October 31, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge #100 (#2 for me!)

1. What creeps you out?

SPIDERS! Ugh, can't stand them! I don't even like fake ones, as silly as that may sound. This time of year, I especially don't like the spidery decorations. In the most recent remake of Charlotte's Web, I could hardly stand to watch the close-ups of Charlotte and she's a "nice" spider! I know, I'm weird. But there's no getting around how much they creep me out, even just thinking about them.....*shudder* Okay! Next question!

2. What's your least favorite candy?

Is that even possible? :) No really, I don't know. I'm not sure I can pin it down to just one. There's a few I don't like, black licorice for instance. Or dark chocolate (milk chocolate all the way for this gal), also not a fan of anything with nuts in it except maybe m & m's. The list could maybe go on but I'll stop with three.

3. Are you a fan of scary movies?  What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?

Absolutely NOT a fan of scary movies. I remember going to a sleep-over with friends from school in about third grade and we watched some scary movie, I don't remember what it was now (actually that's not true, but if I tell you, you'll probably say "Why that's not scary at all!", to which I'll reply "Try telling my eight year old self that!", so I think I'll keep it a secret just in case), and I was the only one still awake halfway through it. I couldn't understand how my friends could sleep through that stuff! So I jumped up and turned it off, but I still had trouble sleeping that night. I was traumatized early I guess. Never have been a fan of scary movies, I don't see that changing, and I'm perfectly okay with that. :)

4. What part of life confuses you the most?

I always imagined that by the time I was a proper adult (whatever that is) I would feel like an adult and thereby make adult decisions. Ha! I am still learning that while I may look adult on the outside, I sure don't feel like it inside all the time. And I sure don't always make the right adult decisions. I look back at some of the things I've said or done and think "And I'm how old? I should totally know better!". I just figured I'd have life a little bit more figured out by now. Sigh, not gonna happen any time soon I don't reckon.

5. Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy...what's your favorite seed?

I can eat any of them, but personally I'd prefer none of them on anything I'm eating. Perhaps in a salad, but only a few. I know, I'm so picky. I try not to be, but what can you do? (You're all probably wondering what kind of person I am by now, right? "Does she like anything?" I do! Really!)

6. Imagine your life ten years from today...what's changed?

Oh boy, I never know what to answer to questions like this. Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I hope I'm a better budget-er, that my nieces and nephews think I'm the best aunt ever, and that I'm even more content with where God has placed me (wherever that may be) and what He wants me to do. I'm sure I could get more personal, but I think I'll leave it right there.

7.  What do you a) love the most and b) like the least about the Hodgepodge?

Considering this is only my second one ever, I don't have a least favorite thing, but I can say that I think this is great fun! I love going to each of the blogs and seeing what everyone else thought up. So far, I seem to find one of two answers that make me say "Why didn't I think of that?". It's just delightful to find out funny little quirks about each other. And to know that I'm not the only with funny little quirks in their life. :)

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Well, considering that this is supposed to be a book review blog first and foremost, I seem to slacked off a little the past couple weeks, haven't I? The only excuse I have for myself is that baseball came in and took over several evenings of my life (Yay Giants!!) I didn't used to be a sports fan of any sort. (My roommate can attest to that. When I first moved in, she would faithfully watch the playoffs and the World Series. I always contented myself with a good book.) But somewhere along the way I watched a game and actually enjoyed it. I could even sort of figure out what was going on! (Because I'm hopelessly confused and unable to figure out football or most other sports, but mostly football.)

So one day a couple weeks ago, I passed through the living room and a game was on. I had to eat at the table (which is in front of her TV), so I watched a few innings and even after I was done eating, I had to finish the game! Then once the San Francisco Giants won their division or series or whatever (see, I'm still a little clueless), and we knew they were going to the World Series, of course I had to watch all those games too. (I was rooting for the Giants simply because I live in CA and they do too and isn't that why you root for teams?)  :)

Anyway, so with all that excitement going on, reading kind of got pushed to the wayside. But now baseball is over, so I'm game to get back to reading faithfully every day. Go Kara go! :)

So what creeps you out?

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Have a safe and fun Halloween and I hope you get lots of your favorite kind of candy! :)

October 30, 2012

Teaser Tuesday {Unforgettable}

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!

My Teasers:
Unforgettable"She rested her head against the door, annoyed with herself. She was thirty-two years old, not an adolescent like Josh's niece Mary. Why couldn't she be more like Rita Hayworth, all sure of herself and slinky?"

~ page 86-87, Unforgettable by Trish Perry

Tuesday again! Boy do the weeks fly by! I interrupted my regularly scheduled reading to try this one again. I read it quite a while ago, and when I saw it sitting on my pile, decided a quick re-read was just what I needed! (Especially as the audiobook I just finished didn't thrill me to bits. I need something to perk me up and get me going again.) What are you reading this week?

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 28, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller

The Carousel Painter
The Carousel Painter
(Read by Rebecca Gallagher)

About the Book:

Carrie loves painting the beautiful carousel horses …but can she stand strong against the many who don’t want her to keep the job?  When Carrington Brouwer receives the enviable job of painting carousel horses for a factory in Ohio, she believes her future is secure. But after an expensive necklace disappears from the home where she’s been staying, she’s caught up in a search for the truth that puts her entire livelihood—and her developing relationship with the factory manager—at risk. Can she lead police to the real culprit before she loses everything?

