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Showing posts from October, 2010

Book Review: On Writing by Stephen King

The first part of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King is a memoir that focuses on how the author found his way to becoming a successful author. He starts in his childhood, when he was an avid reader. Then he moves through his adolescence where his writing sometimes got him into trouble, and on into his adulthood when his talent was finally recognized. It's a fascinating and entertaining story that I enjoyed reading.

The rest of the book is the author's advice to writers. He begins by describing the tools that every author needs to create his or her story, things like vocabulary and grammar. He also gives advice on plot, character development, themes and so much more. His advice is specific to writers of fiction, although there are many aspects that could be applied to other types of writing. I found it informative even though the writing I do is either business-related or reviews such as this. I'm sure I'll be thinking of his advice as I read and critiqu…

What My Children Are Reading

It's been a while since I shared our favorite books of the week. We've been reading all along, but many of the books we've been reading are ones I've highlighted before.

This week, M has been wanting to read a few of the Doreen Cronin books. We have Dooby Dooby Moo, which we got from Chick Fil-A a long time ago. This is definitely the kids' favorite. It's about the farm animals entering a talent contest to try to win a trampoline. We also have Duck for President, which I think is cute. It's all about Duck wanting to be in charge, first of the farm and eventually of the country. Many of the jokes go over the kids' heads though. We picked up Thump, Quack, Moo: A Whacky Adventure from the library this week. This is a cute one about the farmer making a corn maze, and Duck making his own little changes to the design.

C has been doing a lot of independent reading this week. He read Amazing Snakes by Sarah L. Thomson yesterday morning before school. He said it…

Book Giveaway: Tales from a Spanish Village by Richard A. Barrett

My last blogivesary giveaway is for a copy of Tales from a Spanish Village by Richard A. Barrett. I'm about halfway through this book and am really enjoying it. You'll have to wait until I finish it for my full review, but I wanted to offer it as a giveaway before the month is through. Here are some details:

About the book:
In Tales from a Spanish Village, Barrett’s remarkable, true-life adventure begins when he receives a grant from his professor to finish research on his doctoral dissertation in Benabarre, Spain. The memoir details Barrett’s adjustments to student life in a small, peasant town and chronicles his encounters with various characters and customs. It also details a first-hand look at Spain ruled by the Franco dictatorship, when he witnessed those considered to be lower class treated harshly by the police.

About the author:
Dr. Richard Barrett taught cultural anthropology at Temple University and the University of New Mexico before retiring. He is the author of two…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm getting a late start on this today. I went away for the weekend with some girlfriends, and just got back this afternoon. We had a fabulous weekend hanging out in Myrtle Beach, SC. They ran a half marathon on Sunday and I cheered them on. They both did great! Anyway, here's a quick update on what I've been up to with reading.

I read and reviewed Insignificant Moments by Jeremy Asher, which I really enjoyed. I also have a giveaway going on for a book I haven't read yet but am looking forward to reading: When No One is Watching by Joe Hayes.

I listened to On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King on my ride to and from SC. Unfortunately, I had some issues with skipping and one of the seven CDs was completely unreadable, so I missed portions of the book. I plan to take the book out of the library so I can read what I missed. I really enjoyed it but want to read the entire thing before reviewing it.

Currently Reading
I'm currently reading Tales from a Spanis…

Book Review: Insignificant Moments by Jeremy Asher

After climbing to the top of a mountain in the hopes of a life-changing moment, Jaye encounters a woman in need of help. He comes to her aid, but never works up the courage to ask her name before she is whisked away to the hospital. Feeling down, he sits at his computer and writes an inspirational email to everyone in his address book. Three years later, the email makes it way back to his inbox, and prompts him to take some chances in his own life.

Lately, my book selections have been pretty deep and serious, so I wasn't sure what I would think of Insignificant Moments by Jeremy Asher. But I loved it! It was such a wonderful story of life and love and all the little, seemingly insignificant moments that can have such a strong impact on everyone around us. It's the story of a group of people who hardly interact, yet manage to completely alter each others' lives. And, yes, it's a story of love and romance.

The back of the book says this is written "in the tradition…

Book Giveaway: When No One Is Watching by Joe Hayes

My next blogivesary giveaway is for a copy of a brand new book that was released earlier this month: When No One Is Watching by Joe Hayes. I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but wanted to offer it as a giveaway during my blogiversary celebration. Here are some details:

About the book: 
After causing a fatal car accident, political superstar Blair Van Howe perpetrates an elaborate cover-up to ensure his political survival. When a dogged detective nears the truth, Blair must ask himself how far he is willing to go to protect his dark secret, and whether the good he can accomplish politically justifies the sins he commits when no one is watching. Read an excerpt.

