Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Plain Truth - Picoult

"The perfection of Picoult not just the "Oh" factor, but the "Ah" factor."

Jodi Picoult is a master at what she does and, in Plain Truth, she does it once again.

Moving from psychological drama to courtroom suspense, Picoult tells the story of Ellie, a lawyer, whose aunt calls on her help when a young Amish cousin, Katie, is accused of the murder of her newborn child.

Katie at first denies having the child at all. Whether she is truly unable to recall it or just hiding the sin isn't clear.  But what is clear is that, even if she did have the child, she would not, could not, have killed it and attempted disposal of the body. 

With the help of an old lover and the young girl's Amish community members (including her betrothed, who happens to not be the child's father), Ellie attempts to convince a jury (of not-so-much Katie's peers) that she is innocent. As with Picoult's work, there is a "surprise ending"...though honestly, I saw  this one coming a mile away, calling it at about chapter two. 

The perfection of Picoult novels, however, is not just the "Oh" factor, but the "Ah" factor. What Picoult does so well is build characters and relationships that you can not help but feel, deeply, in your bones. Plain Truth is no different, offering a fascinating portrait of Amish life rarely seen or understood by those outside the community.

Though not perhaps her best work, if you are a fan of Picoult you will not be disappointed. If you do not love (or know) her work, however, this would not be the best choice. Some of her other books are so much better. This one, while entertaining, was just "good".

3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.
For the Love of Lit 
The Reader's Nook

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday - 08/20/12

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Been so busy, I took yesterday off: no work, very little housework, no going out!  I wish I could say I spent the day reading, but I was even too lazy for that. I spent the day crafting, the whole day, cross-stitching. Now that is low-down lazy for me!  I'll have to catch up on the reading later this week...

Currently Reading:
Alice Bliss (Laura Harrington)
Titanic Tragedy (John Maxtone-Graham)
Just Finished:
Giant George (Dave Nasser)

On Deck:
Who knows?!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Peak - Smith

At the beginning of Peak by Roland Smith, fourteen-year old Peak Marcello gets busted for climbing a New York City skyscraper (yes, I said skyscraper).  Looking at some hard-time in 'juvie', though he is not directly responsible a copy-cat tried and failed to do the same (ie - died), Peak is happy to accept the judge's offer to leave the country with his father while the chaos calms.

His father is a "rock rat", mountain climber, who owns a company which aids rich folks in climbing the world's tallest mountains, such as K2 and Everest. As an absentee father he has had little contact with Peak for years. He decides that while rescuing, and spending time with, his son they might as well use the opportunity to build the business (successfully peaking the youngest Everest climber ever will bring them lots of notoriety, and hopefully clients).

Peak finds himself on the side of Everest, a climber's dream, but appropriately cautious and mistrusting of his father's actions. While attempting the climb the largest mountain in the world, a life-or-death opportunity, Peak will come to understand his father and learn about himself as well. He will begin to truly grow up and, more importantly, discover what is truly most important in his life.

A well written adventure novel for the young adult crowd, surprisingly informational (Smith himself is an adventurer) without being non-fictiony.

3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.
Lee's Book Blog 

The Vow - Carpenter

After a chance meeting and a somewhat strange courtship (he called her company to order some athletic jackets and she answered, something about her voice made him call back again and again until eventually it was clear they were a match made in heaven) Kim and Krickett Carpenter made The Vow before God, their family, and friends to love and cherish one another until death parted them.  They married in September 1993 and looked forward to their promised lifetime together.

In November 1993, however, that promise would be challenged. As they headed out to a family Thanksgiving gathering, the couple was involved in a serious car accident. Thankfully everyone lived, but Krickett experienced major head trauma.

After spending several months in the hospital and many more in rehab, it was clear that, though her life was saved, her memory was not. Krickett had no recollection of the past several years. She maintained no memory of meeting, falling in love and marrying her soul mate, Kim. She did not remember him at all.

This is the Carpenter's memoir of their harrowing journey through the struggles that life sometimes brings. Despite the personality changes, mood swings and chaos that head trauma causes, both were determined to maintain their marriage vows and make their marriage work. After months of struggle and frustration, they finally realized that the only way to save their marriage was to start over.

