June 30, 2013

Don't Forget What Happens Tomorrow!!

Just a reminder, in the slight, slight chance you've forgotten, that tomorrow marks the demise of Google Reader. So if you follow this blog of mine (THANK YOU by the way! I love all of my dear followers. :), be sure to change over to another reader of your choice today.

I have Bloglovin and Feedly buttons over to the right for your convenience. I've tried both and like both. But I admit to liking Feedly better. The set up and the look and how it works, it all combined to be a lot more user friendly for me. But Bloglovin is nice also. Just research a little, check them out and play with them and decide which one is right for you. :)

Happy Sunday, everyone! I'm hoping to get some reading done today so perhaps there will a review or two this week. I haven't had much time for reading recently (shock! I know!) as I've had some friends from out of state visiting and other plans also. Real life takes precedence sometimes. But my regularly scheduled life should be back this week. Hopefully anyway.

*Edited: Evidently Google Friend Connect is not going away! So yay for that. (Thanks to all who pointed that out by the way.) It doesn't hurt to check that you follow your favorite blogs via another reader though. :)

June 28, 2013

Untangling My Thoughts

"You are inclined to get muddled, if I may judge from last night. Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them." ~ E. M. Forster

I've been slowly making my way through E.M. Forster's A Room With A View. I'm quite enjoying myself! :) Mr. Forster is an excellent writer. The quote above reminded me of some conversations I've had recently. (Looking at you, Ganise and Mary! ;) Conversations about how writing things out helps my thoughts to make more sense. "Our thoughts get untangled when they go through our fingers." 

Sometimes just talking them out with someone else helps! I had the lovely experience of meeting an old friend for lunch yesterday and we talked about all kinds of things. We didn't solve any problems, we didn't tell each other exactly what to do, we didn't do anything amazing. Except we kind of did. We both shared what was on our hearts and the other offered the best thing of all--an attentive listening ear!  (Because there's very little that's more frustrating than talking to someone who is paying no attention at all.)

Accordingly, if you have trouble getting your words out sometimes, rest assured you are far from alone! My thoughts definitely tend to get all muddled and tangled and writing them down or talking them out helps tremendously. So take heart! Untangling them can happen. Sometimes you just need a little sunshine and a listening ear. :)

June 26, 2013

My Reading Habits {I'm Sort of Quirky}

I saw this post over at Book Riot a while back and it got me thinking. Then last evening, I was trying to read a book quickly because it was due back to the library and after paying some late fees last week, I was determined this one wouldn't be late. But while I started it, I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't compelling enough to make me want to finish it. Plus I only had a couple hours til it was due, so I stopped reading. (And yes, I returned it to the library. No late fees this week! Yay! ;)

All of this combined to make me wonder what my reading habits actually are. Because we all have them! Whether consciously or not, I believe we all have a set of guidelines we use to determine whether we want to read a book or not and whether we'll finish it once started.

Don't you?

I mean really now. If you stop and think about it, doesn't this make so much sense? I thought so too. Therefore, here is a list of reading habits/rules/guidelines/etc that I use. But please remember that these are what I use at this point in time. If I'd written this post ten years ago, I bet my list would be a bit different. So these are my current guidelines and rules!

1. There has to be a love story involved.

Yes, I am quite aware that this one will make me seem kind of shallow. But it's the truth! I enjoy a story so much more when it has a love story attached to it. Now granted, it doesn't have to be the main storyline (although I like those too), because I do enjoy quiet love stories in the background of the main plot. Just so long as the love story is there in any capacity, I'll be satisfied. Probably. ;)

2. There has to be a happy ending!

I like my happy endings, okay? I want to end the story on a high note. I want the guy to get the girl. I want the family to be happy and healthy. I want all the things that I can't guarantee in real life! Real life is hard. Real life can stink some days. Fictional life can be anything I want. And I want my happy ending!

3. If a story isn't working for me, it's okay to stop reading. No matter how little or how much I've read.

You know, I've read several places where people say that this particular rule used to be a big no-no to them. A lot of them have since changed their minds, but they used to feel that if you started a book, you had to finish it. I say not so! In fact, I've always felt this way. If I'm not enjoying the story, what is the point of my reading it? I read because I like to, not because I have to! You may then argue, but what if it gets better farther into the story? Then you'll be sorry you didn't finish it! Well, that's kind of a silly argument because if you don't finish it, you won't know how the rest of the story goes, and therefore you won't be sorry. That's my theory anyway. And besides, there's nothing saying that I can't pick the story up at a later date and then it just might be the perfect thing I want to read. Some books you have to be in the mood for, you know.

4. If a story is awesome, it's always worth re-reading someday. Or even re-reading as soon as I finish it!

I love to re-read! That's part of the beauty of reading great stories. They are just as lovely no matter how many times you've read them. I try to only buy books that I want to re-read. Occasionally I have to go through my shelves and weed out ones I haven't read for ages and don't think I will again. But for the most part, my shelves are full of books that I've loved and aim to read and re-read and re-read until I'm old and gray. :)

5. If you feel the desire to write in a book, if your words need to be beside the quote that gave the thoughts in the first place, then by all means write in the book. So long as it's your book! And for goodness sake, don't give the book away to be sold again. If you're going to write in it, you should keep it. Because I don't much like getting a used copy with writing all over it.

Okay, so that one's long. Sorry. But I do think it's self-explanatory.

