Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers

I couldn't wait to read this one. I read part one (Her Mother's Hope) this past summer and was waiting for an opportunity to purchase this one. I'm so glad I did. Francine Rivers is my favorite author. I love the way she writes, I love the way she tells the story, the way she puts you in the moment, the way she makes the characters so believable. This series is a bit different for her as it is a saga. The two books span 4 generations of women. As time goes on you can see how the sins of the father repeat on the next generations. Each woman does the best that she can with what she knows, but doesn't see how their actions harm the generation down. They each hope for better than they had. This book takes you further down, but then begins to find a place in healing. I wouldn't want you to read this book on its own. It is well worth it to start with the first one and read the two books one after the other. When it all comes together it makes sense.
I understand from the author's notes that this book was inspired by her own family history. It's not completely autobiographical, but there was an unresolved rift between her mother and grandmother that had her thinking. I think all families have secrets, past hurts that can haunt them. The characters in this series are completely believable. Being the audience you have the privilege of knowing everything, which gives you great insight and has you rooting for openness and resolution.  Well worth reading.

One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury

I was not expecting to read a book based on the events of September 11th at Christmastime. I had requested this book from the library way back in September, but it took this long for a copy of it to come through. So no, I didn't read it over Christmas, I waited a few days. I think Kingsbury did a good job on it. It was difficult to read, because the scenes she describes still feel like yesterday even though it's 9 years later. It's vivid, and it brings back your own memories of that day. I will look for Beyond Tuesday Morning, the sequel in the new year. I'm curious to see how she handles the healing process for these characters.

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

Jennifer Weiner is one of those authors that I know I like before I even pick up a new book by her. That being said, I had no idea what this book was about when I got it. I didn't read the jacket cover, I just opened up the book. I have to say it was different than I was expecting by an author I like so much. It just felt a little off. I still enjoyed the book. It certainly is a timely topic. The premise focuses on Sylvie, a senator's wife and what scandal is like for those in the public eye. If you are new to Jennifer Weiner's writing, I wouldn't recommend you read this one first. She has so many better novels and stories out there to read.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith

Unintentionally, I've found myself reading a number of books set in the time of the War of the Roses in England. It was a time period that I knew nothing about and if I'm honest found quite confusing with all of it's Richards, Johns, Edwards, Henrys, Margarets, Annes and Janes. I'm pretty sure I've got it figured out now.
This book was a neat journey in the 'what if' aspect of history. Richard of Glouster is known to have sired 2 illegitmate children, Katherine and John (and likely one more). No one knows who the mother of these children were, it was a well kept secret. Anne Easter Smith in her own research found note of a Katherine Haute who received a regular stipend from the Richard's household. She figures that this woman could have been the mother of his children. It is from there that this story is inspired.
I have to commend Easter Smith on a well written tale. She transitions from common language of the country people, to the more formal language of the courts quite fluently. It is a believable story and quite an enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more of her books and will look for them. This one was published in 2006 and I know there are 2 more she's written set in the same time period since.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger

I've enjoyed Weisberger's novels in the past. She generally writes good chick lit. This one I found didn't live up to standard. It was a good premise for a story. Unfortunately, it was so jumpy and disjointed that it didn't play out as well as it could have. The premise of the story is this. Brooke is a nutritionist living in New York who has been supporting her husband, Julian, a musician. Julian becomes 'discovered' which throws their life into a whirlwind of stress and strain, pulling their marriage slowly apart. I wish it had been told better, it was entertaining at times.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland

I love good historical fiction. The kind where the author spends a lot of time in research to really bring the reader into the time period. Sandra Gulland is that kind of an author. I read her Josephine B. trilogy (based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte) a few years back and loved it. This newer selection, Mistress of the Sun, is based on the life of Louise de La Vallière who became the mistress of King Louis XIV of France (known as the Sun King). Gulland has the ability to write in such a way that you feel like you know exactly what life in 17th Century France would be like. She is detailed enough to be accurate, but not in such a way that it becomes tedious and boring. The story itself is interesting as Louise (better known as Petite) is a most unlikely mistress. She is born of low nobility, interested in more masculine pursuits (such as horses, dogs and hunting) and walks with a limp. She is an innocent, having been raised partially in a convent, and knows not very much of how the intregues of court life works. I commend Gulland on her research right up to the letter to readers at the end, explaining all the characters she left out that would have been relavant, but also would bog up the story with too many people. Great read.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day After Night by Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant doesn't write many novels. But when she does, they are very, very good. This one was no exception. It is the highly readable tale of 4 women, Jewish survivors of WWII. They have immigrated to the promised land in Palastine, only to discover a new kind of prison. They are being held at Atlit, a British prison for illegal immigrants. This is based on a real, historical story. It doesn't sound like a pleasant book to pick up (who wants to read about prisoners and the atrocities of war-time?) but it is much better than that. Trust me, this is worth reading. Fantastic!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

