Friday, February 28, 2014

February Group Discussion - Labor Day

I was excited to read this book and then I started it and I remembered that I had felt weirdly about the other Joyce Maynard book I read and I crossed my fingers it would be a good one.

1. As reported by Henry, his mother Adele displays a number of behaviors that could be interpreted as crazy. How do you explain her son's steadiness and competence? Do you consider Adele to be a bad mother?

2. When you were first introduced to the character of Frank (p. 5), what was your feeling about him? As you learned more about Frank over the course of the story, did your impression of him change? If so, what details and actions can you identify that caused you to alter your opinion of him?

At first I thought he was a little slow.  I also think he really loved his mother and really wanted her to be okay.

3. Were you surprised that Adele was willing to bring Frank to her home? Why do you think she did?

She liked going against the status quo and she didn't like being out in public and she didn't have much to lose so why not?

4. Were you surprised to discover than Frank is a good baker? What does his baking ability tell you about him? Why do you think the author chose to offer such a detailed description of Frank's pie-making technique?

Well it shows a human side of him and not the evil escaped prisoner version that one would expect.  Also, it's foreshadowing. 

5. . Henry often refers to a "normal family," a "regular family," a "family." What does the concept of family mean to Henry? What does the term "normal family" mean to you?

6. What was your first impression of the character of Eleanor? Did this impression change as you got to know her better? Why do you think Eleanor behaves as she does?

She's crazy and not telling him her whole story.  I just added drug addict as we went along.  Also, I think having characters named Evelyn and Eleanor is a little too confusing.  Or it was for me at least since neither were very well developed. 

7. How does Eleanor go about instilling fear and doubts about Frank in Henry? Why do you think she does this? What is she hoping to accomplish?

8. Were you surprised by what Henry says and does when he encounters Eleanor again, a year later, walking her dog? What do you think has caused Eleanor to become the person she is? Why is her dog named Jim?

9. Frank's experience with Adele and Henry cost him eighteen years of his life, and yet he expresses gratitude for having met them. How can this be? Do you believe the kind of love that existed between Adele and Frank can truly exist?

I'm not really show how I feel about this book.  I think after the climax it just lost its appeal.  I didn't like the ending, would be the best way to sum it up.  It was too much tidying up the corners and I don't know.  Maybe a different ending would make me like it more. What did you think?

Next month we will be reading The Rent Collector, hope you join us!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Haul

This weekend was my library's February Used Book Sale and of course I was there waiting in line for the doors to open on Friday when it was Fill a Bag for $6.00  I don't even bother going the other days.  I just fill it up on Sunday's.  I got an obscene amount that I am psyched about.

For work..  I have a little guy who is obsessed with Indians.  Don't you dare say Native Americans because no, it is Indians and he is going to be one when he grows up.  My selection in the classroom is very limited so I found some at the library to pick up and put out.  Also, I have been looking for more books on the senses and books on emotions are always good.  The others are very short and could be beginning readers for some of my kiddos. 

I started with the adult books and my bag was bursting so I didn't really spend a lot of time in the children's area.

 Oh, No, Gotta Go is cute.  It is a hybrid Spanish/English and starts out with the family on a road trip and the little girl has to go to the bathroom.  The top is just a book I figured she should have some of the good ole classic tales and the bottom is a local history book.
I'm excited to get fly away by Kristin Hannah and I got Big Stone Gap because Nora's love for the author persuaded me to give one a try.  The Madonna's of Leningrad looks good too. 
I grabbed another Dorothea Benton Frank book.  Gotta get my South Carolina beach fix! I also sadly picked up a couple of Kellerman books that I had already picked up at the last sale, but I will just pass them along or turn them back to the library for the next sale!  I also got a copy of The Wednesday Sister's because I apparently lent it to someone and I can't remember who! I love that book and I needed it on my shelf! I'm pretty stoked about a lot of these!
Do you hit up your library's used book sale? Have you read any of these? Recommend any? Interested in any? Hated any? Spill!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A few of my favorite recent reads...

I love blog reading.  It is one of my biggest time sucks/aka me time.  But one of the first that I let go when I am super busy.  I love reading what others think and feel and like finding those that I agree with or find myself wishing I had said it like that..

An interesting post on time and priorities and getting it all done and how to balance it all.

Sluiter Nation had a post 'being the change' about how she became a teacher to read and talk about books not save the world and I feel it deeply.  While I became a teacher for many reasons, sharing my love of reading and history was one of them.  Being better than what I had in school was another but I did not set out to save the world, but some days, with some kids, my kids, OUR kids, need help.  They need smiles, love and encouragement.  They need a save place and sometimes it's hard knowing what they go home to.

I was searching for new healthy living blogs to follow because I'm looking for new recipes.  Specifically, snacks and lunch ideas and I came across this post about creating mini-habits that then help you get to the bigger goal.  Just starting small is still starting.  Even if it is adding in a fruit at lunch and a veggie the next day.  Even if it's an extra glass of water besides the pop.  Baby steps are still steps. 