6. I like spoilers.

I am going to admit to something that most of you will probably be absolutely horrified over. I'm sorry. But you'll just have to deal. I read the end of the book first a lot of times. Not every single time. But most of the time! I like to know what's going to happen. Okay yes, there are certain books where it's way better to not know the ending. And I can restrain myself! But unless I've read lots of reviews that warn me not to, I'd just really like to know what's going to happen. It's simply a weird quirk of mine. I hope you still like me. I know most people think it's a terrible thing to do. I'm okay with that. Just as long as you don't think I'm a horrible person. We can agree to disagree, yes?............please say yes. Oh good! So we're still friends then? Yay! :D

7. I dislike dust jackets on hardcovers.

This is mainly because while I'm reading, they slide up and down and bug me. So I usually get fed up and take them off until I'm finished reading. Just a pet peeve.

8. I wish publishers and booksellers would stop putting stickers on covers.

I realize they need to put the price somewhere. But when it's on the front, it detracts from the cover. When it's on the back (of a paperback copy), it covers up the synopsis which really bothers me. If the stickers were easy to remove, I'd have no problems at all. And some are (thankfully!). But most are horrible to remove and if you try, it just leaves a bigger mess than the sticker itself. *sigh*

9. I don't fold or bend the covers.

It leaves them all wonky and then they won't lay flat. I like them to lay flat.

10. There is no rhyme or reason to how I choose which book to read next.

I simply pick one and try it. If it's not working, I put it down and try another. If I have a library book that's due soon, I usually try to read it quickly. Or if I've borrowed one from someone, or I need to get my review done by a certain time. But other than that, it's just which book catches my fancy at the moment!

So there you have it. Ten of my reading habits. Perhaps you agree and perhaps you disagree. Either way, this was fun to think about! What are some of your reading habits? I know you have them. :)

Happy reading, y'all!

June 25, 2013

Review: Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

Stealing the Preacher
Goodreads :: Amazon

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?

Ah, the first words to come to mind once I was finished reading were cute and adorable! Because that's exactly what this couple is. Crockett and Joanna have wonderful chemistry and their story is so fun! :) First let's talk about the cover. I really love it! It's as delightful as the story itself, plus I adore that the dress the cover model is wearing is one that Joanna wears in the story. Such a great addition! So often book covers aren't as minute in detail as that. Joanna's red, curly hair is perfect also. Thus I had no problem picturing this girl as Joanna herself, I appreciate it when the covers match the stories so well!

As I said before, Crockett and Joanna most certainly have an attraction for each other, but I liked that they were careful and considerate in their relationship. It took a few weeks and really getting to know each other before they were sure of their feelings. And even then, Crockett moved slowly, caring about both of their reputations as was proper, especially in 1885. They are both just genuinely nice and caring people. Which was a big factor in the fact that I was so attached to them! I loved that while there were certainly conflicts that conspired to try and keep them apart, it was never either of them that was the cause. Once they had committed to one another, they were loyal and steadfast. I do think the fact that they were both fully committed christians prior to meeting helped their relationship also. There was no huge drama between them, they each knew the other was trustworthy. Plus I just really loved seeing them twitterpated and how adorably cute they were around one another. ;)

Another relationship I was fascinated with was between Joanna and her father. Silas was such an intriguing character! Having been an outlaw in his youth, missing his wife dearly every single day, loving his daughter so much, hating preachers fiercely, fighting God for all he was worth, he was full of contradictions. A great combo of hardened man outside and soft heart on the inside. I loved watching him try so hard to deny everything Joanna believed in, yet unable to deny her anything at the same time. They were so good for each other.

The plot, the conflicts, the romance, there's nothing really brand new or out-of-the-ordinary in this story. But that never bothered me. I will admit that the plot device used at the end isn't one of my favorites, but it served its purpose in furthering the story and forcing confrontations that needed to happen. So I was able to skip pretty quickly through that part and sigh over the couple anyway. ;) One thing I missed, as compared to other books by Ms. Witemeyer, was her humor. Oh I still laughed through several moments, but not like her other stories unfortunately. I did really like the minor characters that popped up now and again however, like Jackson and Miss Bessie. Especially Miss Bessie! Her spunk at the end was delightful.

So overall this is a very sweet romance and one I'm glad to have sitting on my shelf for future re-reading purposes! And the cover looks so nice there too. :)

"Crockett leaned forward, just enough to see out the opposite window. The fourth man had gathered the horses on the west side of the tracks and was pointing a rifle in the direction of the engine.
"Then what did you come for?" the man with the watch demanded. "Tell us so we can hand it over and be done with you and your gang."
The creases around the outlaw's eyes deepened as he scanned the coach for what he sought. When his gaze touched on Crockett, it hovered a moment before moving on. Crockett's mouth went dry.
The man's brows formed a V of displeasure as he concluded his search. A growl rumbled in his throat seconds before his intention exploded across the coach.
"I came for the preacher!"

* I received this book free from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. 

June 22, 2013

A Way With Words

Typewriter 3
"Oh, I have had so much to say to you [a friend] and now there is a kind of wall made of the paper and the pen and the scratchy noise of the two; a wall between my thoughts and wishes and their expression." ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Ms. Lindbergh really did have a way with words. A beautiful way of describing something. The lovely Whimsey Keith had this quote on her blog the other day and it really struck me. "...a wall between my thoughts and wishes and their expression." I love that!

So often that really is true of me. The fact is, I do have lots of thoughts. I have lots of ideas. But when it comes down to actually typing/writing them out? HA! Doesn't happen quite so easily as I imagined it.

