Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Knitting Circle and a learning experience

After having just finished two books on very tough and tragic subjects in the past two days, loving both of them, I really think I've discovered something about myself. If a book is light or humorous, I simply don't enjoy it as much as when the subject matter is based on something sad. Is this wrong? Am I strange? What is going on in this head of mine? The reading slump I was stuck in a few days ago started when I tried to steer away from the intense topics and move towards lighter subjects. The slump ended with Watching the Tree Limbs, a very sad and emotional book. I really think that I just connect more to the characters when there is that strong level of emotional intensity. Without it the characters, as well as the plot, just seem flat and empty. Now this isn't true for every book, for example, I love Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cover series, as well as her Blossom Street series (starting the newest one tonight), but for the most part I need dark and sad. I'm weird. Oh well.

Ann Hood's The Knitting Circle, was fantastic. It was one of those books I was wary about reading at first, only because the main plot line was about a woman losing her young daughter and the ways in which she begins to deal with her grief. I'm not sure if you remember the review I did on A. Manette Ansay's Blue Water, but I have become very picky when losing children is a main focus. The writer has to get the story just right, in order to prevent the characters from becoming whiny and incredibly self absorbed. Ansay failed at that, but Hood aced it. The characters were rich and lovely, not at all contrived or selfish. I loved this book and I think I now love Ann Hood!

Mary has just recently lost her five year old daughter, Stella, to meningitis. She can't get out of bed, can't work, and can't communicate with her husband, but her mother insists that she go out and learn to knit, stating that it will help begin the healing process. Mary wants nothing to do with her seemingly insensitive mother that couldn't even come to Stella's funeral, but eventually relents and heads to the knitting shop her mother recommends. There, we meet an excellent variety of women, each in the middle of her own healing process, all using knitting to help them heal. There's Scarlet, a compassionate woman still realing from an unfortunate accident that has left her wracked with guilt, Beth, an upperclass woman of perfection whose own life has begun to crumble, Ellen, a mother who's daughter is in desparate need of a new heart, LuLu an eccentric soul recovering from a violent attack many years ago, and even Big Alice herself, the owner of Sit and Knit that has her own skeletons in the closet. Through their knitting and their stories, these women help each other through the toughest of times, never forgetting that it was knitting that brought them all together.

It is very obvious that Hood spent a lot of time crafting each of the characters in the novel. All of the women appear to be main characters, never being cheated out of enough time to tell their story simply because Mary is "supposed" to be the main character. It was a truly lovely story that I could not put down, racing through it to find out what happens with each woman. I was never disappointed and always satisfied. 5 out of 5 from me!

This novel has finally made me want to get up off my butt and learn to knit. I read every fiction book on the subject, but because of the lack of classes and/or knitting shops around here, I've never had the opportunity to learn. However, I've spoken with many people who have simply taught themselves and I see no reason why I can't do the same thing. Once I get back from my honeymoon, I'm going to try and find the best books to help teach myself and get started on that baby blanket I want to make so badly. If any of you knitters out there can recommend book for me to try out or have any tips, please send them my way! Thanks!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Watching the Tree Limbs and some updates

After Coraline, I was really hoping that the reading slump had truly ended and after reading this novel, I am convinced it has. Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary E. Demuth, was horrifying in subject matter, but the writing was amazing.

Mara Weatherall, a nine year old girl far too mature for her age, knows that she isn't wanted by anyone. Not her adopted mother, not anyone... that is except for General. General is a young man that steals her innocence in an instant and forever changes Mara's life. We watch as Mara tries to repair herself through the help of Denim, the mystery radio man, her best friend Camilla, and the cold Mr. Winningham, each character playing an important role in Mara's healing process, as well as helping her to solve the mystery of who her real parents are. As all of this is going on Mara is also finding her way to God and learning to trust in Him to help her through the rest of her years.

The characters in this novel were wonderfully described and each one had a depth that made me believe I truly knew them as people. Mara was not unlike the main character in The Secret Life of Bees or The Book Thief, tragic in her own way, yet hopeful and just lovely. I know there has been a sequel written and I can't wait to read it. This is an author I have never read before, but I plan to get my hands on everything she's written. I give this book a 5 out of 5. Fantastic!
Now for the updates. Can you believe I'm getting married two weeks from today? I certainly can't!! I am so excited for the big day and of course for my time in New York prior to the wedding. I'm leaving next early next Friday morning and spending the whole week just finishing up final wedding things and spending time with my family and friends. I have a whole bag of books ready to take with me....though someone needs to tell my boss that it is perfectly fine to bring books on a honeymoon!
I also stopped at GoodWill yesterday and found 13 books to add to the "kid shelves" on my bookshelf. I don't have kids yet, but I will someday and I'm gonna be ready! I picked up some great Newbery Winners, as well as some good old girly fiction. I loved books like the Babysitter's Club and Sweet Valley High when I was younger and though they are definitely "fluff" they got me reading and I can only hope my daughter will someday enjoy them as well. If not, all the more reading for me! I picked up:
Mr. Popper's Penguins
Number the Stars
Little House in the Big Woods
Stuart Little
Ramona the Pest
BSC # 1, 2, 5, 6, 100, and 120
5 for a buck, you can't beat it!
Have great weekend!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Coraline

Finally, a break from the reading slump!! This book was delightful, in a creepy, menacing, scary sort of way, Coraline by Neil Gaiman was just what I needed to get out of this reading rut.

Coraline, is a young girl living with her parents in a small portion of a large flat in London. Coraline is a very picky girl and always bored, never satisfied with activities her parents suggest for her to do and never satisfied with her parents in general, for that matter. When she discovers a door in their drawing room that just opens to a brick wall, Coraline has a feeling that the door does lead somewhere and when she figures out where, she becomes trapped in a world where a woman calls herself "her other mother" and a man her "other father." The place looks just like Coraline's flat (only better) and the man and woman just like her mother and father (only better), but as the story proceeds we quickly learn that these people never want to let Coraline go. She has to use her intelligence and wit to gain her life back.

This book gave me the creeps! It was great storytelling, though the illustrations may be a little too scary for younger children. I was a little disturbed of the drawing of a woman's face with button eyes and a bug crawling out of her mouth and I'm 24! I really did enjoy this story, though not usually a ghost story or fantasy fan, but even if you aren't into those genres or even juvenile fiction typically, give this one a try. It was a quick read that took me out of that darn reading slump! I give it a 4 out of 5.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

48 Hour Book Challenge

Over at MotherReader, she has announced the 2nd annual 48 Hour Book Challenge which sounds like so much fun! I now have an excuse to tell Aaron, "sorry, but I have to read and blog for 2 days straight." No housework or homework. Just reading and blogging! Check it out at MotherReader and sign up!