About the author: 
Joe Hayes is an ethics lawyer born and raised in Chicago. A graduate with honors from De Paul University, he obtained his juris doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. He has practiced law around the country for 18 years and has become a legal expert in ethical law. He is also …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I got some reading done last week and I put up a couple of reviews here and added several to Amazon. So overall, it was a productive week here at My Book Retreat. I hope you had a good week too!

I wrote my review for Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I really liked the book, but I also worry the hype may ruin it for some.

I also read and reviewed Back to the Homeplace by William Leverne Smith last week. It was an easy read that kept my attention and brought back a lot of memories.

I finally finished the manuscript my friend asked me to review for her friend. I have to say it was very good (although full of typos at this point) and I really hope it's published so I can recommend it to all of you!

In honor of National Reading Group Month, I posted a few lists of top books for book clubs

Currently Reading
I've started Insignificant Moments by Jeremy Asher, which I'm enjoying so far.

Up Next
Next, I'm going to listen to On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, and re…

Giveaway: $15 at The Book Depository

It's time for my next blogiversary giveaway! The winner of this giveaway will get the book of their choice, up to $15, from The Book Depository. This is open to everyone ~ as long as The Book Depository ships to your address.

To enter, leave a comment telling me which book you would choose (you can change your mind later if you win). If you follow My Book Retreat, leave a second comment. If you follow me on Twitter (@MyBookRetreat), leave another comment. Be sure to include your email address if it's not easily accessible from your profile page.

This giveaway will end at 12:00 Noon (Eastern time) on my actual blogiversary: October 20th. The winner will be chosen by random.org and shortly thereafter

Good luck! And thanks again for reading and following!

Book Lists for Book Clubs

Did you know that October is National Reading Group Month? The Women's National Book Association has put together a list of Great Group Reads for 2010:
Blame by Michelle Huneven
The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle
Cheap Cabernet: A Friendship by Cathie Beck
Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin
Room by Emma Donoghue
Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye
Up from the Blue by Susan HendersonYou can go to the National Reading Group Month site to read a synopsis of each. My book club has only read one of these (Little Bee, which is our October selection) so I know we'll be checking out some of these others.

In addition, ReadingGroupGuides has announced the Top Ten Discussion Books based on an extensive survey done earlier in the year. My book club…

Book Review: Back to the Homeplace by William Leverne Smith

When Mildred Bevins dies, her children learn that if they want a piece of her estate, they must return to the Homeplace in Missouri where they grew up ~ and commit to staying for two years. All four children return, along with their spouses and their own children, to work the family farm. As they try to get acclimated to this new life in their hometown, the teens of the family are also struggling with growing up and fitting in.

Back to the Homeplace by William Leverne Smith takes place in 1987, and the author includes brief news blurbs at the start of each chapter to remind us of the big events happening in the world that year ~ from talks of taking down the Berlin Wall, to fears of AIDS, to the popular movies of the year. I was in high school in 1987, so this book brought back a lot of memories. I found I could relate to what the teens of the story were going through since I grew up in the same time. And as a mother now, I could relate to the adults in the story as well.

The charact…

Book Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

How do I write a review of a book that specifically says on the back: "Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds." So I can't tell you what happens. And I'm glad that I hadn't seen anything about the plot before I read it. Let's just say it's about a Nigerian girl and an American couple who met on a beach in Nigeria, and then are brought together again two years later.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave is the book I read during my first readathon last weekend. So I read it in one day, relatively quickly. The story certainly kept me interested and wanting to know what would happen next. The characters are well developed, which is something that is very important to me. I enjoyed the writing style. The storyline is unique and moving. It definitely made me think, and it includes several topic areas that I expect will keep the discussion going when…

Book Giveaway

Once again I'm giving away books from my bookshelf. The winner of this giveaway will be able to choose two books from my stack of gently used books, including:
Babyhood by Paul ReiserThe Beach House by James Patterson and Peter De JongeBobo's Daughter by Bonnie Barnett Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen FieldingThe Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean KoontzFinding Marco by Kenneth C. CancellaraFirst Daughter by Eric Van LustbaderGuest House by Barbara K. RichardsonLast Snow by Eric Van LustbaderThe Middle Place by Kelly CorriganThe Post-War Dream by Mitch CullinSnow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeThe World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas L. FriedmanOnce this giveaway ends, another will begin so be sure to check back often! I'll be giving away books all month long!

To enter this giveaway, leave a comment below telling me which two books you would choose if you win. Include your email address if it's not easily accessible from your profile page…