I had a rare opportunity to look through the shelves of Chapters last week, uninterrupted. If you have small children yourself you will know what a treat this is. I jotted down many titles that looked interesting to me and then filled a long request order through the library system. Meg Cabot's newest offering was the first to come in. This was a book picked on author merit, I have to admit, I didn't read the jacket beforehand. Once I started in, I just wanted to sigh and say, "Oh Meg, Vampires, really?" Is everyone jumping in on the vampire bandwagon? The funny thing is is that the main character in this book, Meena, thinks so too. So there is a little facetiousness going on here. Meena is a writer at a soap opera who can't believe that the powers that be want to start vampire story lines. It's the last thing in the world she has interest in writing about. Of course you know there's going to be more to this vampire thing than just that. And there is.
If you are on the vampire bandwagon, by all means read this one. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I thought it was okay. There are other books by Cabot that are so much better (Heather Wells series, Boy series...) and much more worth your time. But it wasn't a waste of time either. It was enjoyable in a, 'please don't take any of this seriously' kind of way.

The Builders by Maeve Binchy

I was surprised and delighted to discover this little novella. I thought I had read all of Maeve Binchy's stories, and now here was one more. This little story was published as part of a series featuring Irish writers a few years back. It's has the characteristic charm of other short stories I've read by Maeve Binchy. Being a short story, it is a fairly quick read, but it's amazing how much can be found in so few pages. This is the story of Nan, a lady in her sixties with grown children who develops a friendship with Gerry, the builder working on the house next door. It's really so much more than that because if you know Ms. Binchy's style at all you know that what is on the surface is just the beginning.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury

Unlocked is Karen Kingsbury's offering to shed light on the world of autism. The story centers on Holden Harris, a non-verbal autistic teenager. He becomes reunited with his childhood friend Ella. Ella is now a pretty, popular teenager. She does not remember Holden as her mother stopped their friendship once Holden slipped into autism. She does become interested in who he is now, especially once learning how close they were as small children. Ella is also musical. She is the lead in the school musical, which is how she and Holden become re-aquainted. He loves music, it's what he hears in his head all day long.
I loved that Kingsbury uses music as an integral part of her story. I've taught classroom music for several years. Reading this reminded me of a brother and sister I taught, both autistic, both captivated by music. For the sister, music class was the only part of her day where you wouldn't neccesarily be able to pick her out as being 'different' from her peers. For the brother, he was fixated on the piano. We let him use by piano outside of my teaching time. I was fortunate to hear him one day. This child who had no musical background (save class with me) was naturally composing and using arpeggios. It was from teaching these two that helped convince me that music therapy can be such an amazing tool for autistic people.
That being said, I did have a few beefs with this book. The first was Kingsbury's use of inferring that vaccines were the cause of Holden's autism. While that has certainly been a popular theory, it is also a well researched one. The medical field have disproved vaccines as a cause for autism. As more and more parents are opting out of vaccinating their children out of fear, more and more harmful diseases that were once considered rare are now popping up again. I do think that it was irresponsible of Kingsbury to perpetuate this theory further. I would love to read a book just once where the vaccine theory is not used as a possible cause of the character's autism.
My other beef was just how 'good' Ella is. Considering the family background that Kingsbury has given her and the peer situations around her, Ella is remarkably well-adjusted. I think this is an unrealistic portrayal of a teenage girl. It just seems too good. I find that a lot with Kingsbury's writing. The easy answer. The naturally good. I find her books are highly readable, but quick reads, with not as much meat on them as there could be. I'd love to see something a little deeper than this.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

