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Showing posts from March, 2011

Month in Review: March 2011

March started out in the 70s and is ending in the 50s ~ What's up with that??? We did have a wonderful reprieve in Orlando last week, which was nice. We had a blast at Disney. It was definitely the highlight of the month. Here's a recap of what I read and reviewed this month.

Books Read in March: 4
I read a total of four books in March. Three were adult books and one was a children's book.
Zero Day by Mark Russinovich
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
Spinning by Michael Baron
Fifo "50 States" by Hayley Rose
Reviews Written: 6
This month, I wrote a lot of reviews. First, I reviewed two books I had read in February:
Final Vector by Alan Leverone
Elephant Talk by Ann Downer

I also wrote reviews of all of the books I read in March. You can click on the links above to read them.


Author Interview: 1 I also conducted one author interview in March, with author Michael Baron. So far, I seem to be interviewing an author each month. I'm hoping to keep up this trend.
E-Book…

Interview with author Michael Baron

I'm very pleased to welcome author Michael Baron to My Book Retreat today. Michael is the author of four novels, as well as several nonfiction books under a different name. I've reviewed three of the four novels here, so be sure to check out the links at the end of the interview! Also, as I mentioned yesterday, The Story Plant is giving away the e-book version of Michael's first novel, When You Went Away, for FREE through April 12. Then, from April 12 through April 26, they are selling e-book copies of his novel, The Journey Home, for just $2.99! I highly recommend you check them out! I've included links at the bottom of this interview.

Q. Welcome back to My Book Retreat, Michael! One of the things I’ve enjoyed about your books, including Spinning, is the depth of character development. What are your strategies for really getting into a character and making the reader care about them?

Before I start writing, I try to know everything I can about a character, including tri…

Book Review: Spinning by Michael Baron

Dylan Hunter was living it up in New York City, with a great job in a public relations firm and a new, sexy woman in his bed just about every weekend. His only responsibility was making his clients and his boss happy. He was doing great keeping all his proverbial plates spinning around and around. Until Diane walked back into his life with her three-year-old daughter, Spring. Soon Dylan finds himself skipping the late nights at the bar to spend quiet time at home. His priorities begin to change and he starts to see a different path in his future.

In Spinning, Michael Baron brings us into Dylan's heart and mind as he struggles to keep all the plates spinning. When he suddenly finds himself fulfilling the role of Spring's sole caregiver, things start to slip. How can he hold on to his job, his friends, his lifestyle, while caring for a little girl on his own? What is really important to him? Will he be able to keep all the plates spinning or will something have to drop?

Once ag…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Back to reality today. We spent the last four days in Orlando at Disney World. It's been a tough morning getting back to real life. Especially since we have gray skies and sleet instead of the 85 degree sunny days we had in Florida. We had a wonderful time. On Thursday we enjoyed the pool and beach at the Polynesian Resort, and then went to the luau there for dinner. Friday was spent at Magic Kingdom where the highlight of the day was lunch in the castle with Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Sleeping Beauty and Ariel. M absolutely loved it! On Saturday we met my sister and her family at Hollywood Studios, where the highlight of the day was Jedi Training for C. Then we had a nice breakfast at Kona Cafe on Sunday morning before heading home.

I didn't get any blogging done last week, and I only did a bit of reading on the short flights. I did finish Spinning by Michael Baron. I plan to put up my review tomorrow and my interview with the author on Wednesday.

Currently Reading
I star…

Taking a little break

My Book Retreat will be quiet for a few days. I thought I'd get a review up this week, and was hoping to set up my What My Children Are Reading post to publish on Saturday, but none of that happened. I'm shutting down my computer and heading to Disney World for a few days!! So I'll be back on Monday to let you know how much reading I managed to do on the trip. And I expect I'll have a few reviews (and an interview with author Michael Baron) to post next week.

I apologize if I haven't responded to a comment or visited your blog this week. I'll try to get back on track next week! Have a wonderful few days!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm running very late this Monday morning. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. We had a busy weekend but it was mostly fun. This is a short week for us because we're heading to Disney World at the end of the week! Woohoo!

I had a decent week of reading and blogging last week. First, I participated in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway and gave away two sets of books. That was a lot of fun and I got a whole slew of new followers through the giveaway hop so Welcome to My Book Retreat!!

I put up a review of My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. This was a fascinating memoir about a brain researcher who experiences a stroke herself. It was very educational and inspirational. Click on the title to read my review.

Finally, I joined the Spring Reading Thing challenge again, and have committed to reading eight specific books during the Spring season. I'm sure I'll read a lot more than that, but I'm just not sure of the other titles yet!

Currently Reading
I started Serena b…

Spring Reading Thing 2011

I'm once again joining the Spring Reading Thing challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. It's a very low-pressure challenge. All you have to do is put together a list of the books you want to read during Spring (March 20 - June 20) and then read them!

Here's my list for 2011:
Spinning by Michael BaronThe Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna KarpThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Pharos Objective by David SakmysterThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootIn the Lap of the Gods by Li Miao LovettThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan BradleyA New Prospect by Wayne Zurl I'm also going to finish Aliens on Vacation by Clete Smith, which I'm reading aloud to my son.
I plan to read more books than this, but these are the titles I'm ready to commit to for now. I'm sure I'll accept a few more review books and find more Nook books to download during that period of time. I'll keep track of my progress here.

