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Book Review: The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen

In the future, people refer to the time in which they live as the Perfect Present. There is no war. There is no conflict. There is no hunger. People live in peace. And they want to keep it that way. So when a group of people, referred to as hags, find a way to return to the past in an effort to change major historical events ~ such as the Holocaust and the terrorist acts of 9/11 ~ the government starts sending their own people back to stop them.

In The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen, Zed/Troy Jones is a government operative who is responsible for stopping the hags. His job is to make sure that every major event, even the most horrific events in our history, take place as they are supposed to, so the Perfect Present is protected. On this particular trip, he has returned to our present to ensure the Great Conflagration, which will wipe out much of our society, happens as planned. Here his path crosses those of Tasha, a lawyer who recently lost her brother in an ongoing war, and Leo, a d…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning and Happy Halloween! I've been looking forward to this day since the kids are so excited for trick or treating, but now I'm sick with what I think is the start of a head cold. I'm hoping I feel better tonight but have my doubts. It's also supposed to rain later. It hasn't rained on Halloween in years, so I guess it was bound to happen at some point. Of course, I should be happy we won't be trudging through snow to go trick or treating!

This week, I finished reading The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen. It was a very interesting and thought-provoking novel. I hope to have my review this week.

I also read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford this week. That was a story of love during the Japanese-American internment in the 1940s. I hope to have time to review it this week as well.


I wrote a review of Beyond the Darkness, book two of the Darkness series by Leonard D. Hilley, II.

And I shared some Eric Carle books my daughter has been r…

What My Children Are Reading: Eric Carle

I thought about sharing all of the Halloween books we've been reading this week but honestly, most of our favorites are ones we read last year too. So I'm just going to direct you to my Great Halloween Books post from last year, where I reviewed Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi, Skeleton Meets the Mummy by Steve Metzger, 10 Trick or Treaters by Janet Schulman, and Diego's Halloween Party by Brooke Lindner. 

This week, in addition to reading those Halloween books, we also read several Eric Carle books. Last weekend, M picked out four books by Eric Carle at the library, and we already own The Very Hungry Caterpillar. So I figured I'd review the others.

The Very Busy Spider was perfect for this week because M's theme at Pre-K was Bats and Spiders. She even took this book to school on Thursday and read it to her class. She had read it once with help from me at home and her teacher said she did a great job. This is about a spider who is busy spinning her web. Othe…

Book Review: Beyond the Darkness by Leonard D. Hilley II

It's hard to review a second book in a series without giving away some of the details of how the first book ends, namely who lives and where they end up. I've tried to only mention two names, but if you haven't read Predators of Darkness: Aftermath, proceed with caution when it comes to reading this review. I have tried very hard to be a bit vague while also providing a review and opinion on the book.

Beyond the Darkness picks up three years after the last book ended. The survivors of the last book have moved on with their lives, finding a place for themselves within the society in which they now live. But Daniel has had a hard time adapting to this new life. He continues to look around corners and wait for the shifters to return. His friends say he's being too paranoid, but he can't help it. He feels like something is going to happen. Then he gets a call from Lucas, who has been arrested for murder. He insists his clone has come back and framed him for the crime, …

What Should I Read Next?

I decided to try putting a poll into a blog post. Hopefully it works. Please take a few seconds to vote. In the future, if this works, I'm going to add this to my It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post each week to get your opinions on my book choices.

While you're here, leave a comment and let me know what you think of this idea.

What should I read next? And if you're interested, this is where I got the details on How to Add a Poll to a Blogger Post.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I hope you had a wonderful week. Mine was busy but fun. I participated in the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, which didn't go all that well for me. (Read my wrap-up here.) And I also participated in the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon, which was more successful for me. (Read my wrap-up here.) I think I've learned that I don't do well with short read-a-thons. I need those longer, 3-day or week-long read-a-thons. The 24-hour one really put the pressure on, making reading feel like a chore instead of fun. I know a lot of people love it, but I don't think I'll do that one again.

Anyway, here's what's been going on around here.

I hosted an interview with Ray Evans, author of Before the Last All Clear.

I finished reading Commune of Women by Suzan Still, and wrote a review for that. You can click on the title to read the review.

I also reviewed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

I shared some pictures of all the bookshelv…

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon Wrap-Up

This weekend, I participated in the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon, which was hosted by Bex at Kindle Fever and April at My Shelf Confessions. It went from Friday through Sunday. Unfortunately, I got a headache on Saturday night so didn't do a lot of reading on Sunday, but I still managed to read quite a bit.

I had hoped to finish The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen, but I ended up picking up another book to read simultaneously, so I didn't end up finishing it. I did read 283 pages of the book, so that was good. And I read 124 pages of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which means I read a total of 407 pages during the read-a-thon. I had hoped to read 600+ and I would have if I didn't get that headache. But I am pretty happy with how much I did end up reading.

