Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Mockingjay" by Suzane Collins

We both liked this one!

Gerard's review:
You know the deal about Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins--the last book of The Hunger Games trilogy!  Some people were disappointed in this book, but I am not one of them.  I thought this was the best of the three because it has tons of action!  I never knew what was going to happen next.  I like how not everyone thought Katniss was all that, the Gale-Peeta-Katniss triangle, and the surprise ending!  I enjoyed Mockingjay a lot!  It was hard to put down and I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next!

Karen's review:
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins is the last book in The Hunger Games trilogy and did not disappoint.  This book is amazing!  There is so much action, well developed interesting characters, and psychological drama that I was engrossed in it right from the start all the way to the end.  To get the most out of Mockingjay though, I highly recommend that you read the entire series.  I felt so bad for Peeta throughout the book but am satisfied with the ending.  There is a lot of suffering but loved that Prim’s cat survived and enjoyed Katniss’ relationship with it.  There is some humor in this book too which helped balance the gravity of it.  I liked Katniss throughout the series and admired her intelligence, determination, spontaneity, skill, compassion and perseverance.  At no point was I able to know how it would end for sure. 
This is a great book to end the series and I highly recommend this series (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire) to anyone 14 and older.  I also think this entire series would work great for a book club, there is just so much to discuss.  This series is a MUST READ for anyone who likes suspense, adventure, excitement and books about relationships.  

Reviews by other bloogers:
Bloggin' 'bout Books: Hunger Games Finale Leaves Me As Mute As An Avox
Scientific Nature Of The Whammy: Mockingjay

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

"Who's The Dummy Now? by Terry Fator

10 Stars!  Inspirational!
Who's The Dummy Now? is about Terry Fator, who won $1,000,000 on America's Got Talent 2.  He is a ventriloquist.  He tells his story in a fun way.  He overcame an abusive father, no friends really and everybody telling him he could not do it, but he did. 

Way to go, Terry!  I enjoyed your book so much!  I think everyone would like this one.
(Gerard's review 2/5/09)

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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Word of Honor" by Terri Blackstock

Word of Honor by Terri Blackstock is a fast-paced novel about Frank Harper, a Vietnam war veteran who suffered brain damage while saving others in his unit, who escapes from the mental hospital and plants a bomb in a post office of a small town which kills three people and badly injures a little boy.  Frank gets Jerry, an army buddy whose life he saved, involved by asking him to drive him to the post office that day.  While Jerry waits for Frank to come to meet him at a hotel later, the police arrive instead and Jerry takes Jill, the attorney staying in the adjoining room, hostage.  There is quite a bit of action in Word of Honor which addresses the question of keeping your word with a romantic subplot between Jill and Dan, a firefighter afraid of commitment.   

I really liked this Christian fiction book because the characters were very believable and likable.  Jerry was caught between keeping a covenant he made with his army buddy and breaking it to protect his family and save himself.  I think Terri Blackstock did a great job in this book at incorporating a challenge to be serious about giving our word and having a covenant relationship with God and our spouse.  I recommend it to everyone!

This is actually the third book of the Newpointe 911 series but can stand on its own. Others in the series are: Private Justice, Shadow of Doubt, Trial by Fire, Line of Duty. I look forward to reading these as well! I really like that her books have clean language and a sex free.

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesday from "Mockingjay" and "Word of Honor"

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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser. 

The sound of the gunshot shattered through Dan's brain with as much impact as if the bullet had traveled the phone line. He clutched the phone and shouted, "Jill! Jill!" She was no longer holding the phone, and he could hear screaming in the background, things crashing, people yelling.
From p. 39 of Word of Honor by Terri Blackstock.

He doesn't know that I'm already asking for the moon by demanding they spare Peeta's life. Before I can decide whether or not to tell him, a bell signals the end of our eating shift.
From p. 53 of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Lucky Man" by Michael J. Fox

"Lucky Man" was a very interesting book to me because it was about Michael J. Fox, the star of "Family Ties," a show I liked a lot because of the part he played as Alex.  Michael had a tough start and did a lot of drinking, but married the girl who was Alex's girlfriend on "Family Ties."  She stayed with him through his drinking and his illness and was a good wife to him.  Book gave great insight into Parkinson's disease and ended on a positive note--he quit drinking, became an advocate for Parkinson's research.  He shared a lot about his family and his failures as well as his successes.  He was down but never quit.    He has quite a story to share!
(Karen's review 2/5/09)

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Tiger Pups" by Tom and Allie Harvey

Tiger Pups by Tom and Allie Harvey is the true story of three tiger cubs whose mom left them after only 15 hours.  Tom and Allie decide to have their Golden Retriever nurse the tiger cubs.  The pictures of the bus and Isabella, the dog, are really good!  I never heard of this before.  I think anyone would enjoy this true story.
(Gerard's Review)

Tiger Pups is a picture book that I enjoyed.  The tiger cubs were so cute.  They were born at a zoo in Kansas and it's a true story.  I read this in about 10 minutes because I took my time studying all the pictures.
(Karen's Review)

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

"The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks is an amazing story about teen rebellion, love, friendship, romance, and forgiveness.  I can't say enough about how touching this book is.  The main character is a girl named Ronnie who held a grudge against her dad because he left, but her 10-yr.-old brother, Jonah, brought out her tender side.  One summer, she has to go live with him against her will and learns and grows into a mature woman who realizes she was not always right after all and everything is not about her.  I enjoyed watching her develop into a truly caring person and learn about forgiveness. 