"Don't judge this book by the cover" is what my friend Krista said to me when she lent me her copy of this book about 10 years ago. The old cover was very Romance Novel looking. The new cover is much better I think. This is one of my favorite books. I had been missing my copy of it for quite some time (and still don't know who I lent it to). I found a copy in my church library and just thrilled at it once again. It is inspired by the story of Hosea and Gomer in the Old Testament. For those who don't know, the prophet Hosea was told by God to marry Gomer, a prostitute. She kept running away from him and betraying him, but each time he brought her home and continued to love her.
Francine Rivers sets this story in California during the gold rush of the 1850's. Michael Hosea is a farmer who falls in love with Angel, a prostitute who would have nothing to do with him if she could. This is a story that also shows the incredible love that God has for us. It is extremely well written and I just love it. Fantastic. *if any one of you has my copy of this, I'd love to have it back

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

I love the Stephanie Plum series. I read through the series in the spring/summer of 2008. Since then, I've been reading them as they have been published. They are sassy, crass and a lot of fun. For those unfamiliar with Stephanie Plum, she is a Jersey girl bounty hunter working for her cousin Vinnie's bail bond business. Each Plum book features a colorful cast of characters, some mayhem, usually a blown up car or building (or both) and 2 too good to be true love interest men. In this offering Vinnie has been kidnapped but due to some illegalities and past and present behaviour the only people who can rescue Vinnie is Stephanie, her sidekick Lula and her co-worker Connie. This book was pure Plum, a fun ride and enjoyable read. Loved it for an evening of entertainment.

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

I was asked if I would read the Red Queen after being somewhat iffy in my opinion of The White Queen (the first in the Cousin's War series). I did get it. I did read it. And I did like it a whole lot better than the first book. This book features Margaret Beaufort, Mother of Henry VII (grandmother of Henry VIII). She is a fantastic character and I believe that Gregory wrote her very well. She is who she is. A devout Catholic. A devout Lancaster. A devout mother. She's ambitious for her son, cunning, and very smart. I really enjoyed this one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes

What I love about Marian Keyes is this: you never know the whole story until close to the end and she can write! Once again I was engrossed in a book that kept me wondering what was going on, how are these pieces all tied together? But in a really good way. This book centres on the occupants of the 4 apartments at 66 Star Street in Dublin. They seem completely different, but their stories start to intertwine and unravel. Also along for the ride is a mysterious narrator that is watching what is going on. I really had no idea who this narrator was and was totally surprised at the end. A very enjoyable read!

Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury

I can break this post down in 3 parts.
1. Why I picked this book up: I've been reading a bit of Karen Kingsbury this year and I read that this one was made into a movie that was released this fall.
2. Why I almost stopped reading it: It seemed very 'meh' to get going. Although I enjoy her writing for a quick read, I am not enjoying the steriotypes that some of her work has. I don't think life is as black and white as that. I don't like how the 'good guys' are always wealthy (monitarily) and the 'bad guys' are poor. That's not realistic to me. It also isn't a good standard to put out there. Money does not make you happy. Not having money does not mean that you are using drugs, in jail, abused, abusive, rude, crass etc.
3. Why I soldiered on. I wanted to know where she was going with it and if it would get better. Well, it just got really unrealistically dramatic. That's about it.
Oh yeah and the storyline. Couple adopts boy as an infant. Biological father is released from prison and then finds out the child exists. Biological father wants child and judge decides in favor of that happening. Adoptive parents desperate to keep child contemplate drastic measures.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

This book was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting something a little bit lighter, but I guess I should have read the book flap a little more carefully. This story centres on 2 women, Tessa and Valerie. They don't know each other, but you find out that they are connected as their stories intertwine. Giffin uses the technique of switching perspectives each chapter. One thing I found interesting is that all of Tessa's chapters were written in the first person, and all of Valeries in the 3rd person. I did find myself pulled into this story. I really like Giffin's writing. Although it was heavier than I anticipated, it was still a good read. It reminded me a bit of something Marian Keyes would write (which is a compliment, I love Marian Keyes).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