Now for a short review. I have said several times that I've been in a bit of a book slump lately, not really finding anything that really grabbed me, but I thought a little YA reading would help me out...unfortunately, still in the slump. The Crying Rocks by Janet Taylor Lisle is about Joelle, a young girl who was adopted and has been told a myriad of stories about where she came from, but never knows what to believe. She knows she's different from her family and the kids at school, but she doesn't know how or why. She just feels different. When she meets Carlos, a boy in her Spanish class and he tells her she looks like the Narragansett Indians, she at first doesn't believe him, but is drawn to find out once and for all where she came from. When Carlos tells her about the Crying Rocks, a place in the woods where the ghosts of Narragansett children are said to cry for their lost mothers, Joelle knows she must visit that place, believing it will help her with the search for her identity. It's tricky, while reading this book, to determine if there is a science fiction element to it. I personally determined, by the end, that there is not, however a fellow co-worker also read the book and believes that their is. To each their own!

The Crying Rocks, like all the others I've read lately, was decent. It wasn't bad, it wasn't fabulous, just good. And sometimes that's ok. I don't always need to have a spectacular reaction to a book to be happy, but at this point, having read so many "just good" books in a row, I'm looking for something great. We'll see where Coraline and The Double Bind, my current reading selections, take me.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ya Book Suggestions

As you are all well aware, I am a huge fan of children's and YA books. Being that I am a children's librarian, I should love them and I do, but I don't always get to read as many as I would like. My job, ordering wise, puts me in charge of picture books for children, not chapter books, so I don't often get to see what is new out there, except what my co-worker actually orders for our shelves. Therefore, I get a lot of my YA and young reader choices from all of you! Right now I'm in the middle of Coraline by Neil Gaiman, which was a blogger suggested read and am about to start Gossamer by Lois Lowry, an author I always read anyways, but again, a blogger suggestion. Just to throw a question out there, if there were any one (or 2 or 5) books in this YA/young reader age group you would suggest for me to read, what would they be? New, old, I don't care, I'm just looking for some fresh ideas!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Left Behind


I was incredibly surprised by my reaction to this book. I truly thought I would love it and would find another series to attach myself to, eager to read until the end. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I didn't like this book at all! Well I guess I shouldn't really say that. I didn't like most of this book and only because there was too much "extra" stuff and not enough meat to the real story line. Oh well, as I said before, I'm in a reading slump.

LaHaye and Jenkins start this story with the occurrence of the Rapture of God. Every individual that has been saved and has given themselves to the Lord, along with the innocents (children and unborn babies) have all been taken from earth by God and brought to Heaven. The individuals who were non-believers or had not yet asked Jesus into their hearts were left behind. The story follows Rayford, a pilot who's wife and son were taken, but he and his daughter Chloe left behind, as well as Hattie, a flight attendant that often flew with Rayford. There is also a strange side story that I never did really figure out the point of, following Buck Williams, a very prominent journalist as he gets himself into trouble and follows a lead story having something to do with a man taking over the United Nations. Not really getting the point of that I guess. Maybe I just didn't think deep enough about it, I don't know.

The concept is huge and intriguing and mind numbing, in a way that I really wanted to like this book. I did enjoy reading the parts about the Rapture and how Rayford and his daughter learn to love the Lord and proceed to educate themselves on Him and His doings. I think I would have given this book a good rating and actually said that I liked it, had the side story about Buck and the politics been left out. I didn't understand why they were put in there in the first place and I found myself skipping those parts, only wanting to read about Rayford and Chloe. It is amazing how we can actually pick up a book and read about a topic like the Rapture from a fiction point of view and I really did enjoy that portion of this novel. However, just because of the amount of straying from the topic the authors did, I really don't think I'll be reading the rest of the series.
Left Behind gets a 4 out of 10.

Off to start some YA books! I've been really wanting to read some great books that have trickled into the library, but have been focusing on my challenges too much. I still have until June to complete the Spring Reading thing, so for now...it's YA time!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kaleidoscope Eyes

I really think I've just been reading too much, my standards are way too high at this point, resulting in a reading slump. I haven't read a truly great book since I finished The Book Thief back in March and it's starting to get a little frustrating! I mean, this book was good, just nothing fantastic like the first in the series.

Kalei
doscope Eyes follows Annie Justice, a woman who can see the colors people possess and uses that to create beautiful stained glass art. She, along with her huge German Shepard, Kodi, also are part of a search and rescue team that find assist in finding people when they are lost. Jed Curry produces a tv show that chronicles heroes all over the country. He wants Annie and Kodi to be on the television show, but Annie, a very private person, refuses. Jed comes up with a plan to trick her into wanting to be on the show, of course resulting in a big disaster.

The story was good, I just really couldn't get into it as much as I wanted to. I loved the first book in Ball's series, Shattered Justice, which follows Annie's brother, Dan after losing his wife. I really do think, after books like The Book Thief, my expectations are a bit too high. I've never had an issue with a simple inspirational novel such as this one before, but now I want something meatier, something more thought provoking and hearty. I'm in the middle of Left Behind by Tim Lahaye right now and that isn't doing it for me either. Any suggestions?

I also wanted to update on some nice packages that have been arriving regularly in the mail for me. First, I received the signed books I won from the author Donna Fleisher, sponsored by So Many Books...I was SO excited. I received all three in the Homeland Heroes series and Donna even signed them for me. I can't wait to crack those open! I also received a free book from the Zondervan publishing company, just for signing up for their newsletter, which I had been wanting to do anyways. The book I received was Making Ripples by Mike Breaux. It appears to be a collection of stories, so I hope to be able to get to that one soon as well! Thanks to Deena for letting us all know about that! And finally, I got 2 of my birthday purchases, Coldwater Revival and Always Green in the mail as well. 2 more are on their way. I have a pile of books ready to take on my honeymoon next month (and no, there is nothing wrong with that!). Enjoy your Saturday!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thursday!

It's Thursday folks and that means time for Booking Through Thursday's latest meme. If you answer the question too, make sure to leave me a link so I can check out your posting. Happy Thursday!

"Okay, there must be something you read that's a guilty pleasure . . . a Harlequin romance stashed under the mattress. A cheesy sci-fi book tucked in the back of the freezer. A celebrity biography, a phoned-in Western . . . something that you'd really rather not be spotted reading. Even just a novel if you're a die-hard non-fiction fan. Come on, confess. We won't hold it against you!"

