Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Weekly Reading Recap

book and coffee

Good evening. I decided it was time for another reading update. I didn't post last week because I hadn't made much progress with reading, but this past week was a much better one for me. I have actually gotten a good deal of reading done in that time. Aside from reading, work has been taking up a lot of time. I took on a new role about a year ago and many of you will have noticed that my blogging and reading slowed down significantly over time. It's hard to sit down at a computer and type blog posts after sitting at a computer all day. But I do still take plenty of time for reading. It just takes me a few days to write a single post now (as in the case of this one that I started 48 hours ago).

What I'm reading

My May TBR stack of booksSince my last update, I finished The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. I skipped a few chapters in the middle because that's the only way I could bring myself to finish it. I'm not going to write a full review for this, but I will say that I did not enjoy Salinger's writing style at all. I didn't mind the overall story but it was tough to actually read it.

I also read Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes, which was a very nice change after that! Then I picked up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell on a whim from the library and read it in two days over the weekend! Tonight I started reading Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and I'm already drawn in. I loved The Forgotten Garden.


Book cover of Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald What I'm writing

I wrote one review last week: 
Twisted River by Siobhán MacDonald

What my kids are reading

M, who is in 3rd grade, finished the second book in The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer and is now starting the third book.  

Carter, who is in 6th grade, has been reading too much to keep up with! Tonight he read The Marvels by Brian Selznick. He also just started Endgame: the calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton.

I'm linking up with Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? as well as Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for the children's and YA version of this weekly gathering. What are you reading? Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Book Review: Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald


Kate and Mannix are struggling to help their son Fergus, who is being bullied at school, and their daughter Izzy, who has taken the role of his protector. Kate decides that a holiday away from their home in Limerick, Ireland, is just what they need. She sets up a house-swap with a family in New York City. Hazel, Oscar and their two kids are also in need of a vacation, and Hazel decides her native Limerick is the place to be. But neither family ends up with the vacation they had planned.

Twisted River by Siobhán MacDonald starts right off with Oscar, hands covered in blood, closing the trunk of a car on a dead woman as his children come up behind him asking where mom is. This is where we start. But then we go back to see how each family ended up where they did, and ultimately how the woman ended up in the trunk of the car. This is but one mystery in this story though. MacDonald includes plenty of twists to live up to the name of the novel.

Because of the nature of the storyline, I don't want to say much more about the plot, but I did find both families interesting and enjoyed the author's writing style. It was an easy, engaging read. I will say I found myself more drawn to the second half over the first, because it started to go in a slightly different direction than I had expected. There's plenty of suspense and opportunity to try to figure out what's really going on with both families ~ they're rather complex people!

Overall, I enjoyed this mystery about family secrets and the consequences of our actions.

My Rating:

Visit Siobhán MacDonald's website for more information

This review was written based on a copy of Twisted River that I received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Weekly Reading Update

book and coffee

Good evening. Welcome back to my weekly reading update. I actually managed to post a week after my last update so this one will truly be a single week update. We are finally having real Spring weather here in North Carolina. It was up in  the 80s today and is supposed to be about that warm for the next two weeks. I doubt we'll have many cold days after this. I planted tomatoes, cucumbers, red and yellow onions, bell peppers and hot peppers this weekend, so the gardens are all ready.

Twisted River book cover
What I'm reading

Since last week, I finished Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald. I hope to review that one this week. I'm also about halfway through The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, which is my April book club selection. I must admit I'm sick of Holden Caulfield and it's going to be a struggle to finish it, but I'm determined to do so. I may have to put it aside and read Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes, though, because I need something different.

What I'm writing

I wrote one review last week: 
The Changing Season by Steven Manchester

What my kids are reading

M, who is in 3rd grade, finished the first book in The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer and is now about halfway through the second book.  

Carter, who is in 6th grade, has been reading a lot. He read the Mortality Doctrine series by James Dashner. Now he's reading The Lost Heiress, the second book in the Relic Master series by Catherine Fisher.