I always expect to like Philippa Gregory's writing more than I do. I love historical fiction. I love well-researched authors. She should fit the bill. There are part of her books I really like. Her characters can be very interesting. She can tell a story. I think she can get bogged down in trying to tell the history (or her version of the history) that some of the elements of good storytelling gets lost. I enjoyed the first half of this book so much more than the last. The first half was interesting. The first half didn't stretch across so many years. The second half had a lot of finishing to do.
This is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of King Edward IV and Queen of England for a time. She is a character in the era known as the War of the Roses, the battle between the Lancasters and Yorks for the crown of England. She is also mother to the Princes in the Tower, the princes whose fate still remains unknown to this day.
Because the history that Gregory writes about takes place so long ago there were a lot of gaps to fill in. Some of her story is based on historical account, other parts are pure fiction and supposition.
She also weaves Elizabeth's story with the legend of Melusina, a half woman/half fish character who Elizabeth considers to be her ancestor.
It's an interesting read at times and enjoyable at times, I just felt my attention drift away a bit at the end.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Been Blogging

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce my newest blog: Crafty Kris. Please take a moment or two to check it out. It's where I'm being creative when I'm not chasing my kids, or in the kitchen, or reading...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

If you are a Twilight fan you've already read this book and probably love it and wish that Stephenie Meyer would just keep writing more stories based in her vampire world and then life would be perfect for you. I'm not one of those fanaticals so although I've long since read the Twilight series, I didn't pick up this book the moment it was released. In fact it didn't really cross my mind until a couple of weeks ago when I overheard a few of the moms in a playgroup I take my kids to chatting about it.
So here's my take. Stephenie Meyer is a good storyteller. When you read her books you feel like you are there. She is good at what she does which is why she has been so successful. This little novella takes a character who has a very small place inside the book Eclipse and give us a glimpse into her life. It tells what life as a newborn vampire would be like. If you've read Eclipse you already know the ending to the story. You do however get to have a little smile as you meet up with Carlisle and Esme near the end of the story, remembering characters that you already like. This was a good, easy read (yes, I read it in one sitting). I'm not a big vampire fan so it was a book that I could give or take. I think those who are into vampires and Twilight will love it (and probably already do).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Above the Line Series by Karen Kingsbury

I am a recent reader of Karen Kingsbury's work, having discovered her only this past year. I like that her books are a quick read for me. I pretty much flew through these 4 books which is why I'm grouping them together. The Above the Line series begins with the story of Keith and Chase. Two ex-overseas missionaries with a vision to create really well done, inspiring films. I have to admit that there was a big part of me that wished this to be true, that there are such visionaries out there who want to make quality films without foul language or gratuitous sex scenes, just good films that appeal to a wide audience.
As Keith and Chase begin filming their first movie, Kingsbury opens up a whole range of characters to us. She begins with Keith and Chase's families and continues on to families working on the film and families in and around the area of the film. In this manner she brings back the much loved Baxter family of her earlier novels and the Flanigans.
As the series continued, the stories became less about Keith and Chase and more about the Falnigans, Bailey in particular. Though Keith played prominently in all 4 books, Chase faded out of most of the last two. I would have like to have seen more of Chase's story and his wife Kelly's struggle with mindless eating and weight difficulties. I thought that there was a good, relatable story there that Kingsbury kind of took the easy way out of in wrapping up. I also would like to have seen more of Ben and Kendall's stories (a father/daughter team that got involved with Keith and Chase's production company), but they too left the stories after the first two books.
I think Kingsbury has a great vision but sometimes that range is too wide. There is too much going on so you lose some characters in the process. I also think that telling too many stories mean that you do get some easy endings.

*Warning - book spoilers below this point*

Here's what I found frustrating: Brandon's quick conversion. This would have been a good book all on it's own, telling Brandon's story. The fact that we didn't get to see much of him makes his conversion much too easy.
-Bailey and Tim's drawn out relationship - just break up already!
-Bailey and Cody's forever getting together/not getting together story line, stop dragging us along here!
-That Andi came back to her faith pretty quick. Again, I think this comes from trying to tell too much. A book just about Andi would have been great.
-That there was a lot left hanging at the end of the 4th book.

