED)


What a story this is!  "Part Wild" by Ceiridwen Terrill is the true story of Ceiridwen trying to raise a wolf dog from the moment it was born.  I loved this book so much!  The writing is so good that I wanted to reach out and help her or give her a hug at least.  Her husband gives her just as much trouble, if not more, than the dog does!  There are funny and sad moments—this book has it all!  It's a page turner for sure.  Make it a point to read this book because you will love it and remember it when you are done.
(Gerard's review)

This is a sad story about how the author struggled with both her relationship with Inyo, her wolfdog (part dog, part wolf) and her husband. She truly believed that if she tried hard enough, she could make any relationship work only to be proved wrong by both her dog and her husband, Ryan. Both the dog and Ryan were part wild! She describes the different problems that came up with both the dog and Ryan. To protect the dog, she lied over and over again, moved from place to place because they got evicted, and finally gave up and had to have Inyo put down. She couldn’t make an enclosure sturdy enough to keep the dog contained and it would chew furniture, clothes and even doors!

Right from the start I didn’t understand why anyone would want a wolfdog. I was glad to see by the end of the book the author said to love dogs, you hold them close but to love wolves, you let them roam. This is an interesting book because it gave me some insight into a lifestyle very different from my own. It seems the author was admitting she made two big mistakes, one was getting a wolfdog instead of a regular dog and the second was marrying Ryan who was heavy in debt, drank and addicted to video games. I felt sorry for the author but was glad it had a happy ending. If you think it would be cool to have a wolfdog, I highly suggest you read this book first!
(Karen's Review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Edenville Owls" by Robert B. Parker (GIVEAWAY)


Edenville Owls by Robert B. Parker is his first book for teen readers about a kid who shows remarkable leadership, compassion, and courage.  He leads his 8th grade basketball team to the state championship game without a coach and only five boys called the Edenville Owls.  He figured out how to help his nice English teacher out of a really bad situation and enjoyed a friendship with Joanie, a girl who was his best friend.


This is a quick-read, a good story with a kid who faced the question of how many bad things should he do in order to do a very good thing.  It shows that working together with friends can accomplish great things.  I think boys would like this one.


If you would like to have this book, just leave a comment letting us know along with your email address so we can contact you for your address.  The first one who wants it, gets it (limited to U.S. residents).


Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Katie Up and Down the Hall" by Glenn Plaskin


Katie Up and Down the Hall by Glenn Plaskin is a wonderful story about Katie, a small dog, who is able to bring people together in a small apartment complex in New York.  I especially enjoyed the part of how they all dealt with the tragedy of September 11, 2001.  This is really a good read and the writing is very good.  Give it a try, it's worth it!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tuesday Teasers: 3 This week (2 non-fiction, one thriller)


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser.   
Gerard's:
If Inyo was testing me, then I failed--because I backed off. I chose to keep all of my fingers and refused to wrangle with her over a bunch of goopy marrowbones.
From page 85 of Part Wild by Ceiridwen Terrill.  (I just finished this but I liked it so well I wanted to share a teaser from it.)

Betty planted a parting kiss on Katie's wet nose--"see you next time, sister!"--and off we went.
There wasn't one person on the street who didn't turn around or stop us, as Katie was now irresistible.
From page 61 of Katie Up and Down the Hall--The True Story of How One Dog Turned Five Neighbors into a Family by Glenn Plaskin.

Karen's:  

Honor's heart began beating painfully hard and fast.  Should she throw herself over Emily in an attempt to protect her, or attack him, or plead for mercy?
From page 84 of Lethal by Sandra Brown.