My Thoughts:

Well, where to begin? I was really hoping I'd like this one. Unfortunately it fell short for me. It's not a bad book, but there were too many things that didn't flow well together. From the very beginning, we're told that Carrie and Augusta Galloway are good friends yet I could never find a reason why Carrie held so tightly to her friendship with Augusta. The person Augusta was painted to be prior to the novel's beginning and what I actually read did not even seem like the same person at all. Personally, I didn't really like Augusta at all. Wealthy, snobbish, and boy-crazy, I was glad she wasn't the protagonist. Carrie herself wasn't very likeable at the beginning, but she does get better after about three-quarters of the way through. Her constant giggling or laughing was extremely annoying and unrealistic to me. I have never felt a laugh "climb up the back of my throat". The conflicts weren't set up that great, but they did keep me wanting to find out what would happen hence the reason I finished listening to the entire story. The romance with Joseph was sweet, but only after it really began which wasn't until more than halfway through. And the transition from Carrie and Joseph unable to understand one another and kind of antagonistic to them enjoying each others company and walking home together after work was very choppy. There was no build up at all in my opinion. I had no idea (other than the blurb telling me it would happen) that Carrie was interested in him until all of a sudden everything he did made her heart pump hard.

Listening to audiobooks has made me aware that trying to write a romantic scene must be difficult! While reading about a kiss, I never noticed anything, but hearing it out loud made me aware of how it really sounds and flows. If it doesn't flow well, reading aloud makes it pretty obvious. (Just a funny little quirk I've noticed and not just in this story.) I don't like being negative, and it was an interesting story. I did enjoy the details of creating carousel animals and painting them! Ms. Miller had obviously done her research in this area. So if you can hang on past the first half of the story (or skip parts of it like I did, I'd skip ahead a chapter every so often), the back half has a little more action and a cute romance. So in conclusion I'm glad I listened to it. Really! I'm sure I won't read it again, but you may like it. I'd just recommend borrowing from the library first.

{I have no passage to share as it's an audiobook. Sorry!}

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 27, 2012

What's On Your Nightstand?

What's On Your Nightstand

{We want to know what your reading stack looks like. What are sitting on your nightstand because you are hoping to get to them this month? Or if you’d prefer, what books are sitting there waiting to be reshelved or returned to the library because you finished them this month?}

This was actually supposed to be posted last Tuesday Oct. 23rd, but I had forgotten that I wanted to try it this month. So I'm a little late, but it's still the same week, so it counts right? I'm counting it. Anyway, here's what's on my nightstand, or more like, what's on my bedroom floor by my bed.

These are all library books that are due pretty soon. I'd better get to reading huh? :)

Currently reading:   Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (Loving it so far!)

To re-read:   Unforgettable by Trish Perry (I read this one months ago. The "new" sticker is a little deceptive. Saw it at the library and decided it was worth a reread to see if I liked it as well the second time around.)

To read:   Yesterday's Stardust by Becky Melby (This one actually is new! Didn't realize until I clicked over to goodreads that this is #2 in a series. But it looks like #1 is about a different character, so it shouldn't be a problem to read out of sync. Here's hoping!)

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin (A friend suggested this one. Said it seemed like just the sort of book I'd like. With a recommendation like that, of course I have to try it!)

Faith Bass Darling's Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge (The title itself intrigued me. We'll see whether the story lives up to the title or not.)

There you have it! Click over to 5 Minutes For Books and see what's on everyone else's nightstands. :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

TSMSS - I Choose To Believe

{The instructions are easy. Just write a post on your blog about a song. It can be a song that has spoken to your heart during a difficult time... a song that brings back a special memory... a song that makes you want to sing along at the top of your lungs... a song that makes you glad... a song that makes you want to dance... a song that has inspired you... a song that makes you feel like the words were written just for you... a song that makes your soul sing. ~ from Amy's blog}
This Sunday is my mother's birthday which is why I chose this particular song. My mother suffers from Parkinson's, which is a debilitating disease. She was diagnosed when I was quite young and did incredibly well for years and years. Then a few years ago she tripped and fell down, breaking her pelvic bone. Something about that fall threw her body out of whack (more than just a broken bone I mean) and she is now having to use a wheelchair on a daily basis (she didn't need one before). This all sounds depressing, I know. And some days it is. Actually a lot of days it is. She does have good days; that's the thing with this disease, you never know what your day will be like until you wake up that morning. Some days she has good control of her movements and other days not.  But!!!! She still gets up every morning! (There are days I don't want to get out of bed and I don't face the prospect of requiring someone to help me dress or get breakfast ready.) My mother is one of the strongest people I know. In fact, I'm positive that she has no clue how strong she really is! She is an amazing woman and I'm incredibly blessed to have her as my mother.

All that long paragraph to simply state that I chose this song because it reminds me of her. In the midst of her struggles and frustrations, she still believes in God. She still believes that He has a plan for her. She still believes that something good will come out of this, even if she can't see it, or maybe won't see it. She is a wonderful example of hope and trust to me and everyone around her. Here's to you mom! I think God picked the best one out there just for me! I love you.