This series is not a complete story in and of itself. It could be called The Baxter's part 4, or at the very least Bloomington, Indiana part 4. I know from reading Karen Kingsbury's website that there will be a Bloomington, part 5 which will be Bailey's stories. And great, I'm looking forward to them. I enjoy Kingsbury's books for the sheer fact that they inspire me a bit in my own faith. I like revisiting old characters, they are a little like old friends. As far as Christian writers go, she's alright. She is light though. She does touch on some very relevant issues facing Christians today, which is great. And she is current (sometimes too much so as I think her books will become dated pretty quick). You pretty much know what you are going to get with Kingsbury's books if you've read a couple of them. A pretty decent Christian book. It will be heartwarming and enjoyable along the way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Say what you will about Jodi Picoult, she always does manage to find a current 'hot topic' and incorporate it into her books. This book focused on Aspergers syndrome, a high functioning type of autism. I really looked forward to reading this book as Aspergers is a topic that has interested me for some time. I have taught several children with Aspergers and have made it part of my continuing education as a teacher to learn about and try to understand how best to teach these kids. This is the story of Jacob. He is an 18 year old high school student with Aspergers. He is extremely interested in and focused on forensics. He then becomes a person of interest in a local murder case. The very traits of Aspergers, inability to look someone in the eye, taking things literally, stimming...make him look guilty. I have to admit that I was captivated by this novel. I really didn't know until the very end of the book the whole truth of the story (which isn't always the case in books). I would be very interested in what the Austism and Aspergers community think about this book. Personally, I found Jacob to be less an Aspie and more autistic.

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

So I've read Michelle Moran's books backwards. It didn't really matter. All the books were set in Ancient Egypt, but they weren't a series where you had to know what happened in one book to understand the next. This was Michelle Moran's first novel, based on the life of the Egyptian queen of the same name. It was again a very enjoyable, interesting book. I really enjoy her writing and look forward to her next offering, coming next year.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

Francine Rivers has been one of my favorite authors for a number of years now. I love how she has used her gift of writing to glorify Christ and His work in her life. I often find Christian fiction to be weak in writing and don't like a lot of it. She is one of the exceptions. She is a fantastic writer and would be successful even if she didn't write Christian fiction.
Her Mother's Hope is a bit of a departure for Rivers. It is part one of a saga and a very personal book. It came about as Rivers was looking into her own family history, trying to figure out what caused a rift between her own mother and grandmother. A number of the events in this book are related to her grandmother and mother, but it is not a biography of those women. They inspired the book, but the book is not necessarily their story.
That being said I became so engrossed in reading these women's lives. They are very different women. The first, Marta, we meet as a young Swiss girl determined to escape life under her father's abusive thumb. The journey begins at the beginning of the 20th Century. The second woman is Marta's daughter Hildemare, born after the second world war. She is a much quieter soul from Marta, determined to serve others. My description hardly gives credit to the fabulous stories inside this book. I very much look forward to Her Daughter's Dream, the second book in this saga that will tell the story of the next 2 generations in this family.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

After reading Cleopatra's Daughter last year I fully intended on reading more of Michelle Moran's books, but I never did.  This past week my husband was ordering some things on Amazon.  He came up to me and said, do you want to pick out a book so we can get the free shipping?  Um, yeah!  So I finally got another Michelle Moran tale.  I loved it.  I absolutely love authors who can take a time in history and make it alive.  When you read this book you get a sense of what life in Egypt would have been like. 
This story is based on real life Queen Nefertari.  Nefertari is one of the more well known queens of Ancient Egypt.  Michelle Moran acknowledges that this book is a work of fiction, based on what could have been her life.  She take an author's licence in tying together people and events.  Some of the characters are based on real people, others are complete fiction. 
I found the story to be very interesting and want to read Moran's first novel, Nerfertiti. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim

This was one of those books that looked interesting to me in the store, but I wasn't sure.  I thought maybe it might be a little dry, and really, I don't know much about Korea (where the story is set), so would I get it?  I'm so glad I picked this book up!  It is simply one of the best reads I've ever read.  It's hard to believe that someone's debut novel would be this beautiful.  I started recommending it out before I finished it (and I rarely do that).  As I said, the story takes place in Korea in the first part of the 1900's and spans 30 years.  Kim beautiful weaves the story of Najin and the history of Korea at this time.  Gorgeous!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Catching up with Books

Now that my infant daughter has grown up to a point where I feel I can read again, I'm beginning to make up for lost time.  I found myself with about $150 worth of reading material in my hands a few weeks back but refrained myself from actually buying the books.  I knew I wouldn't be able to justify the expense.  I did jot down the titles and authors on my iphone and made a library visit requesting them all.  I did purchase one of these books, and borrowed another from my mother.  The rest were library loaners.

