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Showing posts from February, 2011

Month in Review: February 2011

February was a busy month here, with my birthday and my daughter's birthday, as well as a trip to Myrtle Beach for a long weekend. Overall, it was a pretty fun month, and I'm happy to say we're ending the month with flowering trees and 75 degrees outside. Yay! Here's how my reading went this month.

Books Read in February: 5
I read a total of five books in February. Four were fiction and one was nonfiction: Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Shepherd by Ethan Cross
Final Vector by Allan Leverone
Elephant Talk by Ann Downer

Reviews Written: 3
This month, I wrote three full book reviews (you can click on the links above to read them) and eight mini reviews of children's books. Oddly enough, this is exactly the same number of reviews I wrote in January as well.


Author Interview: 1 I also conducted one author interview in February, with thriller author Ethan Cross. I had conducted one author interview in January too, but had forgotten to me…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

We had another busy weekend. My daughter's fourth birthday was on Friday, so we have been celebrating most of the weekend. She had her party at Build A Bear and the kids all had a great time. I did get quite a bit of reading done this week, though.

I finished reading Final Vector by Allan Leverone, which is a thriller about terrorists trying to shoot down Air Force One, told from the perspective of an air traffic controller. My review will be up tomorrow for the blog tour.

I also finished  Elephant Talk by Ann Downer, which I'll review this week as well. This is a nonfiction book about communication among elephants. Very interesting.

Last week, I reviewed The Shepherd by Ethan Cross. You can click on the title to see my review. This was a very intense thriller. I also interviewed Ethan Cross, who is a debut novelist.

And finally, I shared a few books my kids have been reading in my What My Children Are Reading post.

Currently Reading
Now I'm reading Zero Day by Mark Ru…

Interview with author Ethan Cross

I'm very happy to have Ethan Cross, author of The Shepherd, here with me today. Click here to read my review of The Shepherd, which will be published on March 16th.

Q. Welcome to My Book Retreat! I really enjoyed reading The Shepherd. Is it your first novel? And can you share a little about your writing background before The Shepherd?

A. The Shepherd is my first novel, but writing and telling stories has always been a passion of mine. When I was young, I would force my parents to take me to sometimes two to three movies in a single weekend. Now that I've grown up, I try to do the same thing to my wife (but she usually restrains me to one). In High School, I wrote a screenplay, and I had aspirations of breaking into writing for the film industry. I had already outlined several movie ideas in my head (something that I had been doing since I was a little boy). However, I knew that was an uphill battle, and most of my time was being taken up by another passion of mine: music. …

What My Children Are Reading

I don't have a ton to report on this week in terms of what the kids are reading. We didn't do a lot of reading last weekend when we were in Myrtle Beach for three days, and we're due to return all of our books to the library today, so we'll be picking up a whole new set.

I've been reading The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle to C for a few weeks now. We're both enjoying this one. I think it's well done in terms of how it adapted the stories to children, so although some knights die, it's done in a way that doesn't seem to disturb C at all. The first half of the book is the story of how King Arthur became king and how he got the round table and filled it with knights. Then the last part of the book is about three other people involved with King Arthur. So far I'm not as thrilled with this section because this is more about Morgana le Fay, King Arthur's sister, who isn't very nice. I'm surprised since she's a goo…

Book Blogger Hop!

It's time for another Book Blogger Hop! This is a great event hosted by Crazy for Books and designed to connect book bloggers. I haven't participated in the Hop in a few weeks but I thought I'd jump back in today. The question for this week is:

"Do you ever wish you would have named your blog something different?"

Not really. It took a long time to come up with my blog name. I wanted something that conveyed that reading is a relaxing, enjoyable activity for me ~ sort of like being on a retreat. I'm happy with it and it took so long to come up with it, I wouldn't want to go through that process again!

I have another blog, Just Playin' Around, where I write about my kids and the activities we do together. I considered changing that one at one time because we were doing a lot more academic types of things rather than just playing. But then I realized that even when we do academic projects, I want it to be fun and playful for the kids. So Just Playin'…

Book Review: The Shepherd by Ethan Cross

Marcus was once a New York homicide detective, but after a bad experience, he left that all behind and moved to a ranch in Texas. In an attempt to escape his checkered past, Marcus tries to settle into life in the south. But soon, he finds himself running from the law. And to make matters worse, there's a psychopathic serial killer in the area, torturing his victims and then tearing them apart (this book is not for the faint of heart).