My guilty pleasure? People magazine. And Entertainment Weekly. Seriously, I know it's not that big of a deal, but I am such a celebrity snob! Basically meaning I know everything there is to know about celebrities, based on what People tells me. Every Friday, Aaron is at the store buying me my latest copy, while I'm at home catching up on my Entertainment Weekly. I don't even like half of the people I'm reading about, but I still like to know!! I draw the line at the tabloids, and no, I do not believe these two magazines are tabloids! No Star, Globe, or OK for me. It's strictly People and E-Weekly. It may seem completely "nonliterary" to be reading those mags, but trust me, when we play Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture, EVERYONE wants me on their team! :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes and a meme


This book, by Diane Chamberlain, was a nice, quick read. Though well over 400 pages, I finished this selection from my Spring Reading Thing challenge list in about a day. Not too shabby, considering I worked and wrote a paper the same day!
Chamberlain first introduces us to CeeCee Wilkes, a young, beautiful, 16 year old girl, that while waitressing at a diner, falls in love with Tim, an older, more experienced man. Tim wraps CeeCee around his finger, using her innocence against her and convincing her to help in a plot to kidnap the governor's wife. Though skeptical, CeeCee agrees and after a terrifying turn of events, leaves the situation with no identity, no money, and a newborn baby. The reader gets to experience CeeCee's fear and trepidation as she becomes Eve Elliott and begins raising the baby, Corinne. With more twists and turns along the way, this story kept me reading into the night.
Though not as great as Chamberlain's other novels (I would highly recommend The Courage Tree), this was still a compelling story that allowed the reader to feel involved in the character's lives. I enjoyed this book and enjoyed marking off another selection on the challenge list. Only a few more to go! I give this book 7 out of 10 stars.
Now for a little meme I found over at Deena's page....

1. What are you currently reading?
Well, I'm reading Left Behind, by Tim LaHaye for the Spring Reading Challenge (about 1/2 way through). I'm also reading Women of the Bible by Ann Spangler for my small group bible study.

2. What did you just finish reading?
As the above review shows, I just finished The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain. I also just finished Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, which I enjoyed, but was somewhat disappointed in. I guess that has to eventually happen, seeing as though I have absolutely loved every other book she has written.

3. What will you be reading next?
I will be starting Kaleidoscope Eyes by Karen Ball, an ILL that finally showed up at work for me today. I read the first in her series, Shattered Justice a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it..I'm hoping this one is as good! I also will be starting a couple of juvenile books this week, in hopes to catch up on that part of my reading AND starting Hatchet.

Well that was fun, thanks Deena! If any of ya'll play along, leave me a link so I can check out your answers. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fairy Tale Catalog


I haven't been doing much picture book "reading" lately, but I came across this book this morning after a patron returned it and was just delighted. It is so darn cute! Fairy Tale Catalog: Everything You Need to Make a Fairy Tale is exactly as it sounds. It is an adorable book that helps the reader to choose the perfect elements to make their ideal fairy tale, all available for purchase (but not with money, with wishes). It starts out with choosing the actual fairy. Choices range from the "Clean-up Fairy, Water Fairy, Hairy Fairy" and there is even a section for Clearance Fairies. Next, the reader can design the perfect fairy dress and then pick out fairy wands and wings. As this book progresses we see a quiz for "is he your prince charming," choices to buy friendly giants, unicorns, dwarves, or frogs, different selections to make fairy living more comfortable )spinning wheels, magic mirrors, cauldrons, etc.), recipes for fairy food, and fairy houses. This book was so cute!! I enjoyed it even as an adult and found myself chuckling with each page turned. I can only hope that my daughter (when I have one) will enjoy girly stuff like fairies and stories like this, so I can share it with her. Adorable!!


I received one of the books I won recently in the mail yesterday. This one was Moon on a Stick, which I won last week from The Bookfool. It was for her Buy A Friend a Book contest and I'm thrilled that I won! Thanks again!! I can't wait to read it! Enjoy the rest of the day!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bummer

As most of you know, Jodi Picoult is my all time favorite author. I have loved every single one of her books since I picked up Perfect Match about 4 years ago. She doesn't write nearly often enough, only publishing about once a year, leaving me wondering why she can't be like Karen Kingsbury, publishing almost every other month? Unfortunately though, her latest, Nineteen Minutes, left me a little bummed. Where was the super-charged ending? The huge twist? Oh well...it had to happen sometime.

The story follows Peter (as well as a myriad of other characters) before, during, and after he goes on a shooting rampage at his school, killing 10 of his classmates and wounding 19 others. Peter has been socially tormented by these students since the first day of kindergarten and every single day after that. He is humiliated day after day, but his one saving grace is Josie, his only friend in the world. When she turns on him too, in favor of the popular crowd, Peter simply loses it and as the humiliation continues, his angry just continues to build until the result is a major school shooting. Picoult centers on the trial and the individuals most involved in Peter's life, allowing the reader to feel sympathy for not just the victims, but for Peter as well.

Picoult's stories are always books that I have to read slowly, to savor, but this one was a rather quick read. I didn't feel compelled to savor. It was a good plot, but the characters were not nearly as deep as in past books. I found Josie to be somewhat whiny, as I did Lacy, Peter's mother. Yes, both had reason to be to whiny, but it wasn't whiny in a tragic way. It was just plain whiny. The ending did have a twist, as most of her books do, but it wasn't dramatic and I almost saw it coming. Typically, ya just don't see the train before it hits you. For example, in My Sister's Keeper. I don't know, maybe I'm being too hard on this book, simply because it wasn't quite as outstanding as her others, however I did finish the book feeling a little disappointed. Oh well, I'm a little bummed, but definitely ready for her next one!! Too bad I have to wait until next Spring. :-( Nineteen Minutes gets an 8 out of 10.

Oh and just a quick update on the Banned Books Challenge. I'm giving up. And being blunt about it! :-) I don't like to give up on things, especially things that I, or someone else, has challenged me to, however I just don't want to do this one anymore. All of the books I've picked, besides the two I did accomplish, are heavy, depressing books and as I said in my last posting, Nineteen Minutes, was the last of the heavy reading I wanted to do for awhile. With the upcoming nuptials pending, I want lighthearted, quick reads to keep me going, rather than heavy and harsh. Therefore, I am abandoning the Banned Books challenge. It's ok to give up sometimes right? I'm still sticking with the Spring Read Thing, even if some of the books are a little "tragic" in nature (i.e. Left Behind) and I'm also sticking with the Non-Fiction 5, starting in May. I think I'll be ok with those two challenges and the choices I've made for those, as well as some extra credit books that are bound to pop up. Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

More books!!