This is true of me in real life also! Much of the time when I'm talking with someone, my mind is full of things to say. But getting them from my head to my mouth and out for hearing? Difficult! So I stumble around and sound like an idiot, or I say nothing and sound like an idiot. Either way, it doesn't work well in my favor. (I can hear you thinking that for someone who gets quite verbose in my posts, how is possible that I can't find things to say. Well. In writing, I can get my thoughts out when they come and then read over them and change things and reword things, etc. So what you get has been gone over many times! When talking, you have to respond right now. There's no time for rewording or proofreading. And I don't think fast on my feet. Just a simple fact. But true.)

Just Be
"...it never occurred to me before when people said to me, 'Live from day to day--just live from day to day,' that the important thing about doing that was not just that you worried less but that you lived more richly. If you let yourself be absorbed completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments." ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh
And another one! Just a reminder to live life richly! Live like you mean it. Enjoy the moments as they come because they'll never come again. A friend of mine's husband died this week. He was an old man and had lived life fully. He could tell me story after story of all that they had experienced in life. And I would sit there completely entranced and very entertained. (They've lived amazing lives!)

Point is, life is short. Eat dessert first. Take a walk.  Spend time with friends. Read a good book. Laugh. Hug. Smell the roses. LIVE!

June 20, 2013

Friends :: Treasure Them

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light." ~ Helen Keller

I've been thinking about friendship lately. How important they are to us human beings. (And even to animals-see pic above-doesn't that look like they're having an awesome conversation? :)

I really do believe that friendship is an integral part of living life in general. Oh, I suppose we could still survive if we didn't have friends, but we would be awfully lonely. And sad. That's not what this life is made for! This life we live is so fleeting and short, we only have so many years available to us. In those short years-shouldn't we grab hold of the things that make us happy? That help us walk one more step on the days we struggle to move even one foot in front of the other?

That's what friendship is for.

A listening ear, a supporting arm, an encouraging cheer, a wordless hug, a distracting story.

Small parts of such a huge and complicated thing.

People we have a close and intimate relationship with. We can talk or rant about anything and everything under the sun. This can include someone we see on a daily basis or someone we see only once in a great while or even someone online. The kind of friendship that no matter how long it's been since you talked last, it's easy to pick back up again and start chatting freely. Even if you've never met in real life, you can still feel the connection.

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to witness a friendship in action. One man was lying on his deathbed, the end of life literally only minutes away (although we didn't know it at the time), and the second man was just stopping by to visit. This second man spoke to me about several things these two had experienced together, and all the while he held his friend's hand and spoke to him occasionally. Simply wanting him to know he was there. He never left his side the entire visit and when the end came, he was still there. Right by the side of his friend.

I want that! I want to have friends so dear to me that they'll drop everything to be beside me when I need them. I want to be by their side when they need me! That is a truly beautiful thing to behold. A thing to be treasured.

Friends should be treasured! We should take care of one other. We should support one another and encourage one another.

I don't know if all my jumbled thoughts are making any sense at all. But I just want to encourage someone else as I've been encouraged. Treasure those people around you who care about you! Whether in real life or online, it doesn't matter.

Treasure them. Appreciate them.

And tell them so.

That right there is a biggie. Tell them so. Let them know exactly how much they mean to you. Because they mean a lot, don't they? Imagine where your life would be without them! A whole lot emptier. So tell them. Whenever and however you can. Tell them.

No matter what, having a friend beside you makes life bearable.

June 18, 2013

The Austen, Bronte, & Dickens Post

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. ~ Charlotte Bronte

Wow, you're thinking. That's a lot of authors to cover in one single post! You're completely right. But if it makes you feel better, I'm only going to talk about one story per author. And only a few thoughts for each one. So on with discussion!

Jane Austen ~ Welcome to Sanditon

Remember back when this show first started and I posted my thoughts on the first episode? Of course you don't. Here's a refresher. Anyway, I've been faithfully watching every week. Also reading stuff written by the creators because the Thursday episode's kept confusing me. I have now figured out that we have only one episode of plot per week (on Monday's) and Thursday's video is devoted to fan service basically. Clara has posted a few recipe video's on Thursday's, but the main storyline happens on Monday's. I've read very mixed reactions to the series so far and to be honest, I've not always been 100% clear on how I felt about it myself. But I'm pretty much behind it now. And that's all due to this cute duo below!

That would be Clara and Ed. I loved Clara immediately upon meeting her. Ed, I wasn't so sure about. But he's grown on me and now this week (as in yesterday), I've decided he's adorably dorky and I'm totally rooting for him! So I'm really, really hoping he stays that way. I want to like him for always! He and Clara have great chemistry and...well........if you read my blog very often, you know already that I'm a sucker for a cute romance. These two have all the makings of that happening. And quickly too! Because it's only a short series and doesn't have many episodes. Who knows what will happen though? Since Austen's original story is unfinished and the writers of the series have really branched off from the book, there's no telling where we'll end up. But I really want Clara and Ed to end up together! Just sayin'. :D  Here's more info if you're interested. And here's the newest episode.

Charlotte Bronte ~ The Autobiography of Jane Eyre

I know I'm not the only one who has felt bereft since The Lizzie Bennet Diaries went off air. :( But I've discovered another video diary along a similar vein. The Autobiography of Jane Eyre is (obviously) based on Jane Eyre. I had better state right up front that I tried reading the book and couldn't finish it. (It just wasn't working for me. Maybe someday I'll try it again, who knows?) So based on that, I was kind of hesitant to start this. But I have seen a couple of adaptations (there are so many to choose from!) and didn't mind them, so I thought why not. It never hurts to try it once! You guys, it really is pretty cute. But vastly different in tone from The LBD just to warn you. (Which it has to be because the books are vastly different themselves.)