One day at a time, they began to build their relationship. They dated. They got to know one another. And, with God's strange sense of humor and guidance , they once again fell in love, ultimately reaffirming their vows to devote their lives to one another.

This is an amazing, but true story. The struggles they face are great, but in the end love truly conquered all.  The book is easy to read and quite intimate in its writing. Definitely a feel good story for a nice summer afternoon.

3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - 08/14/12

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 


My Teaser:

"Icebergs combine awe and menace in paradoxical tandem. How bizarre that something so extraordinarily beautiful should be so lethal, the maritime equivalent of tropical blossoms that are poisonous." 

Titanic Tragedy: A New Look at the Lost Liner (J. Maxtone-Graham) - pg.26

Monday, August 13, 2012

Celebrating Love...

The hubby and I married in January. I hate winter. I hate cold. On our wedding day it snowed (probably the only day we got snow all winter)! 

So I was adamant about having a summer cookout for the reception!  

This past Saturday, family and friends gathered at my parent's house to celebrate and have a good time.  It was really laid back (Hawaiian shirts or T's and shorts for all). I wore an off-white lace tank and black shorts, very comfy.

Surprisingly, the weather cooperated. We were expecting a day of storms, and though we had some drizzle and clouds, we only had one real storm (before anyone showed up) and it dried quickly. Of course, it was hot and crazy humid, but we handled it. We set up tents, just in case.  We got one of my (much younger) brother's friends to run the grill so we had no responsibilities other than eating and having a good time.

We also had white tablecloths and I ordered eight dozen white and yellow daisies.  We put them into clear vases and set them around with yellow citronella candles. My mother surrounded those with the daisy heads and it was absolutely beautiful! 

We even set up a stage with mics for us musical folks (yes, the Purely Vocals gals sang and hubby and his buddies played) and used an iPod for background music when no one was performing.
Instead of a cake, which we had at the wedding, I was thinking cupcakes. But when I called the bakery my step-mother suggested, they said they didn't sell cupcakes...  Like, seriously?! It turned out, instead, they sell what they call "Cake Pops". At first, I thought "Oy, tacky", but then I saw these.  Too cute, no?! You can't quite tell from this picture, but they are yellow...with white daisies. Just perfect!

Overall, it was a really great day and we had a wonderful time! I saw friends I haven't seen in ages, my mother and her fiance traveled all the way from South Carolina to attend. It was a day filled with great friends and family!

My family worked themselves to the bone to make it happen, while hubby and I sat in traffic and shopped for food. I am truly blessed with not only an awesome husband but by the most incredible, supportive and amazing family (dad, step-mother, mother, her fiance, my brother, etc.).

I am a lucky, lucky gal!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Invisible Thread - Schroff

*This book was an advanced reading copy sent to me, free of charge, for my honest review and opinion.  All comments in this review are the honest opinion of the blogger.

The Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff tells of how a passing request for spare change from a homeless kid sparked a decades long friendship and changed two lives significantly. 

When Laura Schroff first saw Maurice on a New York City street, she had no idea that her life was about too change. Maurice, an eleven year old African American boy, asked Schroff, a Caucasian advertising executive, for some spare change. He was hungry. 

And she kept walking. 

She was so used to such events, he barely registered. But something stopped her. She turned in the middle of the street and went back.  She took the boy for McDonald's that week, and the next. Soon the meal was a weekly meeting. Slowly, the meal visit soon became ball games and home visits and before soon the two were intrinsically linked, as if by some Invisible Thread.

As Schroff learned more about Maurice and his home life, his entire family is entrenched in drugs, poverty and homelessness, and Maurice discovered Schroff's alternative lifestyle, where families sit down for dinner together at a table and actually speak to one another about their days, both of their lives were changed forever.  Their friendship deepened, despite the boy's family's initial distrust of Schroff, the instability of Maurice's living situation, and his ultimate need to face his fast approaching adulthood/manhood on his own.

When time has passed, the two find that that Thread is longer and deeper than they could have imagined.

This is a really nice memoir of Schroff's experiences and leaves you feeling that if we could all just be a little more opened and loving, like Schroff, the world just might be a different place to live.