Ooh how I love buying books! It's not very often that I can justify buying them, usually because it's between books and groceries and the food just has to win out, but when I can buy them, I love it!! I just feel good for days after! After my little shopping spree, I'm all stocked up for books to bring on my trip up to NY next month and then on my honeymoon. Yippee! Here's what I ended up with:

Using a fabulous B&N gift card that I received on my birthday...

Castles in the Sand by Sally John
The Potluck Club: Trouble's Brewing by Linda Evans Shepard
Coldwater Revival by Nancy Jo Jenkins
Always Green by Patti Hill

Three of those and the second book in a series, so I'm super excited to get to them. After all that B&N shopping on a gift card, I was able to make my own little purchase over at ChristianBook.com. There, I made off with:

Quilts from Heaven by Lucinda Seacrest McDowell
The Good Nearby by Nancy Moser
Scrap Everything by Leslie Gould
The Quilt of Hope by Mary Tatem
Quaker Summer by Lisa Samson
and a new bible cover! :-)

All of this shopping was very profitable for my Christian fiction shelves! All being rather lighthearted reading, since I will be on my honeymoon and all. No need to revert back to my love of tragic stories until the end of May! Next on my to-buy-list are preorders of both Luanne Rice and Charles Martin's new novels, both releasing in early summer and bound to be tearjerkers. Can't wait for those! Has anyone else bought anything great lately?

Friday, April 13, 2007

A meme and a few reviews

First of all, many thanks to everyone in the blogging world that sent birthday wishes my way! It feels great to have people all over the country (and world) thinking about me at least once a year! :-) This post is basically playing a little bit of catch-up. I have a few reviews and a little meme, though probably not in that order. I would love to know what you think about the books, as well as your own answer to the meme questions, so make sure to leave a comment if you've read the books or feel like playing along!

Meme

This was borrowed from Shelley over at Shelley's Book shelf. She runs a lovely blog and often has fun little (short) memes that not only make me think, but result in smiles all over. Thanks Shelley!!

In Character:
Name up to 3 characters:

1. You wish were real so you could meet them
2. You would like to be
3. That scare you

1. Oh how to choose only 3!! I have so many characters I would love to meet, but here are the 3 that pop into mind:

A. Leisel from The Book Thief. You all know how I felt about this book and how much I loved all of the characters. I would pay big bucks to sit down and have a conversation with Leisel!

B. Savannah from The Prince of Tides. My favorite book before I read The Book Thief, I loved Conroy's southern novel and I fell hard for Savannah's character. She is a depressed woman who sadly enough, reminded me so much of myself the first time I read that book. I was a senior in high school that felt a kinship with this character, so strongly that I read the story over and over again.

C. Dylan Stiles from Charles Martin's The Dead Don't Dance and Maggie. Martin is one of my favorite authors simply because of his character development. Dylan is so incredibly real in his reaction to tragedy, yet so hopeful in his actions.

2. This is a toughie! So many of the books I love and the characters I love are tragic. I don't want to be tragic! The few I could think of:

A. Hermione from the Harry Potter books. She not only is brilliant, she gets to hang out with two of the coolest boys in fiction AND have awesome adventures!

B. Wupsie from Once I Ate a Pie. Yes, it's a picture book about dogs and Wupsie is in fact of the canine breed, however she reminds me so much of my own dog I just can't help but love her! She is so cute and lively and lovable, just like my Shae! I wouldn't mind being Shae OR Wupsie for a day. Those dog's have it good!

C. Lily Owens from The Secret Life of Bees. Ok, this book starts out rough and seems to be emotionally trying throughout, however the end and beyond (use your imagination if you've actually read this) seem to be pretty swell for Lily. Plus, I love the women she lives with!

3. Oh there are plenty of characters who scare me! This should be no trouble at all!!

A. Count Olaf from Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books. The books may be comical to a point and they don't leave me shivering in fear, but Olaf is one scary dude! He'll do anything to get to the Baudelaire's money!

B. Delores Umbridge, introduced in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This woman is crazy!! The things she makes Harry do in detention are downright horrifying!

C. Capricorn from Inkheart. A very frightening man that likes to burn books. Nothing scarier! :-)

Reviews

Ok, we're in for a few reviews. 2 Kathy Herman novels, and one memoir. Enjoy!



The first Kathy Herman novel is Day of Reckoning, Book 2 in the Baxter series. This book was a little boring, which is not typical for Herman's novels. We follow Wayne as he kidnaps two girls in order to gain revenge against the owner of a former industry in town. The owner closed the plant, resulting in the layoff of Wayne's father and hundreds of other employees. The town is in mourning and desperate to find the kidnapper. The story drags on as Wayne's threats get more intense, finally pushing him to the ultimate edge.

I just think this book needed something more. It wasn't anything special, didn't leave me clutching the book like Herman's other stories. I felt it was quite predictable and left me a little disheartened. It gets 4 out of 10 stars.



Next on the list is #3 of the Baxter series, Vital Signs. This book more than made up for the previous one. Two young missionaries, Blake and Melissa, return home from South America and are quickly taken with a virus they caught while overseas. This mysterious virus begins to ravage the town, resulting in a huge quarantine and the deaths of many citizens. There are several side story lines that involve Jennifer, her newborn twins, and the baby's estranged father, a woman who accepts Jesus into her heart, and the newspaper editor at odds with her husband over her faith.

Vital Signs is a very quick read and one that keeps your heart racing! I would recommend this to anyone who can get through the first two Herman books in this series (Tested by Fire is great, but ya gotta plus through Day of Reckoning). The series is great, but definitely one to read in sequence, in order to keep characters straight. 7 out of 10 for this choice.


Finally, we have Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was on my Spring Challenge Thing list, and though I'm happy to have crossed off one more, I was not impressed with this book. I should have known, after reading a fellow blogger's poor review, but I typically love travelogues and was pretty sure that's what this was. Instead, I followed Gilbert on her journey through Italy, India, and Indonesia, getting way more information on the love, in terms of men she wanted to kiss than, on the food and the prayer, as listed in the title. I don't think the countries were described in detail, other than the people she met. I just was disappointed.

This was a very quick read for me, mainly because I skimmed it. I read the first 40 pages or so, then gave up and just read what I thought might be "good parts." It's done, I read it, moving on now.

I'm now well into Nineteen Minutes, by my favorite author, Mrs. Jodi Picoult and am starting Lord of the Flies for the Banned Books challenge, as well as throwing in Voices of the Faithful because I've been wanting to read it for awhile and it just became available. Lots of reading ahead folks! I'll also be using my B&N gift certificate online tonight and placing an order with ChristianBook.com, so tomorrow morning I'll have a nice list to share with you! Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's my Birthday!!!