That would happen to be the torso's of Jane and Rochester. Why yes, we're only on episode 11 and we've just met Rochester! (Phooey on that 60 episode business. ;) But only his torso, legs, and feet so far, no go on his face. As I said, it's pretty cute. And it's only begun, so if you want to get in on the story from the beginning now's your chance! Since there's only 11 episodes, you should at least try it, right? :D The first episode is here, but beware that there's no people in it. Jane doesn't show up until episode 2.

Charles Dickens ~ Bleak House

So I finally watched this mini-series a few weeks ago! Whoa. Dickens doesn't mess around, does he? I've seen Little Dorrit and Our Mutual Friend, so I kind of knew what to expect of his stories. But still, I don't know how he wrote such intricate details with such a huge array of characters! I'm in amazement at his ability to throw out all these seemingly disconnected characters (there's a large number of them!) and then slowly start weaving them all together. That was certainly something he excelled at! He also never shied away from showing the gritty and dark side to life back then.

I admit it. The one reason I was finally convinced to watch this was because of these two people. Esther Summerson and Dr. Allan Woodcourt were so sweet! Their love story was wonderful. Their characters were wonderful! Especially Esther. I can't imagine watching this and not loving her and wishing only good things would happen to her. She is a remarkable character and absolutely my favorite. I loved watching Dr. Woodcourt watch her. He was so adorably obvious! Sigh. Okay, I'll be quiet now.

Anyway, I did enjoy the series. Very glad I watched it. I started it with a friend on a Sunday afternoon, and had to keep watching way past my bedtime because I had to finish it! I had to know what was going to happen! Mr. Dickens is also really good at the suspense. Or perhaps that's the skill of the screenwriters. Either way, this was an enjoyable series. :)

June 17, 2013

Audiobook Review: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Goodreads ~ Amazon
Narrator: Rebecca Soler

The Lunar Chronicles book #2
(book #1 - my review)

The fates of Cinder and Scarlet collide as a Lunar threat spreads across the Earth...

Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Wow! I knew it would be good, but still wasn't expecting all the excitement and adventure that awaited me. Oh Ms. Meyer. I don't know how you so skillfully combine science fiction with fairy tale re-tellings, but I am completely in awe! Cinder's story was wonderful, a great beginning. But Scarlet's story? Definitely a big step up! More action, more conflict, and a little more violence. (But nothing truly gory, thank goodness. It's not glossed over, yet it's not dwelt upon either.) Plus more fun and more romance and so much more to love!

We smoothly slide into Scarlet's story and find out pretty quickly that she is different than Cinder used to be. Not content to stay on the sidelines, she throws herself completely into trying to find her missing grandmother. Willing to do whatever it takes, even accept help from Wolf although she's unsure if she can trust him or not. Off they go into an adventure far beyond what either of them ever imagined. Through forests and cities, by train and on foot, not knowing who to trust, with worry and fear dogging their every step, and even a little romance blooming in the midst of all the stress. Basically, I loved Scarlet! She's strong and fierce and loyal, and never gave up no matter what. Always, always determined to care for those she loves. And Wolf? He's pretty awesome too. And he is certainly just as fierce as Scarlet (considering he's a street fighter, he kinda has to be!). As much as I loved Cinder, Scarlet is now giving her a good run for her money on my favorites list. :)

Speaking of Cinder, breaking out of prison isn't easy. This was one spot where I felt the pacing wasn't quite as strong as Scarlet's portion of the story, at least in the beginning. It took Cinder way longer to get out of prison and on her way than I was expecting. I kept thinking things would move a little quicker. But nonetheless, she does make it out and with a fellow escapee by her side. Thorne was amusing; he certainly added a little levity to the goings on. Especially when things were getting a little sticky! And Cinder herself, now knowing who she really is, would love some time to think things through. Alas, no such time exists. Once out of prison, it is full speed ahead with no downtime! But the very best part? Iko's back!!!! I love that "little" android. Nothing better happen to her in future books, Ms. Meyer! Just saying. ;)

With all the happenings and all the multiple point-of-views, it seems like it could get a little confusing. But once again Ms. Meyer shows her skill and interweaves all the threads beautifully. I had no problem picking back up with each person and remembering what was happening in their portion of the story. Another thing I appreciated is that, like Cinder, there wasn't this huge cliffhanger. Yes, the story will continue, and yes, there are lots of unanswered questions. But the big conflict of this installment has pretty much ended (at least for now) and things are left in a relatively good spot.

I also continue to be amazed at the narrator of these audiobooks. Ms. Soler does a wonderful job with all the voice changes and inflections. She was the number one reason I decided to listen to the audio version. I'm positive I would love this series anyway, but listening to her just makes it all the more fun! I truly hope she continues narrating the rest of the series.

If you've read Cinder and enjoyed it, then read this one quickly! (And come back here and gush about it with me. ;) If you haven't read Cinder, then what on earth are you waiting for? Go and read it right now, then read this one. Then anxiously await February 2014 along with all the rest of us! :D

She sighed, annoyed at her restlessness. "So," she said, disrupting Wolf in another backward glance. "Who would win in a fight—you or a pack of wolves?" 
He frowned at her, all seriousness. "Depends," he said slowly, like he was trying to figure out her motive for asking. "How big is the pack?"
"I don’t know, what’s normal? Six?"