I also participated in a couple challenges, including Creep Me Out at Kindle Fever, Read in Pictures at The Book Monsters.

It was a fun read-a-thon, but I wish I had been able to participate in more of the challenges and …

Dewey's Readathon Wrap-Up

Here I am finally wrapping up my experience with the 24 Hour Readathon.
Which hour was most daunting for you? I have to say the 17th hour was the worst. I had a headache but kept trying to keep reading and that was a huge mistake. I didn't make it to the end of that hour and went to sleep. Unfortunately, I woke this morning with a really, really bad headache. I should have stopped reading much earlier.Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I can't personally, but I do know that if I ever do this readathon again, I will be reading several short books instead of the long ones I chose. I would have felt better if I could have finished something.Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Not really.What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Unfortunately, I didn't participate so much this year but I love all the cheerleaders and mini challenges.How many books did you…

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon: Read in Pictures Challenge

The Book Monsters is hosting a challenge for the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon, and since my head hurts and I don't feel like reading right now, I figured I'd participate. We're supposed to share pictures that describe the books we've been reading for the read-a-thon.

I've been reading two books simultaneously, and still hope to finish one today. We'll see. The first is The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen, which takes place mostly in Washington, D.C.


And I've been reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which is about people who are successful. So here are some pictures that reflect that book: Bill Joy, The Beatles and J. Robert Oppenheimer, all considered "outliers" by the author.




What My Children Are Reading

We got some good books from the library a couple weeks ago, but I haven't taken time to share them. So here I am today, finally.

The first one I want to mention is Pooh Goes Visiting by A.A. Milne. I have to admit that we really haven't read a lot of Winnie the Pooh books in the past, but I always see people raving about them, so I figured we'd try one out. This was in the early reader section of the library, but it's definitely above M's level. So I read it to her. It's the story of Pooh going to visit Rabbit, eating a bit too much, and getting stuck in Rabbit's front door. It's a very cute story, typical of Winnie the Pooh, and M really loved it. I picked up Tigger Comes to the Forest yesterday, but we're not enjoying that one nearly as much.

The other book that M really enjoyed this week is one that I've probably mentioned before, but have to keep saying how great this series is. It's I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems. As with other Piggie…

Read-a-Thon Update

I haven't been able to participate in the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon nearly as much as I had hoped to, but now I'm in it for the long haul. I don't think I'll make it more than 5 hours max, but that's my plan. I'm also still working on the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon. That started yesterday, and I managed to read 115 pages of The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. That was a last-minute addition to my readathon list since I picked it up at the library yesterday!

This morning, I started the Dewey's Readathon as well, and I'm here to respond to the Mid-Event Survey.

1. What are you reading right now?
I'm reading The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen

2. How many books have you read so far?

None yet. I've been focusing on the The Revisionists but haven't had a lot of time to read. So I'm finally getting into it now.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I'm looking forward to getting through th…

Starting Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

I'm at the hair salon but officially starting the readathon while I get my hair done. I plan to finish The Outliers and The Revisionists by 8:00 tomorrow morning. I have about 175 pages to read in The Outliers and 350 in The Revisionists. Wish me luck!

I can't figure out how to add links on this Blogger app so here's the URL for the readathon: http://24hourreadathon.com.

I forgot I'm suppose to answer questions so...

I'm reading from the salon this morning then from home the rest if the day and night.

Three random facts about me:
- I'm a mom of two kids.
- I'm a marketing writer and editor.
- I'm old enough to have to be at the salon getting the gray hairs covered up!

I have two books to read in the next 24 hours, as I mentioned above.

My goal is just to finish those two books.

My advice for those who are carrying on with normal life while doing the readathon, as I am, is to carry your book with you everywhere and use those little moments to read throu…

Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon

Today marks the start of the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon, which is hosted by Bex at Kindle Fever and April at My Shelf Confessions. The read-a-thon goes through midnight on Sunday night. As with most read-a-thons, I haven't really carved time out of my life to read, but I'm going to read more than usual during these next three days. I also am participating in the Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon (Sat at 8am - Sun at 8am) so I'll be reading extra during that time, particularly Saturday night.

Anyway, here's what I have on tap for the Wonderfully Wicked Read-a-Thon:


First, I need to finish The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen. I'm starting the read-a-thon on page 49 so I need to read another 358 pages to finish. Then I'll move on to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. That is 298 pages long. I think it's reasonable to say I can read these two books by the end of the weekend. That would be 656 pages. If by some miracle I get through both, I …

Book Review: Commune of Women by Suzan Still

Six women embark on Los Angeles International Airport for various reasons ~ some arriving, some preparing to depart, some just passing through. None are expecting the chaos and horror that ensues when a terrorist group sweeps through the terminal, shooting everyone and everything in sight. Each woman finds herself thrust into a small break room for airport workers, and there they stay for four days as they wait to learn their fate.