Book Review: My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor became a brain researcher so she could better understand her own brother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. But in 1996, Taylor got a unique opportunity to study her own brain when a blood vessel in the left side of her brain exploded. In My Stroke of Insight, Taylor takes the reader through the details of that morning, as she slowly lost different functions of her mind. Then she talks of her long recovery and provides some valuable advice for how to interact with someone who has experienced a stroke.

Taylor's detailed description of her stroke, starting with a pounding headache and progressing to the point of losing her ability to walk, talk, read, write or remember anything about herself, is truly fascinating. It's also very educational in that it should help readers recognize the signs of a stroke more fully.

I'd say My Stroke of Insight is a combination of memoir, biology lesson and advice. As she describes her experiences, Taylor provides detail…

Book Giveaway: Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

The Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop is hosted by Books Complete Me and I Am a Reader, Not A Writer. This is a great opportunity for you to win free books and book-related stuff, so be sure to check out all the links below ~ more than 250 blogs are participating!! And please take a look around here before you go and consider following My Book Retreat by using Google Friend Connect on the right or follow me on Twitter (also just there on the right). I read and review a wide range of books, including thrillers, memoirs, literary fiction and children's books (preschool and elementary).

I'm giving away two sets of books today. There will be two winners.

Prize Package #1
Prize Package #1 features these two books. They have both been read but are in excellent condition:


When No One is Watching by Joseph Hayes is about a politician who is in a deadly accident and blames it on his friend who was in the car at the time but was too drunk to realize what really happened. The story follows t…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Another week closer to our trip to Disney. Yay! We've been busy planning our trip and I've even been checking out a book for the occasion: The Complete Walt Disney World 2010, which I got from NetGalley and will be reviewing after we return from our trip. It's from last year, so it's missing some important information, like the fact that Toontown is now closed. Bummer. But it's definitely useful.

This past week, I finished reading Zero Day by Mark Russinovich. It was a great thriller, all about terrorists attacking through computer systems. Very scary and too real given the author is a cyber-security expert and Technical Fellow at Microsoft. He knows what he's talking about, and although it's fiction, I really believe this could happen. Click on the title to read my review.

I reviewed a great children's geography book called Fifo "50 States" by Hayley Rose. It's a wonderful resource if you want to teach your kids about the United States. …

What My Children Are Reading

This week, the kids have been making their way through some of the books we got from the library last weekend.



C has been reading the first Club Penguin book, Stowaway! Adventures at Sea. I actually read it myself. It's a Pick Your Path book, so you read a few pages, and then have to choose what you do next. Do you hide in the ship's hold or climb up to the crow's nest. Each choice means turning to a different page to find out what happens next. C and I each read the book but the story was completely different for each of us because we made different choices. He read it a couple more times, too, changing the story each time. We'll definitely be looking for more of these Club Penguin books in the future.



One of the books both kids have been enjoying is Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk. This is an adorable story of a little mouse who lives at a library and loves to read. One day, he decides to write a book, which he places on one of the shelves. He writes a few more, and they…

Book Review: Zero Day by Mark Russinovich

Jeff Aiken, a former government analyst with his own computer business now, is hired by a law firm in New York to help them recover their computer systems after a virus caused them to crash. At the same time, his former colleague, Daryl, who still works for the government, is working on a computer glitch at a nearby hospital that resulted in several patient deaths. Then they start hearing about other computer issues ~ in airplanes, oil tankers, nuclear power plants and assembly lines around the world. Could it be the same virus attacking all of these computers? Jeff and Daryl team up to figure out what is really going on, and to find a solution before it's too late.

In Zero Day, Mark Russinovich weaves a frightening story that seems all too real. Computers run our lives. We rely on them for so many things ~ I hadn't even thought of how they are used in planes and ships and power plants. Computers are used to run just about everything. And the idea of a large-scale terrorist a…

Book Review: Fifo "50 States" by Hayley Rose

I recently got the opportunity to read a new children's geography book called Fifo "50 States" by Hayley Rose. I was especially excited to see this book because my kids and I try to do weekly geography lessons, which I write about over on my Just Playin' Around blog. So I'm always looking for new geography resources, and this one is great!

Each left-hand page features a rhyme that introduces a state by telling what number state it is, the capital, state flower, state tree and state bird. It has the state motto at the bottom of the page as well. Here's an example:
Up in the north
lies the 23rd state,
it is called Maine
and I hear it's just great.
Augusta is the capital
and there are many things to see,
like the White Pine Cone and Tassel flower
and the Eastern White Pine tree.
The bird, the Chickadee,
lives in Maine too.
It's a wonderful place to visit,
I'd like to go there, wouldn't you? On the right-hand page, there is a picture related to th…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. Hope you had a great weekend! I'm planning a big week of reviews and reading, but for now, here's what I did last week.

I didn't get a lot of adult reading done, but I did read through Fifo "50 States" by Hayley Rose. It's a geography book for kids. I'll be reviewing that one tomorrow for the blog tour. And I finished The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle, which I had been reading with my son. I also read the first Club Penguin book, Stowaway! Adventures at Sea, which I picked up for my son. I was curious about it since I love read-your-own-adventure types of books when I was a kid. It was fun reliving my youth with that one!

I put together a monthly review of my reading and reviewing for February. I also celebrated Read Across America Day with my kids.

I wrote reviews of Final Vector, a thriller by Allan Leverone, and Elephant Talk, a nonfiction book for kids about the way elephants communicate by Ann Downer.

I also shar…