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Friday, December 31, 2010

December wrap up

Here is what I read in December.

Dreamland
Little Bee
Beneath the Silver Lining 
Fever 1793   
You Know when the men are gone
The Upstairs Room
Keeping the Moon
Tell No One who you are
Paper Towns
The Happiness Project
The Tenth Circle
A Christmas carol
A Little Princess
Gregor the Overlander
The Sister Wife
Wither  
Black and Blue
The Weird Sisters 
Second Glance
Illyria
Hidden Wives   
The Virgin Blue
Living Dead Girl
A Thousand Rooms
Chasing Brooklyn
Stand
Death Du jour
The Man who loved books too much

Favorite books: Hidden Wives and The Weird Sisters
Least favorite:  Illyria

Friday, December 24, 2010

More mini reviews

On Chesil Beach: A Novel -- First 1st U.S. Edition w/ Dust JacketOn Chesil Beach: A Novel -- First 1st U.S. Edition w/ Dust Jacket
While I didn't love Atonement, I have really enjoyed several other books by Ian McEwan.  Most of his books are shorter (this one is 166 pages), but he has a way of bringing the characters alive in a short time.  Another very good book, but I was disappointed by the ending. 

Everything I Never Wanted to Be: a memoir of alcoholism and addiction, faith and family, hope and humorEverything I Never Wanted to Be: a memoir of alcoholism and addiction, faith and family, hope and humor
I got this book from one of my blogger buddies at our meet-ups.  I really enjoyed this book despite the serious subject.  This book is really inspiring, about how the author overcame her addictions and trying to help her daughters do the same.  Highly recommended. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mini reviews

I am way behind on reviews again, so I am going to do some mini reviews.

Zeitoun (Vintage)Zeitoun (Vintage)
I picked this up when I was in New Orleans last month.  When I travel some place, I like to read books that are about or take place where I am at.  This book is about one family during the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.  It is non-fiction, and Dave Eggers has a way of making non-fiction incredibly interesting.  This is a great story and great writing.  Highly recommended.

In the WoodsIn the Woods
I have been wanting to read this for a while, and finally picked it up.  While not as good as I hoped, it was still a good read.  The one part I didn't like was the ending.  I wanted the whole story to tie together, but it really didn't.  It was still very good, and I am planning on reading the rest of the author's work.

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why
Another book that has been on my to be read list for a while.  This was as good as the reviews I have read, and I read it in one sitting.  Very highly recommended.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: The Corrections

The Corrections: A NovelThe Corrections: A Novel
I read this because it is on a best books ever list that I am trying to get through.  It is also an Oprah pick.  For me, it did not live up to the hype at all.  It was not bad enough for me to put it down, but it didn't really hold my interest much either.  This is probably the first Oprah book that I didn't like.  Usually I love her picks.  I think most of what I didn't like was the characters.  I just didn't care about them.  Most of them were spoiled and uninteresting.  I probably won't read any more of Franzen's work.  

Friday, December 17, 2010

Guest post: Kandy Siahaya

Today I have a guest post from Kandy Siahaya, author of Making Light of Being Heavy, which I reviewed yesterday.
 
 
Finally, a little vindication for the fat chicks….
 
According to an the article on WebMD “New Genes Linked to Obesity, Belly Fat” http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20101011/new-genes-linked-to-obesity-belly-fat two studies have identified 18 new genes linked to overall obesity and 13 more that influence whether your weight goes to your belly or to your thighs (the lovingly labeled apple shape or pear shape body). These new findings may explain why blanket recommendations about exercise and eating right just don’t work for a lot of people. Wow, imagine that. This is exactly one of the points I was making in my book, Making Light of Being Heavy.
 
Anyone who is just normally skinny seriously cannot wrap their head around any reason for another person being fat, and these people include physicians, counselors, experts, etc., unless it is one of the obvious incorrect assumptions including eating too much, not enough exercise, and basically not taking care of oneself. These studies do not surprise me in the least, but actually make total sense and validate my lifelong struggle with weight and many others like me. Apparently, the more obesity genes you have the greater chance for you to have the risk of obesity and even greater difficulty in maintaining a “normal weight.” Personally, I think the whole “normal weight” theory is a bunch of hogwash anyway because as I have said before, if we all fit perfectly into the predetermined guidelines set forth by our physicians, counselors, experts, etc. we would all be the same size. And how normal would that be??
 