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"True Colors" by Kristin Hannah


What a neat novel True Colors by Kristin Hannah is!  It starts off following the lives of three sisters from when their mother died while they were teens.  Aurora is the peace maker who settled for marriage to “Mr. Boring” while the eldest daughter, Winona, an attorney, loves her younger sister’s fiancĂ© and longs for her father’s approval.  Vivi Ann, is engaged to a real nice guy, but isn’t in love with him and follows her heart and passion when Dallas , the new ranch hand shows an interest in her.  The plot thickens when Vivi Ann goes against her family and marries Dallas who gets arrested for murder!  This is a great story that shows the bond between sisters as well as a contemporary romance and the struggle of a single mom whose husband is rotting away in prison.
I loved this book because the characters were so believable and the story line drew me in and wouldn’t let go!  I liked how the author brought in the horses and ranch activities, how she shared with the reader how the son felt growing up without his dad through his journal entries, and the family dynamics.  It’s a love story about love, hope, forgiveness, betrayal, family ties, second chances, heartbreak and redemption.  I highly recommend this one!
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs!  We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Lethal" by Sandra Brown (UPDATED)


Wow!  Oh WOW! What a thrill ride Lethal by Sandra Brown is!  Honor and her 4-yr.-old, Emily, are taken hostage by Lee Coburn.  Later on you think that might be a good thing, or is it?  I never knew who the good guys and who the bad guys were in this book.  After awhile, I just decided to quit trying to figure it out and went along with an outstanding read.  If you want a page turner, this is it!  I really enjoyed it a lot, including the ending.  It has many twists and turns.  I LOVED everything about Lethal:  the characters were outstanding, the writing well done and the plot riveting!
(Gerard's review)

Lethal by Sandra Brown is full of surprises!  It is a thriller mystery with romance too and kept my interest.  Honor, a widow of a cop, and her 4-yr.-old daughter have the adventure of their lives when they see a man lying in their yard while baking cupcakes for the upcoming birthday party.   This book has suspense, adventure, mystery, organized crime and family ties all wrapped up in it to produce a fantastic read.  The relationship between Emily, the 4-yr-old daughter and the mean man is humorous and very entertaining.  The FBI has its work cut out for them when they are brought in to help catch a mass murderer and track down the leader of a crime ring when no one knows who they can trust.  I liked the ending although it is a bit open-ended for the reader to decide what happens next.  I highly recommend this book—it’s definitely a page turner that you get drawn into right away.
(Karen's review)
Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Angel on a Leash" by David Frei

I'd like to be a therapy dog-Woof!
Angel on a Leash--Therapy Dogs and the Lives They Touch by David Frei  is a wonderful book about therapy dogs and David's experiences with his.  Therapy dogs do such good work by visiting people who have cancer, or other illnesses or disabilities, and Ronald McDonald House for kids.  The stories are touching and the pictures of the people with the dogs are priceless.  I know when our dog, Abby, goes up to people, most really enjoy it!  This is a very informative book that tells what all is involved if you want your dog to be a therapy dog and what to expect. 

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tuesday Teasers: Angel on a Leash and True Colors


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser.   
Gerard's:
Suddenly, someone is thinking about something other than his or her challenges or pain or a grim outlook or the next treatment. Right now, for this moment, it's not about the person, it's about the dog.
Taken from page 22 of Angel on a Leash--Therapy Dogs and the Lives They Touch by David Frei.

Karen's:
But years later, when she looked back on that week of her mother's death, Winona saw how that single action--the handing over of a lead rope--had changed everything. From then on, jealousy had become an undercurrent, swirling beneath their lives.
Take from page 8 of True Colors by Kristin Hannah.

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"The Tangible Kingdom Primer"


The Tangible Kingdom Primer is an 8-week curriculum for a small group Bible study that has some very challenging concepts.  The thrust of the book is to win people to Christ through action and intentionally reaching out to people like Jesus did, being His hand and feet.  I found it thought provoking helpful in getting me more involved in the community.  I did not like the formatting of this book because some of it was hard to read.  The authors used dark backgrounds and too many variety of fonts which I found annoying.  It was hard to highlight or write notes on the dark pages.
(Karen's review)
Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Love At First Bark" by Julie Klam is Funny!