First, A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve. 
It's hit or miss I find with Anita Shreve.  She's written one the best books I've ever read (Testimony) and then a few of the most boring books I've ever read.  This one I liked, once I got into it.  The premise is a newly married couple living in Africa during the 70's.  They find there a many hidden tensions in the land (and in their marriage).  I don't want to say much more than that as I fear giving away too much plot.  If you like Shreve's style then this one is worth reading, just give it a few chapters first.

Next up was The Celebrity Mother by Deborah Wright

It appealed to me as a possible quick read and look at the trend of celebrities who adopt foreign children.  Karina West (the lead character) was once a leading British Pop singer who is searching for a way back into the spotlight.  The young lady chosen to become her daughter is an Indian orphan named Devika.  I actually quite enjoyed this book.  It was written much better than I expected.  If you are looking for a good beach or bubble bath read, I suggest picking this one up.  Sorry no link to Amazon.com for this book, it is available through Amazon.ca.

And onto Old School Ties by Kate Harrison
This book has recently been republished as Harrison has had some success with later books she's written.  She did add a note at the end of the book saying how much she enjoyed revisiting the character.  It also explains why a seeming new book seems to be so dated.  This was one of those books that I marginally enjoyed, but I didn't want to leave it either.  At first I really just didn't like the main character, but I stayed in it to find out what all the secrets in the story were.  The premise is set on Tracey Mortimer, a woman whose glory days of high school popularity still shine over her unfulfilled life.  She has the opportunity to be the main subject of her high school reunion in a reality TV spotlight.

Then onto the Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

OK, I knew I would like this one before I even opened the cover.  It's endorsed by one of my favorite authors, Margaret George, as authentically bringing ancient Rome to life...and I agree.  Rome definitely comes alive as Quinn tells the story of Thea, a slave girl who survives much and achieves much.  Through Thea's story you also find the story of Julia, the mad niece of the Emperor; the Barbarian, a gladiator and many others who are so realistically brought to life.  Definitely worth reading.

Finally, there's Baby Laughs by Jenny McCarthy
Say what you will about Jenny McCarthy, the girl can write and she is funny.  I read her Belly Laughs during my last pregnancy and thoroughly enjoyed it.  This one added to the collection.  Jenny writes each chapter essay style, so it's really easy to pick up and down (something important when you have a little one demanding your attention).  She's also very real.  I don't think I would enjoy a celebrity book that focused on being a celebrity mom, she focuses on being a real mom.  One of my favorite quotes is when she declares that having a $150 stroller is good enough for the average mom, it's good enough for her.

So what's next?  Well, I'm currently enjoying The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim.  I'm also waiting for a few more reads to come in at the library (they are newer and currently popular so I'm suspecting they may be a while yet)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

I know, yet another book recommended to me a while ago that I didn't pick up, but once I did I loved it and am now telling everyone else that they need to read this book. (Why don't I listen to my friends).  This is also the only book I've read in completion that isn't a cookbook (more on that to come) since having my daughter in January. 
For those of you who haven't heard about this book yet (there is a sequel out, which tells you how behind I am), this is a true story.  It is the story of Greg Mortenson, a mountain climber who accidentally got into the business of building schools.  The schools he builds are in hard to reach places, particularly to educate girls.  I don't think I can adequately describe the journey that he takes.  It is absolutely fascinating reading.  There is also a junior version of the book, which a good friend of mine gave to some students of hers to read.  From reading that book, they decided to start fund-raising in their school for Pennies for Peace, assisting other children in the world to be able to attend school.  It's that kind of impact that this book has.  If nothing else, it helps us in the west open our eyes to the people of the Middle East, not the terrorist news stories we hear every day, but the every day stories of the people who live there.  It's a wonderful read, well worth it!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver

I don't think I've reviewed a cookbook on this blog before.  This kinda surprises me because I really love reading cookbooks.  Some people will totally get this and others will think this to be very strange.  You see I love to cook.  I also blog at my own cooking blog and visit a lot of cooking blogs too. 
I'd been hearing a lot about Jamie Oliver's new book, but really hadn't followed what he was doing.  It just continued to be that I was hearing more and more about this particular cookbook that I checked it out and bought it for myself.  I'm so glad I did.
The mission of the book is simple, get people cooking.  He writes very easy to follow recipes with step by step pictures.  I've cooked 3 of these since buying the book last week - they are delicious (head on over to my cooking blog Whatcha Eatin' to find the recipe reviews - 2 of the 3 are posted).  I completely recommend this book to beginner cooks (and forwarded it to a good friend who wants to learn to cook) as well as cooks like me who are looking to get re-energized in the kitchen.  Well done Jamie!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Giveaway Alert!