It's a very good story and I liked it a lot! I liked the characters in this book because they were all very believable.  Parts were sad but overall, I liked the ending because it was very touching and happy at the same time.  This is a must read if you enjoy books about teens and parents.
(Karen's review)

I’ve been blessed to read a lot of really good books this year and I  add The  Last Song by Nicholas Sparks to the list.  At first, I thought,  “Oh, great, a teen novel.”  I’m not going to like it.  I LOVED it!  It  tells the story of Ronnie, a girl who has to spend the summer with her  dad and does not want to.  Turns out she had the best summer ever.   Superb writing.  This book is hard to put down.  The characters are very  believable.  There is nothing bad to say about this book.  I am so glad  to end the year with this wonderful book!  Do yourself a favor and read  this one.  You will be happy you did.
(Gerard's Review)

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

Other reviews of this:  Reading Without Restraint

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Cleo" by Helen Brown

The very good news is that Cleo by Helen Brown got such a favorable opinion across the seas that it is going to be made into a movie!  It is just now coming to the U.S.A.  Two of my favorite books were Marley & Me and Dewey, The Library CatCleo is sort of a combination of both of them.  I loved this book because Cleo is an awesome cat!  I got into it right off the bat.  Cleo is about a cat who becomes a member of the family at just the right time.  All emotions are in play in this one.  I highly recommend it as a “must read.”  Enjoy it, and then go see the movie.  I know I am.  To further enjoy this book, go on, it’s awesome!
(Gerard's review)

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

When Do You Write Your Book Review? (Book Blogger Hop Sept.24-27)

The question this week is:
When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

We always write our reviews as soon as we finish reading the book.  Sometimes, I will jot down notes as I read, especially if I come across a great quote I want to share in my review. 

Join the Book Blogger Hop at Crazy-for-Books.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Flight To Heaven--A Plane Crash--A Lone Survivor--A Journey To Heaven and Back" by Captain Dale Black

Flight To Heaven:  A Lone Survivor--A Journey To Heaven and Back is an amazing true story about Captain Dale Black who was the lone survivor of a plane crash.  He wrote about how he recovered and what he went through which is the essence of this book.  What a testimony to his faith in Jesus this book is.  Flight To Heaven is a remarkable read.  I enjoyed it very much! 
(Gerard's review)

I never read a book like this before.  It is Captain Black’s true story about his Flight to Heaven—a plane crash…a lone survivor…A Journey To Heaven—And Back.  At age 19, he was the lone survivor in a plane crash.  His body was wrecked and he was in a coma for three days, during which time he experienced a bit of heaven.  His story is both interesting and amazing!  The book takes the reader through his spiritual journey as well as his physical one of making a recovery to fly again just a year after he crashed and became a pilot giving God the glory!  It was when he surrendered his will completely to God and let God be the “pilot” of his life instead of the co-pilot that his ankle was healed.  Dale Black shares his personal testimony about his faith in God, the time of testing he went through and how he came out with a deeper desire to take them along on the flight to heaven.  My favorite quote from this book is “. . . although I am small, I am connected to a very big God!” 

Flight to Heaven by Captain Dale Black is a fantastic story that I highly recommend to anyone.  It was interesting to me that he said love from and for others is the closest thing on Earth to heaven.  I liked that this book looked at his life on two levels, not only the physical recovery but also his personal spiritual journey.  This one is a "must read."
(Karen's review)

Related Review by The Parchment Girl

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

I Admit it, I Broke The Rule (Writer’s Workshop)

I usually follow rules so the only thing I can think of is those blog awards we get from each other where you are supposed to link back to the person who gave it to you and then list however many blogs it says to pass it on to with links.  Then you are supposed to let them know you have given them an award so they can come and get it. 
Shortly after I started blogging, I received my first blogging award and was very excited!  Only two of the blogs I passed it along to are still blogging--one has changed the blog's name since.  When I first started blogging, I thought these were great but soon found out they are a time gobbler.  It got harder and harder to find blogs that did not already have the award and decide who to give it to.  It became a chore and I began to think of them as just a nuisance.  When I received the Versatile Blogger Award and One Lovely Blog Award for this blog, I broke the rule.  I accepted the award with a link back to the one who gave it to me, but did not forward it along.  I just said that anyone on my blog roll could take it if they wanted it.  I did not go leave messages for all of them to let them know about it either.
What do you think of these kinds of blog awards?  Do you even bother reading these kinds of posts?  I generally do not.
This post is in response to Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop prompt:  “Why Did You Do It?  Write about a time you chose to break a rule.” 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Are You Ready To Be Your Own Boss? by Carol Denbow

Are You Ready To Be Your Own Boss by Carol Denbow is a great little handbook for anyone considering starting up a business and being self-employed.  It gives warnings about things people should be aware of before taking the plunge, making it very clear that it takes long hours and lots of work to be successful in running a profitable business.  The author shares her personal success story about running a horse-boarding ranch.  It lists further resources including books and web sites in the back which would be helpful to any entrepreneur.  I finished this in two days.
You can purchase this on Amazon or from her website at Author's Box.
Visit her website called A Book Inside--How To Write And Publish A Book. Her blog is very helpful to anyone interested in writing and getting published. 