This book contains three stories about Julie Klam, who is into rescuing dogs.  All three are unique in their own way and all three are very good!  Julie is a riot--very funny!  If you are into dogs, this is a good book for you.
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Dear Bully--70 Authors Tell Their Stories"


Dear Bully contains 70 stories about bullying, edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones.  I'd say 96 percent of the stories are very, very good.  If you were bullied like I was in school, I'm sure you will identify with many of them. This book is heartbreaking because these people were bullied for no good reason.  Having been bullied, especially for long stretches, is something you never forget.  Dear Bully also tells of people who did nothing to stop it and now regret their decision.  This should be a must read for teens and adults too--bullying goes on in he work place as well.
(Gerard's review)

Want to read about my experience?  Here's the link to a post I wrote about it:  The Fat Stutterer

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Other books about bullying that we liked and recommend:
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (science fiction)
Please Stop Laughing At Us by Jodee Blanco (non-fiction)
Sonshine Girls: Summer Secret by Renee Morris (Christian teen fiction)
Please Stop Laughing At Me by Jodee Blanco (non-fiction)
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen (fiction)

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"My Life Deleted" by Scott and Joan Bolzam


My Life Deleted by Scott and Joan Bolzam sounded interesting to me so I got the book from the library.  Basically, the guy fell and hit his head which caused him to lose his memory.  He didn't know his family or who he was.  I skimmed about the last half of the book.  Basically he started his life over again.  It just didn't have enough action for me and the writing style did not hold my interest. It just plodded along.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Roam" by Alan Lazar is Heartwarming


Talk about not being able to put a book down; I finished this book in one day (and I work full time).  Yes, to me it's that good!  ROAM by Alan Lazar is about a dog named Nelson who has a very nice home with a loving owner named Katey (his first owner).  One day the gate is left open and Nelson just wants to go exploring.  What a heartwarming book this is!  Nelson goes and finds different places and meets new people.  It's a great tale!  If you enjoyed the "Art of Racing" I think you will love this book.  I cried over this book like I cried over "Dewey, the Library Cat" but I loved both these books.  This is my favorite read for this month so far.
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


We are thankful for our pets!

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!  Hope you will stop by my other blog and read about My Favorite Thanksgiving. (An excerpt from "My Funny Dad, Harry," the book I wrote in memory of my dad.)--Karen

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tuesday Teasers: "Dear Bully" and "Mudbound"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser.   
Gerard's:
Shame has bound my truth and stolen away my words. How do you tell your mother you've become a target, a loser, a failure, a lunchtime joke?
From page 122 of Dear Bully--70 Authors Tell Their Stories

Karen's:
I tried to shape my happiness out of the fabric of his, like a good wife ought to, but his contentment tore at me. I would see him standing at the edge of the fields with his hands in his pockets, looking out over the land with fierce pride of possession, and think, He's never looked at me like that, not once.
.
Taken from page 130 of Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. (Click the link to see Gerard's review of this one.)

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"Following Atticus" by Tom Ryan


WOW!  Following Atticus by Tom Ryan is good!!  It is the true story of Tom Ryan and his dog, Atticus.  After a close friend of his dies from Cancer, Tom takes it upon himself and Atticus, of course, to climb all 48 mountains in New Hampshire twice to aid the Jimmy Fund, a cause to help fight Cancer.

It is an amazing story of the bond between Tom and his dog.  You will get caught up in it liked I did and just a little spoiler here--Atticus does not die.  Read and enjoy!
 (Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Angel Fire" by Lisa Miscione (Unger) (UPDATED)


Two things you should know about this book:  (1) it is written by Lisa Unger and (2) it is very , very good!  Lydia Strong and Jeffrey Mark are on the trail of a serial killer.  I loved the part about Lydia and her mom and the byplay between Lydia and Jeff.  Good luck with trying to guess who the killer is because it is not revealed until the very end.

This is a real page turner!  It took me just two days to read it; loved it!
(Gerard's review)

Karen's review (11/20/11):

This is a good murder mystery all right.  Like Gerard said, I didn't guess who the killer was until very near the end.  I was creeped out by the killer cutting out the hearts of his victims even though the author spared us the gory details.  I liked it all right, but didn't love it as much as Gerard did.  While I was reading this one during the Browns game against Jacksonville today, Manny climbed up in my lap and read with me!