"I could win against six," he said. "Any more than that and it could be a close call."
Scarlet smirked. "You’re not in danger of low self-esteem, at least."
"What do you mean?"
"Nothing at all." She kicked a stone from their path. "How about you and … a lion?"

"A cat? Don’t insult me."
She laughed, the sound sharp and surprising. "How about a bear?"

"Why, do you see one out there?"
"Not yet, but I want to be prepared in case I have to rescue you."
The smile she’d been waiting for warmed his face, a glint of white teeth flashing. "I’m not sure. I’ve never had to fight a bear before."

June 16, 2013

Bartholomew, Tillie, and Poetry

This is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books. (I also like The 500 Hats of Batholomew Cubbins.) I found this today and as soon as I saw it, I knew it had to be mine! Such a classic. In my opinion at least. :) But Kara, you're wondering, that's not one of Dr. Seuss' books written in poetry! Right you are. But finding it and then also finding another book of poems at the same time, is where the poetry part of the title will come in.

See, when I was younger I read these big, thick books of silly children's poems. (I've always enjoyed poetry.) And somewhere along the line, I read these books enough that I finally had one poem memorized. I can still recite it word for word today. In fact, I can even put a tune to it and sing it for you! No. I'm not posting a video of me singing. But I can sing it, as ridiculous as that probably sounds. Anyway, while looking through the children's books at this particular store, I found a smaller version of those big books of poetry. And lo and behold, while flipping through it, there was my poem! The one I have memorized I mean. So of course, I knew I wouldn't be leaving that book in the store either.

Both books are now happily sitting on my bookshelf. I think they're pretty excited about their new home! I know I'm sure happy to have them there. :D

What's that? Oh. You want to read that poem I can recite? Are you sure? Okay. But just remember that it's a children's poem, so it's a bit silly. Here you are:

Isn't it great? Well, even if you don't think so, there's plenty of children that laugh and laugh when I recite it. :) Would you like to see another one? Sure you would.

When the day is that boring, going back to bed is a great option. Always. ;)

Anyway! Going back to Dr. Seuss. There are several people I know that don't like his books. Perhaps you happen to be one of those. But me? I love his made up words. They're so fun to say out loud! I love that his poems all rhyme and that they have a beat to them. (You know. When you read them, you can tap your foot along with your recitation.) You could probably even put a tune to them if you were so inclined! Alas, I've only done that with the "Tillie" poem.

My point is, I like Dr. Seuss. I like his books. I like his poems. I like to read them out loud to children and listen to them giggle. I like to giggle along with them!

There is much that can be expressed through poetry. Meaningful things. Encouraging things. Empathetic things. But I'm glad that there's silly poems out there too. Life is a struggle sometimes. Being silly, with made-up words and funny rhymes, gives children (and even adults!) the chance to just laugh and enjoy themselves. I think there's a place for both. We need both! Thus I'm incredibly thankful that Dr. Seuss created his silly stories. That he was able to get them published. And that I can still read them to my nieces and nephews today and we can laugh over them. There's just nothing better than sharing stories together. :)

June 13, 2013

Music & Stories

As I was reading Glass Girl the last few days, a song kept running through my mind. A song that seemed to fit the mood of the story really well. In fact, it almost felt like the song and the story were meant for each other! That probably sounds silly, but it's true. It made me to wonder if I could possibly find other stories and other songs that would compliment each other like that. So guess what? I compiled a small list for you! Aren't you excited? (The correct answer is yes.) :)

Now granted, the authors of these books (were they to even read this) may not agree with me at all. In fact, you may not agree either! But that's okay. I had fun making this list anyway. :) I clicked around on YouTube as I scrolled through the books I've read and tried to decide what could match with what. (A good excuse to listen to music! Which....I didn't really need an excuse to do that, but anyway....)

I didn't want to bog you down with a huge list, plus I didn't have hours and hours available to write this either, so you're getting a list of five books with five songs. I chose each song based on the music and the lyrics both. I wanted the mood of the music to compliment the mood of the story and if the lyrics added to that, then all the better. The first set are the only ones I truly felt belonged together without a doubt in my mind, but the others work pretty well too. Let me know if you think I'm right, or if you have a better suggestion! Either way, I hope you enjoy. :)

Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk

My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay

Til Grits Do Us Part by Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

June 12, 2013

Review: Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk

Glass Girl
Goodreads :: Amazon

When Meg Kavanagh finds herself in the unthinkable role of grieving sister, she discovers some harsh truths—parents aren’t perfect, life’s not always sweet, and the dead don’t write back. Worried she might have caused Wyatt’s death, Meg folds her heart into a box. Her famous mom grieves by slowly disappearing, and her dad copes by moving them to a small town in Wyoming.

What she finds in Wyoming blindsides her.

His name is Henry, and he’s a rancher’s son who pulls Meg into his larger-than-life world and shows her that being sensitive is not an excuse to sit this one out. Meg wants to be brave like Henry because the best things in life—like falling in love and finding mercy—require uncommon courage. And Henry has a secret that changes everything.