{On a side note, I know this week has been pretty book review-less. I hope to have at least one coming this weekend. Just in case you were wondering.}

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 24, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge #99

1.  So, do you like beer?

(Joyce says 99 always reminds her of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall". So this question does originate from logic. :)

I've never actually tried beer, but as I don't really enjoy wine (the only other alcoholic drink I've tried and yes, I do know they are different), nor do I like the smell of beer, I have never even been tempted to try and see if I'd like it.

2.  What's your least favorite repetitive task?

Hmmmm, I'd probably say laundry or grocery shopping. I cannot stand to do either job, and like clockwork, they shout to be done every week. Yuck.

3.  When was the last time you rode a bus?  Where was it headed? 

I'm pretty sure the last time was a youth Christmas caroling several years ago. We traveled around in a school bus from house to house. It was actually quite fun. :)

4.  What song from your childhood or from your own children's childhood could make a parent's nerves stand on end? 

The first song that popped into my head was: "This is the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friend, some people started singing it not knowing what it was and they'll continue singing it forever just because this is the song that never ends...."  Are you singing it in your mind now? :) (If it makes you feel better, so am I.)

5.  The US Presidential election cycle is drawing to a close (can I get an AMEN??), and the third and final debate was held last night...what was the last thing you 'debated about'?

I honestly have no idea. My friend's husband seems to like engaging me in conversation and twisting me around in circles until I concede to him, but we haven't done that in a while. Sooo........next question?

6.  Can a person make too much money?  How much is too much?

Not sure you can have too much money necessarily, what it really depends on is how you spend it. You can make millions and donate 90% of it, and I'd say you're not making too much. On the other hand, you can make hundreds and spend every cent on frivolous things you desire in the moment, and I'd say not that you make too much money, but obviously you're not too smart with what you do have. Does that make sense?

7.  Pop-soda-coke-something else...what's it called where you live?

I grew up calling it 'soft drinks'. Now I live in another state, and I call it mostly 'soda', but 'pop' comes out pretty often also. I actually rather like calling it 'pop', no specific reason, it's just a fun word to say. Don't you think? :)

8.  Insert your own random thought here. 

Since this is my very first attempt at this hodgepodge, I don't have much to add. Other than I think this is great fun! :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 23, 2012

Teaser Tuesday {Crocodile on the Sandbank}

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!

My Teasers:
Crocodile on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody #1) "People of that sort seldom fall ill; they are too busy pretending to be ill. Yet no sooner had we reached Rome than Miss Pritchett succumbed to the typhoid, like the weak-minded female she was."

 ~ page 6, Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

Happy Tuesday! I'm excited to read this one. I think I will laugh a lot. (At least that's what I'm hoping.)  :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 21, 2012

Review: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

The Mountain Between Us
The Mountain Between Us: A Novel

About the Book:

On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport.  Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding.  Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day.   When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection.   And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, if barely, Ben offers the seat to Ashley knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently.   And then the unthinkable happens.  The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness-- one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. 

Ben, who has broken ribs and Ashley, who suffers a terrible leg fracture, along with the pilot's dog, are faced with an incredibly harrowing battle to survive. As the days on the mountains become weeks, their survival become increasingly perilous.  How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever?

My Thoughts:

Well, I finally got this one finished. I must admit it was slow going in the beginning. In fact, I'd say that the first third is very slow. That may seem strange when I'm talking about the parts of the story that involve a plane crash and the first few days after.  But it took me a good while to really get into the story. (I started it, had to put it down and it took me a while to want to pick it up again. I'm glad I did though!) Once Ben and Ashley leave the crash site, perhaps about halfway through or so, it starts picking up. And what an adventure they had! I cannot fathom living each day, each moment actually, having to make life or death decisions all the time. Because each decision they make really means that what they do or don't do will allow them to live or will hasten their deaths. The pain and exhaustion have to be put aside so they can go on. That constant adrenalin rush is tough on a healthy person, but on a wounded person it's even worse. (I'll add that if I'm ever in a plane crash in a remote wilderness like that, I want a Ben Payne with me! That man is amazing, going above and beyond to keep Ashley alive and kicking. Literally!) The story is told from Ben's point of view and he occasionally takes a few moments to record his thoughts to his wife, telling her about what he's going through, and reminiscing about their life together. The rest of the story is just focusing on surviving. This is really a thoughtful book, because Ben and Ashley are the only ones around during most of it, and Ben has a ton of time to think. Each decision made, each conversation he and Ashley have, each moment builds on the next and the next. Really the book isn't so much about whether Ben and Ashley survive, as it is about how this experience changes them. You don't stay total strangers with someone when you have to help them dress, or go to the bathroom, or any number of personal things that Ashley can't do for herself on account of her broken leg.

Then there's the twist at the end! Mr. Martin gives little bitty hints about it, but you'd have to be pretty discerning to figure it out before it happens. Well done indeed! I had been told that the last parts of the story made you want to go back and reread it and they were right. I had to go back and read certain parts again to understand that no lies were ever really told, but important details were just withheld. There were lots of little moments that I had completely looked over and now make a lot more sense. Mr. Martin is an excellent writer, his descriptions made me feel like I was on that mountainside with Ben and Ashley in the cold and snow wondering if I would survive. Basically I'm really glad I read this book, but it's not one that I'm dying to reread again. I probably will someday though. I think you should definitely read it, but not necessarily go out and buy it at the first opportunity. Maybe borrow from the library first.