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"Mudbound" by Hillary Jordan: LOVED IT! (UPDATED)


Mudbound by Hillary Jordan is historical fiction that reminded me of The Help but is a much faster read. I LOVED this one even more than When She Woke, the first book I read by Hillary Jordan. Mudbound tells the story of a black family and a white family living in the deep south in the early 1940s. The black family are the sharecroppers on the white family's land. The characters are likable and well developed. It has a really good ending and would make a fantastic movie!

If you liked The Help by Kathryn Stockton, you will love this book too!  I highly recommend this one!
(Gerard's Review)

Karen's review:
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan is a book that drew me into the characters.  It is historical fiction during 1946 about a black and a white man coming home from war to Mississippi to help their families on the farm.  I had no idea what this book was about from the title, but “Mudbound” is the name of the farm Henry bought out of the blue without even consulting his wife, Laura.  She is the one who named the farm because she felt trapped there.  Through great story telling by all the characters, the reader discovers the tragic story behind Pappy’s death.

Although I did not like the offensive language, it was a part of history and was used appropriately in conveying the unfairness the Blacks faced every day.  Mudbound is very well written and had lots of good passages in it.  I had a hard time choosing a teaser!  I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend it if you like books with some depth that cause you to really take an interest in the characters.  I agree with Gerard that it would make a good movie.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cover Art Weekend Blog Hop





The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

I chose a beautiful cover this week that really captures the story as well.  Read our review of The Guardian.

This is a brand new meme to display all those beautiful, funny, crazy and even those that make you think book covers you come across each week. I don't know about the rest of you, but I love looking at different book covers. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but they are sure fun to look at. So, if you'd like to join in the fun, all you have to do is...

1. Take the button at the top of this post and post it on your blog.

2. Chose a book cover of your choice and post it. (You can post as many covers as you'd like.)

3. Sign up with Mr. Linky at Socrates' Book Reviews. Please use the url that links directly to your cover art post.

4. Visit other blogs on the list to see what covers they are featuring this week.

Instead of just one day, this hop runs through the weekends - from Fridays to Mondays. That gives people more of a chance to blog hop.

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"The Guardian" by Nicholas Sparks

The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks is a combination of a love story and a thriller with a dog thrown in.  The main character is Julie, a young widow who works at a salon and finally decides to date four years after her husband died.  Her husband, Jim, left her a letter and arranged for her to get a Great Dane puppy in the event of his death which I thought was a pretty neat idea.  The dog was his way of watching out for her.  After the Prologue, this book poked along for me until about half way through when the psycho stalks her and she realizes she is in danger.  I liked "The Guardian" because of the dog involved watching out for Julie.  Gerard read this a long time ago and liked it too.  He said I should read it and I finally got to it and am glad I did!

BEWARE:  SPOILER AHEAD--STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK!
The ending was pretty intense but I didn't like that the dog died.  I think Julie should have went for the gun when her dog grabbed the guys arm instead of letting him shoot her dog.  I get that the dog was like a guardian angel and once Richard was dead, she'd have Mike and live happily ever after and the dog's "job" was done.  I just think the dog could have lived too--I would have liked that ending better.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Sweetness--Life of Walter Payton" by Jeff Pearlman


I enjoyed Sweetness--The Enigmatic Life Of Walter Payton a lot!  It tells the story of the life of Walter Payton aka Sweetness, a football player.  I especially liked hearing from all the players he played with and against as well as the details of his life off the field were fantastic and enjoyable.  It must have taken a lot of research to write such a book.  It seemed he left nothing out!  If you are a football fan, I think you will love this book!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Leading With The Heart" by Mike Krzyzewski

I read Leading With The Heart--Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life by Mike Krzyzewski last year but with him being breaking coach Bobby Knight's record of winning the most College basketball games this week, I thought it would be appropriate to repost this.
This is a helpful book about coaching but many of the principles and tips he shares could also apply to business and teaching.  Every coach should read this one because there are so many practical tips that Mike shares and solid principles to follow.  After each chapter is a summary of the main points.  Mike shares from his experiences to illustrate his points in a very interesting way. 