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

“The Listener—What If You Could Hear What God Hears?” By Terri Blackstock

The Listener--What If You Could Hear What God Hears? by Terri Blackstock is a short Christian fiction book that gets across the urgency to share about Jesus with people we come in contact with on a daily basis.  It’s about Sam, a Christian who hasn’t led anyone to Jesus in years and really never thought about it until God gives him a supernatural ability to actually hear the thoughts of people around him like God hears.  At first when he starts hearing voices, he thinks he’s going nuts, but then he sees how many people have spiritual needs and need to hear about Jesus that he tries to get more people from his church to go with him to witness.  The whole theme of this book is that people need the Lord and Christians need to introduce them to Him.

I enjoyed this book because it showed the urgency of reaching people with the gospel of Christ in such a fun way I recommend it to any Christian
Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Teaser Tuesday: "The Listener" and "Flight To Heaven"

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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.
"I've been a Christian for ten years, and not once in those ten years have I ever led anybody to Christ.  Until about an hour ago, I never even wanted to."

From p. 47 of The Listener-What If You Could Hear What God Hears? by Terri Blackstock.

Suddenly I found myself suspended in midair, hovering over the wreckage of my body.  My gray pants and short-sleeve shirt were torn to shreds and soaked in blood and fuel.
From p. 29 of Flight to Heaven (A Pilot's True Story)--A Plane Crash...A Lone Survivor...A Journey To Heaven--and Back by Capt. Dale Black

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Worst Case" by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge is a page turner.  I got the large print edition but I think this book would go fast no matter the type.  Detective Bennett is on the trail of a kidnapper who targets rich kids but not for money.  Then, he changes course and goes for a much bigger plan.  I got into this book real fast and it kept my interest all along.  Fantastic ending with a twist added too.  I enjoyed it and recommend it.
(Gerard 6/4/10)

Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Blogging For Dummies" by Susannah Gardner, Shane Birley

Blogging For Dummies by Susannah Gardner, Shane Birley  is a very helpful book for anyone who is beginning to blog and even for a person like me who has started to blog for about eight months but is still learning along the way.  The authors give many websites where the reader can go to see exactly what the text is referring to.  I finally learned the HTML code for doing lists in posts from this book.  It also covers suggestions for getting traffic to your blog and how to get and handle comments.  I highly recommend it for any blogger, especially beginners.

Visit my other blogs at (Karen & Gerard Zemek) and (My Funny Dad, Harry) and Zemeks' Updates at where our pets blog.

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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

"Where Are You Now?" by Mary Higgins Clark

Where Are You Now by Mary Higgins Clark is a novel that takes place in New York City about Carolyn, a lawyer, trying to find her older brother who has been missing for ten years but calls once a year on Mother’s Day.  He was a student at Columbia University and just disappeared one day.  As she digs into the past, she starts finding some circumstantial evidence that makes the detectives think her brother, Mac, may be a serial killer and that’s why he chose to disappear.  Carolyn thinks he must be in trouble and just wants to find him to help.  I don’t want to say too much about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this book has suspense, romance and mystery.

I liked this book because it led me to believe one thing but ended up being something completely different than I expected.  I enjoy books that have surprise endings that I don’t figure out right from the start and this is certainly one of them! If you like mysteries, I highly recommend Where Are You Now?.   

PhotobucketHave you read this one? What did you think of it?  Share what you thought of it and link up your  post to Busy Mom's Who Love To Read's Book Club.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Where Do You Like To Read?

According to our little poll we had on here last week, bed was the number one answer which surprised me.  We never read in bed.  I do not even like reading lying down because to me it is just uncomfortable to lay on my stomach to read like Gerard does or to hold the book up in the air while lying on my back.  My arms get tired after awhile.  Perhaps people reading while sitting up in bed, but to me that is not comfortable either.  Gerard usually reads in a chair which was the second highest answer in our poll.
My favorite place to read is in the library garden on a chair in downtown Cleveland on a nice warm day.  The downside of this is that I have to wear a hat because lots of birds like sitting in those trees and once, a bird's doo doo plopped right on the library book I was reading, Adventures With Ari.  I usually spend my half my lunch hour reading there but most of my reading is done on the bus going to and from work.  This is why I like using public transportation, because I can just sit back and relax with a book. 
Thanks to all who participated in our poll last week.  It's right at the top of our blog for your convenience.  We had 21 voters last week.  So where do you like to read? 

"Freedom" by Daniel Suarez

What was this?  I was excited to read Freedom by Daniel Suarez because it was the sequel to Daemon which was one of the best books I read last year.  Freedom started out really good but then it went south.  I couldn't follow the plot or the characters.  I didn't think this book was good at all so just 2 stars on this one.  My advice is to skip this and spend your time reading something else.  I was sad and disappointed in Freedom because Daemon was so good!  This was not!!  Here is a link to the quote from it for Tuesday Teaser (notice the page number--it's at the beginning).
(Gerard's Review) 

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Why Do I Blog? Good Question! (Writer's Workshop/Back2Blogging Day 5)

I ask myself this question a lot lately because I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by Linky deadlines and the feeling that I should visit all the other links but just don't have the time and if I did, why would I want to spend all day and evening on the computer?  I guess I'm just addicted to blogging now but do get pleasure out of posting things people find funny or interesting, but this SITS Back2Blogging Challenge has really put the pressure on and tuckered me out—talk about time-consuming! 