Well. I'm not even sure where to begin. But in a good way! Because this was a lovely story. Truly lovely. It's quiet and gentle, no major drama or hijinks here. Just a girl and her family grieving and trying to learn how to live again after the death of a beloved brother and son. Meg is a wonderful character. Trying to cope with a life without her big brother is difficult for her. But added to her burden is her own mother who is slowly coming apart inside. So Meg feels she has to hold things together and act like everything's okay, when she's barely holding herself together and everything is clearly not okay! The move to Wyoming feels like a clean slate, so she starts life there by allowing everyone to believe she's an only child. With no tragedy in her background, everyone treats her normal. But when you're hardly holding it together, secrets don't last too long. And with big secrets like a mother who is no longer herself and a dead brother, coupled with feeling immensely breakable, Meg is in desperate need for support.

Which she gets from a boy named Henry. And what a boy he is! Oh my. Henry is nice, and sweet, and kind, just an all around great guy. He can see Meg is hiding something, but he patiently waits until she is able to talk about it. He is adorable! Seriously. Where was my "Henry" when I was in high school anyway? ;) He's a rancher's son who is as comfortable on the back of a horse as he is driving a car. And he gives Meg time, care, love, and gentleness. He is just so good to her and for her. With his help, she begins to "climb her mountain" as he describes it. And he is right there beside her all the way to the top. Henry is awesome!

All the characters have more than one side to them, as people do in real life. So my first impressions would change unexpectedly. But one unchanging person was Thanet. He was such a great addition to the story. He has Cerebral Paulsy, yet he doesn't let it stop him from living as normal a life as he can. He's a great source of encouragement for Meg. And Tennyson ended up surprising me a lot! I wasn't too thrilled with her in the beginning, but she grew on me and ended up being a wonderful friend.

This isn't a perfectly written story. There are some parts where the pacing feels a little off and things don't flow as smooth. But what Ms. Kurk does so incredibly well is sprinkle little nuggets of thoughtfulness here and there. I was highlighting so many passages on my Kindle! Her writing is simple, yet profound and sincere. Things would be moving along quietly when suddenly a sentence or a whole paragraph would leap out at me and make me stop and think. Her descriptions draw you into the story with just a few words and relies on your imagination to fill in the rest. Which it does easily! :) I could readily picture the rolling terrain that Meg and Henry were riding over, the little bookstore where Meg works, and her family's tiny house with so much unspoken emotion filling it. The story winds around your heart so subtly, until the moment you realize exactly how much of your heart it has grabbed hold of!

If you haven't figured out already, I loved this story a lot! Comforting and warm, it will grab your emotions and have you invested in Meg and her journey to realizing how strong she actually is. Read it! :)

"When you're alone and afraid, the simple sound of the steady in and out of  air being drawn by another person is good medicine."

"You know, your grandfather used to say that we were never promised an easy time on this earth. Life's about how we react to the hard stuff."

"I grew up in the same house my dad grew up in. He had a thousand stories for every room. He said that our stories just made his easier to understand."

"They'd made the kind of judgments people make when they are too far removed to understand complicated things."

"But grief and mourning are part of life and sometimes they have nothing at all to do with death. We can grieve the loss of anything and it's during those times we need each other the most."

"Even when we're going through our darkest winter, spring is waiting to appear."

June 11, 2013

ABC's {or Where I Prattle About Me For 26 Letters}


I got this idea from Natalie and thought I'd try it myself! Cause I know y'all are just dying to know more about me, right? ;)

Ambition: Use old words like "persnickety and gobbledygook and lollygag" more often in everyday conversation.

Bad Habit: staying up too late {Night owls unite!}

Celebrity Crushes: Richard Armitage

Drink: Tea or Dr. Pepper {I cannot choose just one!}

Education: A good thing to have! {Yes, I do have one.}

Food: Anything I'm craving at the moment. Right now I'd love a fresh, gooey, and warm chocolate chip cookie or five. :D

Guilty Pleasure: Lindor Truffles, although I don't usually feel guilty about it. I just limit how often I buy them as they aren't very cheap. But SO yummy!

Hometown: A little town in southwest Virginia.

Ice Cream: Either cookies and cream or coffee flavored. {Mmmmmm.}

Jonesing For: The next books from Diana Peterfreund {October can't come soon enough!} and Megan Whalen Turner {Who knows when? But I can't wait!}

Kryptonite: Book sales. Whether in real life or online, my pocketbook probably sighs when it sees me coming. :D {What? Your purse doesn't talk to you?}

Look-a-like: I'm often told I look like my beloved Granny. Still miss her dearly. She was amazing!

Movie: North and South with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe

Nickname: You seriously think I'm going to share that with the whole wide world? That's for privileged folks only! 

Obsessions: Books, reading, love stories, gerber daisies, the color yellow, walks in the rain, British period dramas, Jane Austen, quotes that make me happy, music, my family.....

Perfume: Angel by Thierry Mugler 

Quirk: Off the top of my head? Tapping out words on my fingers like I'm typing on a pretend keyboard, usually while talking to myself. {That's two! And yes, I'm weird.}

Regret: I prefer not to dwell on them actually. Thanks anyway.

Starbucks: Definitely tea. Flavor? Depends on the day.

The Last Book You Read: Glass Girl by Laura Anderson Kurk {I'm not actually finished yet. But so far it's fabulous!}

Unique Feature: The ring finger and middle finger on my left hand do not touch at the top when my hand is flat. The middle finger is actually a little crooked.

Vacation: One of my favorite memories of a vacation is when my parents and I went to the Chincoteague Pony Swim. Located by Virginia, it's a two day event filled with horses swimming and just generally being pretty awesome. And I loved every single minute of it!

Wine: Not a fan actually. 