A passage for you:

"By the way....I'm lost, and since I'm lost, we're lost. Won't take much to kill us out here. We're circling the drain now. That big cat nearly did us in. You should know, you were dancing with it. I guess the rub is, if I die, she dies. Not to mention your dog....whose name I can't remember."
A cold wind cut through me, and I zipped up my jacket. "I'm not pretending to be more important than I am, but I'm not asking for me. I'm asking for that girl in there with the broken leg and the slowly breaking spirit. She thinks she's hiding it, but she's not. She's tough, but this up here....this'll break anybody." I looked around. "This is....a tough place. It'll strip your hope fast." A tear broke loose and fell down my face. My hands were cut, scabbed and cracking. I shook my head, my lip trembling. "You and I....we never really finished our conversation, but I can tell you this....living with a broken heart is living half dead, and that doesn't mean you're half alive. It means you're half dead. And....that's no way to live."

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

October 19, 2012

Mini Reviews


Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
This is really a cute story! Julia and Ashleigh are such fun girls. I initially picked this one up because it referred to Ashleigh as an enthusiast of Jane Austen. But it captivated my attention beyond that and made me fall in love with it. Oh to be an enthusiast! Although come to think of it, I am an enthusiast.....about books at least. Ashleigh pushes Julia far out of her comfort zone, and some pretty cool things happen because of that. Cute boys to name one. :) It's a pretty quick read and I urge you to try it. Just a quirky and fun little story that will brighten your day.

Epic Fail
Epic Fail by Clair LaZebnik

Read this one if you like Jane Austen sequels. It's pretty much a modern, teenage Pride and Prejudice. Derek and Elise rub each other wrong from the get-go, and like the original, Derek falls first and slowly brings Elise around to seeing him as a nice guy. Nothing new, but it is cute. Like I said, if you enjoy Jane Austen sequels and/or young adult books, you'll enjoy this one.

Awkward by Marnie Bates
Oh my goodness I laughed all the way through this! Poor Mackenzie, an overnight success on YouTube for all the wrong reasons. I absolutely cannot imagine something like that happening to me, I'd be miserable and never want to leave the house again. But not Mackenzie, she steps right up and looks all that embarrassment in the eye, and marches forward. Her journey is quite interesting to say the least. She makes plenty of mistakes, but keeps going and learns exactly what she does want and what and who she likes and wants in her life. She has lots to learn actually, but you have great fun walking alongside her as things escalate and escalate even more.(Seriously, the things that girl has to go through!)

Fools Rush In (Weddings by Bella, #1)
Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson
Combine an Italian girl living in Texas, with an honest-to-goodness Texas cowboy, add in both crazy families, along with a dash of wedding planning and pizza making. Not to mention all the other myriad of things that go wrong and cause chaos and there you have it folks. A guaranteed hour or three of laughter and smiles. Bella's Italian family, and DJ's Texan family make quite the combo. It is an absolutely fabulous book! An amazing start to a trilogy. You must, must, must, must try it. (If I add another 'must' would you get my point? Or is five two many?)  :) One of my favorites, it's on my shelf and definitely not going away anytime soon. If you don't enjoy Uncle Lazarro and his antics along with everyone else, then I'm sorry, but you must be crazy. (You may not like it, but surely you'll laugh regardless! At least I hope so, because I did.)

There You'll Find Me
There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones
Finley has been through so much. It's never easy to lose to someone you love dearly. And her brother Will was pretty special. So she goes to Ireland, retracing a trip that Will had taken years earlier, and meets Beckett Rush, vampire movie actor. Sounds intriguing right? Trust me, it's a great read. Funny (I mean, you're dealing with actors who star in vampire movies) yet serious (because Finley has some real issues she needs to deal with), it does a good job at combining the two. Finley's adventure in Ireland changes her. She is able to grow up and through the caring people around her (not to mention the grouchy old lady she visits at the nursing home) she learns how to let go and let God. It's cute watching Finley and Beckett circle one another, not too sure about the other. But they do help each other deal with emotions that they've both been struggling with. It's just a sweet and fun story that I definitely recommend!

Alrighty folks, that's all she wrote. Just a few quick words to hopefully add to your already large pile of to-reads. Enjoy! :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday {The Mountain Between Us}

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!

The Mountain Between UsMy Teasers:
 "Then, as if he'd done it a thousand times, he pancaked the plane against the mountain. The tail touched first, then the left wing, which hit something and snapped off."

~ page 37, The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Happy Tuesday! I started this one a couple weeks ago, and haven't gotten back to it. I'm hoping this will get me interested again. :)

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 13, 2012

Review: Sean Griswold's Head

Sean Griswold's Head
Sean Griswold's Head

About the Book:

According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object-an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas-it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking-er, focusing on-Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own. 

