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Showing posts from December, 2010

My Top 10 Books Read in 2010

As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the books I most enjoyed in 2010. These weren't necessarily published this year, but I read them all this year. I'm putting them in alphabetical order because I decided I can't really rank them from one to ten since they are such different genres and I liked them for different reasons. So, without further adieu, here are my Top 10 Books Read in 2010, with links to my reviews: A Hundred Feet Over Hell by Jim Hooper ~ an amazingly realistic novel told from the perspective of men in the throes of the Vietnam War City of Dreams by William Martin ~ a fictional treasure hunt that spans the centuries from present day to colonial times The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson ~ the final book in a thrilling trilogy that, in my opinion, got better with each book The Girls: A Novel by Lori Lansens ~ a unique story that is presented as a memoir of conjoined twins The Glass Castle by Je

Book Review: Blood of My Brother by James Lepore

Jay Cassio and Dan Del Colliano have been best friends since childhood, when they met while growing up in a tough neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. Throughout their lives, Dan was there for Jay, protecting him from kids on the street, and supporting him when he lost his parents. But when Dan is murdered, and his death appears to be linked to the death of Jay's client and her husband, Jay is the one who has to step up and take the lead to bring the murderer to justice. In Blood of My Brother , James LePore weaves a suspenseful tale that spans the U.S. and Mexico, bringing together corrupt businessmen and politicians from both countries. Jay finds he has been thrust into a situation that is much bigger than him and his childhood friend. The story is told through several points of view, but is mostly focused on Jay and Isabel, the woman at the heart of the situation. LePore provides deep backgrounds on both of these characters, so we can clearly understand the circumstances o

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. For those of you who spent the weekend celebrating Christmas with your families, I hope you had a very Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful week with my dad visiting. The kids had a blast playing with Papa. But I didn't get any reading or blogging done! We have more guests arriving on Wednesday night so my goal is to finish the book I'm currently reading by the time they arrive. I did sign up for two challenges last week: the 2011 E-Book Reading Challenge and the I Want More Reading Challenge . I'm trying to keep my challenges simple for next year since I didn't really finish some of the challenges I joined in 2010. Speaking of that, I also wrapped up the Fall in Reading Challenge last week. Currently Reading I'm currently reading Blood of My Brother by James Lepore, which I'll be reviewing sometime this week. Up Next I think I'll move on to another review book next: Blue by Lou Aronica. I'm also starting to load my new Nook wit

Fall Into Reading 2010 Challenge Complete

This was my second time participating in the Fall into Reading challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days . Unfortunately, I didn't quite finish the challenge this time, but I came very close. I put together a list of 11 books that I was going to read during the Fall season (Sept 22 - Dec 20). I managed to read ten of them, as well as seven other books that weren't on the list. Not too bad! Here's what I read, with links to my reviews: Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten Bobo’s Daughter by Bonnie Barnett Little Bee by Chris Cleave Back to the Homeplace by William Smith The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom When No One is Watching by Joe Hayes Tales from a Spanish Village by Dr. Richard Barrett The Christmas Gift by R. William Bennett A Note from an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper ~ review not done yet I didn't get to The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker, which was the last book on my or

2011 I Want More Book Challenge

I discovered a few new-to-me authors in 2010 who I'd like to try again, so I'm going to join the I Want More Challenge hosted by Tea Time with Marce. I'm joining at the Give Me More level, which means I need to read 5 to 8 books written by authors that I have read before, and want to read again. I already have books on hand by Tatiana de Rosnay, William Martin and Ron Rash, three authors I've enjoyed, but only read once. Other authors I'm considering include Jeannette Walls, Lori Lansens, Alan Brennert, Paulo Coelho and Lisa Genova. I'll keep track of my progress here. 1. Serena by Ron Rash ( my review ) 2. Spinning by Michael Baron ( my review ) 3. Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett ( my review ) 4. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (review to come) 5.

2011 E-Book Reading Challenge

The E-Book Reading Challenge is hosted by The Ladybug Reads, and it goes from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. I'm getting a Nook for Christmas, so I know I'll be reading lots of e-books in the new year. I'm joining at the Addicted level, which means I need to read 12 e-books in 2011. I'll keep track of them here. 1. When Pigs Fly by Bob Sanchez 2. Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith 3. The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy 4. The Shepherd by Ethan Cross 5. Final Vector by Allan Leverone 6. Elephant Talk by Ann Downer 7. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor 8. Spinning by Michael Baron 9. The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp 10. Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices 11. The Pharos Objective by David Sakmyster 12. In the Lap of the Gods by Li Miao Lovett

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It has been a very busy week here at My Book Retreat! I had scheduled a couple book tours that both took place this week, and I also found time for other posts as well. I put up my review of The Active, Creative Child by Stephanie Vlahov. I actually put that up shortly after publishing this weekly recap last week. I also shared a guest post in which the author talks about the needs of active, creative children in school. The other book tour I participated in last week was for a sci-fi book called Hoodoo Sea by Rolf Hitzer. I also finally finished reading A Note from an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker. You can click on the title to see my review of that one. Finally, I reviewed some Christmas books I've been reading with my kids. Currently Reading I'm finishing up Everything Changes by Jonathan Tropper. I'm enjoying it, but it's not nearly as funny as the other book I read of his: This is Where I Leave You . Up Next The Fall Into Reading Challenge e

Book Review: A Note from an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker

When we first meet Brian Weller, he's struggling to write his next novel while looking over his wife who has been in a coma since the accident two years ago that killed their 3 year old son. Then one day, he receives an email from Joanna, an artist with whom Brian obviously has a past. Soon we are taken back to the time when they met, 15 years earlier, to follow along with them as they fall in love, and discover what tore them apart. A Note from an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker is a love story that spans many years and many miles. It's the story of two people who found their soul mates, but were forced to live their lives apart. After reliving the love affair of Bill and Joanna, we're taken back to the present where Bill has scheduled a book signing tour in Boston so he can meet up with Joanna for the first time in more than a decade. Old feelings, both good and bad, are reawakened in the two, and in their loved ones, as they get reacquainted after all these years.