So, why do I blog? 
  • We learn a lot through blogging—tips, places, needs of others and new things like blogging pets! 
  • I enjoy writing over talking.
  • It’s fun to read about thoughts, views, lifestyles and experiences of others, including the cats and dogs.
  • Sharing with others is just something I like to do.
  • We have made some new friends through blogging through exchanging comments.
  • I find blogging challenging and I like a challenge.

What if we all stopped?  I know I would miss blogging now that I’ve been bitten by the blogging bug.  We would have so much more time though to do other things such as:  Watch TV, clean, get to know our neighbors, go places, read more books, visit people face-to-face, exercise, play more with my pets and talk more with my husband.  What would you do if you didn’t blog.  I think I would get bored after awhile.

Here’s my blogging challenge:  Let’s everyone stop blogging completely for two weeks—no posting, no scheduling posts, no commenting or reading others blogs.  If everyone stopped at the same time, we wouldn’t be missing anything.  I think it is a great idea!  Everyone may come back refreshed with lots of ideas and anxious to do it some more.  On the other hand, we may find that we really don’t miss it and could get on with other things in our life.  Now, which two weeks should the blogosphere take a vacation?  I’m thinking maybe November.  We have to plan it far enough ahead to get the word out.  Who’s with me on this?  Leave your suggestions in the comments.  What do you think?

This post is in response to Day 5 of SITS Back2Blogging  and Mama Kat's Writer’s Workshop prompt:  Why do you blog? What purpose does it serve you and how have you benefited from sharing a piece of yourself online this way?  Here are links to my other posts I wrote for this challenge--Whew!

Day 1--The First Blog Post I Ever Wrote
Day 2--Lenore, The Love of His Life
Day 3--A Title I Am Proud Of:  Why Wash Your Car
Day 4--Inspired By Marva Collins

Over at SITS there is a giveaway going on in connection with "Back To Blogging." The giveaway is a washer and dryer from sponsors, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances.

This is part of Saturday Samplings at Half Past Kissin' Time.

"Work Hard, Play Nice" by Jay Matthews

Work Hard, Play Nice by Jay Matthews is about Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin who started Kipp Charter Schools, "Knowledge is Power" program.  Just two teachers starting out and all the trials, errors and then success they had.  The story of the fellow teachers and students are wonderful!  I really enjoyed this book.  Teachers will love it and maybe pick up a pointer or two.  I'd give it 10 stars out of 5.
Gerard's review 1/28/09)

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Movie Review: "Hotel For Dogs"

This humorous, light, dog movie was just what I needed to life my spirits after watching another disappointing loss by the Cleveland Browns.  “Hotel For Dogs” has parallel story lines going:  the first is a bunch of stray dogs that no one wants to find a home, the second is a brother and sister who have been bounced around in the foster care system in search of a real family.  I love that both story lines have happy endings.   

It’s not very realistic, but very amusing and entertaining.  When the brother and sister find an old, unused hotel, they convert it into a shelter for dogs with all kinds of very nice amenities such as an automatic feeding machine, simulated car rides, treadmills for exercise, a vending machine containing “chewables,” and an automatic clean up bathroom facility.  I thought this was a very cute movie and loved all the dogs that were in it.   Parts were touching and I even shed a few tears of joy at the end when the dogs were being introduced to the community in a last ditch effort to let them stay in the hotel and keep their home.  Thanks to a dedicated social worker, the kids found a good home in the end too.

The only thing I did not like about “Hotel For Dogs” was that the main boy and girl stole things and scammed people to get money at the beginning.  I think that part could have been omitted except it served to show how they changed from being selfish brats to actually caring about others and becoming responsible.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves dogs and kids.  I think kids would like it because the boy and girl were underdogs who acted on their passion and made a difference with the help of some like-minded friends.  The beginning starts off a bit slow, in fact, my husband gave up on it, but it gets good so stick with it.  After I told him how good it was, he felt bad for giving up on it and decided to watch the rest of it after all.
(Karen’s review)

We got this on a DVD from the library that also contains extra information about the making of the film.

Related Posts:  You Must See "Hotel For Dogs" (by Abby our dog) and What A Cat Thought Of "Hotel For Dogs" (by Manny our man cat)

"In A Hearbeat" Leigh Ann and Sean Tuohy

If you read The Blind Side and saw the movie, then you have to read In A Hearbeat by Leigh Ann and Sean Tuohy.  What I loved about In A Hearbeat is that each member of the family told their story and the actors who played their parts in the movie told their story too.  The true stories are very interesting!  It is a fast read and an amazing story about an ordinary family who helped out Michael Oher, a homeless teenage boy who became an NFL football player, by letting him live with them.  An example of Christianity in action!

Here's our thoughts about the movie, "The Blind Side" about Michael Oher.

Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Sept. 14: "Where Are You Now?" and "Freedom"

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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teaser.