My Thoughts:

I read this one last year and decided it was time for a reread. Payton has always got along well with her parents and done decently in school. But when she discovers that her dad has been diagnosed with MS and nobody told her for six whole months, she's unable to process her chaotic emotions. On one hand she wants to be there for her father, whom she's always been close to, but on the other hand she's incredibly upset that everyone else in her family knew about it for that long and nobody told her. I can relate to Payton's feelings, my mother has Parkinson's Disease. When a parent is diagnosed with a crippling disease like that, it's hard for a child or a teenager to know how to handle it. I mean, I'm an adult now and still learning how to do that. And to find out that everyone else knew about it for six whole months before I did? Well, I may not think Payton's response is right, but it is understandable. This is where Sean Griswold comes in. He provides a welcome distraction from all the frustration at home. Sean and Payton are just so adorable! And Payton's Focus Journal thoughts on Sean and his head are funny. But he does help her to start figuring out what she thinks and how she'll handle her dad having MS. He also introduces her to a new sport-biking. Which is exactly what Payton needs, a way to work out her emotions physically. She had previously played basketball, but since she had shared that with her dad, she feels guilty and upset and won't play anymore. Her best friend Jac, and Sean's friend Grady, also provide support (in Jac's case) and teach Payton to look beyond the superficial in a person (in Grady's case).

Ms. Leavitt balances really well between the seriousness of a disease and the cuteness of new love. Payton is still growing up and she's learning early that life hands out some bad hands sometimes. She just has to remember that there are silver linings in whatever we go through. Talking about our feelings, whether to a parent, a friend, or a counselor is important. Serious diseases like MS are awful and they affect the patient's family just as much as the patient themselves. But it is possible to get through it, and even find some awesome new friends (or even a boyfriend!) along the way. It's not the end of the world, but the beginning of a new chapter in your lives. This really is a delightful little story. Sweet and serious, it's a wonderful little gem that makes for a nice few hours of reading time. Definitely recommend!

A fun passage:

So, with the aid of Jac, I go into full 007 mode with the Great Plant Idea. We find Miss Marietta's home address online, which is only a quarter of a mile away from me. Jac insists on writing the card, which works for me since my dreams lately have been haunted by its endless blankness. My job is to pick up the plant, which I do with the help of a begrudging Trent. Jac meets me at the front of our teacher's housing community at 1500 hours.
"Do you have the card?" I peek out from behind one of the plant's massive spikes.
"You didn't ask that right. Code, remember?"
I roll my eyes. "Has the white dove landed?"
"Roger. Are you ready to deliver the green goblin?" Green goblin = well, duh, right? Our code talk is more obvious that Pig Latin.
After a secret handshake and three strolls around the block to "stake out the place"-in case, you know, Russian spies try to thwart the delivery-we ease the plant onto the doorstep. Jac places a gloved finger over her lips while she rings the doorbell. Then we sprint to the hedge lining the right side of her yard.

Toodle-loo kangaroos!

October 12, 2012

Review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments: A Novel

About the Book:

Beth and Jennifer know their company monitors their office e-mail. But the women still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers at the newspaper and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can't seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

When Lincoln applied to be an Internet security officer, he hardly imagined he'd be sifting through other people's inboxes like some sort of electronic Peeping Tom. Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can't quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can't help but be entertained-and captivated- by their stories.

But by the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? "Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you." After a series of close encounters and missed connections, Lincoln decides it's time to muster the courage to follow his heart . . . even if he can't see exactly where it's leading him.

My  Thoughts:

Okay, so I've been seeing this one around the blogosphere and read such good things about it. Why did I wait so long to read it again? I have no idea, but I'm glad I finally gave in! (And I love that cover.) This is such a fun little story. I laughed most of the way through it. (Really) Set in 1999, it brought back all the memories of Y2K that I had forgotten, i.e. the worries people had and the crazy things they did. Hard to believe that's been over 13 years ago now. I will say that the beginning is a little slow. It didn't really pick up until about halfway through, but then all the set up of the beginning really kept me hooked. You know pretty well what the ending is going to be, still the adventures until you get there are what make this story so wonderful. Beth and Jennifer are such great friends and you can tell that even though you only read their emails. They truly care for one another. There certainly wasn't much about themselves that they didn't tell one another either. And Lincoln. Poor Lincoln. So lost and confused; trying to figure out his life and really, himself. A big portion of the story is Lincoln figuring out who he is and what he wants out of life. I can relate to being older and still unsure where your life is headed. It's tough, and Lincoln has the added burden of having been hurt in the past and finding it hard to move beyond this. 

I loved all the times Lincoln kept missing actually seeing Beth. Beth sees him way before he sees her and their constant missed connections are cute. Lincoln is cute! (Literally and figuratively.) He gets so adorably flustered and jealous. And he is just a genuinely nice and sweet guy. He starts feeling so so guilty about reading people's emails, especially Beth's and Jennifer's. And he has no clue how to fix this dilemma that he got himself in. I was getting pretty worried towards the end that the resolution would be rushed and perhaps not as I was hoping, but Ms. Rowell knew what she was doing. It was a sweetly romantic book that was wonderful to read. The one thing I did not like is that it does have some bad language. Not excessively so, and the most of it is towards the beginning so it didn't really detract from the story, but I do think it would have been just fine without it. Also it is about 28 year olds, and they don't all lead clean, moral lives (nothing in detail, but it is alluded to). So if that bothers you, you may want to bypass this one. But if you can overlook that, then you're in for a real treat! I highly recommend this one.