Yes folks, I am another year old and I suppose another year wiser. Most people don't like birthdays once they get out of the teen years and though I'm not that much older than those "teen years" I still love having birthdays. It reminds me that I am blessed to be alive and to have experienced as much as I have, as well as a great excuse to eat cake! In honor of this lovely occasion, I am allowing myself to purchase a couple of books I've wanted and to eat as much birthday cake as my tummy will allow! I received a B&N gift card from my lovely friend Victoria and will probably have that spent by this evening....and I also may just par down my wishlist on Christianbook.com and buy a couple there as well. My fabulous fiance gave me a beautiful cross necklace as a gift...I've been searching for the "right" one for months and he finally found one! And my mother sent me an awesome polka dot dress to wear on my honeymoon...black, white, and lime green!! It's been a great birthday and I thank God to have blessed me with another year! I'll let you all know what I purchase as far as books go!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A little help from my fellow bloggers?

I had an interesting thing happen to me at work tonight and I'm hoping I can encourage some of you to help me out a little with this new issue. A little background before I beg :-).
As most of you know, I work as a Children's Librarian Assistant in a public library and love that part of my job. Kids and books are great! Tonight though, I was a little perplexed as to how to fix a problem that has arose in one patron's reading journey. Recently, I made a friend in a 13 year old girl, Josie, that volunteers with us during our summer reading program and is in the library with her mother and brothers almost every day. Josie is homeschooled, comes from an excellent Christian family and is a voracious reader. The problem lies in the lack of books she has to read. Her mother will purchase her any books that our library doesn't carry, Josie simply cannot find anything to even suggest to her mom to buy, due to her own personal specifications (as well as her parent's) regarding the reading material. She is not allowed to (nor does she have any interest in) reading anything pertaining to magic or fantasy (Harry Potter, etc.), due to their beliefs. Josie also has stated that she doesn't really care for anything that includes information on boyfriend/girlfriend relationships (her exact words were "I just think that stuff is ridiculous" :-) ). She really enjoys the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, as well as Nancy Drew and the old Cherry Ames books. As for adult choices, she absolutely loves Beverly Lewis, but is really looking for some young adult/juvenile selections. I really think she would be happiest with selections of the Christian genre, but any suggestions at this point would be great.
I hate knowing that children think they have nothing to read and usually I would tell them "you're crazy, there are a million books out there for you to read!" however in this situation, I'm really stumped! Typically I would suggest books I loved at that age, but I know they just aren't really right for Josie (the main reason being I wasn't a Christian at that point and would read anything at all). When you take out magic/fantasy/boys, that cuts out a lot of choices!!
Any help you could give would be so appreciated by both myself and by Josie. You can suggest books from any genre or age level, anything will do! Thanks so much for helping!

What did I get myself into?

God has interesting ways of working, that's for sure!! First, let me tell you a little about this small group I belong to. My almost sister-in-law has a wonderful small group bible study that she attends in Illinois and this group decided they want to start an online discussion in order to allow more people to get involved, as well as to continue their discussions throughout the week instead of having them end Tuesday night when it's time to go home. Well my wonderful almost sister-in-law knows how hard of a time I'm having find a church community in this area and invited me to join... one of the greatest blessings God has bestowed upon me! We are currently studying a book written about the women of the bible and while learning about those women we are also learning about ourselves and each other as we go along. Just yesterday we finished the chapter on Lot's wife and how she hesitated when Jesus told her to leave without looking back, pausing to glance over her shoulder at all she had ever known and we wondered how often we ourselves to this. How often do we choose to take our own path or do something in our own ways because it's easier or more convenient or simply because we like it better than what God has chosen? In that same chapter, the author challenges the reader to reflect on what parts of our lives distract us from Jesus. What causes us to be weak and make decisions that may not be God's way? We focused a lot on creature comforts and of those comforts, what are we most attached to. The group census was basically that television is one of the main creature comforts of all of us and how it constantly takes us away from participating in other activities that could better enrich our lives, our families lives, and our relationship with Jesus.

That being said, we're giving up television for a week! And we are completely proud of ourselves for making that commitment to each other. We have challenged ourselves to give up this creature comfort (except the news/weather when necessary for work or travel) in favor of more time spent with devotions, prayer, and our overall relationship with the Lord. Cool huh? Now, I will be the first to tell you this will be a major challenge for me and I'll tell ya why. Aaron and I do not have a lot of money and I do not foresee us having a lot of money in the near future. Television is our form of cheap entertainment. Instead of movies or going out to eat or shopping, we stay home each night and watch television. We watch the big name shows (Lost, Jericho, Grey's Anatomy,24), we watch the not so popular shows (Gilmore Girls, King of Queens, old reruns), and we watch the home improvement shows...the reality shows (some). We watch the news shows, game shows (yay Jeopardy!). We are not constantly at the tv set, but whenever we are home together, we watch tv. Therefore, me giving it up is going to result in us spending more "quality" time together instead of tv watching time. We'll have more time to talk and discuss our plans, as well as me having more time with my prayer and devotions. God really does have a plan for us all and though this may be one of the small, itty-bitty ones, I still think His great mind is working for me. I'll let you know how I do next Tuesday when my challenge is over and we move on to Rebekah in our small group book. Who knows what surprises she may bring!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Finally!!

I finally have two excellent books to review in the same post! Ya'll know that if I don't like a book, I'm going to express that just as readily as I would when I love a book and unfortunately that has been happening a lot lately. I've read decent books, ones that I would rate as "good" but nothing great and finally the spell has been broken, in the form of The Five Love Languages and The Edge of Winter.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is the book Aaron and I have been reading together for the past couple of months. trying to read at the same pace in order to have conversations about what we've read as we go along. It is the perfect book for couples to read and then discuss the theories presented. Chapman explains what he deems the "five love languages" and elaborates on how knowing your own love language, as well as your spouse's, can create a perfect set up for great communication between each other. He lists the languages as being A. Words of Affirmation, B. Quality Time, C. Receiving Gifts, D. Acts of Service, and E. Physical Touch. There are plenty of examples of different couples, many at the brink of divorce, that after having counseling with Chapman and learning each other's love language become the couple they were when they first married.

All of Chapman's teachings are extremely well explained and very relevant to every day life. Aaron and I were both able to easily discover our own love languages and therefore put that to use every day. I really believe that finding out about this book early into our marriage (though we aren't quite married yet, it sure seems like it...7 years together will do that to you) we were able to prevent a lot of communication issues that seem to arise as years pass. I now know that Aaron needs Words of Affirmation in order to feel truly loved, in terms of feeling appreciated in all he does for me. Aaron knows that I also need Words of Affirmation, with a little Quality Time mixed in, in the form of Presence. We don't necessarily need to spend every free moment sitting down and talking to each other, I just need to know he is there. Knowing this makes it so much easier to understand what each other wants, instead of playing that guessing game so many couples describe as their daily experience.