My friend Jill and I are hosting a giveaway on our parenting blog site Clever Mamas. Pop on over and take a look here!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'm officially withdrawing - this year

I really don't know what I was thinking. At the beginning of this year I was all about what challenges would I attempt this year. I was pregnant at the time. 3 months later the reality of life with a baby plus two other children sets in...I want to read, really I do, but I've been working on the same book for over 2 weeks now and not getting very far. There is no way I'm headed to 100+ books this year and I don't want to stress about it. So I'm out. I will read what I can, when I can this year and worry about challenges in 2011.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

World Without End by Ken Follett

Here it is, the long anticipated sequel to Pillars of the Earth. Of course it's more dramatic if you read the first one when it was published 20 years ago instead of reading them back to back. First about the sequel context. We are in the same town, but we are 200 years later. All the characters are new, but some are descendants of characters in the first novel. Because this was promoted as the sequel to Pillars of the Earth, I can't help but compare the two. I liked Pillars of the Earth much better. Both books are well written, but the story behind the story in the first book kept me hooked. This one was more depressing. I'm still glad I read it and I think it's worth reading, just if you had to pick one over the other go with the first.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This could just as well be titled, "Why I owe Ken Follett a huge apology". I bought this book last summer. My mom loved it and thought I would too, so I bought it out of respect for her. Then it sat on my shelf. It looked big and boring to me. I like to read books I'm interested in, not books just because Oprah thinks they are good. I mean how could a book that focuses on building a Cathedral be? Okay, I was wrong. It was good, very, very good. I ate this book up. I know, a thousand page book and I flew through it in just a few days. Yes, there is the cathedral building element, but there is so much more to this book as well. If you are like me and are one of the few people left who haven't read this book, put it off no longer my friend, this is one worth reading.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


You'll have to excuse my lack of posts this month. Our baby daughter decided to surprise us with an early (5 week) arrival. I have done some reading in the trips back and forth to the hospital and am updating my 2010 log today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Prophet by Francine Rivers

This is the 4th in the Sons of Encouragement series and my favorite so far. This is a beautifully written telling of the story of the prophet Amos. Amos is a minor prophet in the Old Testament. I have read the book of Amos, but it has been years since I had done it and is not a book of the Bible that I have lots of knowledge about.
From the beginning I loved the way Rivers presented Amos to us. He's a beautiful, caring individual who longs to be with the Lord. I never lost my interest in this story and wished I had the time to just read it from cover to cover. I highly reccommend this one.

Every Now and Then by Karen Kingsbury

Once again I have succeeded in choosing a book from a series without knowing it. It happens that this is the 3rd in Karen Kingsbury's 9-11 series. Well it turns out that if I had to choose an out of context book this would be a good one to choose. It is a separate story from the 1st two in the series. Though it has some of the same characters from the first 2 series, it focuses on a completely new character, a young man who shut down emotionally after losing his firefighter father in the 9-11 disaster. He turns his focus to his work as a K-9 police officer, battling crime in LA.
I did enjoy this book quite a bit and would like to find the first 2 in the series.

Ocean's Apart by Karen Kingsbury

I've been on a Karen Kingsbury kick lately. I just discovered her writing in December and am quickly moving my way through her books. I picked up Ocean's Apart last week. The premise of the story centres on Connor, a happily married airline pilot who discovers that he has a son that he never knew about. Connor had one short affair 8 years before and had never heard from the woman again. That woman has just recently died in an airplane crash and has mentioned Connor in her will. How this news impacts both Connor, his wife and family are the issues that are explored in the story.
I had a hard time reading through a bit of this story because I kept thinking, what if this was me that died and left behind my small children. I know I can get emotionally involved in stories like this. I didn't have as much empathy for Connor and his wife as I did Max, the boy who lost his mother. One thing I really enjoyed about this story was some of the imagery that was used. Kingsbury used the image of a caterpillar/butterfly as a symbol for second chances in life. It is something that has stuck with me.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Books I read and didn't review

As 2009 came to an end, my life became incredibly busy and blogging had to take a backseat. I did get some great titles in, but just didn't have the time to write about them. Here are the books that rounded off my year and a mini blurb about each.