I'm linking up with Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading? as well as Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for the children's and YA version of this weekly gathering. What are you reading? Please share in the comments!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Book Review: The Changing Season by Steven Manchester


Billy has plans for his summer. Big plans involving time with his best friends, Charlie and Mark, and his dog Jimmy. He's graduated from high school and looks forward to relaxing before heading off to college. But things don't go as planned. From a town tragedy that puts a wedge between him and his friends, to a time-consuming new job and a beautiful girl, Billy's summer ends up taking him in a totally new direction.

The Changing Season by Steven Manchester is a coming-of-age tale that tugs at the heartstrings. Billy is the type of character that a reader can really get behind. In many ways, he's a typical recent grad who wants to party with friends, hang out with his dog and play video games in his messy room. But Billy is also quite introspective, often thinking about what career he wants to pursue, how to deal with his canine friend's increasing age, and what to do about the terrible secret he's promised to keep. He agonizes over all of these topics, thinking through options and trying to come to the best decisions for himself and his loved ones. It's a lot for a teenager to worry about.

I enjoyed this emotional story and found myself anxious to know how Billy would get through the challenges and make the important decisions about his future. I will admit that I'm not a "dog person" so while his relationship with Jimmy is sweet, it probably didn't hit me as deeply as it would for most readers. There were a few spots that felt a little slow, but overall there was enough going on in Billy's life to keep me interested and engaged through to the end.

If you're looking for a heartfelt story of one boy's transition from teenager to responsible young adult, definitely check out The Changing Season. It would be a great summer read.

My Rating:

Connect with Steven Manchester on his website or Facebook
Read my reviews of other books by Steven Manchester:
Pressed Pennies  
The Rockin' Chair
Gooseberry Island

This review was written based on a copy of The Changing Season that I received from the author in exchange for an honest review. This post includes Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase something using my link, I will receive a very small commission but your price does not change.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April Update

It's been a while, hasn't it? I have been in a bit of a rut. I thought the Bloggiesta in March would help. I wrote up a nice to-do list and had every intention of completing it. But I didn't do a single thing on that list. And I haven't really blogged much since then. I'd like to attribute my absence to something specific, but there really isn't any reason for it. I just haven't felt like blogging. That's probably not a good thing when you're a blogger!

Books to be read in April

As far as reading goes, I finished The Changing Season by Steven Manchester about a week ago and that was it. I'm halfway through Twisted River by Siobhan MacDonald. I started that one while on vacation. Did I tell you about my vacation to Universal? I don't think that I did. More on that later. Above is a picture of the other books on my TBR list for this month. I just picked them up at the library last night. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger is my April book club selection, and Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes is my attempt to get back into reading for fun. I need something quick and easy, and I find Jojo Moyes books to be just that.

I did write a couple reviews a few weeks ago: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear. Then I lost my desire to write, and have been silent for 10 days!

During the last week of March, we went on vacation to Universal in Orlando, Florida. We had such a great time, especially in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. They did an amazing job of recreating the scenery of the books and movies. We were all quite impressed. Carter loved the Butterbeer, but the rest of us weren't big fans. The kids got chocolate frogs and we ate at the Three Broomsticks. It was a great time for everyone! Here are a few photos.

Gringotts in Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Kids riding Hagrid's motorcycle

Architects of Hogwarts

Kids getting chocolate frogs at Honey Dukes

Ollivanders storefront

Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes storefront

I'd like to say that I'm going to get back into blogging regularly but I have said that many times and haven't managed to do so. Even this blog post was interrupted last night and finished this morning. I do plan to continue reading and reviewing. I should have my review for The Changing Season up this week, and when I finish Twisted River, I'll try to write that one as well. We'll see how it goes...

I'm linking up with Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What are you reading? Please share in the comments!

*This post includes Amazon affiliate links.