And that made me think of my father's anxiety when Mack disappeared and the anxiety Leesey Andrew's father must be feeling now.  Last night on the eleven o'clock news, holding back tears, Dr. Andrews had held up his daughter's picture and pleaded for assistance in finding her. 
From p. 76 of Where Are You Now? by Mary Higgins Clark

As he began to feel the heat of the flames outside and inside, even through all the water raining down on him, the killing machine entered his safe room and unfolded both sword blades with swift precision.  The bike was stained with cooked blood and charred flesh.
From p. 12 of Freedom (The sequel to the national bestseller Daemon) by Daniel Suarez. See Gerard's review of Daemon.

"Daemon" by Daniel Suarez

Daemon by Daniel Suarez is Awesome!  10 stars
I read an article about this book in USA TODAY and thought I would give it a shot.  I'm so glad I did.  This book grabs you from the first page and does not let go!  The twists and turns in this book are fascinating.  It is a thriller about computer technology but you do not need to be computer literate to enjoy this book.  The only downside to this book is that there is a sequel.  I'll be reading that for sure.  If you want to read a terrific book, this is the one to read!  I highly recommend it.
(Gerard's review 1/23/09)

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

"The Secret Life Of CeeCee Wilkes" by Diane Chamberlain

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes is a very good interesting book about mother/daughter relationships and which shows how people change over the years.  A gullible, love starved 16-yr.-old girl, CeeCee, gets involved over her head assisting with a kidnapping that turns out badly.  She makes some very poor choices and gets a new identity and a baby to raise that is not hers.  So many people’s lives are affected by the decisions she makes and I found myself pulling for CeeCee to make the right decisions along the way but time and again, she doesn’t.  It is a book about living with consequences of our actions and morality.

It’s a great story and I liked how it shows the feelings of both mothers and daughters.  I also liked the idea of the mother dying of Cancer writing letters to her daughter to be opened in the future as she got older, even though the daughter opened them all at once.  

I highly recommend this and would suggest it for a book club. This is a must read!

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

Monday, September 13, 2010

"When Zachary Beaver Came To Town" by Kimberly Willis Holt

Kimberly Willis Holt was thirteen when she saw the “Fattest boy in the World” at the Louisiana State Fair.  This memory gave her the idea for When Zachary Beaver Came To Town.  She writes about obesity, friendship and war through Toby’s experience, a thirteen year old boy in the small town of Antler, Texas.  When Zachary Beaver came to town as a sideshow, people stood in line to pay $2 to see him.  He was somewhere around 600 pounds!  He said he didn't mind people paying to see him because people would stare at him anyhow, he might as well get paid for it.

I liked reading how Toby’s feelings about Zachary changed from viewing him as an object, to judging him and disliking him, to actually becoming his friend.  Toby's best friend's brother was serving in the war in Vietnam and Toby was counting the days until his return.  Toby's mother went to follow her dream of becoming a country music singer and left.  Reading this coming of age book was a pleasure because there was not a lot of bad language in it and the characters were good kids.

This is a children’s book that I would recommend to tweeners.  Hopefully, by reading this book kids can become more empathetic of others.

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

Book Club: "The Secret Life Of CeeCee Wilkes" Chapters 50-71

I'm so glad Eve finally told her husband the whole truth about who she really is and what really happened.  He proved to be a good guy when he stuck with her.  Cory understandably was feeling betrayed and very hurt, but I was glad she was able to forgive Eve and not marry Ken.  He was a control freak and I didn't like that he called Jack a "Baffoon."  

The fact that Tim did not implicate CeeCee in the kidnapping showed that he too had changed over the years and in a way, was trying to make up for using her for his own gain. 

It was good to see Cory finally think for herself and venture out of her comfort zone to take charge of her life.  I liked that Irving Russell accepted Cory for who she was and went easy on Eve for her sake.  

I loved the ending when Eve only had to serve one year in prison, she got back her box of letters from her old roommate and visited Tim in Jail to confirm that he was the one who sent the money for Corey.  The reason was a surprise. 

This is a great book!

See what others think of this at Book Beginnings and Bookends.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace

"The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace has a wealth of scriptural advice for wives concerning their call to be a wife.  I never thought of it this way before.  The most foundational tip was to respect and be submissive to your own husband, seeking to be a "helper suitable" to him and to practice "mutual sanctification."  Any woman who wants to be a better wife should read this book and start practicing the principles discussed.   It also has encouragement and advice for Christian women who are married to unbelievers.  It makes for a good women's Bible study.
(Karen's review 1/09)

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"Fleabag" by Helen Stephens

Based on a true story, a homeless dog befriends a little boy and a bond of love and friendship grow.  Fleabag by Helen Stephens is very good and the drawings that go with it are very well done.  The big plus is a happy ending!  I enjoyed it and so did my dog!  Woof!  Woof!
(Gerard's Review)

Fleabag by Helen Stephens is based on a true story about a dog who needed a home, but because he was dirty and had fleas, no one wanted him.  But one day, he met a boy in the part and they became friends.  I liked this childrens’ book about a dog because it has a happy ending with cute pictures.
(Karen's Review)

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

"Having A MARY Heart in a MARTHA World" by Joanna Weaver

When I saw this title, it peeked my curiosity because I have been making more of an effort to be more like Mary than a Martha.  It is a reference to a short story about two sisters in the Bible.  Martha is the busy frazzled one preparing the meal for the company and Mary is the one who visits with Jesus instead of helping Martha.  Jesus said Mary chose the better part.  I think Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World Joanna Weaver would make an excellent Bible study.  It is loaded with scripture and practical suggestions on how to have peace in the midst of our busy lives.  I loved the hula hoop and teetertotter analogies she included.  Peace is the result of spending quiet time with God each day in prayer and reading His Word, being teachable and obedient by abiding in Christ
Throughout Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Joanna draws from resources that she has found helpful, including Navigators 2:7 material.  I thought it was interesting that both the author and I were impacted by the same quote from the Navigators 2:7 material which was that “Christ is waiting for me to come spend time with Him.” 