So there you have it, proof genetics plays a key role in our weight. To all my fellow fat chicks and professional dieters, give yourself a break! Life is good, get out and enjoy it - things will fall into place.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blog tour: Making Light of Being Heavy


Making Light of Being Heavy

These days everyone has a society-driven mindset and totally forget to laugh, especially at themselves. This may be cliche but the author truly believes that laughter is the best medicine and thinks everybody should laugh every day. Period. Over the years as a person blessed with the fat gene, Kandy has been in many situations where if she could not find humor she probably would end up on the couch in the psychiatrist s office. This book is about as politically incorrect as it gets for such a subject but it is also based on reality. This is a reality that many women have just like Kandy but do not think they can (or should) at times just laugh about it. Her intention when she started writing this book was to hopefully give insight to many who could never relate but at the same time perhaps provide a different perspective to women just like her. It is a point of view that has given her the strength to live her life happily and project these feelings onto everyone she comes in contact with. She has a great sense of humor and a quick wit and guarantees you will be laughing (and thinking) with each chapter of Making Light of Being Heavy.

My review:
When I received the email offering this book, I was instantly interested in it.  I have always been on the chubby side and growing up, I watched my mom go on lots of different diets.  Eventually, I learned that it is not what is on the outside that matters, but on the inside.  That is the basis for this book, and it approaches the subject with humor.  I think that's what made me like the book the most.  The book had me laughing out loud through most of it.  I find it really inspiring that the author was so comfortable with herself to write something like this, and I think a lot of women would relate to it.  This was a great and funny light read.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

November wrap up

I have been really busy lately, so I am a bit late writing the wrap up for November.  I successfully finished my first semester of grad school!  I am really happy to have some time off and to see my family for Christmas. 
Here is what I read in November:

Making Light of being heavy

The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay
Everything I never wanted to be
Anne of Green Gables
The Jade Peony
The Cellist of Sarajevo
Devil Bones
You don't look like anyone i know
You Better not cry
The Edible Woman
Zeitoun
In the Woods
Testimony
That Summer
Messenger

Best book read this month: A really hard choice, but probably Zeitoun
 
Coming up this week:
I have a review of Making Light of Being Heavy  and guest post by the author.
My wonderful husband is doing a guest post of Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall

Guest post: Amanda Wolfe

Today I have my first guest post, from Amanda Wolfe, author of the Beneath the Silver Lining Trilogy, which I reviewed yesterday.  
 
 
In the beginning, the whole purpose of this book, well, journal really, was to allow me to come face to face with and rid myself of what I had stored up in my black box. It is what I call the place in the pit of your stomach where you hide all your secrets; good, bad or ugly. My box was filled with ugly: quilt, embarrassment and a lot of shame and confusion. In short, it was just to painful to face head on.

It all started when my husband and I were having one of our ” OK, it’s time to bare your soul” conversations. He is the only one person who could ever make me do that, because I knew he would never use what I say against me in any way. He has always given me the space to get angry, cry, rant and rave like a lunatic when I needed to. Believe me, it has happened more than once!

It took a lot of years of his patience and understanding to get me this far, allowing me to face and rid myself of all these bad feelings I carried around with me always. They made me hard on the outside. He called it my wall and little by little it has crumbled. I’m not saying I don’t feel things from my past anymore, I do, but now they don’t paralyze me. I still have trust issue from time to time! but they no longer rule my life.

During this conversation I laughed and said I should write a book about all of this, but who the heck would believe it? He told me he thought that is exactly what I should do. I should start writing it all down, because writing was a great way to release feelings that you have difficulty talking about. We both agreed it would be a great outlet.

So I began writing it all down and, once started , I had a difficult time stopping. The emotions started pouring out of me. Sometimes I would come out of my office so angry I could spit.The memories that came flooding back were unbelievable. The sky in my world was not as rosy as I had made it out to be. My siblings’ annoyance with me remembering my past through rose- colored glasses was finally realized and understood.

My husband was right there for all of it, lending his understanding and support.I don’t think I could have done this without him. I’m very grateful to him for being there in all the craziness I went through.