Lessons Learned at Naptime hit me hard.  I always make great plans.  I'm the best list maker ever.  But the executing? I suck at that.  Also? I pretty much 'waste' naptime all the time.  But it's me time and honestly, have a clean house is not on the top of my 'me' time activities.  So, if you are planning on stopping by, please give me warning so you don't think we live like slobs.

It has been a rough winter and as I am doing my own countdown to my spring break destination this post on Key West reminded me how much I want to visit and how it could be a family affair, especially with renting a house as opposed to a hotel.    And she followed it up with a Key West Food post!!

Mothering the Mother is just beautiful.  Law Momma just captures my thoughts perfectly on this subject. 

The winter is getting to me and Kyria's recap of her visit to Lisa in North Carolina has cemented that when we do our Carolina's trip someday that we must go to Asheville!

Have you read something recently that has stuck with you?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

March Group Read is...

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright..

Lisa suggested this one and the description says..

Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working. Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the bad-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money--a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman's journey to save her son and another woman's chance at redemption.

I have never heard of this book.  Sounds interesting!

The discussion will be posted on Friday, March 28th!

Will you be joining us?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Execution

It is well documented that I am addicted to series so when I had the opportunity to review this book and the first book in Dick Wolf's Jeremy Fisk series I jumped on it.

I devoured the first book,  The Intercept in a 24 hour period.  Then I jumped right into The Execution and it took me over a week.  Now, I liked it, and I don't know exactly WHY it took me so long to get through it as opposed to The Intercept, but I have a couple theories.  The first one was action packed and I wanted to find out who the secret person was and it was incredibly close to something that could happen in real life.  This one while there was some action it wasn't more until the very end and that part did fly for me, but the build up was more story and that led me to another reason it took me a little while longer.  The very beginning of the book deals with beheadings of multiple people and I just couldn't get into it.  That is one of those things that I just can't read/listen about cuz UGH.  Now I read some pretty dark stuff but that is just something I don't deal well with and that is how the book started out!

Description: NYPD Detective Jeremy Fisk must make an uneasy ally - the disturbingly beautiful and assertive Mexican Intelligence Agency Detective Cecilia Garza. She recognizes the signature of assassin Chuparosa - a hummingbird carved on a corpse. After years of pursuit, she knows only that he is heading to Manhattan - with the rest of the world for UN Week.

Ten days after the Mexican presidential election, 23 bodies were found beheaded on the US border, each carved by Chuparosa. Near New York, Rockaway has a mass murder. There is more to this threat than meets the eye — and justice is not always blind.

I do really enjoy Wolf's writing and will continue reading this series.  The character of Fisk is likeable and reminds me of Stabler from Law & Order in the way that he bends his role to help justice when he thinks it won't be done by someone else.  He never gives up, even when he injured in the line of duty and poisoned with radiation. He wants to stop terrorism and no matter what he will do it. If that means freezing in the wilderness of Upper New York State or rushing abandoned warehouses to stop human trafficking. 

Garza was also a great character who wouldn't be corrupted even with corruption the norm in Mexico.  She is in New York with the President of Mexico as part of his security detail.  He was her former professor and he wants her to be part of his team but she struggles with giving up her day job and the opportunities to end corruption throughout Mexico.  Even when give an opportunity to take justice she wanted badly into her own hands she chose the legal moral option.  It was nice to have her storyline after Krina's role was finished in the first book.

If you are a thriller/mystery lover I recommend you to check out this series! Have you started a new series recently? What is your favorite series? Or do you *gasp* loathe series?

I was given a copy of this book to review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Monday, February 17, 2014


I'm not really sure where these thoughts are all going to go but as I was finishing my workout and heading into the shower aka my best blog idea spot this was popping into my head so I thought I'd try to capture one of those great ideas for once instead of immediately forgetting it as soon as the water turned off as these have been thoughts that have been building since last summer.

Discouragement.  It's everywhere if you are looking for it.  Want to look for a new job? People tell you that your job is secure, you have summers off, you have 4 weeks of paid vacation, you get bonuses, your hours are great, why would you want to risk it? The job market is tough.  Discouragement.

You want to get your master's degree? Why are you taking classes? You don't need a graduate degree.  You can just go to meetings, pick up trainings here and there, why would you want to spend thousands on a graduate degree? Do you even know what you are going to use it for? Discouragement.

You want to work out? There are tons of people complaining about the new people in the gym, how they take up space and then they are gone in a month.  Maybe they are gone because you're a bitch.  Maybe they see the way you look at them when they want to change, want to be healthier and since they AREN'T they can see the judgment from you? Maybe they read your thoughts on them or people like them on the Internet and get discouraged and never go back.  Then you have the people who complain about magazine articles that encourage women to get a quick workout at their desks, they say that those are a farce and so not a workout.  Maybe it's not YOUR workout but maybe for someone who doesn't have any extra time in their day, IT IS.  Those 5 minute quick things they are dong are far better than the 5 minutes you just spent bitching about them on Instagram.  Discouragement.

You want to read 100 books in a year? How do you find time? Don't you have a kid, a house, a dog, a job? You should spend more time with them.  Your life is different than everyone around you.  No matter how much extra time you may think is in someone's day, if they say it's not there, it's not.  Discouragement.