A couple of favorite passages:

<Jennifer to Beth>> Oh, I love period dramas, especially period dramas starring Colin Firth. I'm like Bridget Jones if she were actually fat.
<<Beth to Jennifer>> Oh...Colin Firth. He should only do period dramas. And period dramas should only star Colin Firth. (One star upgrade for Colin Firth. Two stars for Colin Firth in a waistcoat.)
<<Jennifer to Beth>> Keep typing his name, even his name is handsome.

<<Jennifer to Beth>> Anyway, he changed my tire for me. It took him eight minutes, tops. I just stood there holding his dinner (McDonald's) and watched. And cried. I must have looked wildly pathetic because he said, "I have some French fries in there if you want them." I thought that was such a weird thing to offer, but frankly, I'm exactly the sort of person to be comforted by French fries, so I ate them.

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

October 9, 2012

Bouquets of Newly Sharpened Pencils

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." ~Joe Fox (You've Got Mail) 
Okay, I'm not in New York, but I always smile at that quote. (And watching Meg Ryan sniff a box of tape.) "Newly sharpened pencils." I wonder how you could actually make one of those and what it would look like. (Yup, I'm strange. I admit it.) However, Fall is here! Hallelujah! Yes, I do realize that fall has officially been around a few weeks already. Nevertheless here in California, we've been having lots and lots of heat. But this weekend it cooled down and I'm pretty sure the fall weather is here to stay. I love fall (and spring!). The cooler weather, the wonderful colors, the scrumptious food, what's not to like? I enjoy the summer weather that allows me to wear sandals, but usually it gets so hot that sandals don't make it better. But the fall......I can wear sandals yet still breath outside. The heat around here gets atrocious. But that's in the past! Fall is here!

The air is so crisp, I love driving with my windows down. (Not so much a fan of the loud music and car exhaust though. Ah, life in the city.) It makes me wish for home. Home being Virginia that is. I miss lots of things about VA, but the beautiful fall colors are definitely near the top of the list (my family being at the very top). Don't get me wrong, we do get trees changing color out here. In fact one of the streets I drive down every day on my way home from work has trees lining it that turn gorgeous colors this time of year. I've tried taking pictures, but alas have had no luck getting any good ones. (Maybe this year.) Still, the colors here are nothing in comparison to VA in the fall. My parents house is surrounded by woods, so just about every tree turns  and when you go outside you're awash in rainbows of color. Sigh, and now is just about the right time to see it in all its glory.

“My heart is drumming in my chest so hard it aches, but it's the good kind of ache, like the feeling you get on the first real day of autumn, when the air is crisp and the leaves are all flaring at the edges and the wind smells just vaguely of smoke - like the end and the beginning of something all at once.” ~Lauren Oliver

Speaking of VA, that reminds me of the books I read last week. And that brings to mind a question I have. I was raised in VA (obviously) and it was pretty well ingrained in me to say 'yes ma'am' and 'yes sir' to people. It's just mannerly. I never thought about it much until I moved to CA and suddenly I'm getting yelled at by people. Not really yelled at I suppose, but certainly questioned about it. I'll give you an example to demonstrate what I mean. One day I was in the drive-through for Burger King. After the guy read my order back to me, I responded "Yes sir, thank you". And he piped up real quick and said, "I'm not a sir! Why are you calling me sir?" Now he didn't seem upset, but he was serious. I kind of hesitated and when I got up to the window he mentioned it again. I forget how I responded exactly, but I did apologize in case I'd really offended him. But what in the world was I supposed to do? It just slipped out, out of habit, and there I was. So I need some advice, if 'ma'am' and 'sir' are so offensive, what should I use instead? Do I just not use anything? That's probably what most people will say, but that feels awkward to me. No idea why really, it just does. Has anybody else experienced any such thing? Any advice for this gal? I surely don't want to offend someone.

My "southern speak" is pretty noticeable evidently. I get questioned A LOT about where I'm from. On the phone, in the store, people remark on it all the time. (Well, perhaps not ALL the time, but really often nonetheless!) Of course my friends all say "Don't lose it, Kara! We like it!" But let me tell you one thing, when it comes to my southern accent, I have absolutely positively no control over what it sounds like! Whatever and however it comes out is just how it is. Truthfully, I really don't mind the comments. Makes for great conversation starters, and I can always use more of those! :) I just have to laugh at all the questions I get. I mean, you know you've got a serious accent if someone on the phone (who has a deep south accent themselves) asks you where you grew up.

So I hope you're all out and about enjoying this glorious autumn weather! (That's assuming your weather is glorious. I sincerely hope it is.) I haven't spent tons of time outside, but I don't complain about going out to the warehouse at work now. During the hot summer months, it's like an oven in there. And you have to go through it to get to the lunch room, so I'm really thankful it's cooled down. Now I'm off to continue my book. (It should really help me cool down as it takes place during a terrible bad winter snowstorm. I'll probably shiver under my covers tonight.) Review hopefully coming soon!

{And don't forget to let me know your advice on what I should call people instead of ma'am and sir! I could really use the help.}

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Hoppy reading!