After reading some of what I had written, he told me I should make it into a book, because it could really help other girls and women to know that they can go through bad things and still come out on top. I decided that if I was going to make it into a book that I wanted to bring the reader right along with me on the journey that I was going through in my emptying out process. I wanted them to come out the other side with me feeling a little inspired and wanting more. More importantly, I wanted them to know that if they themselves have been or are being abused that they are not alone.

There are options out there for everyone, even though you may think there are none for you. Trust me, I’ve been there. There are many, many forums out there with people who are willing and want to help you get the help you need. Even if it is just an anonymous voice at the other end of the phone.

A friendly voice can go a long way.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog tour: Beneath the Silver Lining Trilogy

Beneath the silver lining

On the outside, her family appeared to be one big, happy family. Their house, with her parents, three sisters, and two brothers, was the epitome of a simple yet fulfilling life lived in a small town. But as the author would soon discover, her childhood was in fact a nightmarish phase of her life she would always be running from. Growing up as a carefree girl, Wolfe struggled to comprehend why she was reared in a family where children are deprived of their right to know the truth, adults are always right, and smoothing out a misunderstanding is never an option.
At the young age of nine, she started experiencing cruelty at the hands of her father, who not only abused her emotionally, but physically and sexually as well. Her mother, whose love she sought, was a stern woman who refused to see her husband’s mistakes. As if her deeply troubled relationship with her parents was not enough, Wolfe also had to deal with inner secrets involving creepy characters from the afterlife. Feeling tormented, confused, solitary, and even filthy, this na├»ve girl had yet to be transformed into a strong-willed woman who would become cynical about love and learn to depend on no one but herself while facing more of life’s bitterness.
The first of a series of three, Beneath the Silver Lining Trilogy: Secrets of the Black Box chronicles the author’s journey along a perplexing road of growing up. It was originally written as a therapeutic way to heal her inner wounds and to let go of the pain and anger. However, it is now shared to bring inspiration to readers — especially women.

My review:
This book is very difficult to read.  The author went through some terrible things as a child, things that nobody should have to live through, let along at 10 years old.  While the story is well told, some of the grammar and punctuation mistakes detract somewhat from the story.  It is impressive that this is the author's first book.  After reading her story, I feel like I really know her, which is something that a lot of authors don't do very well.  The author was forced to grow up very young, and she went through a lot in her life.  She is a very strong and brave woman, and her story could have turned out much worse.  This is the first part of a trilogy, and I will definitely give the other two books a chance.  Hopefully they will be much happier than this one.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Giveaways around the blogosphere

Sparkling Reviews is giving away a Nook Color.
My Life with Rats is giving away a TV.
The Nerd's Wife is having an awesome blogoversary giveaway, including a Kindle.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mama's Wish List Meme

TodaysMama (link to: http://bit.ly/tmwishlist) and GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.


1. What is your holiday wish for your family?  That we can all be together.
2. What is your Christmas morning tradition?  We all get pajamas on Christmas Eve, then on Christmas Day, we divide up the presents and all open them at the same time.
3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be?  To pay off my credit cards and student loans.
4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?  Bake lots of cookies and treats.
5. What games did you play with your family growing up?  We didn't really play any games that I can remember.
6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood?  I can't really think of any.  Right now it's just me and my husband, but I'm sure there will be some when we have kids.
7. Where would you go for a Christmas-away-from-home trip?  To see my family in Florida.
8. Check out GameStop (link to: http://bit.ly/gamestop10) and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? 
PS3 Move
Get Fit with Mel B- PS3 Move
World of Warcraft- Cataclysm (for the hubby)

Mailbox Monday

I've been a little MIA lately.  I went to New Orleans for a week with my husband who had a conference there.  My parents, who live 5 hours away, drove up for the weekend to see us.  I haven't seen them in 6 months, so I had a really great time.  Plus, I got to go to Target and Michael's, which we don't have up here.  We saw the French Quarter, which was really neat.  I probably won't be posting very much in the next couple of weeks either, because it's the end of the semester.  I have three big assignments due and 4 finals, so it's going to be hectic.  Yesterday I started volunteering at a library to get some experience, and I had a lot of fun.  Also, I finally got a job! YAY!  Anyway, here are the books I got this week:

Won:


Testimony: A NovelTestimony: A Novel
The Radleys: A NovelThe Radleys: A Novel

Bought:
Zeitoun (Vintage)Zeitoun (Vintage)
You Better Not Cry: Stories for ChristmasYou Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas
In the WoodsIn the Woods

Monday, November 8, 2010

Review: Speak

Speak: 10th Anniversary EditionSpeak: 10th Anniversary Edition

Last month, right around Banned Books Week, there was a big uproar that centered around this book.  For those of you who might have missed (aka living under a rock/not in the book blogosphere), a professor in Missouri called Speak "soft core pornography)".  Like most instances of book banning, his words only made me want to read it even more.  I hadn't heard of this book or even the author until that article.  I've been reading a lot of young adult lately, thanks to the education library in the building where all of my classes are (my library school program is in the faculty of education).  Unfortunately, they didn't have this book or any of the other books mentioned in that article.  However, I luckily won it in a giveaway.
I was really intrigued by the premise.  Until about halfway through the book, we don't know exactly what happened, just that something bad had happened at a party, and know everybody hates Melinda, the main character.  The writing was outstanding.  I could really feel Melinda's pain, of not only getting raped and keeping it a secret, but then everybody in school hating her.  I think this is an important book that all high schoolers should have to read.  It's about a girl having something terrible happen to her, and then getting up the courage to tell somebody about it.  I am going to go get more books by this author as soon as I can.   

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: Queen of Last Hopes

The Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of AnjouThe Queen of Last Hopes: The Story of Margaret of Anjou

Source: I received a copy from the publisher.

I had heard good things about Susan Higginbotham, but had never read anything by her.  So, when I got the chance to review her new book, I jumped at the chance.  I really enjoyed this book.  I read Philippa Gregory's book The White Queen when it came out last year, and it was really interesting to read about the other side of the story.  The White Queen was told from the point of view of Elizabeth Woodville, and The Queen of Last Hopes tells the story of the other side, Margaret of Anjou.  Like most books about this time period, there are a lot of people to keep straight.  The author did a good job of making sure the reader did not get confused.  This book was very well written and the characters were well developed.  The book covers most of Margaret's life, and she was a very likable character.  I will definitely go out and get this author's other books and read them.  Susan Higginbotham might even edge out Philippa Gregory as my favorite author of England historical fiction.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Giveaways around the blogospher

Sparkling Reviews is giving away a Kindle

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess (Boleyn)The Constant Princess 

If you have been reading my blog for more than a couple of weeks, you should know that I love historical fiction.  It is my favorite genre, and Philippa Gregory is one of my favorite authors.   This book, while not her best, is still very good.  It tells the story of Katherine of Aragon.  It starts when she is young and betrothed to Arthur, the brother of Henry VIII and goes until right before Henry starts his affair with Anne Boleyn.  The Other Boleyn Girl starts right where this book left off.  I really liked the character of Katherine.  She grew up knowing that she would become Princess of Wales and then Queen of England.  She knew her duty and she did it without complaining.  She marries Arthur and at first they don't like each other, but they soon fall in love.  He dies and she does her best to keep the promise she made him on his death bed.  Most of the book was about her trying to keep that promise.  This was a good book and recommend to all fans of Philippa Gregory and historical fiction. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home RemediesLike Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

Source: bought from a used bookstore

I love books that are about a different culture or heritage.  I had heard good things about this book, but never got the chance to read it.  I picked it up at a used bookstore and read it in one sitting.  It is short, but there is still a great deal of character development, especially the main character.  I really liked how the story was told in monthly installments.  Each month had a recipe preceding it, and recipe was made throughout the chapter.  I thought it was a really unique way to incorporate food into the story and told how important the meals were to this family.  The main story line was really sad.  Two people fall in love, but when the man goes to ask for the woman's hand in marriage, her mom says no because it is her duty to take care of her mother until she dies.  The mother offers her other daughter, and the man agrees, thinking he could get closer to the woman he really loves.  Of course, it does not work out like he thinks.  This book is a short, light read, but big on impact.  I really liked it and would highly recommend it to anybody.