The Prince by Francine Rivers - the 3rd in the Sons of Encouragement series and my favorite so far. This tells the story of Jonathan, son of King Saul and best friend to David. I'm not big on reading battle scenes, but I did love the story of his life.

Redemption by Karen Kingsbury
Remember by Karen Kingsbury
Return by Karen Kingsbury
Rejoice by Karen Kingsbury
Reunion by Karen Kingsbury

I'll lump these 5 together as they are a series. After reading the Firstborn series by Karen Kingsbury, I realised that I was reading a second series on the same family, so I went and found the first series. I very much enjoyed these books and am glad to have found Karen Kingsbury as an author. Her books are real and touching, but also very easy to get through (just what I needed at a busy time)

Sunrise by Karen Kingsbury
Summer by Karen Kingsury

So these 2 are part of the 3rd series based on the same family that I've been reading about from Karen Kingsbury. I haven't found the last two books, but am searching so I can round things out.

Monday, January 11, 2010

It's Monday

Today I'm reading "The Prophet" by Francine Rivers. It's the 4th in the Sons of Encouragement series and so far I'm loving it. It's beautifully written based on the story of Amos in the Old Testament.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge

One more that is so very me. Most of the books I read come from my local library. This challenge is hosted by J. Kaye. The details and how to sign up are here. Happy reading to all those participating!
1. Ocean's Apart by Karen Kingsbury
2. Every Now and Then by Karen Kingsbury
3. Someday by Karen Kingsbury
4. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury

Historical Fiction Challenge 2010

I've decided to sign up for a few challenges this year (as long as they don't conflict with each other and keep in line with my own personal reading style). This one seems right up my alley. It's the historical fiction challenge from theroyalreviews.blogspot.com. I'm curious as to how many historical fiction books I will read this year. My first instinct is to sign up for the obsessed level of 20 - but I don't want to turn this into being about the numbers. More than likely I'll end up with the addicted level of 12 which is probably more reasonable for me :o) Happy Reading to all other participants!
1. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
2. World Without End by Ken Follett

2010 100+ Reading Challenge

So I want to see if I really can do it. I came so close in 2009 to reach 100 books (97) that I want to get there in 2010. The 2010 100+ Reading Challenge is hosted by J. Kaye. The information can be found here. Happy Reading to all who participate :o)

1. Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
2. Every Now and Then by Karen Kingsbury
3. The Prophet by Francine Rivers
4. The Scribe by Francine Rivers
5. Ginger, my story by Ginger Rogers
6. Someday by Karen Kingsbury
7. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury
8. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
9. World Without End by Ken Follett

So Close

Well folks its time to play book blog catch up. I haven't posted in about a month and that pretty much tells you what kind of a month I've had. Aside from the chaos that is known as the pre-Christmas season, then into Christmas. Our family has moved a couple of provinces over to a much, much larger city than I'm used to. To top it all off I'm very, very pregnant right now (due next month). I know people would be surprised that I've even found time to read, but when you love something you make time for it. In fact one of the first things I did once we got here was to find the closest library and get library cards for myself and my kids (hubby will have to go get his own). I feel much more at home when I know the library. Some people like the familiarity of Walmart, me, it's the library.
I tried, I really did try to complete the 100 book challenge for 2009 and I came close. 97/100 completed. I'm still happy with it because it was the first time I logged how many books I'd read in a year. I also stayed true to my wanting to read books that I really wanted to read, as opposed to books that I knew were easy to read for the sake of ticking another number off the list.
Now that I'm getting settled in my new home it's time to check out new reading challenges for 2010. I'll keep you updated with what I find out. Cheers and happy reading!

My 2009 Book Log: http://bookwormkristen.blogspot.com/2009/04/100-book-challenge-2009.html

*Edit* I just realised that I did read over 100 books this year if I counted children's fiction. I chose not to as I have 2 kids and am a teacher so I read a lot of children's books in a year. It would be fun to keep 2 lists and see how many of each I do in fact read in a year (though my kids books repeat a lot)