I would recommend this book to any couple, new or old, married or not. Chapman has a great way of blending humor and education with real examples that encourage couples to try his theories and ultimately see amazing results. This book gets a 10 out of 10 from me!!

Now on to the fiction selection of the past weekend. I have been a fan of Luanne Rice since my first year of college about 6 years ago. I read one of her first books (I think it was Follow the Stars Home) and I was hooked! I quickly devoured everything I could get my hands on and continue to do so to this day. Rice is one of the few authors I actually purchase before having read her new releases. I know I'll love the book, so I automatically purchase it, usually by preorder!


The Edge of Winter is a typical Rice book. It focuses on a mother and daughter healing together after divorce has ripped their family apart. Mickey's father is an alcoholic that refuses to pay child support in order to help her mother, Neve, raise her. Rice creates a wonderful story of first love between Mickey and Shane, coming together to help an injured owl, as well as love the second time around between Neve and Tim, the local beach ranger, all while showing the path of healing for all four main characters. Though not typically a "romance" genre fan, Rice gets me every time. She creates characters that are incredibly real and vulnerable and this time around is no exception. She also almost always places her stories near the beach or a lake of some sort (this time in Rhode Island), which I just love. I have a great connection to the water, it being one place where I feel at peace with myself and very close to God, and being able to read excellent stories that take place near those places I love makes the book even better. This book gets an 8 out of 10.

I would of course recommend this book to all of you (though mainly the women, I guess it's not really a "man's" type of story :-) and I would also encourage you to check out some of Rice's other novels. Some of my favorites are Cloud Nine, which I have also reviewed, Follow the Stars Home, and Firefly Beach. Make sure you do a little research on Luanne Rice's website before checking them out, some are not necessarily part of a series, but include characters from previous books, which would be easier understood if read in order. Just start from her first published and work your way up!

Let me know if you've read either of these and enjoyed them or what you think of Rice's other books. Have a great Tuesday!!
Updates
Just some quick updates on challenges: I am substituting Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene for The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy on my Banned Books Challenge list. I have been wanting to read this book for some time now and the Conroy book just isn't interesting me at this point. I also am adding several extra credit books to my Spring Reading Thing Challenge, due to the overwhelming number of holds and new books we are getting in at the library. I'll just count them as extra credit as I read them, rather then adding them into the challenge so late in the game. That's it for now! Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Reading Weekend

This weekend proved to be quite profitable in the book reading sense. On Saturday, Aaron and I drove the 90 minutes to El Paso in order to purchase some last minute wedding goodies (we finally found a cake topper!!) and some scrapbooking supplies for me, as well as some new clothes to take on our honeymoon next month. We also made the necessary stop at our favorite restaurant, PF Chang's, for some excellent mongolian beef, wonton soup, and our favorite: chicken lettuce wraps. It was a very nice day trip for the both of us, we had a great time, but I also was able to get some great reading done on the drive to and from the city. Between the drive there and the drive back, I pretty much read the entire 3 hours, though I did pause in- between chapters to actually have conversations with the hunny. It wouldn't have been nice of me to ignore him the entire time in favor of my books! :-)

On Easter sunday, unfortunately, thanks to military scheduling, Aaron had to work again (he's worked every single holiday, including Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day since I moved down here), so as with the previous day, I had quite a bit of reading time on my hands. We still haven't found a church that we feel comfortable and welcome at, so I spent my Easter worship time with my Bible, my devotionals, and then my small group website, learning about women of the bible. Once Aaron arrived home around 7, we were able to have the traditional Easter dinner of ham and we watched our Sunday dose of reality tv with the Amazing Race.

That all being said, I read and/or completed the following books on Saturday and Sunday: The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice, These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, and about 8 different magazines I've had laying around here...not to mention the two Sunday newspapers we get. Though I only had a bit of Chapman's book left, it was nice to finally finish it and the other two were challenge books, making the list I have left to read a little shorter. I'll be reviewing Rice's book, as well as Chapman's book tonight or tomorrow.

I love the weekends I don't have to work, simply because I accomplish so much. Right now I'm on an every other weekend schedule, so next weekend I'll be spending my two days at the library, with not much time for reading. It just makes the time I do get off that much sweeter!

Friday, April 6, 2007

3 Reviews

I have completed 2 more books off my Spring Reading Thing Challenge list, as well as one of my Banned Book Challenge books, and figured a few reviews are in order. Though not exactly brilliant on my part, the first two reviews are the last two books in a series by Karen Kingsbury. I didn't have this blog when I read the first three and therefore do not have reviews of them, however, they were good. Trust me. It's Karen Kingsbury we're talking about! On to the reviews:
Family is book 4 in this series. It follows Dane and Katy as they attempt to form a committed relationship amongst problems with the paparazzi constantly following Dayne (he's a big time movie star in case you haven't read the first books). Privacy is a huge issue with Katy, especially since she has been pictured on the headlines of every tabloid in America, due to the trial of the women who attempted to kill Dayne and Katy in the previous book. This book is very typical of Kingsbury, but that's what I like. She is always a good choice when I can't find anything else to read, simply because she is a soothing writer. Her characters are very real and very believable and her faith in God is what ultimately brings me to love her.

Forever, the conclusion to the series, again follows Dayne and Katy on their relationship journey, this time while planning a wedding and searching for their dream house. While Dayne's new found family gets used to having a new son/brother, the couple is seeing all their dreams come true. When a tragic accident effects them all, it will take faith, love, and the Lord to see them all through. Again, Kingsbury makes the reader connect with her characters and feel their sadness and burdens. These are not books that always have happy endings, they contain events that could actually happen and allow the reader to see that God always comes through in the end, no matter how difficult or dark the journey. I'm really looking forward to seeing how life pans out for Dayne and Katy, as well as the Baxter family in Kingsbury's next series, beginning with Sunrise.

Yes, this book is also entitled, Forever, but is incredibly different in subject matter from Kingsbury's title. This was the second book I read for the banned books challenge and while I couldn't find anything in my first selection (James and the Giant Peach) that would result in the book being challenged or banned, Blume's book was another story. This book was filled sex and bad language, being completely inappropriate for young readers. I read many instances of it being removed from the shelves of school libraries and though I still do not agree with "banning" anything or even removing it from the shelves altogether, this is not a book I would want my 5th grader to get her hands on. That being said, in the library I work in it is deemed an Adult fiction novel and is shelved as such. It contains enough adult material that even though it may have been written for young adults, it probably shouldn't be read by someone under 15. Being that I am not yet a mother, I can't really say when I would "allow" my daughter to read this book. In my mind I would like to think I will be an excellent mother and set a great Christian example and she won't even be interested in reading it. One can hope right?
Hopefully I'll get a lot more reading done this Sunday while the "almost hubby" is at work. He may be a good distraction, but I just can't seem to get any reading done while he's around!

