Sunday, February 28, 2016

Light on Snow by Anita Shreve

This was a book club book, but also works for the Full House challenge under Library Book and Reading Bingo for an author you have never read.
Light on Snow
Little, Brown Company

When twelve year old Nicky and her father find a baby in the woods, Nicky has no idea how much it will change her relationship with her father and possibly help heal the wounds they have. Nicky would love to keep the baby, but knows that is not possible. "Baby Doris" as she is named by the hospital is found in a bloody towel in the snow, left to die by her parents. Nicky and her father take the baby to the hospital, answer a few police questions, and expect that to end the story. When Charlotte shows up and confesses to be the baby's mother, Nicky's dad wants to turn her in, but Nicky prevents this, as least as long as the snow storm is happening. Through the next few days, they learn Charlotte's story and they learn to heal from the tragedies from their past.

This turned out to be a sweet, fairly simple story about how families move on or don't move on after the worst situation happens. Nicky and her father have left their former home, job, and friends, but they can't let go of their grief in their home out in the middle of nowhere. They only learn how to be a family again from Charlotte and the fact that she has seemingly abandoned her baby. However the truth of both situations change when they all finally confront their pasts and have hope for the future. This is sort of a coming of age story, but mainly it is about how families change and grow and how we can live after the worst situation. I liked Shreve's straightforward writing style and I wouldn't mind reading more by her. 4 cups of cocoa!

Brief Thoughts on: This Time Together by Carol Burnett

This book fits the Memoir category for the Full House challenge and was a book club book.
This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection
Crown Archetype

I loved watching Carol Burnett in her guest appearance on Mama's Family as Eunice, but only vaguely remember the Carol Burnett Show. For this story, Carol focused mainly on the good times in her performing life and told hilarious stories about her times with her coworkers and with guest stars. The majority of the book is remembering things that happened on her show and how she dealt with the ups and downs of stardom. I loved that she had such a positive look on almost every person she met. She would find at least one good thing to focus on with each person. I enjoyed how she seemed so down to earth and how easily she was starstruck by people like Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant. The end does focus on her daughter's death and she did not talk as much about this, maybe because this was more of a joyful book for her or maybe because the pain is still too much, but even though it is briefly touched upon, I still cried as she described her loss. She seems like a very nice woman and most of the memoirs I have read in the past are not very positive when they talk about coworkers or other stars, so this was a nice change and I loved reading it. 4 cups of cocoa!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I read this for the Little House Readalong and Read it Again Sam and it works for reread an old favorite on Reading Bingo.
Little House on the Prairie (Little House, #2)
Harper Collins

Laura's Pa wants to leave behind the crowded Big Woods and go to Indian Territory. He has heard a rumor that the government will open that land for settlers. Laura and her family are sad to leave, but also look forward to the surprises out west. They travel by covered wagon, through a scary fording of a river, to finally arriving on the prairie. There the family met friendly neighbors, including the bachelor Mr. Edwards, and Laura gets to see Native Americans. There is danger in the west, but as long as she has Pa, Ma, and Jack to protector, Laura is happy to be a little girl on the prairie.

This was my favorite book in the series growing up. I loved traveling west with Laura on the covered wagon and Mr. Edwards is one of my favorite characters outside of the family. I love the story of him meeting Santa in Independence and bringing the girls gifts through the creek flooding. This one is jam packed with excitement and reading it as an adult I realize just how lucky they were to survive all the situations, particularly the prairie fire. I am not for sure if I could have survived! I loved hear how Pa built the little house and was saddened by the end, although I know it leads the way to further adventures. The Native Americans were treated a bit harshly, but I think Pa would be a fairly rare person for the time, since he seems to want to be friendly with the Native Americans and doesn't make the same horrible comments that the other characters made. I found it fascinating that the doctor that saves them from the fever is an African-American man and that there was a complete lack of being judgmental about this from both parties. I did laugh when Pa eats all of the watermelon and then gets sick again, so that Ma feels justified in saying it was the watermelon that made him sick. I loved revisiting the prairie again and I can't wait to read Almanzo's story next month! 4 cups of cocoa!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

I read this book for my February Reading Assignment Challenge and for the Classics Challenge as an Adventure Story. This also fits Been on TBR 'Forever' for the Full House challenge, and Listen to an Audiobook for Reading Bingo.
Peter Pan
Puffin Books

So this was my first time reading Peter Pan, but I loved the Disney version growing up and even watched the Peter Pan with Mary Martin when I was little. To me the book and the Disney version are pretty close, except for the amount of violence. The story is Wendy, John, and Michael Darling love to hear their mother tell stories and they are not the only one. Often Peter Pan with Tinkerbell in tow sits outside the window hearing the stories and taking them back to Neverland to the Lost Boys. One night Peter ventures into the nursery and is chased off by Nana, the dog nurse of the Darlings, but Peter leaves behind his shadow. He comes back for his shadow and needs Wendy's help to sow it on and whisks her and the Darling boys off to Neverland much to the grief of their parents. The three enjoy the adventures with Peter, fighting pirates, the Pica Ninnies, and the wolves. Wendy enjoys being the boys' mother, but knows eventually they will need to go home. Peter never wants to grow up and does not want them to leave. Will they go home or be stuck in Neverland forever?