In Commune of Women, Suzan Still delves into the psyche of women who come from diverse backgrounds to see the similarities and differences in how they react to a life-threatening experience. She also brings us into the mind of a seventh woman, Najat, who comes in with the terrorists, but is left alone in an airport control room, watching the events unfold on security cameras and TV. Her story was probably the most interesting of all to me. I really enjoyed reading her portion of the novel from beginning to end.

To pass the time and ease their nerves, each …

Blogiversary Celebration and Giveaway!

It's hard to believe I've been blogging about books for two years now! Yes, today is my 2-year Blogiversary. It's amazing how much this blog has grown in the past two years. I now have more than 450 followers, which seems unbelievable to me. THANK YOU for reading and visiting and commenting. I truly appreciate it!

So, to say a proper thank you to all of you who are following My Book Retreat, I'm offering a giveaway of what I consider my favorite book of 2011 so far:


Here's the synopsis I wrote in my review back in August:
Five years ago, politician Merete Lynggaard disappeared and was presumed dead. But she is very much alive, being held captive by an unknown person who obviously wants her to suffer. Carl Mørck is a detective who is trying to recover from an incident that left one colleague dead and another paralyzed. To get him out of the way, he is made head of the new Department Q, charged with reviewing old unsolved case files that involve persons of inter…

Fall Into Reading: Our Collection of Books

Each week, Katrina at Callapidder Days asks a question of those of us participating in the Fall into Reading Challenge. I usually just answer her questions in the comments on her blog, but this week she asked:
How large is your personal/family collection of books? And where do you keep them? I couldn't pass up the opportunity to photograph all our books and show you what we really have. So, we'll start with my daughter's bookshelf:


And here is my son's:


This is my TBR pile, which is on a top shelf of my desk in my office. That pile on the right is what I'm supposed to read for Fall into Reading, along with several books on my Nook.


Downstairs, in our living room, we have three bookshelves. This one has some more recent reads as well as some old reference books:


This shelf has books I haven't read in many years. One of the things on this shelf is all the books on religions that I read when I was in my 20s and fascinated with religion. I'd love to find time to…

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

As a child, Jacob was fascinated by his grandfather, Abraham's stories of his childhood, growing up in an orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales during World War II. The stories were a bit unusual, though, as Abraham spoke of children who could levitate, lift giant boulders and be invisible. He had the pictures to prove it. But as Jacob grew up, he began to doubt his grandfather, just as everyone else in his family did, and the stories ended. Now, Abraham has died under unusual circumstances and Jacob has vowed to return to the island and find the home where his grandfather grew up.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a rather unique story. The first few chapters were extremely creepy to me ~ and the pictures interspersed throughout the novel made it even more so. As I was reading about Abraham's death and Jacob's initial experiences on the island, it felt like the makings of a horror story. But it turned out to be much more sci-fi and…

Interview with author Ray Evans

Today, I'd like to welcome Ray Evans, author of Before the Last All Clear, which I just reviewed last week. Read my review.

Q. Welcome to My Book Retreat! I really enjoyed reading about your experience during the war. You mention in your biography that your daughter suggested you write this book. How did you actually start the process of putting your stories down on paper?

When my wife and I retired, we moved to America to live with our daughter Debbie, her daughter Kimberly was about 5 at the time, so once again the stories were dragged out and recounted at bed time for another generation’s amusement.

One evening after a marathon session of telling the stories to Kimberly, my daughter said it was a shame that our other grandchildren who were living in England wouldn’t get to hear the stories first hand. She suggested I start writing the tales down so they could be passed on among the family. Her theory was that she would never be able to recount the stories in the same way or with t…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

What a difference a week makes! Last week, I was here telling you I had read 929 pages the week before. Today, I can only report about 150 pages for the whole week! I didn't finish a single book and I only managed to put up one review.

The review is for a memoir called Before the Last All Clear by Ray Evans, who was evacuated to Wales when he was six years old to escape from the danger of World War II. I'm hosting a giveaway of a copy of this book and it ends tonight ~ so be sure to Enter Now!

Currently Reading
I'm still reading Commune of Women by Suzan Still. I haven't gotten very far, honestly.

Up Next
I plan to move on to The Revisionists by Thomas Mullen next. I also have signed up for two different read-a-thons for next weekend (see my right sidebar for links), so hopefully I'll get through another book or two during those. I also have two books I need to review.