The main point of Having a Mary Heart in  Martha World is to have a balance between our worship and service.  We should be a combination of both Mary and Martha!  Much of this book was already familiar to me but served as a good reminder to keep abiding in Christ and guarding my quiet time with Him.   Something that jumped out at me was about hospitality and being willing to help the less fortunate because I pass by beggars all the time going to or from work.  Joanna said, "As Christians, as a church, we are called to be hospitable, the very root of hospitality.  Our lives should be a refuge for the hurting, not a country club for the comfortable."  That really spoke to my heart.

This is not a book that goes fast.  There is a lot of “meat” in it and things to think through and apply to your life.  It gives you a lot to “chew” on.  In the back of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World were discussion questions for each chapter with more scripture, a list of suggested devotional books, recommended books related to ministry, sample forms for journaling and more.  I highly recommend Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World to anyone who is feeling overwhelmed with all they have to do or who is looking for a Bible Study that is practical and will make a difference in your life.   

NOTE:  I got this in paperback from the library.  I noticed on Amazon that apparently (according to one of the customer reviews) the hardback copy they sell does not include the discussion questions in the back.  Just a warning to be careful if you order this for a Bible Study. 

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

Friday, September 10, 2010

"Hurricane Season--A Coach, His Team and Their Triumph in the Time of Katrina" by Neal Thompson

I can't say enough good things about Hurricane Season--A Coach, His Team and Their Triumph in the Time of Katrina by Neal Thompson!! This book is remarkable!! It tells the story about how people dealt with Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath and a remarkable man, J. T. Curtis, Head football coach and principal of the John Curtis Christian School. How he and his family brought together a school and the football team is an unbelievable story. Their story will make you cry, laugh and cheer!! I really enjoyed this book A LOT!!!
(Gerard's review 4/08)

Hurricane Season--A Coach, His Team and Their Triumph in the Time of Katrina by Neal Thompson is a true story about triumph through hardship for a private Christian school's football team in New Orleans overcoming the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. This book takes a personal look at the devastation that Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita caused within six weeks. It's about a High School football coach's and his players’ commitment to their school and team in midst of chaos and turmoil. It's about how football can pull a community together.

I particularly liked reading how the coach motivated his players and how he taught them to be men. It was heartwarming to see how much the coach loved his players and cared about their personal lives and not just how they played football.

The ending of Hurricane Season--A Coach, His Team and Their Triumph in the Time of Katrina is very moving and emotional when the team finally gets to play football after it looked like they wouldn't even have a season. As I read about the games, it felt like I was right there in the stands watching and cheering for them. This book started out slow and was pretty sad, but is definitely worth reading to get an inside look at what the people of New Orleans went through during Katrina and how a football team really jelled. It certainly made my few problems look totally insignificant in comparison.
(Karen's review 4/08)

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

"One Good Dog" by Susan Wilson

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson tells the story of Adam Marsh, who is climbing the corporate ladder until one day he loses his cool and everything else.  He has to help out at a soup kitchen and then one day he picks up a Pit bull for somebody, but it’s not the right one and that’s when the story gets very good.  I just loved this book a lot.  If you liked “Racing In The Rain,” you will love this book.  The ending is so good! 
(Gerard's review 6/11/10)

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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Our Favorite Book Review In The Last Three Months (Blog Hop 9/10-9/13/10)

This week the book blogger hop is designed to get people to read a post other than just the blog hop post and leave a comment. We are supposed to post a link to a favorite post or book review that you have written in the past three months so here are some both Gerard and I liked very much:

These were all favorites of ours so take your pick:
Pray For Silence by Linda Castillo
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A Season of Life--A Football Star, A Boy, A Journey To Manhood by Jeffrey Marx

Check out the book giveaway over at I Am A Reader, No A Writer for The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Join the Book Blogger Hop at Crazy For Books

A Great DVD Series: Damages--"Trust No One"

We watched season 3 of "Damages" on Direct TV and loved it so Gerard ordered seasons 1 and 2 from the library to get us caught up.  These were very good too.  The story line is riveting!  We never knew what was going to happen next!  It is about betrayal, relationships, justice, crime with a lot of violence and action. 

The cast did a great job too.  Glenn Close plays Patty Hughes, a cunning and clever attorney, who is the main character.  Gerard thinks it is the best show on TV.  We both highly recommend you watch this series.  Season 4 should be starting soon but you may want to get caught up by viewing the first 3 seasons on DVD like we did.  You won't be disappointed if you like suspense, unexpected developments and legal thrillers

Did you watch this show?