The book is fairly short, though, and I was left wishing it had been longer, more in depth.

Definitely worth the read!

4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family.
I'm Hooked on Books

I Got This - Hudson

In I Got This, Jennifer Hudson shares with us her journey from a childhood in Chicago, IL to adulthood. She discusses her musical journey from singing at family gatherings to performing on a Disney cruise ship, eventually auditioning and landing a spot on American Idol, and the amazing opportunities she has found since, including multiple roles in major movies and a mutli-record recording deal.

She also talks openly of being a heavy child in an even heavier family that "likes their food". Supposedly, Hudson grew up loving and accepting her body.  Weight was never an issue (good for her!), until she reached Hollywood and discovered that to be successful you have to be more than talented, you have to be thin. She struggled with this expectation to change something she never disliked about herself, eventually coming to the understanding that losing weight can be purely about being healthy and happy, rather than just about looks.

In my opinion, the first half of this book is very interesting and entertaining, especially if you are a Hudson fan. It well worth the read!

The second half of this book, unfortunately, turns into a *never-ending* commercial loop for Weight Watchers. Now, more power to the woman if she really and truly feels that level of commitment to the WW program. She worked the program, it did wonders for her, and congrats that's awesome!  But the endless harping about why the program is perfect for everyone and if everyone would just suck it up and stop bitching and commit themselves to getting healthy, they would loss all the weight that they've been struggling to lose...

Except, maybe not everyone is struggling to loss weight. And maybe everyone doesn't  need, or want, the program...  And maybe, just maybe, everyone can eat healthfully and exercise themselves and never owe WW one penny. And even if that's not what?! Stop harping already!

And then, she tops it off with a chapter about how people have (boo hoo) gotten down on her because she lost all the weight, looks so great, and is so happy (boo hoo) and how she's had to work through their pettiness and selfishness (boo hoo)

Ugh...spare me, please!  Tiresome and boring!

Overall, enjoy the first few chapters of the book but return it to the library unfinished.

2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Sunday Salon - 08/05/12

If you are interested in other Salon posts, visit the Facebook page to get links.

Outside my window: Sunny, hot. Has been humid for days, though they are saying it's going to break.

I am listening to: The a/c unit working overtime.

I am reading: At a in-between point, just finished Giant George by Dave Nasser.

I am going to read: Going to start either Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington or Titanic Tragedy by John Maxtone-Graham.

On the Blog: Been quiet, as I was on vacation for two weeks. I read a lot, but didn't sign in much.

Around the Book Blogosphere: Keeping up on my phone.

I am thinking: 

-I didn't get quite as much done over vacation as planned, but it was somewhat productive.
-Purely Vocals had a great performance this weekend, despite the debilitating humidity.
-In full-fledged "make-it-happen" mode for this weekend's wedding-reception/cookout. Have gone shopping, ordered flowers, desserts and tableclothes. Got the grills. Now its just a matter of putting them all together and having a good time.
-As if I wasn't crazy enough, we got the go ahead to redo our department offices at work (removing asbestos tiles, paint, carpet).  So we had to pack everything this past week. And this coming week I will be floating elsewhere, while trying to still be productive and prepare for the students to come back any day. Arrgghhhhh! 

But, it will be worth it - it will!!

I am grateful for: The opportunity to see my mother this weekend, since she lives in South Carolina it's rare. And for my wonderful hubby who not only puts up with my non-ending chaos, but even helped this weekend setting up the sound system for our performance. Good guy!

Around the house: As noted, not a huge amount of work (no painting or rug removal), but we did have a yard sale and donated everything else. So, we have a wonderful (and useful) summer porch...though we haven't used it much because of the heat and humidity. Fall's coming soon!

In the kitchen: No more boxes.

High of the Week: Awesome performance with Purely Vocals.

Low of the Week:  Stifling hot performance with Purely Vocals.

Family Matters: It's all wedding reception, all the time, at this point.

The coming week: Today - moving. Rest of the week - asbestos removal, so I will be roaming, looking for an office to land in for about two weeks. Can not wait to return to calm.

Words of Wisdom: 

One should never remain in an office when they are doing asbestos removal!