What are you reading this week? This meme is being hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, so hop over …

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Before the Last All Clear by Ray Evans

When Ray Evans was six years old, he and his siblings were all evacuated from Liverpool, which was in danger of being bombed during World War II. They were sent to South Wales in September 1939. Although his mother wanted the children to stay together, it was not possible and they were split up. Before the Last All Clear: Memories of a Man Still Haunted by the Cruelties He Endured is Ray Evan's memoir of the time he spent in Wales during the war, the horrible conditions in which he lived, and the situations and people he encountered before finally returning home in 1945.

This is an incredibly personal memoir that opened my eyes to situations I never really knew about. When the war began many children were evacuated from areas that were likely to be in the throws of the war. I first read about children being evacuated from one place to another during the war in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer. That was fiction. This was real life.

Ray Evans t…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Read-a-Thon Wrap-Up

I'm combining my Frightful Fall Read-a-Thon wrap-up post with my It's Monday! What Are You Reading? post, since the read-a-thon took place from last Monday to last night, so it covers the same period. So here's what I read over the past week for the read-a-thon:
I finished reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. You can click on the link to read my review since I actually took time to write it last week too. It was a great book and I look forward to discussing it with my book club on Thursday night.I finished reading Before the Last All Clear by Ray Evans. I haven't written my review of this memoir yet.I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, which was quite peculiar and creepy at times.I read Beyond the Darkness: Book Two of the Darkness Series by Leonard D. Hilley, II, which is a sequel to Predators of Darkness: Aftermath. This was a very suspenseful sci-fi thriller and I look forward to reading the third book in the series to see…

Read-a-Thon Update

I'm slowing down. I did so well all week but these last few days have been light reading for a read-a-thon! I had figured the weekend would be easier but it's proving to be harder to read on the weekend than during the week. Anyway, here's what I've accomplished for the Frightful Fall read-a-thon so far:

Finished the last 167 pages of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
Finished the last 115 pages of Before the Last All Clear by Ray Evans
Read all of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Read 177 pages of Beyond the Darkness by Leonard D. Hilley II
Read five children's books with the kids:
- Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
- Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution by Steve Jenkins
- Tsunami! by Kimiko Kajikawa
- I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems
- Pooh Goes Visiting by A.A. Milne

Today, I hope to finish Beyond the Darkness. I'd love to read more for the read-a-thon but I just don't know if that's going to happen. We…

What My Children Are Reading

C is continuing to move his way through The Secrets of Droon series by Tony Abbott. We got four more from the library this week and he read them all. Then he got two more from his school library this week and he read those too. That's six fairly long chapter books in one week! Aside from those books, here's what else we read this week.

The most popular book of the week, especially for M, was Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. C had picked this book out at the library because he had read it in first grade. M and I had never read it before. What an interesting story. It's about a donkey who likes to collect pebbles. One day, he finds a magic pebble that grants wishes. He's very excited that he and his parents will soon get anything they want, but when he gets scared suddenly, he makes a quick wish without thinking, and finds himself turned into a rock! There is definitely a message in this one about remembering what's really important in life. I'm …

Book Review: The Sandburg Connection by Mark de Castrique

Janice Wainwright is suing her doctor for messing up her back during surgery, and private detectives Sam Blackman and Nakayla Robertson have been hired to follow her to see if she does anything that indicates she's not really hurt. They follow her to the top of Glassy Mountain where she falls down, hits her head and dies ~ just around the corner, out of their sight. What really happened to Janice? Did she just trip or did someone hiding in the trees push her? And what do her dying words, referring to Carl Sandburg's verses, mean?

The Sandburg Connection by Mark de Castrique is a fun detective mystery with interesting characters and a unique literary tie-in. Once Janice dies, Sam and Nakayla switch over to helping her daughter uncover what really happened to her. They dig into her historical research, trying to determine if someone was after whatever she was researching. They investigate the surgeon to see what he might be hiding. They even consider the possibility that her own…

Read-a-Thon Mini Challenge: Suspenseful Paragraph

Castle Macabre is hosting a mini challenge for the Frightful Fall Read-a-Thon. Here's the challenge:
What I want you to do is take your current read and take one sentence from three of the following pages:  page 1, page 77, page 179, page 255, page 360, or the next to the last page (I picked a diverse number for books of varying lengths).  Now, take the three sentences and make them into a short paragraph, but make the paragraph scary or suspenseful (if you have to add scary words or sentences to accomplish this, feel free). I'm currently reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, which is a fairly creepy book to begin with. So I got some great sentences for you. Here's my paragraph, which is made with just the three sentences from the book, no additional words or sentences were added:

"Moisture clung to everything, beading on my skin and dampening my clothes. We assumed they'd all been killed, that obscene world-cracking bang…