You want to lose weight? Oh come on, you're not that fat.  You can have this pop.  You can eat out with me today.  It's not that bad.  You can lose weight another day.  Oh, just have a cookie.  Discouragement.

You may not know their whole story.  Like their mental health demands they spend time on themselves and the time they wish to spend is with their online friends who they are closer to than their IRL friends because most of their friends have moved out of state.  Or how their feet have been in such pain for 3 months that the actual act of going from the living room to the shower hurts them so bad and they've just finally gotten new shoes that after 2 weeks of wear have fixed the problem.  Or how their depression is so bad that their anxiety can't HANDLE it. Or maybe they just suffered a horrible loss and the fact is they can barely move forward to the next day let alone bettering themselves. Discouragement.

How about empathy instead.  I'm sorry, I'm here when you need help or encouragement.  That does stink, that must be hard for you.  I'll keep you in my thoughts and keep sending you encouragement along the way.  Empathy.

So much better than discouragement or words that worsen anxiety. If only it was our first instinct.

As I tell my preschoolers, I wish you well today.  Take it one step at a time.  If only it was our first instinct.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

March Group Read Suggestions

And it is that time again to suggest a book for March! I'm so glad that I have you all to share suggestions with and try out new books each month.

Here is the list of our previous discussions...

Labor Day
Orphan Train
The Death of Bees
Liberating Paris
Life Sentences
Looking for Me
Ladder of Years
Where'd You Go Bernadette?
Beach Music
The Dinner
The End of Your Life Book Club
Still Alice 
The Song Remains the Same
Those Who Save Us
We Are All Welcome Here
Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

What is on your mind for March? Something long? A classic? YA? Mystery? Historical? Leave a suggestion now through the 16th and then I will use to pick a winner!  Thanks for participating!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

January - At A Glance

I faithfully did these in 2011 (um I think that was the year) and then faithfully disregarded them all of 2012 and 2013.  So 2014 seems like a  great time to begin again!

Books Read - 6!!!

Something Like Normal – Trish Doller (Jan 4)
The Abduction – Mark Gimenez (Jan 5th)
Naked Came the Post-postmodernist – sarah Lawrence writing class (Jan 7th)
The Last Camellia – Sarah Jio (Jan 13th)
The Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline (Jan 19th)
Morning Glory – Sarah Jio (Jan 26th)
My favorite was probably The Orphan Train but honestly, I enjoyed all of them and I will say my 2014 reading has started out splendidly!
 Favorite Posts
The Last Camellia - Really enjoyed this book up until the last chapter but you should check it out if you want to get quickly lost in a book!

Orphan Train Discussion  - This was the group read of the month and I highly recommend it! If you've read it, pop in and leave your own thoughts!

Morning Glory - This book held such great passages! Even if it angered me towards the end.

Top 3 Insta's

Miles: 6.38  I clearly ended up sucking this month.  Can ONLY go up from here. ;)  And I probably could fudge and say 8 miles because of non recorded walks but the 6.38 was recorded.  And before my lame started.  February is the do better month.

What was your favorite book read in January?

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Intercept

I am a Law & Order junkie.  Tons of my Saturday's have been wasted on a couch rewatching my fave episodes.  The only L&O that I could never get into was Criminal Intent.  Besides that looove. Adore.  So, when I got an email to review a copy of Dick Wolf's newest book, The Execution, I jumped on it.  And lucky me, I got to read his first Jeremy Fisk novel too, The Intercept. 

In The Intercept, we are introduced to Detective Fisk who is in Intelligence with the NYPD.  He gets high clearance.  Like federal level clearance on things related to terrorism.  Post 9/11 his division is in charge of finding terrorists and stopping their plans in the U.S.  They have many officers all over NYC working undercover to help keep the city/country safe and Fisk is a big part of it.

Enter the 4th of July weekend and all of it's festivities including the dedication of One World Trade Center at Ground Zero.  First, a flight is almost hijacked by would be terrorist who is thwarted by the good deeds of some of the passengers on board.  Even though the flight happens in the airspace over the Atlantic and the plane lands in Bangor, Maine.  Fisk and his partner Krina, get flown to interrogate the terrorist and the passengers who helped stop him.  (The high level of random crap he could do as an NYPD officer made me roll my eyes a bit in the beginning but beyond that aspect and into the book, I was okay again ha.)  

The Six, as the passengers are known are sent courtesy of the Patriot Act to live it up for the weekend (at least) under the watchful eye of NYPDs finest.  They are national heroes and potential targets.  And of course NYC/USA needs the positive spin on terror.  Meanwhille, the would be hijacker doesn't really jibe with the task force and they start digging for what or what might not be more.

What follows is a jam packed weekend of thrills, mystery and clues to find out if they are right or wrong, all before the dedication ceremony at the end of the weekend acting as their finish line.

If you like Law & Order, thrillers, mystery and real life scenarios, check it out! I loved it.  Can't wait to start The Execution!

Do you watch Law & Order? Which is your favorite version? Who are your favorite characters? Do you like reading mysteries that read like real life?

I received this book to review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!