X: I'm guessing this is a free space, but I've no idea what else I can tell you. So you tell me what book your currently reading or perhaps what song are you listening to on repeat right now?

Years: Where on earth do they go so fast? 

Zen: Books make me happy. Whether in a store, a library, or just at home, being surrounded by books is calming and my happy place!

**Hoping to have a review or two coming in the next few days. Just fyi. :)

June 10, 2013

Movie Quote Monday

August Rush: Listen. Can you hear it? The music. I can hear it everywhere. In the wind...in the air...in the light. It's all around us. All you have to do is open yourself up. All you have to do...is listen.

Oh goodness. My love for this move knows no bounds! The actors (mostly Freddie Highmore, but Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers do a great job too), the story, and most of all the music. I love how the audience can hear what August hears! The sounds that no one else notices. He hears music everywhere and it's beautiful! And the music he creates is incredible too, all so he can lead his parents back to him.

It's full of music, the love of a mother and child, swoon-worthy romance (it's subtle, but it will definitely sweep you off your feet!), and a wonderful adventure full of connections and relationships. Each person who meets August is changed by him and they, in turn, help guide him on his journey. Lovely and gorgeous and just go watch it as soon as you can! The soundtrack is pretty awesome too. Here's one of my favorite songs:

Micah hasn't posted a linkup for these in a while, but I wanted to share this one today anyway. So I'm hoping she doesn't mind. Go check out her lovely blog when you can! :)

June 5, 2013

13 (randomly chosen) Favorite First Lines

Isn't this one of the rules for writing a story, that the first line needs to hook the reader in? Or something like that anyway. I do think this is true. That first line either grabs me or it doesn't. Yet it takes more than that before I've made up my opinion on the story. I usually have to read at least the first paragraph or the first page or two to tell whether I want to keep reading or not. But that first line may end up being what I remember if it's written well. I can only imagine the pressure that writers feel to try and get that line just right. It can't be easy.

One thing I do know. While a well-written sentence can hook me in, that doesn't mean the story itself will. (note: all the books I've listed below are ones I've read and that I like. A lot.) I've certainly started a story having fun and ended up disappointed. And likewise, a poorly-written sentence may hide a jewel of a story within! But remember, this is all subjective to my own opinions of what's well-written and what's not, of course. :)

Anyway. I decided to share some of my favorite first lines with you today. This is just a few of them. This is not all of them by far. But if I did a post of all of them, it would never be over and you'd be sick of me and never come back and I would be sad and things would be awful and life would be over! I can't let that happen! So this is just a few. A few first lines from a few books that I picked up at random from my shelves, basically. But they wouldn't be here if I didn't like them. You'll also be getting a small look at the eclectic mix of books I read. Bravely go onward!

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that  single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Come on. You knew I'd have at least one of Austen's books on this list. Right? And why not this one? It's a classic! For good reason. It's an awesome sentence. :D

"Hiding in plain sight, the old man crept through the halls of the palace, his ancient heart keeping pace with the shifting of his black eyes." ~ Serena Chase, The Ryn
This line totally drew me in. I immediately wanted to know more! Who was this man? What palace? How old is ancient? And black eyes? Intriguing. Very intriguing! Well done, Ms. Chase.

"The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day--a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste." ~ Jean Webster, Daddy Long Legs
And of course you knew I'd name this one too, didn't you? It's only one of my absolute favorite books ever! I already expounded on the delights of this story before, so I won't again. But I love this line.

"Would it kill you to get here before noon? I'm sitting here among the shards of my life as I know it, and you....if I know you, you just woke up." ~ Rainbow Rowell, Attachments
Firstly, we don't know who's talking. But whoever they're talking to has to be my kind of person, because I like to sleep in too. (What can I say? I'm a night owl. :) And secondly, "shards of my life"? Sounds dire, right? Or someone pretty snarky. Tell me more! (Chocolate chip cookies to anyone who can name the musical that line is from! Hint-it's from a song. A catchy song that never leaves my head once I start singing it.) (And those chocolate chip cookies are metaphorical by the way. But I'll still give them to you! Who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies, metaphorical or not?)

"There once was a girl who'd been praying for a husband since the fourth grade." ~ Becky Wade, My Stubborn Heart
So you can tell immediately that this is going to be a romance. And I love a good romance in a story! (I freely admit to being a hopeless romantic.) And this girl is determined! Since the fourth grade? Wow.

"Nothing creates buzz like an Executive Deluxe day planner. Not that I have much experience with buzzes, especially of the chemical variety, but my brother did double-dose me on NyQuil once when I was eleven." ~ Lindsey Leavitt, Sean Griswold's Head
Who gets excited over a day planner? Someone who is obviously a good girl. A good girl whose life is about to be shaken.

"For two hours a night, Monday through Saturday, Isadora Presley became the girl she'd lost." ~ Susan May Warren, My Foolish Heart
I love that line! Really love it. I think it may be one of my top favorite lines ever. If that doesn't make you curious about Isadora, I don't know what will.

"For years, I could not recall the day without a smoldering coal of remorse burning within me." ~ Julie Klassen, The Silent Governess
Julie Klassen is an amazing writer. I don't think it's possible for her to write a bad book. And what a way to start a story! The descriptions she writes leap off the page. Can't you imagine that hot, smoldering coal inside? And what memory causes this reaction? We must know more! Read this book. Seriously. Read it. Or pick any one of her books. They're all awesome!!

