Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway: Island Girl by Lynda Simmons

Ruby Donaldson is a vibrant woman, a lifelong activist who has always been completely independent and in control of her life ~ and that of at least one of her daughters. Now, at age 55, she has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, and she is determined to continue to do what she wants to do despite what everyone else thinks. And what she wants to do is end her life before the disease takes over completely. But first, she has to pull her family back together before she goes. Island Girl by Lynda Simmons is a touching and heartbreaking story, but it is also so much more. The story is told by three characters: Ruby, her oldest daughter Liz, and her youngest daughter Grace. While Ruby is dealing with Alzheimer's, her daughters have their own struggles. Liz is a former lawyer turned alcoholic after a tragic event related to her sister a few years ago. But she finds herself in the position to help a friend if she can only manage to straighten herself out. Grace has always

Book Review: Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively

Matt "Lerxst" Johnston teaches guitar lessons by day and rocks out on stage with his Rush/Grateful Dead cover band, Dead Barchetta, by night. He often finds himself passed out on his couch, but one night he wakes up feeling like he's suffocating. Indeed, some strange girl is trying to smother him. Once he gets her to back off, she tells him it was a case of mistaken identity. So he spends a while getting to know her. But soon, he discovers her story isn't quite right, and finds himself on the run from the police, heading to New York City on the Chinatown bus out of Virginia Beach. Kathryn Lively has developed a fun, modern-day mystery in Dead Barchetta . I love all the amazingly unique characters, including Lerxst's brother who has some secrets of his own and their quirky grandmother with whom Lerxst still lives. Then there's the women in his life: the girl who tries to kill him, the rocker chick in NY and the cougar who is looking for something more than j

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I hope you had a good week. It's been quiet here at My Book Retreat again. I have some reviews I need to write but I just haven't had a chance. I spent a lot of time reading this past week instead of writing. I read Island Girl by Lynda Simmons this past week. It was wonderful. I am scheduled to participate in the book tour on Wednesday, so you'll see my review then. I also still need to write up the review of Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively, which I read the week before. I didn't do my weekly What My Children Are Reading post because my kids seem to be in a rut. My son is reading through all the Magic Tree House books (I think he's on #22 now) and my daughter has been reading a lot of the same books we've mentioned before. Maybe we'll have something to talk about on Saturday. Last week was the beginning of summer, which marked the end of the Spring Reading Thing challenge. So I put up my recap of that challenge . Currently Re

Spring Reading Thing: Completed

It's officially summer, which means the Spring Reading Thing Challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days is complete. I love participating in this challenge each year, and look forward to the one she does in the Fall as well. You just make a list of books you're going to read during the season, and then read them. It's that simple. This was my original list to read during the Spring: Spinning by Michael Baron The Girl's Guide to Homelessness by Brianna Karp The Road by Cormac McCarthy The Pharos Objective by David Sakmyster The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot In the Lap of the Gods by Li Miao Lovett The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley Aliens on Vacation by Clete Smith A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl I managed to finish all of these books except A New Prospect . I was scheduled to review that one for a book tour at the beginning of June, but the tour was postponed a bit and now I'm not publishing my re

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I hope you had a great week! I finally got my act together with writing book reviews by the end of the week, and I got some reading done as well, so overall it was a good week. I put up a review of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. It was a good book but I wish I hadn't rushed through reading it. It's the type of book I should have sat and read in one sitting, although it's a bit long for that. I also reviewed a middle-grade fiction book called The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman. I read it back in May and finally got around to writing the review! As far as reading goes, I read Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively. It was a fun mystery, and I will post my review later this week. Currently Reading I've now started Island Girl by Lynda Simmons, which I have for a book tour at the end of the month. Up Next Next, I'm going to read Counting from Zero by Alan B. Johnston. After that is Two Kisses for Maddy