I love Barrie's portrayal of children as happy and heartless, only looking for their own pleasure until the grow up into adults. Peter Pan is both likable and irritating and is the perfect symbol of youth. We all want to go on our own adventures without thought to our parents and their feelings. As adults we give completely of ourselves to children and parents often make sacrifices for the little happiness of the children. To me the book reminded me of my childhood, both in how it compared to the Disney version and how I was as a young girl. Along with his portrayal of the heartlessness of youth, Barrie creates characters like Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, and Captain Hook who are neither perfectly good or perfectly bad, but somewhere in between. Both his way of telling the story and his well crafted characters draw you into the story and keep you there. This was a quick listen, but a good adventure story that is delightful for both the young and old. I like that at the end it includes information about how "redskins" is not acceptable as a term at all in today's society and the book is one where I would mention to children the changing role of women as well as the appropriate way to talk about a culture different from your own. Jim Dale was the narrator and he is phenomenal with capturing the different voices and with showing the suspense of the situations. 4 cups of cocoa! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

3rd Annual Love for Books Readathon Wrapup

3rd annual LfBR

Well I did great on reading, but not so great on socializing. Last week was a busy, stressful week at work and I did not feel like talking to anyone by the end of the week. I also started to fill sick Thursday night and was drained until Monday. I did manage to finish a book Light on Snow, which was about 300 pages of reading and I read about 220 pages of Little House on the Prairie, so not too bad there. Thanks to Jessi for hosting!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This was a book for book club and I am also counting it as Author Outside Own Country for Full House, A Book with an Anti-Hero for Reading Bingo, as a Book with a Scandinavian character for the pink path on the Story Spites challenge, and the New Authors challenge.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)

This is the first in the Millennium series and was a thriller read. Mikael Blomkvist is a reporter who thinks he has the story of a lifetime that will lead to the downfall of a dirty financier, but his source fails him. Looking instead at a prison term, the loss of his good reputation, and possibly his job, instead of honor and glory, he is approached by Henrik Vanger and his lawyer to help solve an unsolved disappearance of Vanger's great niece Harriet. Vanger's family is influential and can give Mikael not only job, a new writing project, and money, but also the goods on the dirty financier. As Mikael digs into the secrets of the Vanger family, he uncovers something beyond his worst nightmares. Thankfully for Mikael he is not alone in his search, he has Lisbeth Salander, an abused, brilliant, and anti-social woman who finds the information that shows the disgust that some of the Vangers have toward women. Lisbeth is 24, has a mother who is mentally unstable and sickly and is a ward of first a nice guy who lets her control her life and then an evil, malicious man who she puts in her place after he disgustingly rapes her twice. Once they learn the truth, Lisbeth and Mikael are in danger of a killer who will stop at nothing to stop them.

Well, I would not have read this book if it were not for book club. It is brutal and show the depth of men who hate women, whether it is through killing them( the killer) , making them submissive (Lisbeth's guardian and less extent her boss), having relationships with them to get what you need and then bailing (Mikael), or through a feeling of superiority( Henrik). The first third of the book is really detailed and talks about Swedish ways of doing business and how the government works there, so it is really slow, but about halfway through the book, the action and suspense really picks up. This is a really violent and graphic book, so if that bothers you I would not recommend it at all. It has a true to life ending and the characters are really flawed and the mystery is intriguing, but brutal, so for me it was way outside my comfort zone. I do give it 3 cups of cocoa for making me think and for having surprises throughout the book. I may read the rest of them someday, because I have heard the third one is really good, but I am not in a rush at the moment.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My February TBR: And the Winner is...

This is hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading.I got the highest number of votes I have ever had with 13 and 7 of them went to this book:
These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
Disney Hyperion

I am excited to read this one after loving Illuminae. I hope to get started soon. Thanks to everyone who voted and thanks to Michelle for hosting! I hope all the TBR books are good this month.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

3rd Annual Love for Books Readathon Progress Update

3rd annual LfBR

This is hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat and you can sign up at this link.

I read about 78 pages in Light on Snow by Anita Shreve. It is heartbreaking so far with the discovery of an abandoned baby and a father and his 12 year old daughter recovering still from previous losses.

I read 20 pages in The Little House on the Prairie. This was a busy work day and I could barely keep my eyes open to read tonight. 

 I read 107 pages in Light on Snow.

