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Showing posts from April, 2012

Weekly Reading Recap

It's only been a few days since my last weekly reading recap, since I didn't post last week's until Wednesday! Of course, I don't think I ever remembered to link up with that one. Whoops! So if you missed it, I basically read the three books I'm going to talk about reviewing below. I haven't managed to finish any new books since Wednesday but I did write a couple reviews.

I reviewed Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall. It is a unique historical novel, and I am giving away a copy. So be sure to click the link to read my review and enter to win! The giveaway ends tonight.

I also reviewed Off the Grid by Mark Young, which is an international thriller.

I have just one more review to write at this point: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Then I'll be caught up! I'm hoping to write that one tonight so I can count it for April. :-)

I was supposed to participate in the Spring Into Horror Read-a-Thon at Castle Macabre last week. I did read most of The De…

Book Review: Off the Grid by Mark Young

Gerritt O'Rourke was serving in the military when he got word that his parents had been killed by a car bomb back home in Seattle. Since then, he has worked as a police detective in the city, trying to uncover who was behind the murder so he can avenge their deaths. But when a government-sanctioned coalition enlists his help with a top-secret new project, he soon finds himself running for his own life.

Off the Grid by Mark Young is an international thriller with an interesting assortment of characters. Gerritt becomes enmeshed in a group of people who are living off the grid, ready to pick up and leave behind their entire lives whenever it becomes necessary to do so. They work together to try to stop a group that is essentially trying to take over the world ~ and kill Gerritt in the process.

I enjoyed being reacquainted with some of the characters from Mark Young's novel Revenge, which I read last year. But Off the Grid didn't engage me quite as much as that one. It was an…

Book Review and Giveaway: Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

During the Civil War, Iris Dunleavy is declared a lunatic and sent to the Sanibel Asylum to be cured by the renowned Dr. Cowell. The doctor has a reputation for restoring women like Iris back to good, obedient wives. Iris insists she is not insane. She just went against her husband and has been sent away. And when she realizes no one will listen to her side of the story, she decides she will escape.

In Blue Asylum, Kathy Hepinstall brings the Civil War era to life in an unusual setting. In addition to Iris, a Virginia plantation owner's wife, we get to know Dr. Cowell, whose relationships with his wife and son are quite strained. We also meet Ambrose, a war veteran with whom Iris soon falls in love. This complicates matters as she wants to run away, but doesn't want to leave him. Hepinstall develops many other interesting characters, most of whom are actually insane.

I really enjoyed this historical novel, particularly the characters Hepinstall brought to life. And I liked th…

Weekly Reading Recap

I'm so sorry I'm so late getting this up ~ and it's been over a week since I posted at all! Life has been busy and my husband and I took off on a kid-less trip to Las Vegas for a few days. Needless to say, blogging took a back seat to all of that. I do have a book tour tomorrow so I will have a new review up in the morning. In the meantime, here's what I've been reading.

I finished Off the Grid by Mark Young. It was a fun international thriller that I will review within the next few days.

I also read Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall, which is the book that I will be reviewing tomorrow for the tour.

And I read a third book last week (that's what happens when you have two 4+ hour flights). It was The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

So, despite the fact that I didn't write anything here last week, I was actually productive with my reading at least!

Currently Reading
I'm going to start reading In My Father's Country by Saima Wahab tonight. It&#…

Weekly Reading Recap

Good morning. Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you've had a good week of reading. I personally haven't read much this week, but I did get a couple reviews written.

I reviewed Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I had mixed feelings about this one. You can click on the title to read my review.

I also reviewed Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions without Drowning in Information by Christopher J. Frank and Paul F. Magnone. This is an excellent book for anyone who has to make big decisions or present data at work.


Currently Reading
I'm still reading Off the Grid by Mark Young. I'm enjoying it but I just haven't had a lot of time for reading this past week.

Up Next
I changed up what I'm reading next because I have a book tour coming up, so I'll be reading Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall 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 others ar…

Book Review: Drinking from the Fire Hose by Christopher J. Frank and Paul F. Magnone

If you have ever sat in a conference room and listened to a presentation go on and on and on and on, or if you are responsible for creating presentations that are supposed to actually engage listeners instead of putting them to sleep, you have to read Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions without Drowning in Information by Christopher J. Frank and Paul F. Magnone. It will help you figure out what data you should be paying attention to and presenting, so you are able to focus on what matters ~ and ignore the rest!

I don't generally review business books here at My Book Retreat, but I'm starting to read more for work, so I figured I'd share them as well. Drinking from the Fire Hose drew me in right away because I have, indeed, spent many hours sitting through presentations that have been completely and totally worthless in the end. The advice the authors of this book provide will help people, no matter what field they work in, focus on the most important que…

Book Review: Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

When 16-year-old Griet's father loses his eyesight and can no longer work, she becomes a servant to the artist Johannes Vermeer in order to help support her family. From the start, she doesn't feel she belongs in the Vermeer household. The artist's wife, Catharina, is jealous of the girl because Griet is given access to her husband's studio ~ a place she is not allowed. One of their many children tries to sabotage Griet from the start. And the servant who is already in the home offers her a lukewarm welcome, to say the least.

In Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier has written a historical novel that aims to reveal one possible story behind the Vermeer painting by the same name. She has taken the girl who appears in the painting, and brought her to life in the character of Griet. It's an interesting concept, and I really enjoyed her descriptions of the scenes where Vermeer actually creates the painting itself, as well as the explanation of why the painting w…

Weekly Reading Recap

Good morning. I hope you've had a good week. I actually had a great week. It was my son's spring break, so I took some time off each day to hang out with my kids and relax. Then we took off to Myrtle Beach for a three-day weekend. It was cool, but we still made it to the beach, mini golfing, and even stopped to explore the USS North Carolina battleship on the way home yesterday. It was so much fun!

As far as reading goes, I read Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions without Drowning in Information by Christopher J. Frank and Paul F. Magnone. I need to write that review, and another review for one of the books I read last week.

Last week, I wrote a review for If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley. I also shared reviews of a couple poetry books I've been reading with my kids.

I published my March Month in Review. And I'm hosting a giveaway for the participants of my Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge. If you're participating in the challenge, be…

What My Children Are Reading

We went to the library last weekend and came upon a display of poetry books. I didn't remember that April is poetry month, but it is. So I picked up a couple books to read with M. I was glad to see C reading the first one on his own one day. He seemed to enjoy the poems as well.

It's Raining Pigs and Noodles by Jack Prelutsky is a fantastic book of poems! First, it's huge. The version we have is a very thick and heavy hardcover, packed full of rhyming poems. The range of subjects covered in the poems is varied, but most are quite silly. Our favorite is "I am Winding through a Maze," which is written in an image of a maze. You have to read in all different directions to get to the end of the poem ~ and the end of the maze. If you're looking for a poetry book that will pull kids in and entertain them, this is definitely the book to choose.

I picked up Little Dog Poems by Kristine O'Connell George because the poems are very short and simple, so I figured M c…

Book Review: If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley

Why were kitchens once placed as far away from the main house as possible? Why were there times in history when people did not bathe? Why did everyone once cover their heads while sleeping? What are the origins of many of our modern homes and customs? In If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Lucy Worsley delves deep into the history of our home, focusing on the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. But this is much more than a history of what comprised these rooms throughout history. Rather, it is a look at how people used these rooms ~ and all the sordid things they did in them!

With chapters on childbirth, menstruation, sexual relations and other rather taboo subjects, this book is certainly not for every reader who is interested in history. But Worsley definitely keeps it from being a dry recap of history by including these topics that just about everyone can relate to. Many of the little facts she reveals are fascinating and surprising. I must say I learned…

Month in Review: March 2012

It's hard to believe we're already into April. I'm starting to put together all of our plans for the summer. This year is flying by!!

Books Read in March: 5
Gods and Fathers by James LePoreBetween a Rock and a Hot Place by Tracey JacksonChase Against Time by Steve ReifmanGirl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy ChevalierIf Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley Reviews Written: 3
I only wrote reviews for the three books I read in March. It was a very slow month for reviews! You can click on the links above to read the reviews.

Year-to-Date Totals: Nonfiction: 4
Memoir: 1
Contemporary Fiction: 3
Historical Fiction: 1
Mystery/Thriller: 1
Middle-Grade Fiction: 4

For review: 10
For book club: 3
For me: 1

Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge I read one book toward this challenge during March: If Walls Could Talk. I'm keeping track of my progress on my sidebar.

Narnia Reading Project I didn't read any books toward this challenge during March. I hope to read the next book during Apri…

Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge: 1st Quarter Recap

If you're participating in my Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge for 2012, I'd love to hear how it's going! Please share your progress during the first quarter either in a comment below or you can link up to a post on your blog. You can give whatever details you'd like to share, but here are a few prompts if you'd like to use them:

How many books have you read for the challenge? 

What topics have you learned about? 

Which books would you recommend and why?

Did any of the books or the information you read in them surprise you in any way?

Why did you choose the books you read?

Everyone who is linked up to the original sign-up linky and provides a recap in a comment on this post or links to a recap blog post in the linky below, will be eligible to win a copy of Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. You can read my review of that book here. This linky will remain open for the month, but the giveaway ends on Sunday…

Weekly Reading Recap

I have a better week of reading to report on today. I actually managed to finish two books last week!

I read If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley and Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I haven't written reviews for these yet, but I plan to write them this week.

I also shared some farm books my daughter and I read last week, since her theme at school was farms.

This afternoon, I'll have a 1st quarter recap linky up for my Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge. I also plan to write up my April reading recap post this week.

Currently Reading
I'm now reading another nonfiction book from NetGalley: Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions without Drowning in Information by Christopher J. Frank and Paul F. Magnone.

Up Next
Next, I'll be reading Off the Grid by Mark Young.

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 read…