Book Review: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Flavia de Luce is an 11 year old girl living in England in the 1950s, who absolutely loves chemistry. She even has her own laboratory in the top floor of her family's estate, where she studies and conducts experiments ~ with a specific focus on poisons. She has two sisters with whom she she has nothing in common and a distant father, but she also has a confidant in the gardener, Dogger. When a man is found dead in the estate garden, Flavia starts her own investigation into the crime. And when her father is arrested, she steps up her efforts to learn the truth about who the dead stranger is, how he is connected to her father, and who or what exactly killed him. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley has been on my shelf for far too long. I really enjoyed Flavia and all the unusual characters the author introduces. A bit far-fetched in the way Flavia, who is only 11, gets away with tampering with evidence, the story is fun and kept me guessing as to what really

Book Review: The Genius Files by Dan Gutman

Coke and Pepsi McDonald are about to turn 13. But before they can celebrate their birthday, they get chased by bad guys, jump off a cliff and get stuck in their burning school. Then they discover they're part of a government organization called The Genius Files, and they're meant to save the world. In The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable , Dan Gutman doesn't just introduce us to two spy kids and their government mission. He also takes us on a unique tour of the USA. Coke and Pep's family has planned a cross-country trip in their new RV from California to Washington, DC. Along the way, their mother, who runs a website devoted to highlighting offbeat places to visit throughout the US, is determined to see the biggest ball of twine in the world, along with various other unusual places. So Gutman takes us on a trip to places most Americans have never considered visiting, like museums devoted to yo-yos and pez dispensers. The Genius Files is a fun, action-filled sto

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This is likely to be my shortest Monday post ever! I just didn't do much last week, as you may have noticed. I did put up my weekly review of children's books my kids are reading. But that's all that happened last week on My Book Retreat. I did read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, so I'll be writing a review for that soon. Currently Reading I'm currently finishing up A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl, which I had put aside because the book tour was pushed out. Up Next Next, I'm going to move on to a book I have for review called Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively. 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 others are reading too.

What My Children Are Reading

This week the kids continued to work through some of the same series as last week. M read I Will Surprise My Friend by Mo Willems and did a great job reading just about every word by herself on the first reading. I was very proud. This Piggie and Elephant book is about Piggie and Gerald wanting to surprise each other but they both end up hiding for so long they soon think the other has gone away. It's very funny when they finally discover each other. C read Polar Bears Past Bedtime and Vacation Under the Volcano in the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. I'm so glad he's enjoying these books now. These were books 12 and 13 so we'll be picking up the next few a the library this week so he can continue. I've never read these two, so I'm not sure of the exact stories. But these two take place in the Arctic and in Pompeii. A new book we read is RRRalph by Lois Ehlert. This is a cute book M picked from the shelf at the library. It's about a d

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I'm getting some work done this morning then I have to run out to the YMCA to switch around some of my son's camp arrangements. Trying to get ready for the summer since this is his last week of school. I can't believe he's about to finish first grade! As far as reading goes, I finished A Game of Character by Craig Robinson last week, and put up my review for that one. I also wrote up my May month in review post . That month seems to have flown by! And I shared some of the books my kids are reading , including some old favorites. Currently Reading I'm currently reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. It's been on my bookshelf for a long time and I finally decided to take the time to read it. Up Next I still need to finish up A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl, and then I'm going to move on to a book I have for review called Dead Barchetta by Kathryn Lively. What are you reading this week? This meme is being h

What My Children Are Reading

We have more library books to share this week, although many of these books are ones I've shared in the past. M is now reading some of the books C read when he was first learning to read, and C is now reading some of the books we had read aloud to him previously. But I figured I'd share what they've been reading this past week even though some are repeats from a year or two ago. We picked up three Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems at the library last weekend. These were favorites of C's when he was learning to read so I wanted to share them with M. We got I Will Surprise My Friend , Can I Play Too and Today I Will Fly . M actually read Today I Will Fly , and I read the others to her, although I think she could probably read them on her own. We have them for another week, so I'll let her try at some point. If you haven't tried these books, you must do so! They are about two friends who do some very silly things. For example, in Today I Will Fly , Piggie