"King of Lies" by John Hart

King of Lies by John Hart is an amazing murder mystery/romance.  It has an intricately woven plot with an ending I did not see coming.  This one started out slow for me but about halfway through, I found it hard to put down.  At first, I didn't like the main character, Work, who was a lawyer accused of murdering his father, but grew to like him as the book went on.  Work tells the story so the reader knows he is innocent.  He is married to a woman but is in love with another and drinks a lot.  I started liking him when he decided to get a dog.   He thought his sister killed their father and was willing to destroy evidence and take the fall in order to protect her.  There is really a lot of family issues that are addressed in this novel that make it a very interesting read. 
(Karen's review 6/9/10)

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

"The Snowball Effect" by Holly Nicole Hoxter

The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter is her first book.  It is a story about Lainy who has to deal with the death of her mom upon graduating from high school. a 5-yr. old orphaned brother, and two boys after her affections. 

I got into this book right from the start.  The characters were believable and enjoyable.  It had funny parts throughout. 

(Gerard's review--5+ stars)

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Dog’s Life--Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin

A Dog’s Life--Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin is my favorite dog book!  A Dog's Life is about a stray dog written from the dog's perspective and wasn't boring at all. I read it straight through in just a few hours. It shows how cruel some people can be but also how nice others can be. It's a story of the dog's life from when she was born to when she grew old but at least it has a happy ending and I'm glad the dog didn't die in the book.

I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about animals or who likes dogs. I wasn't surprised to see the author works with an animal rescue organization.
(Karen's Review 2/09)

Told By a Dog--Awesome! 15 Stars
This is just an awesome book.  Never read a book with a dog telling the story.  You really do feel like you are seeing this through the dog's eyes.  This dog is a stray that first loses her mother and then her brother.  Later she meets a friend.  There are so many good adventures in this book.  Anyone would love this book because you get into it fast and it is hard to put down.
(Gerard's Review 2/09)

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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Never Blame The Umpire" by Gene Fehler

Never Blame The Umpire by Gene Fehler is a teen book about a Kate, a 16yr.-old girl who learns her mother is dying of Cancer.  She uses poetry to express her feelings and blames God for letting her mom get Cancer.  The author was an English teacher and in this book, there is a lot about Kate’s English class.  You can pick up some techniques about writing poems by reading this book. 
Kate and her brother, Ken, are both on the same baseball team and I thought it would be more about baseball based on the cover.  It really only mentions a couple highlights of a couple games.  Kate’s mother helps Kate deal with her death by comparing God to an umpire.    

This is a touching story.  It may be a book that someone in this situation could learn from.  It is written using first person from Kate’s perspective and I could certainly put myself in her place and understood how she felt. 
Personally, I did not care for all the poems and was glad when I finished it.  It was a touching story and I cried at the end.
(Karen's review)

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

Teaser Tuesday: One Non-fiction and Two Teen Books

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Click on any of the links below to see our reviews.

Karen's books:
Part of me is Mary.  I want to worship extravagantly.  I want to sit at his feet.
But part of me is Martha--and there's just so much to do!
From p. 7 of Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver.

Mama's body seems to stiffen.  "I have cancer."
The word pounds me like a tidal wave.  I feel myself drowning.  I take a deep breath, trying to stay above the water.
From p. 51 of Never Blame the Umpire by Gene Fehler. (Teen)

"He's been diagnosed so many freaken' times, I can't keep it straight.  There's the ADHD.  And they think he has attachment disorder.  And sometimes they put him on the autism spectrum."
From p. 76 of The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter. (Teen)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Club: "The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes" Chapters 36-50

Wow, this book keeps getting better and better.  I really like Dru and that her and Cory are so different, yet they get along well.  Tip to mothers, do not leave notes to call people where your children will see them, especially when asking favors on your child's behalf.  I thought Eve calling the play director to ask her to include Corey somehow was perfectly normal for a mother to do.  It worked too.  Corey was included in the play with her sister and she was thrilled.  Unfortunately, she saw the reminder note and figured out her mother called and set it up.  Instead of being thankful Eve did that, she was embarrassed.  

Again, CeeCee should have been more honest with Cory when she asked about tracking down her relatives on her father's side.  It's fun to see a mature CeeCee as a mother but I still think she has no right to keep Cory in the dark about her biological father and let her father think his daughter was never born or is dead.  This to me is her biggest crime.

I thought for sure Eve would get to know Irving Russell better when he became President of the college where she worked and would let him know the truth finally, but she didn't.  At least she didn't get mixed up in another mess by answering the email she received about helping another fugitive.  Score 1 point for her there.  

It's pretty ironic how Cory chose to be involved with Ken, a charming, smooth talker 12 years older with the same pretty eyes Tim had.  I don't really like him too much because of the big age difference and I agree with Marian about not trusting a man who takes a girl from her family.  Something's up with that.  Eve had a funny line though when she said to herself, at least he's not a felon.  I liked the nuances between Eve and Ken.  That whole bottled water bit was funny too.  

Right about at that point, Tim Gleason gets arrested and charged with kidnapping and the murder of Genevieve Russell and her unborn child.  From here on, after every chapter I think "This is SO good!"  Eve is glued to the TV and is obsessed with watching the trial every day and the news to hear the latest updates.  She is scared that the police will be coming for her any day but so far her luck has held out.  Tim actually lied on the stand to protect her--what a nice guy.  