What My Children Are Reading: Christmas Books

This week, I wanted to share some of our favorite Christmas books, which we've been reading and I'm sure we'll be reading throughout the coming week as well. First, I'll share some of the books we've added to our home library this year. One of the new books we got this year is The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. I have to say I hadn't read this before, and have only seen the movie once. I like the story and I think the kids do too. I'm a little concerned about C watching the movie on Monday at school because he hasn't questioned Santa yet, so I don't really want to expose him to the idea that some people don't believe in Santa. Fortunately, the book doesn't go into this as much as the movie. In the book, the kids all just travel to the North Pole on the train, see Santa, and return home. Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell is another new book for us. We did, indeed, get an elf this year

Book Review: Hoodoo Sea by Rolf Hitzer

The U.S. government has developed a ship that can fly at the speed of light, and a four person crew has been selected for the first test mission. Commander Scott Reed is from Canada, and Major James Harrow can't get over the fact that a Canadian was chosen to serve above him. But he's determined to be a hero and receive the adoration of the masses when they return home. Rounding out the crew are Captain Deedee Polson and Captain John Heintz. As they lift off and head out on their mission, their excitement level is high ~ as are their hopes for a very successful mission. But when they enter a thick fog over the Bermuda Triangle, the mission takes a very different course. Suddenly, the crew finds themselves in a land that seems like home, but it is? They soon encounter a tribe of people living a very primitive life, and a pack of wolves that don't really act like the wolves back home. Where are they and what do they have to do to get home? Hoodoo Sea by Rolf Hitzer pull

Guest Post: Author Stephanie Vlahov Talks About the Active, Creative Child

Yesterday, I reviewed an insightful parenting book called The Active, Creative Child: Parenting in Perpetual Motion. Today, I've invited the author of that book, Stephanie Vlahov, to share some thoughts on the challenges of educating the active, creative child. The active creative child is a prime candidate for an alternative school experience. When this book was published five years ago, we as a nation were in an educational fiscal crisis. Fast forward to 2010, and it is much worse. The financial pressures on our public schools (and political/union expenditure - but that is the topic for another book) is greatly impacting how our kids are taught. “Teaching to the test” is rampant in the rat-race for great scores and the accompanying funding. Compliance and conformity add to an atmosphere where rote memorization is praised. The squirmy kid in the corner who wants to act out his book report instead of efficiently spitting out a report is oftentimes a nuisance. Teachers love him,

Book Review: The Active, Creative Child by Stephanie Vlahov

The active, creative child is full of energy and has a vivid imagination. These characteristics can make it difficult for parents and teachers to understand the child and his or her needs. Many active, creative children are misdiagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or they're labeled as difficult. In The Active, Creative Child: Parenting in Perpetual Motion , Stephanie Vlahov helps us understand these children more fully by explaining how they think and what they need to stay stimulated without getting out of hand. She offers observations and tips on working with active, creative children. She then goes on to discuss the importance of imagination in the child's life, and the challenges they face when trying to fit in with other children. Finally, she outlines strategies that can be used to help active, creative children succeed in school ~ and within the family. If you are a parent of an active child who always seems to have more energy and a bigger imaginati

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. We went on a train ride with Santa on Saturday. Unfortunately, the train had open windows and it was 39 degrees and raining. We froze! But C was happy to see Santa, and to spend time with his friends from his Y Guides tribe, who were there as well. M, on the other hand, was not happy about being cold for an hour, or about being near the big guy in the red suit. I'm thinking she and I should have hung out at Starbucks while C and his dad rode the train! Last week, I finished up Patch by Mucheru Njaga. You can click on the title to see my review. I had a giveaway for it, but that ended on Saturday night. It's an excellent novel about bullying, based on the author's own experiences. I highly recommend it. I also reviewed some children's books in my What My Children Are Reading post. Christmas came a little when I received my Holiday Book Blogger Swap package on Monday. I was very excited to see two books from my w

What My Children Are Reading

This week, we've been reading an assortment of books. Some were from the library and some were pulled from our bookshelves after sitting there for a long time. The first book was on Natalie's list at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns a few weeks ago. It's How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hill, and M and I just love this book. It's an adorable story of a little bird who wants to teach, and a dog who becomes intrigued by the story the bird is reading and soon becomes the bird's student. M loves that several words are spelled out throughout the book, so she can read the letters and then sound out the words. And it's a very cute story that celebrates the joy of learning. Another big hit for us is A Good Day by Kevin Henkes. M picked this up from the toddler section of the library and it's a great find! We got the board book version, and it's a very simple story with a great lesson. It starts out with "It was a bad day," and continues on with stori