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

July 2012 ReCap...

July 2012 Update

July was a good month. I was able to spend a bit more time reading over my vacation. I'm not sure I finished many more books, but I spent a lot of time with a book open! August is going to be busy (just about every weekend is full) so I will have to sneak reading time wherever I can.

This month I read:
Total Read: 6
Adult: 6
YA/children's: 0
Abandoned: 0

YTD - 52

Section 132 - Helga Zelner
The Vow - Kim Carptenter
I Got This - Jennifer Hudson
Peak - Roland Smith
Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult
The Invisible Thread - Laura Schroff



Favorite Book(s) of the Month:
Section 132 (Helga Zelner)

Challenges Update:
Memorable Memoirs = 13 of 10+ - SUCCESS!!!
Support Your Local Library Challenge = 19 of 37+
Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge = 31 of 50 (2011) + 15
E-Book Reading Challenge = 2 of 5
A-Z Book Challenge 2012 = 18 of 26
What's in a Name Challenge = 4 of 6

This entry was posted in

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Back to the real world...

After two glorious weeks of time off, I had to return to the real world! 

I returned to work on Monday and have spent the past few days catching up and solving all those crazy problems that everyone saved until I went on vacation (including that grant rebudget that has been sitting on my desk for over a year!).

Oh well...

Just as I began feeling caught up (or at least on control of the chaos), we finally got the ok to redo our offices - which is awesome! But, that means that for the next two weeks (while my coworker is on vacation herself), I will be not able to enter my offce as they are ripping out asbestos tiles, painting and putting in new carpeting. 


Again, oh well...  In two weeks, it will all be worth it.

And then, shortly after that, the students will be returning and all hell will break loose! 

Gotta love my job.

Anyway, vacation was barely productive. I did have a yard sale and donated everything that did not sell, which opened up our tea and reading on the porch is awesome!!  I did read quite a bit, though for some reason didn't finish many books.  I cleaned a lot and did some long awaited yard work.

I did not, however, paint or rip out rugs at all... BUMMER!!! 

So, now I am trying to motivate the hubby to work with me to get this done before the cold weather hits (painting/rugs inside AND the outside of the house needs scrapping and painting...any chance we'll get another warm winter like last year?!). It's not going to happen soon though, this weekend is a big Purely Vocals gig and next weekend is our wedding reception. 

Did I mention I started a blog for PV? If not, please go check it out (just what I need, more to do, right?! - lol).

The reception planning is coming along great (flowers, dessert, tables/chairs, etc. - check). But its going to be a crazy busy weekend.

As I said, oh well...  It's going to be a busy month, but its gearing up to be a memorable one! I'll try to be better about blogging to keep everyone informed.


Up - Herr

When Patricia Ellis Herr took her daughter, Alex, to New Hampshire to hike a mountain, she was making a leap of faith. Alex was all of five years old! Though some others in the hiking community looked at Herr with scorn, and even contempt, Herr was convinced that this little girl was capable not only of hiking, but hiking one of New Hampshire's 4,000+ foot mountains. Alex was successful and a "peakbagger" was born.   
Shortly after her first successful climb, Alex decided that she wanted not only to continuing hiking, but she wanted to attempt to climb all 48 of New Hampshire's 4000+ foot summits. 

Through summer, fall, winter and even the wet and sloppy spring they climbed. In much less time than Herr expected (less than two years), Herr and her young daughter managed to summit all 48 mountains, including them in the "Four Thousand Footer Club", making Alex the youngest person ever to complete this feat.  

Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure by Patricia Ellis Herr is her memoir about her experiences peakbagging ("bagging" peaks, or backpacking) the mountains of New Hampshire with her daughter.  Though this book was written shortly after they completed their goal, their adventures have not ended. Including Herr's youngest daughter, Sage, and her husband in the family fun, they set new goals and continue to track their adventures on several blog sites.

This book was a great read with especially moving moments, like when Herr's husband (a hiker himself) sits his young daughters down to discuss an ice climbing event that led to his being lost in the cold mountains leading to the loss of his legs. 

This was a nice, though unplanned, follow up read to Following Atticus by Tom Ryan.

4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family.