See what others think at Book Beginnings and Bookends.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Duma Key" by Stephen King

Duma Key takes awhile to really get going, but once it does, watch out!!  It is about Edgar who gets in a terrible accident which causes him lose his right arm and scrambles his mind.  He is filled with rage and begins rehab and resumes painting, something that once have him pleasure.  It's about loyalty and compassion  Very interesting characters and a good story with paranormal activity.  I've read better by him, but well worth your time.

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

"Just After Sunset" by Stephen King

Just After Sunset by Stephen King is a collection of short stories by the "Master of Short Stories."  Most of these are very good and I wished they were longer.  I found only a couple that I didn't get into; hence 4 instead of 5 stars.  Must read for all King fans!
(Gerard's review 2009)

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

"Columbine" by Dave Cullen

A Definitive Book!
Forget what you think you know about Columbine.  You will get the true story and much, much more after you read this book.  Dave Cullen had to do a job of research!  Columbine is absolutely riveting which makes it hard to put down.  It goes way beyond just the day of the shooting.  You will learn not only about Eric and Dylan but also other people affected by it too.  The story is gruesome, the writing is superb!  Put this on your "To Read" list.  This story will stay with you long after you are finished reading it.  A lot of the stories of the people whose lives were impacted by the shooting are heartbreaking, gut wrenching and one is a story of triumph!  All makes for one powerful read!  I loved this book and highly recommend it--give it 50 stars!
(Gerard's review 5/21/09)

Columbine is a comprehensive account of the school shooting that is very informative, filled with research, but became tedious for me and depressing.  The author went in-depth revealing not only what happened that day but sharing findings that revealed the thinking of the shooters, and also the horror the victims and their families endured.  I learned a lot about psychopaths by reading this book.  Rumors and myths were exposed, including the story of Cassie Bernall being a martyr and that the shooters were loners and bullied. 

I feel so sad for the victims and their families.  It was a horrible thing to have happen and I felt sad for the shooters who wasted their lives and their parents who really had no clue what their sons were doing, feeling or how to help them.  If you want to find out what really happened and why, I recommend this book.
My husband read this book too and he liked it better than I did.
(Karen's Review 1/23/10) 

Here is a video about it by the author, David Cullen:

Comments we received transferred from our other blog:
I'm still planning to read the Wally Lamb book, too. There was no time while we were getting my book to press and doing the author tour. The tour was a lot of fun, but WAY more daunting than I imagined.
By Dave Cullen on May 21, 2009
Wow. I was ten minutes away when this shooting happened. Not sure I'm ready for such an honest look at something so traumatic yet, but I'm glad that the truth is out there. Columbine is becoming a legend...
By awaitingbloom on May 21, 2009
Thanks for that, Gerard. Very kind of you. (And it did take a lot of work, but it felt worth it.) d
By Dave Cullen on May 21, 2009
Have you read The Hour I First Believed? It makes me want to read the one you suggest.  It's about Columbine, fiction but meticulously researched and quotes from the boys web emails and diaries--fascinating, but the author of I know this much is true & of She's come undone. Wally Lamb, he's spectacular.
By writing on May 21, 2009
I love reading too, this book would interest me. Gattina
By Gattina on January 24, 2010
Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Check out Reading, Reading & Life for a review of the audio book of Columbine.

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Bleachers" by John Grisham

Bleachers by John Grisham is a good book about a high school football coach’s impact on town and players. It was all about the coach but coach was never actually in the story—dying and the players came back to the town for the funeral and all talked about him with each other.  I liked it all right but not as much as his legal thrillers.
(Karen's review 12/03)

Please tell us: What categories of literature do you like? What are you reading now? Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

"The Tower, The Zoo and The Tortoise" by Julia Stuart

I ordered The Tower, The Zoo And The Tortoise by Julia Stuart from the library because of the great reviews it go in USA TODAY and our local newspaper.  The premise of the story sounded good to me.  I really wanted to like it but just could not get into it at all.  The writing is sort of hard to follow.  It was about a couple who lived in a tower with a tortoise and the queen decided to move the animals from zoo to the tower.  The tortoise got away, the couple had problems and I didn't even bother finishing it.  I just skimmed the last 50 pages. I was very disappointed in it and do not recommend it.  I guess I didn't get it.  Did I miss something?  If you liked this book, can you please explain what I missed?
(Gerard's review)

Who are your top five favorite authors? Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Book Blogger Hop September 3-6, 2010

I missed participating last week so we'll answer both last week's and this week's questions sponsored by Crazy For books.

Do you judge a book by its cover?
Yes, I do if I am browsing in the library for something to read.  I definitely am attracted to read the summary on the cover jackets when the cover of the book appeals to me.  Gerard though pays no attention to the cover.  He goes strictly by titles and usually ones he is specifically looking for that he has heard something about.

Do you use a rating system for your reviews and if so, what is it and why?
 I only rate books when I do customer reviews on Amazon.  Gerard, however, has a sporadic rating system which changes from time to time.  Sometimes, he rates books 1-100, sometimes he becomes more traditional and used the 1-5 system but will often add plus signs when he really, really loved it.  He has also gone to a system 1-1000 for those very rare books.  For this blog, however, I have limited his highest rating to 100 stars.  Those are his outstanding books.

Be sure to visit others in this blog hop, it usually gets over 300 participants!
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