I was not feeling well, but managed to finish Light on Snow during those days and read about 200 pages in Little House on the Prairie, so not bad overall. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

This book fits the Flights of Fantasy challenge, Newbery Challenge, Royal Challenge, Full House for Color Word in the Title, and Reading Bingo as Read a Book with a Cat.
The Blue Sword (Damar, #2)
Greenwillow Books

Harry Crewe must adapt to the very different climate of the desert. She and the other Homelanders are trying to live beside the Hillfolk and Northerners without really having to deal with them. Harry is an orphan taken in by Sir Charles and Lady Amelia who have no children and are friends with her brother. Sir Charles does not understand the Hillfolk and their ways and relies on Colonel Jack Dedham for help and when Corlath, King of Damar or most of it, comes asking for help against the demon Northerners, both sides misunderstand. Corlath, who has the Gift, storms out in anger stares hard at Harry and can't forget her. His gift drives him to kidnap her and train her to be the next Aerin, a legendary figure who fought dragons and carried a blue sword. Corlath sees Harry's gift and wants to use it to stop the Northerners. Harry gradually learns why she has been kidnapped and becomes friends with Mathin, one of the King's Riders, her horse Sungold and a hunting cat Narknon who give her the confidence to take up the blue sword. Harry's Gift leads her to believe she can stop the Northerners and their king from taking over Damar and the Homeland, but at what cost?

Robin McKinley's well-crafted descriptions bring to life Damar and its people. I had a bit of a problem with the kidnapping, but I did like how Harry is treated as a strong female and that admiration is usually the tone that even the men adopted toward her. She doesn't complete just trust the Hillfolk, but she does feel drawn to the land and then wants to help the people. I love also the description of the animals and can see why everyone would want a Hill horse and their own hunting cat. I read The Hero and the Crown a long time ago, but don't remember much about it, but I think that it is fine to read either The Blue Sword or the Hero and the Crown first, even though this one was written first, but the other is first in the chronology. I love that Harry is a strong female lead and I know the book gets complaints because the romance is not really developed, but to me it seems realistic and that magic can draw the characters together fits the story. I love McKinley's books and this is a 5 cups of cocoa read for me! It was a well deserved Newbery Honor. I am rereading The Hero and the Crown now and will compare the two a bit more when I finish it.

Brief Thoughts on The Shack by William Young

This was a book club pick and I would classify it as an inspirational fiction.
The Shack
Windblown Media

I am going to do just a few brief thoughts on this one. The plot is that Mack has lost his daughter to a serial killer and they found her bloody dress in a rundown shack. About a year later, he gets a note from "Papa" to come to the shack. Papa is his wife's name for God and Mack decides to go there to see who the note is really from and experiences something he never dreamed of, a few days with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Parts of this were really interesting and I liked that the key is forgiveness, even when it seems impossible. I liked that the author attempted to have diversity in his depictions of the Trinity, but I felt at times he was not being true to the experiences of the culture of the races he picked. I did not like how he implied that churches were not good, because they only condemn and don't really "follow God's will". That is not my experience at all at church, so this just did not work for me. Overall it is not one I would read again and I would have a hard time recommending it to others. I thought it would be good for grieving families, but even then I think it could turn them away from others and God instead of providing the peace the book was meant to inspire. I did not understand the meaning of the ending until we discussed it at book club, so I did think this was supposed to be a "true" account, which was confusing, and only when they told me that a particular accident in the book determined Mack's experiences did it make sense to me. 2.5 cups of cocoa for me, mainly because I liked the discussion of forgiveness.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

My February TBR List


This is hosted by Michelle @ Because Reading. Each month you pick three books on your TBR list and people vote on the one you should read that month. I am picking three books off of my Kindle that will qualify with the COYER challenge.

First Choice:
Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, #1)
Little, Brown Books

I received this on Edelweiss and have really wanted to start this series for awhile. I am doing a Steampunk Challenge, so this would qualify for that one as well. This is about an unruly girl who is going to a "finishing" school, but not the type she thinks.

Second Choice:
Illusions of Fate
 I love Kiersten White's books and this is another one I received on Edelweiss. It is described as a "Downton Abbey meets Shadowhunters" book and I enjoy both of those.

Third Choice:
These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)
Disney Hyperion

Another Edelweiss book and a YA sci-fi. I actually read the first one in Kaufman's Illuminae Files series and enjoyed it and then remembered I had the first one from her other series on my Kindle. This is about the crash of a luxury spaceliner and the conspiracy behind it and the romance between the two survivors.

Help me choose my next TBR read! You do not have to participate in this meme to vote. Thanks to Michelle for hosting!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

3rd Annual Love for Books Readathon Signup

3rd annual LfBR

This is hosted by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat and you can sign up at this link. I was looking for a readathon to signup for in February and actually participated in this one last year too! It is a low stress readathon, where you can read what you want. Jessi will have a small giveaway at the end and there may be some challenges hosted by other bloggers.

My reading list so far:
This Time Together by Carol Burnett (Book Club)
Light on Snow by Anita Shreve (Book Club)
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Soulless by Gail Carringer

Thanks to Jessi for hosting!