"There are so many ways it could have all turned out differently." ~ Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
 And then she proceeds to name all the decisions that could have changed the way things happened. A story of coincidences and timing and falling in love. I'm not usually a believer in love at first sight, but this story? It made me believe in it. At least until I was completely done reading. :)

"Someone's car was totaled and it wasn't my fault. But who's going to believe a teenager?" ~ A & E Kirk, Demons at Deadnight
And thus begins Aurora's story. Don't let the title fool you. The demons aren't good and the characters are out to defeat them. But what a ride! Aurora is awesome. Enough said.

"Sometimes I think about when I was little, and my older brothers would take me out to fly kites." ~ Jenny B. Jones, There You'll Find Me
This line strikes me because I have older brothers myself. Granted, I'm not sure they ever took me out to fly kites, but I do have wonderful memories from when we were younger. So this line makes me eager for more about these sibling relationships!

"It only takes a day and a half for the dreams to find me again." ~ Lisa McKay, My Hands Came Away Red
A fabulous first line for a fabulous story! Go. Go read it right now. Drop everything and go read it right now!

"My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted." ~ Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road
Another fabulous story. My words to describe it? I have none. It's an experience you must read for yourself. So do that, okay? :)

June 3, 2013

Cover Reveal: Bleeding Heart by Amber Stokes

I am beyond thrilled to share a very special cover with you today. Amber is such a lovely person, and I am so, so happy that she's got a book coming out this summer (potentially August)! When she asked who would like to help reveal it, you can bet your sweet bippy that I signed up as quick as I could! ;D Amber deserves all kinds of cake and cookies and awesome desserts for writing a story, editing and rewriting, and editing and rewriting, and helping to design the cover, and editing some more and........finally being willing to share it with the world. I'm so excited and honored to be a part of the team shining a light on a portion of her hard work today. :) Now, onto why you really stopped by here.......

Isn't it gorgeous? Of course I like the pretty dress. And the colors. The flowers strewn about are a nice touch also. But what strikes me is the hint of the storm clouds in the distance behind her. Which says to me that as pretty and nice as things look right now, trouble could be on the horizon. But I have every expectation that our heroine can handle it. Her face shows a determination, perhaps she's thinking that no matter what comes her way, she's going to handle it and then some. Who knows? But I sure can't wait to find out! :) What are your thoughts?

About the Book

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay’s livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others – and hers isn’t the only heart that’s broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.

Inspirational Historical Romance

About the Author

Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a passion for the written word - from blogging to writing poetry, short stories, and novels. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and pursuing her passion via freelance editing and self-publishing her debut novel, Bleeding Heart. You can connect with Amber on her blog, Seasons of Humility.

(Trust me, she's awesome!)

Breaking hearts should be considered a crime. That would make Elizabeth Lawson an outlaw and Joe Clifton the victim. And that wasn’t a far stretch in Joe’s mind. She had rounded up his heart, branded her name across it when it should never have belonged to her, and then left him high and dry. Still, he was getting sick of hanging around the scene of the crime. He just didn’t know where else to go.

Lake Tahoe had once been his favorite get-away destination, a place where he could go to just sit back and enjoy the view of water as clear as a shined-up mirror. Now those crystal depths and the unmoving boulders along the water’s edge taunted him, bringing back memories of a happy proposal and a less-than-happy scene where his heart was handed back to him on a silver platter – bruised, broken, and bleeding.

He didn’t want to make any more memories like that. So he made a promise to himself: He would never let anyone break his heart again.

~In conjunction with the cover reveal, Amber’s doing a “blog reveal,” as well! You can find all the latest news about Bleeding Heart, along with book extras, at the Bleeding Heart blog.~

June 2, 2013

Little Moments :: Happy Heart

"Moons and years pass by and are gone forever, but a beautiful moment shimmers through life a ray of light." ~ Franz Grillparzer
I was talking with a friend on Twitter yesterday about moments and how it's the little ones that make my heart happy. The big stuff is great, but I really do think it's the little things that I remember most. It's the little moments that stick out in my mind when I think back to certain times in my life. And it's the little moments that make life so enjoyable! Because the average, normal day doesn't have big stuff happen. Little stuff happens. So I thought I'd share what some my little moments looked like recently! :)

:: quiet mornings with tea

:: spending the day with a dear friend
:: reading a wonderful book on my kindle
:: finding a hardback book on the sale table at barnes & noble for really cheap; one which a friend highly recommended

:: meaningful chats on twitter
:: chatting on the phone with mom
:: hearing about dad's school reunion where he had no clue which piece of silverware to use and when
:: buying a mini series that i've been wanting for quite a while now

:: visits to the library
:: shopping at a favorite bookstore
:: group hugs
:: given leftover party food to take home for my lunch the next day
:: buying wonderful, scrumptious, flaky-crusted, glazed pastries that are yum-O

:: planning trips to go visit my parents
:: hearing about new babies born
:: laughing
:: eating yogurt on a hot day

:: stopping by my cousin's house, getting a giant hug from his children, and hearing "i love you, kara"
:: finding out a loved one is feeling better
:: having silly dilemma's about which dvd to watch first

:: having at least one comment on a post i've written
:: wearing sandals every day
:: winning a blog tour giveaway

It's the little things, the little moments. They may not shout from the rooftops, but they do bring lots of happiness. And happy hearts are magnificent to behold! Because happiness doesn't stay inside, it overflows onto our face where we share it with everyone around us. I hope you have a wonderfully moment-filled Sunday! :)

*note: I have a fantastic cover reveal tomorrow, so be sure to visit again!


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