Thinking Blogger Award

Imagine my surprise last night when Debi informed me that I had won the Thinking Blogger award! I was ecstatic! I began this blog back in February, after being a frequent "book blog browser," figuring that I may as well share my own opinions of books, being that I am constantly reading something. I never expected people to actually read my blog, let alone think of it as one of their favorites or one that makes them think. Apparently, I underestimated myself and I really do thank all of you who read my daily thoughts/reviews/etc.

Now, on to the good stuff! It's my turn to nominate 5 blogs that make me think. I really did think long and hard about this, mainly because I read a lot of blogs (check out the blog list on the right...I visit those sites almost every day) and though all make me think about something, I wanted to list blogs that really cause me to stop and consider what I just read and how it relates to my own life. For those I do nominate,


The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote

In no particular order, here are the blogs (and bloggers) that Make Me Think, and why I chose them:

1. Deena at A Peek At My Bookshelf
-Each day, Deena posts a review of a book she read, typically from the Christian genre and because of her daily posts, my TBR list has grown by at least 15 books. She writes reviews in a manner that allows readers to see how that particular book affected her on a personal level, no matter how "light" or "heavy" the reading material may be. She causes me to stop and think about how I will personally be affected if I read that particular book.

2. Lisa at Lisa Writes
-Lisa writes about her love of the Lord, the manner in which God works through her, and how her family tries to serve God. Being a fellow Christian (and constantly trying to be a better one), Lisa gives me insight into what it's like to have an enormous faith, yet still make mistakes along the way. She is incredibly honest and outspoken in her beliefs, leading me to try and be the same way. One should never be afraid to talk about love for our Creator and reading this blog has resulted in me being more outspoken and comfortable with my strong sense of faith in Jesus.

3. Cipriano from Book Puddle
-We all need a little humor in our lives and Cipriano does that for me. He posts quirky photos, quotes, and personal anecdotes about books and life in general. The photos alone make you stop and think, before you even read his post. He is blunt in his opinions, as well as funny, making for a very refreshing blog experience.

4. Happy Villain from Happyville Library
-I am a librarian and I love reading stories about other librarian's patron experiences. This blog is absolutely hilarious and I can relate to each and every post she makes. Being able to read how she handles certain situations allows me to shape and mold my own ways of reacting to patrons.

5. Fusenumber8 at A Fuse #8 Production
-Though another fellow librarian, this blogger writes about all sorts of things "book related." She includes fun reviews that offer a different look at children's/YA selections, author interviews, and lots of interesting tidbits of information you may not find anywhere else.

There's my list of fellow Thinking Bloggers! I'll leave ya'll a comment somewhere on your blog to let you know you were part of this award. I was honored to have been given that award and hope these bloggers enjoy it as much as I have. Thanks again Debi!!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

And, We Have a WINNER!!!

YAY! I love contests! This is the first one I've participated in and I'm very excited to give a book away. In order to pick the winner from the myriad of bloggers who entered, I wrote each of your names on a piece of paper, folded them up and mixed them well in a bowl and had Aaron pull a name out. I had no part in the picking, it was completely random, promise!! And the winner is.....
Karen from Write from Karen!!! Congratulations! You get to pick a book of your choice and I'll be buying it for you, in the spirit of Buy A Friend A Book Week. Just email me your snail mail address and the book you would like and I would love to send it off to you, ASAP (Mandy41283@yahoo.com). It's great to have friends here in the blogging world and I am very excited to be buying Karen, one of those great friends, a book. Congrats!

Speaking of contests apparently I won the Thinking Blogger award!! I'll be posting on that later tonight! Thank you! Yay for me!!

Reminder!!!

Last chance to enter the BAFAB contest!! I'll be drawing a name around 7pm my time (Mountain), meaning 6pm on the west coast and 9pm on the east coast. Make sure you comment here or at the original post from a few days ago to enter to win a free book of your choice! Good luck!

Booking Through Thursday Meme

I love this blog and their fun Thursday memes! Here's the latest...

1. Just out of curiosity, as we enter into Passover and Easter season . . . have you ever read the Bible? Just the odd chapter or Psalm? The whole thing? (Or, almost the whole thing? It's some heavy reading, of course, and those "begats" get kind of tedious.)
-I read the bible every single day, though I cannot say I've completed the entire thing. I don't read entire books of the Bible at a time, I read by verses or chapters, depending on my devotional for the day. At times, when I feel the need to be especially close to God, I will read an entire chapter, usually Matthew.

2.
If so, was it from religious motivation or from a literary perspective? Stuck with nothing else to read in a hotel room the Gideon's have visited? Any combination?

-I became saved almost a year ago and since then have devoured portions of the Bible, trying to learn as much about the Lord as I possibly can. Therefore, my Reading of the Bible is definitely from a religious motivation, rather than simply "wanting something to read." Reading scripture not only brings me closer to God, but it also is educational, and being that I am a newer Christian, this is a very important part of my reading.

3. If not, why not? Against your religious principles? Too boring? Just not interested? Something you're planning on taking care of when you get marooned on a desert island?
-N/A

4. And while we're on the subject . . . what about the other great religious works out there? Are they more to your liking?
-I have not read any other religious works, nor do I really have the desire. It is interesting to see how other religions compare to Christianity, but to go as far as studying them, as I do the Bible, I'm not interested in doing that.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Sometimes you just gotta stop...

I've tried reading Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian twice before this, never getting past page 25. The characters didn't grab me, the short amount of plot I got through didn't grab me... nothing. I have heard so many good things about this book that when I signed up for The Spring Read Thing challenge, I added it to my list in hopes that I could actually get to the good part of the novel and understand just what everyone was talking about. Big, fat, NOPE there. This time I made it to page 48, or the end of chapter 4, before I gave up and put the book in my "to be returned" pile. I just can't get into that book! So, I have failed on one of my challenge selections, but quickly substituted it with another rather delightful book I had sitting around, waiting to be read.

Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone was quite the surprise. I just picked it up off the shelf one day while at work and brought it home with me, already having renewed it twice before finally cracking it open yesterday. It has a simple premise, really. Nancy and her husband break into the art of collecting books by accident, but over the course of about a year make it a passion. It was fun to read about their quest for certain works (and editions of those books), all while trying to be frugal about their purchases. It was also very interesting to view the perspective of collector's that make their libraries out of books of value. Most of you understand what I mean when I say I collect books that I like, rather than books that are worth something or will one day be worth something. I've never looked at an edition before making a purchase or checked the spine label to make sure the bookstore isn't hiding something from me. I collect what I've read and liked or authors that never fail to please me. The Goldstones started out this way, but quickly branched off into collecting based on value.

I read this book in about 2 hours, but silly me started it at around 11 (after the 3rd failed Bohjalian attempt), thinking I would read a chapter before bed, but for some reason it was one of those I just couldn't put down. I finally closed my eyes around 1am, satisfied with my reading choice for that evening, and happy with at least completing something for the challenge, even if it was a substitution.

Though I don't think I ever will complete Before You Know Kindness, I did love Bohjalian's first book Midwives and am on the hold list for his newest The Double Bind, also a Spring Reading Thing challenge book. Let's hope I have better luck with that one. So all in all, I didn't complete one of my challenge books, but I did find a great substitute!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret


I just started this book last evening and by looking at it, believed it would take me at least a couple of days to get through, not realizing that more than half of the book is pictures and the pages that do have writing on them are mainly half pages, if that. I'm done already, which makes me happy, because I can move on to the next book on the challenge list! But first, a quick review...

I have heard so much positive buzz about this book, not only in the blogging world, but in magazines, book catalogs, etc. and this made me believe the book would be utterly fantastic. I mean, I only read The Book Thief because everyone posted as to how great it was and it ended up being my favorite book EVER. Unfortunately, I wasn't all that impressed with Hugo Cabret. The drawings were absolutely amazing, the writing was good, but the story was just a story to me. It wasn't anything heart-stopping or all that memorable. I felt cheated out of something special when I was finished.

The plot begins with us meeting Hugo, a young orphan who was an apprentice to his alcoholic uncle, the timekeeper for a train station, who mysteriously disappears and leaves Hugo to tend the clocks himself or risk being caught and sent to an orphanage. Hugo manages on his own, constantly following his dream of fixing a quirky machine made of different mechanical parts that when fixed will write a message that Hugo believes is from his father. The reader learns more parts to the mystery of the machine, the note, and parts of history as the story moves on, while witnessing Hugo form bonds with the most unexpected of people.

I did have a favorite selection from the book to share:
"Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?" he asked Isabelle. "They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder, like the automaton. Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do. "
Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again, and set it down.
"Maybe it's the same with people," Hugo continued. "If you lose your purpose...it's like you're broken."


This little portion of the story did cause me to stop and think about just how Hugo was feeling and how I feel that way quite often. If someone's purpose is taken away, they are broken and lost. Again, a good book, but nothing I would put on a Top 10 list or even rate as "excellent," even with a great quote like that. It certainly is worth a read though, if for nothing more than the beautiful drawings intermingled within the text, helping to tell Hugo's story.

Just to be fair, when I add the pages in this book to my "total pages read in 2007" list...I will only use half of the total number of pages in the book, being that a lot of them are drawings. I'm all about fairness and honesty people! :-) Happy reading!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Life List

Yesterday, I was browsing over at Chaurcerian Girl's blog and found a posting she did a couple days ago on having a Life List. She had discovered this over at another blogger's site and felt compelled to complete one of her own, leading me to feel compelled to complete one of my own. I really believe that in each of our mind's we have a life list created...those things that we want to complete in our lifetime before we go home to be with Jesus. However, few of us write them down and therefore very little of the list is actually completed. Writing it down makes it permanent and more important. It makes us feel the need to complete these tasks and when we do, oh how good it will feel. So please, read my life list (which is bound to get longer with every passing day) and then create your own. If you do, leave me a comment with a link to your page. In no particular order, here we go...

Amanda's Life List--First Draft,

1. Find a job I love
-I love books, I love kids, I love libraries...however where I am at right now in terms of work is not where I ultimately want to be. It's only a "pay-the-bills" job at this point.

2. Buy a house
-I have been paying rent somewhere or another since I was 19. I want to own something. I want it to be mine (and Aaron's). I want to decorate and make something comfortable, not wondering where my money is going.

3. Have babies
-If I had it my way I would have a whole houseful. 4, 5, 6. Whatever God blesses us with will be the perfect number, but the more the merrier!

4. Go on a mission project
-My almost sister-in-law just came back from a trip to India where she and her husband did work for an orphanage. I would love to do that somewhere in the world. I just have to wait and see where God calls me to.

5. Learn to knit and quilt
-I love to read books about women who do these crafts and I want to learn both so badly. I have to find the right place to learn and soon! I want to make a baby quilt (or knit a blanket) before we have our first child.

6. Snorkel in the ocean
-I'm going on a honeymoon where I will have this opportunity in May. I just need to move past the claustrophobic feeling snorkels give me in order to see the beauty of the ocean.

7. Have a good savings
-right now, with a wedding and two jobs that don't pay much, not to mention school loans kicking in this December, Aaron and I have no savings to speak of. We really would like to have a nice cushion for those "just-in-case" times.

8. Stop caring what other people think
-I've always been very self conscious of my appearance and the way I act. As long as I please God then that should be enough.

9. Own a pair of bright red shoes AND wear them
-this goes along with #8. I would love to have a bright pair of shoes, wearing them would be the hard part, being that blending in is all I've ever wanted!

10. See all the lighthouses on both coasts.
-difficult? Maybe, but I have a good start. I just love lighthouses and would love to take one of those tours that brings you up and down the coast, learning about each one.

11. Reread all the books I own
-I only purchase books that I love or that are written by authors that I love, therefore I already know I'll love the book again, I just need to set time aside to read some of the oldies, rather than only the newbies.

12. Rid myself of this social anxiety disorder
-This is a very real disorder and it disrupts my every day life. I would love to be able to make a phone call to a stranger without getting nervous, order food in a restaurant without feeling like the waiter is critiquing my every word, or talk in front of a group of people without feeling sick. This will be the hardest to overcome, as I've dealt with it since I was in high school, but I know that I can do it...I just need to take every step necessary to do that.

13. Finally, I want to someday reach a place in my life where I am truly comfortable. I want to be happy with my work, satisfied that I am providing love and comfort for my family, and have the ability to relax, no sign of stress.

Life lists are difficult to make because they really make you think about what is important in your own life. After reading mine over I can see that what is most important to me is becoming comfortable with the real Amanda, as well as creating a family life that makes not only myself happy, but my husband and children as well. I look forward to seeing your life lists.