October 6, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning: A Novel
The Pursuit of Lucy Banning,A Novel (Avenue of Dreams)
(Read by Eleni Pappageorge)

About the Book:

She has a secret to keep. But will she give her heart away? Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago's rich and famous, but her heart lies elsewhere. Expected to marry an up-and-coming banker from a respected family, Lucy fears she will be forced to abandon her charity work and squeeze herself into the mold of the well-dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating. When she meets Will, an unconventional young architect who is working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World's Fair, Lucy imagines a life lived on her own terms. Can she break away from her family's expectations? And will she ever be loved for who she truly is? Get swept away into the lavish world of Chicago's high society as Olivia Newport brings to life an age of glitz and grandeur, stark social contrasts, and one woman who dares to cross class lines for what she believes.

My Thoughts:

Well, my first audiobook that I had not read the paperback version first. It certainly had me hooked into the story! I kept taking the long way home from work just so I could listen longer. This story is not high drama or edge of your seat reading, but it really has its charms. It's told mostly from Lucy's point of view but occasionally changes viewpoint to Charlotte-Lucy's maid, Daniel-Lucy's fiance, and Will-Lucy's brother Leo's good friend. I wasn't expecting the changes based on the blurb, but they didn't distract from the story. Actually it was rather helpful to get another point of view in particular situations. Lucy is very forward thinking and loves all the newfangled inventions and modern brain-waves. For instance she enjoys usage of the street cars while her parents refuse to use them. And her father! Beset by mysteriously disappearing sentimental things from his study, he gets all blustery and frustrated and so funny! Ms. Pappageorge does an excellent job at distinguishing each character's voice. I especially loved Lucy's father and Penard, the family butler. The centerpiece of the story though is all the work the city of Chicago was going through to get ready for the World's Fair. Of course Lucy's family, being very well-to-do, helped on several committee's and thus we are privy to lots of the inside goings on. Ms. Newport certainly did her research on the World's Fair, all the tiny details on who designed this and how this was built and who spoke at the opening day and what they said. She does a great job in letting the reader be a fly on the wall as all the bustling and controlled chaos are going on. 

Yes there is romance, but it's not the full focal point of the story. In fact, a lot of it goes on behind the scenes, and we just get glimpses of important moments. Which is needful as the story has to cover close to a year's time-frame. One thing that did bother me was the fact that Lucy agreed to Daniel's proposal prior to the start of the story. We find out pretty much from the get go that she is not happy with this state of affairs, yet she did agree to it knowing that she didn't really want to marry him. It just bothered me that she wasn't a little more considerate of Daniel's feelings in the beginning. But though this frustrated me, it did not take away my enjoyment of the story. Ms. Newport keeps you wondering what will happen and why so-and-so is acting this or that way. Like I said, it's not high drama but a charming look into a historical period in the US. She also nicely finishes the story, but still leaves some things open ended enough that I will look forward to the second book in the series, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow. So go read this one or better yet, listen to the audiobook, it's loads of fun!

{Alas, as I listened to it, I have no passage that I can share. So sorry.}

Toodle-loo kangaroos. Happy reading!

October 4, 2012

Review: Like Sweet Potato Pie by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Like Sweet Potato Pie
Like Sweet Potato Pie (Southern Fried Sushi)

(Warning-spoilers for book one)

About the Book:

As a new christian, former journalist Shiloh Jacobs has plenty of problems. But money, or lack of it, tops the list. Her redneck country house in rural Virginia that was left to her in her mom's will is the last place on earth Shiloh thought she'd find herself. As soon as the house sells, she can't wait to flee back to big-city life. But now the IRS is threatening to seize the house for back taxes while her half sister is contesting the will. And nobody's offering the big bucks Shiloh needs for the house.

To make matters worse, Shiloh finds her life unexpectedly entangled with a man who's all wrong for her and just as financially strapped. Plus, he's a local--settled in the one place she can't wait to leave. She wouldn't have noticed him before, but after giving her life to Jesus, everything looks different. When other more "suitable" men show up, can Shiloh lean on her new faith to see who's right? Or will circumstances overwhelm her fragile faith and budding romance?

My Thoughts:

After devouring book one yesterday, I went on to book two tonight. It was great to get back to the hills of ol' Virginny! The quirky yet genuine and down home folks are just so much fun. Like book one, Shiloh still can't understand all the ways of the south, but she appreciates it all the same. Well...mostly anyway. The first book was all about Shiloh finding peace and adapting to life in the south. Now that she's adapted (for the most part), she needs to figure out who this new Shiloh is. I loved how she has acclimated somewhat, yet still has so much to learn. Especially regarding hunting season and all that glorious fried food. One thing I can definitely give her props for is that she is not afraid to eat something new. She'll ask all sorts of questions about it first, but she will try it. I mean, if I were being introduced to some of that southern food for the first time, I'd probably turn up my nose at a lot of it. I'm not quite as adventurous as Shiloh. :)

One of the major parts to her story is Shiloh learning to let others in. To let them love her in spite of herself; learning what to hold on to, what to let go of, and that family isn't always the ones who are blood-related. The people who are there beside you no matter what, and pick you up again and again, that's family! And you don't let them go out of your life! Nosiree. Another big theme is of course her romance with Adam. It's sweet yet frustrating. One thing those two kids certainly need is a lesson in communication! Man are they bad at it! Which makes for some teeth gnashing moments where you just want to knock their heads together. As real relationships take a lot of work, so too does fictional ones.