Some key points on coaching that stood out to me from Leading With The Heart--Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life by Mike Krzyzewski (Duke's head basketball coach):
1.  Recruit players with character who respect their parents, willing to be part of the team and are coachable.
2.   Do not have a bunch of rules that limit you, it's better to just have one rule:  "Don't do anything detrimental to yourself."
3.    Use plural pronoun's such as "our," "we," "us" so it's the player's team and not just the coach's. 
4.    Always look your players in the eye and tell the truth.
5.    Share the goals with the players.
6.    Lead with confidence, show your players what they need to see.
7.    Imagine the loose ball you're chasing has your name on it.  It belongs to you.
8.     Stress honor in all things.
9.      Set goals that revolve around playing together as a team, never the number of wins.  Define your own success.
10.    Five fundamental qualities that make a team great:  communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride.
11.    Win or lose together--don't play the blame game.
12.    Address the little things you may encounter in a real situation.
13.    Be positive about all things that happen to the team.  Look at nothing in the past as failure.  Learn from every game.
14.    Plan but be flexible.
15.    Believe you can win, but don't assume you can.
16.    Always respect your competition.
17.    Set up some team traditions.
18.    Maintain a good sense of humor--having fun reduces pressure.
19.    Show strength, hide weakness.
20.    The only way you lose is if you don't try your best.
21.    When people achieve something that they've really worked hard for, it makes them feel great, superb, wonderful.
22.    You have to work at staying in contact with your friends so that the relationships will continue and live on.
23.    If something isn't working, try something new and different.  Never give up, find a way to win.
24.    Spend time with your players outside of practices and games to get to know them and become friends.
25.    At the end of each season, thank the team for their hard work.
I really got a lot out of this book--it was great!
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"I Am in Here" by Elizabeth Bonker and Virginia Breen

What a book I Am In Here by Elizabeth Bonker and Virginia Breen is!  I really liked it.  It is about the journey of a child with Autism who cannot speak but finds her voice through writing poetry.  It is written by Elizabeth and her mother.  I loved that Elizabeth shares what is going on in her head.  Here is one of Elizabeth's poems she wrote at age 9 from page 43:

Live and Let Live
Am I on display?
Why do they look at me that way?
I want to say
I am okay.
Sometimes I do things you may wonder about.
Just let me be and don't try to figure it out.

If this book doesn't tug at your heart strings, I'll be surprised. 
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: "Sweetness." "I Am in Here" and "The Guardian"


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should  Be Reading. Anyone can play along, so I thought  I  would play for fun! Just do the following
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on  that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!   You don’t  want  to  ruin the  book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can  add the book to their TBR  Lists  if they  like your teaser.   
Gerard's:
"I had no idea who he was. On the first day of practice I turned to hand the ball to him and he was so quick, I barely got it to him. Then I watched him run . . ."
From page 130 of Sweetness--The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton by Jeff Pearlman.


Am I on display?
Why do they look at me that way?
I want to say
I am okay.
Sometimes I do things you may wonder about.
Just let me be and don't try to figure it out.

From page 43 of I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism Who Cannot Speak but Finds Her Voice by Bonker and Breen.

Karen's:
In the past, he'd been the good guy, the friend, the one she could always count on.  The one who fixed her car and played Frisbee with Singer, the one who spent the first two years after Jim's death holding her as she cried.
From page 64 of The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks.

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Finding Danny" by Linzi Glass (UPDATED Rescue Me Week))

Finding Danny by Linzi Glass was the perfect book to read during Shelter Appreciation Week!  It is a happy children’s book about Bree, a 7th grade girl who meets some interesting people who change her life as she searches for her runaway dog, Danny.  When she visits an animal shelter for the first time, she determines to help the dogs somehow and does.