One minute we're with Marcus as he tries to evade the cops who are after him. The next, we're in the mind of the killer as he torments his next victim. In The Shepherd, Ethan Cross takes us on a wild ride through two storylines that bring Marcus and the killer together in what seems like a fated connection, one that will make both men re-evaluate their lives and their futures.

I hesitated accepting this book for review because I was concerned it might be too scary for me. It was definitely one of the scariest books I've read in a very …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

We just got back from three days at Myrtle Beach visiting my in-laws. It was a beautiful weekend at the beach. The kids even got a chance to play in the sand a bit, although they had to wear jackets. I tried reading some on the way home today, but started getting a little car sick so had to put the Nook away. I really wish I didn't have that problem because I could get some reading done on our car trips. We have a much longer trip planned for March and I'm disappointed I probably won't be able to read during it.

I finished The Shepherd by Ethan Cross last week. It's a thriller that will be published in mid-March. I'll put up my review later this week.

I wrote my review of Room by Emma Donoghue last week. Our February book club meeting isn't until next week, and I'm looking forward to talking with my group about it. I also wrote reviews of some of the books my kids have been reading lately.

Currently Reading
Now I'm reading Final Vector by Allan Lever…

What My Children Are Reading

The kids have been reading up a storm this week. I still am in awe when I hear them read. I don't get to hear C read aloud much anymore, but to know he's reading books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid amazes me. And hearing M reading her first books is so fun!

This week M has been reading Hot Pot: The Sound of Short (O) by Alice K. Flanagan. This is another book in the Wonder Books series, which I really like for her. Each page has just one sentence with simple words that relate directly to the pictures. This one is about a child who is cooking corn with her mom. We will definitely be checking more of these books out of the library.

We've also been reading through the Disney Princess Storybook Collection by Sarah Heller this week. This is one of M's favorites. It includes stories taken from all sorts of Disney movies, not just the princess stories. This is the first time we've started from the beginning and read each story in order. We're only about halfway through, bu…

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Five year-old Jack is very close to his Ma. They spend all day, every day together. Except when Jack goes into Wardrobe at night so Old Nick can have his way with Ma. Jack and Ma live in Room, surrounded by all the things that are important to Jack, including Rug and Bed and Wardrobe, of course. This is the world Jack has known since he was born, right here in Room. Old Nick lives in Outside but Jack has never actually been there. He's seen things on TV, but Ma has always explained that the things on TV aren't real. Until Jack's 5th birthday, when she tells him that Outside is real and it's filled with people just like them.

I've been reading about Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue for a long time now. It seems like everyone has read it and recommended it. So when it was chosen for my book club's February book, I was excited to finally take the time to read it myself. The first half of the book takes place in Room, where we learn all about the only world Jack ha…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I've been reading a lot this week, but haven't written much. I did put up a review of Pat Conroy's The Water is Wide. That was a very interesting look at teaching in an impoverished school on a remote island in South Carolina in the 1960s. I also reviewed a few books my kids have been reading in my What My Children Are Reading post.

I finished reading Room by Emma Donoghue last week, but I haven't written my review yet. I'll do that this week.

Currently Reading
I'm still reading Elephant Talk by Ann Downer, and I'm also reading The Shepherd by Ethan Cross. That one has literally caused a couple nightmares, but I'm actually enjoying it despite the fear! Finally, I'm reading The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle to C right now.

Up Next
I'm going to move on to Final Vector by Allan Leverone next. 

What are you reading this week? This meme is being hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, so hop over there if you'd like to see what o…

What My Children Are Reading

M and C have both been very busy reading this past week. I'm so proud of the progress they have both been making with reading lately.

I picked up a new book for M at the library, which she's read several times this week. It's The Hat by Holly Keller. This is a Green Light Readers Level 1 book, and I've realized this is the perfect level for M. This book is about two kids, Pam and Dan. Pam loses her hat and they chase it until Dan catches it. The sentences are very simple, such as "Pam lost her hat." And the pictures match the words so its easy to use pictures as clues to determine the right word.

I also got her another book called Hop, Skip, Run by Marcia Leonard. This one was a little more difficult for her, mostly because it's a lot longer. This is a Real Kids Readers Level 1 book. It's about three kids: one who likes to hop, one who likes to skip and one who likes to run. The sentences are very simple and somewhat repetitive, but it is longer so M g…