Overall this was a fabulous story and now I can't wait for book three! I only have to wait until November, good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise. That means you have a whole month to read books' one and two and you'll be ready for book three also! So what are you waiting for?

A fun passage for you:

"As for this place, well, they don't got no grits or nothin'. Kinda weird fancy stuff, I reckon, but I find somethin' ev'ry now an' then that don't crawl off my plate!"
He leaned closer to Kyoko and dropped his voice as if revealing a secret. "Speakin' a weird stuff, you really eat raw fish like Shah-loh here? I snagged a catfish the other day, but if ya saw the inside a that'n, ya'd never eat raw fish again. I guarantee it." He whipped out his cell phone. "Hold on. I got some pitchers in here somewhere! You ever eat spaghetti? It's kinda like that, but---"
"So, Todd," Kyoko interrupted loudly. "Do you draw anything else? I mean, anything that's not catfish?" She sent a look in Tim's direction.
"Why, ya don't like 'em?" asked Todd in surprise. "They're real good eatin'. But then again, they are bottom dwellers, so go figure."

Toodle-loo kangaroos! Happy reading!

October 3, 2012

Review: Southern Fried Sushi by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Southern Fried Sushi: A Novel
Southern Fried Sushi: A Novel

About the Book:

At just twenty-four, Shiloh Jacobs is on her way to the top at a coveted Associated Press post in Tokyo and engaged to Carlos, one of the most handsome and wealthy men around. She doesn't need help from anyone, especially God. But when she receives the news about her estranged mother's untimely death and travels to rural Virginia to sell the house she's inherited, life begins to unravel before Shiloh's eyes.

Trapped in an iconic Southern town full of pick-up trucks and deer hunters, Shiloh stumbles into unlikely friendships with quirky people like the widow who knew her mom, a chain-smoking next-door neighbor, and a funny but genuine redneck couple whose dream is to overcome infertility to have a child. Broken and confused, Shiloh tries to salvage what's left of her once dream-come-true life. But as the situation goes from bad to worse with no job, no buyers for her house, and old debts piling up, will Shiloh ever get back to her beloved Japan--or will she find a new home at the intersection of loss, laughter, and forgiveness?

My Thoughts:

I saw this book last year when it first came out and because of the title, I glanced over it. But somehow I didn't think it would be the story for me, so I left it. What a bad idea! I should have grabbed it up immediately! As a southern girl myself who moved to the big city, I can absolutely relate to Shiloh's culture shock. The quirky neighbors, the friendly people, waving at everyone you meet regardless if you know them or not; this story was like going home again. Ms. Spinola did an excellent job of describing the atmosphere of the south along with the people without making them caricatures. The warmth and friendliness of those who live down there is very true to life. It made me want to visit again! If you live in the south, have lived there, or have visited, you'll see really quickly that Ms. Spinola knows what she's talking about. Granted, trying to write out a southern drawl is pretty difficult, but it works. I could hear missing consonants and the y'alls as I was reading them! :)

Now the story is about Shiloh and her journey, but the real character and the real momentum of the story is simply the town of Staunton (STAN-ton, not STAWN-ton) and people who live there as a whole. Getting to know "Southern Speak", hugging everyone, the whole atmosphere. It's like a sweet love song about the quirks and the craziness of us southerners, that doesn't make sense to anyone until they've spent some time there themselves. Ms. Spinola gives everyone a chance to do just that! Shiloh's journey is not easy though. In fact, I didn't start out liking her too much. Her selfishness and wrong decisions, her whining; at times they bugged me. But thankfully she doesn't stay that way (and the character has to start out at a bad place so they can change, right?). She soon comes to appreciate these people and their charms. Who could withstand those who love and help you even when you insult them and complain? Shiloh is brought very low, pretty much rock bottom; but with new friends picking her up and reminding her it will be okay, she slowly moves out of her pit. Still, life isn't all sunshine and roses, so Shiloh's life isn't miraculously restored to what it was. Instead it's very realistic in the struggles that God allows to be thrown her way and how she works to get through them.

There's more books about Shiloh. I was very happy to realize that the library had books 1 and 2, and tonight I found out book 3 is coming out soon. Can't wait! :) Several moments of laughter and smiling happen when you read this story! Do yourself a favor and try it.

A favorite passage:

I made a mental note to write starlings in my "Southern Speak" notebook. I'd already started the second page, thanks to Faye and Bobbie. One corner of his mouth turned up in a smile. "I try. So, Churchville. Let me see the map."
I followed his directions, asking questions, until he drew a big circle around the funeral home. "That's it right there, just off 42. Or Buffalo Gap Highway. But you might not see any road signs. Out there things are a little...well, less posted. People just sort of know where they are. So look for these things." He drew in some more notes and--I'm not making this up--something like bugs with stick legs.
"What are those?" I asked, not intending to sound rude. "Roaches?"
"Those are cows. There's a pasture here."

Source: google.com via Kara on Pinterest


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