I liked this book because it was upbeat and focuses on animal rescue.  I think it would also be inspirational for children and teens to see how one person can make a difference.  My favorite part was that Bree convinced her lonely elderly widow neighbor to get an abandoned dog named Neptune.  This is a cute quick read.  (www.linziglass.com and www.theforgottendog.org)
(Karen's review)

This is a book about a young girl named Bree. Her parents are super busy so they decide to get her a dog to keep her company. She names the dog Danny and they get along famously! One day her mom makes a mistake and leaves the gate open and Danny gets away. Bree sets out to find Danny and winds up helping many other dogs How you ask? You will have to read this book to find out. It's a wonderful story. I read it in two days and loved it! Give it a chance and you will too! 
(Gerard's review)

Now, how about visiting a shelter near you and adopting a pet?

Over at Mayzie's Dog blog, to honor their Grampa J who loved pets, they are encouraging everyone to post a pet who needs a home on your blog and next week they will draw five participants and donate $100 to an animal rescue of their choice!

Here is Forest, one of the dogs hoping for a forever home waiting at Canine Lifeline where we got our dog from:
The shelter was full and Forest was at the top of the list to be put down as he’d been there awhile. According to the dog pound folks, Forest’s family moved out and left him chained at the empty house. Forest spent his weeks at the shelter grieving for the loss of his home and family. The shelter staff and volunteers said he looked closely at everyone walking through the shelter hoping his family had come for him but after a couple of weeks, he was depressed and seemed to have given up hope.


You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

"Small Town Sinners" by Melissa Walker (UPDATED)

Melissa Walker does a beautiful job of depicting a 16-yr.-old Pastor’s daughter’s struggles of making her faith personal in Small Town Sinners.  This is a teen romance novella but also a book that explores faith, religion, friendship and love.  The story centers around “Hell House” which is a church production done around Halloween as an evangelistic outreach—sort of a “Christian” haunted house alternative.  I think teens would enjoy it and find it thought-provoking.  It primarily focuses on drama and teenage pregnancy while touching on domestic violence, homosexuality and suicide.   

 

I liked this book okay but think teens would like it more than I did.  Although Lacey is the main character, my favorite character was Ty, her boyfriend.  I liked that there were no sex scenes in this book and thought it was well written. 
(Karen's review 11-10-11)
 Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker is an excellent read!  It is about teenagers in a small town putting on a "Hell House" play experience.  I really enjoyed this book a lot.  The theme is friendship and being there for each other.  I liked all the scripture references, and having God in this made it that much better.  Lacey, the main character questions her faith.  It's a great read for teens, but I think anyone would enjoy this book.
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"The Puppy Diaries" by Jill Abramson

The Puppy Diaries is absolutely a wonderful book about raising a puppy.   Jill's old dog, Buddy, passed on to the Rainbow Bridge.  Jill wasn't sure she was ready for another dog right away, but when it was time, she picked out Scout.  If you are a dog lover, you will enjoy this book!  It is very funny at times and you will see yourself in the struggles that Jill and her husband experienced.  There are also some great tips on how to handle a puppy.  I LOVED THIS BOOK and think you will too!
(Gerard's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


“The Crossing” is a complicated mystery about a 10-yr-old unsolved murder case that is re-opened.  Claudia saw her English teacher, a friend, killed on the bus after a football game.  The teacher shares her last thoughts with the reader right before she dies which was an interesting way of giving clues about the killer.  Claudia had nightmares and panic attacks so her husband, the D.A., decided to re-open the investigation and found things that were overlooked. 

This story attempts to show the depravity of man and God’s forgiveness and unconditional love.  Some people repented and sought help and others didn’t with tragic consequences. 
I didn’t really get invested in any of the characters and didn’t care much for this one.  It moved along pretty good, I was interested to find out who the killer was (although that didn't make sense to me) so I guess that's why I didn't care for it much.  It just wasn't as good as I expected it would be.
(Karen's review)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

You can help our charity of the month just by leaving a comment on any of our blogs! We will donate 50 cents per comment at the end of the month. The charity for this month is at the top of our blog.
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