Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mockingjay - too violent?

I finished Mockingjay last night. I've devoured all the books in The Hunger Games series, even though I've cringed at the violence and sadness of each one. Suzanne Collins is an amazing author, everything just feels so real as you read those books. But as I read them I realize I am a hypocrite. I saw nothing wrong with me reading the stories and visualizing the destruction, but my 12yo came home and told me read The Hunger Games at school. I was sick. I told him the books were far too violent and I didn't want him reading them. He just shrugged and said, "Okay, Mom." Am I being too protective? How do you keep your child's innocence and yet let them grow up? Okay, that's a weighted question but I'm referring to what they read not the whole scheme of things. And seriously, why don't they rate books so we can at least have a guidance system of some sort. My 12yo wouldn't think of watching a PG13 or R-rated movie, but I think some of the books he's read have been violent enough to be R.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Jars

Last year we read Christmas Jars and gave away our very first jar. The boys loved leaving the jar on a doorstep and "doorbell ditching." This year we're excited to give away another jar. My mom gave me Christmas Jars Reunion a few weeks ago. My 12yo and I just finished reading it. I'm still wiping away tears so I can write this post.
What is a Christmas Jar? "A Christmas Jar is a pickle jar, peanut butter jar, Mason jar or whatever else you have around to collect your spare change each day. All coins are dedicated to the jar, and during the week before Christmas you carefully select someone to give it to anonymously."
For more information and stories about Christmas Jars that have changed lives, click here.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones and find many opportunities to give and love.
Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

I haven't been the most ardent Nicholas Sparks fan. Don't get me wrong, I think he writes touching and romantic stories, but I've always felt the pace was too slow. Maybe I'm getting more patient because I loved, The Lucky One. It's a really touching story with fabulous characters. If you haven't read it, I would recommend it. When U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman half-buried in the dirt during his third tour of duty in Iraq, his first instinct is to toss it aside. Instead, he brings it back to the base for someone to claim, but when no one does, he finds himself always carrying the photo in his pocket. Soon Thibault experiences a sudden streak of luck—winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat that kills two of his closest buddies. Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune: the photograph—his lucky charm. Back home in Colorado, Thibault can’t seem to get the photo—and the woman in it—out of his mind. Believing that she somehow holds the key to his destiny, he sets out on a journey across the country to find her, never expecting the strong but vulnerable woman he encounters in Hampton, North Carolina—Elizabeth, a divorced mother with a young son—to be the girl he’s been waiting his whole life to meet. Caught off guard by the attraction he feels, Thibault keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret. As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate and all-consuming love affair, the secret he is keeping will soon threaten to tear them apart—destroying not only their love, but also their lives. What I liked: A fabulous romance, mostly clean (they do have premarital relations but the author doesn't describe it), great plot. What I didn't like: There were still parts that were a bit slow for me, where I was thinking, "I know how to make homemade ice cream, get back to the story." Audience: Adult
Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shudder - Book Review

I've adored Jennie Hansen's books since I was a teenager and was thrilled to read her newest, Shudder. It was different than her others, but still well-written and almost impossible to put down.
Back Cover Blurb:
Darcy and Clare grew up as best friends, sharing trials and triumphs from preschool through college graduation. Now they’re sharing an apartment in Boise, Idaho, where Clare just landed a great job and Darcy is pursuing a teaching certificate. There’s only one problem: Blaine, Clare’s boyfriend. His chauvinistic, know-it-all ways set Darcy’s teeth on edge. Darcy vows not to let Blaine ruin her lifelong friendship with Clare, but when Blaine insists on moving in, Darcy suddenly finds herself alone. The estranged friends forge ahead on seemingly separate paths. Engaged to Blaine, Clare becomes trapped in ugly family politics and vicious treatment from her fiancĂ©. Darcy finds a temporary home with Karlene, an accident victim seeking live-in help, but a twisted plot soon threatens their safety. Clare’s wedding briefly reunites her with Darcy, yet the friends have never been farther apart. And when Clare finds herself in mortal peril and finally calls on Darcy to help, it might be too late. What I liked: Fast-paced, intriguing story, and I really loved Darcy and Karlene.
What I didn't like: The abuse was awful. It honestly gave me nightmares.
Audience I would recommend to: I wouldn't want a teenager reading this, but I think it teaches many important lessons for adult readers.
Where to buy:
Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Winter Solstice Celebration - Book Review

A Winter Solstice Celebration takes young readers deep into the forest, where they discover how seemingly harmless human activities can wreak havoc on the natural world. When I get the opportunity to review a children's book I take it to the experts (my sons). The 4yo liked the animals. The 8yo said the story was "interesting." The 12yo said, "She taught a good lesson through a picture book, but I think Moms and Dads need the lesson more than kids." In a way I agree with him, I learned a lesson while reading this story but I hope he learned a lesson as well: children standing up for what's right can make a difference and help teach their Moms and Dads. What I liked: I loved the illustrations and loved that Miya stood up for what was right and made a positive change that helped others. What I didn't like: I felt a bit of guilt about the trees we've chopped down for Christmas and the fact that I was the one whining when my husband bought me a beautiful fake tree! I also felt the story could've been trimmed a bit to hold the interest of my 4yo better, but for the older boys it worked. Audience I would recommend this book to: 4yo to 94yo would truly enjoy this book. I'm glad to have it with our other Christmas keepers. YouTube Video DiDi LeMay's Website A Winter Solstice Celebration is available for purchase at: Amazon Barnes & Noble
Monday, December 6, 2010

Which book reviewers do you trust?

I enjoy reviewing books to help promote fellow authors, but I must admit that at times I've erred on the side of being nice to the author and maybe haven't been as forthright as my readers would hope. It's probably obvious when I'm enthusiastic about a book or when I'm lukewarm. I always try to focus on my favorite parts of the book and find something positive to say about it, if that isn't possible I will opt out of reviewing the book. But is that fair to those reading the review? How as an author do you submit a completely honest review, especially when you know how it feels to receive a less than favorable review? Jon Skeet had some good advice on how to know if a book review is trustworthy or not. "Look for reviews which give specific praise/criticism. In particular if they give examples of teaching techniques, you will have more of an idea as to whether it'll suit you. Reviews which basically say "I loved it!" or "That's rubbish!" aren't terribly informative. " (i) I've decided I need to make my reviews more specific to be fair to the authors I'm reviewing for and you as readers. I will now include in each review: 1 - My favorite parts of the book (may include quotes) 2 - My least favorite part of the book (or maybe what I would have done differently) 3 - Which audience I would recommend this book to (or likewise which audience it may not be appropriate for). 4 - Information about the book - a short review, price, where to buy, etc. Are there any other areas you as readers would like me to focus on? (i) Jon Skeet: Coding Blog - "The trouble with book reviews."
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Huge Giveaway

Tristi Pinkston is hosting an absolutely huge contest over on her blog to celebrate the release of her new book, "Dearly Departed." A new prize will be offered every twenty-four hours, and with multiple chances to win, you can't go wrong! Prizes include books, jewelry, perfume, movies - and the grand prize is a free night's stay at the Lion Gate Manor in Lava Hot Springs. Visit Tristi's blog for rules and more details.

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