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Showing posts from January, 2013

Book Review: Crossing the Rubicon by R.C. Richter

Seven friends go on a camping trip in Canada. They decide to explore a cave, and after a strange light sweeps through the interior, they emerge from the cave in another time. They've traveled from the 21st century to the 18th century. They are alone in the wilderness and must work together to find their way in this new, old world.

Crossing the Rubicon by R.C. Richter is a fascinating story of modern-day teens trying to make it in colonial times. They head west to escape the coming winter, and end up traveling across many locations throughout America and beyond. While this is a fantasy/time travel novel, there are many aspects of historical fiction as well. Richter brings us into this primitive world, showing us the people and cultural norms of the time.

The story is told from the perspective of Trinity in the form of a journal. One of the issues I had with this format is that, while written as a journal with dates at the beginning of each entry, it isn't really written in a jo…

Weekly Reading Recap

Welcome back to another weekly recap. Last week, I halfheartedly participated in the Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon at Seasons of Reading. I didn't do very well. I had hoped to read two 400+ page books but only got halfway through one of them. That's it. 2013 doesn't seem to be my year for reading! Oh well.

Recent Reviews and Other Posts
I didn't write any reviews last week but I did publish a couple other posts:
Virtual Book Club for Kids ~ My daughter became an artist for the day
Must Reads vs. Don't Bothers ~ I asked for advice on which books to read and which to give up on

The recap linky is open for just one more day for the Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge in 2012. If you participated in the challenge, be sure to link up so you can be entered to win an Amazon gift card!

What I'm Reading
I'm currently reading The Prophet by Ethan Cross. It's been a while since I read the first in this series, The Shepherd. I'm really enjoying this cree…

Help! Must Reads vs. Don't Bothers

I am almost through my last few review books and will finally have time to tackle all of the books I've been accumulating over the years. So I'd like some help. Which of these books do you consider "Must Reads" and which would you recommend I just put on Paperback Swap and not waste my time?

Creep by Jennifer Hillier
Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch
Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Thieves of Darkness by Richard Doetsch
Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett
All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Fathermucker by Greg Olear
Godmother by Carolyn Turgeon
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Sweet Dates in Basra by Jessica Jiji
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb
Captivity by Deborah Noyes
The Mer…

Virtual Book Club for Kids: David McPhail

M and I decided to participate in this month's Virtual Book Club for Kids. The highlighted author for January is David McPhail, an author we had not read previously. So we started out by going to the library and choosing a book. We decided to go with Drawing Lessons from a Bear.


This is a charming story about a bear who loves to draw. As his mom teaches him all the skills he needs to know to be a good bear, she also encourages his interest in drawing. He starts by drawing in the dirt but later searches for small scraps of paper to draw on. As he grows, he continues to draw while also staying true to himself and his life as a bear. He encourages all the children by saying they can be artists too if they want to be.

For the activity to go along with this book, M and I decided to be artists ourselves. We actually read a second book called Pablo the Artist by Satoshi Kitamur as well, and M drew a picture inspired by that book.


I think she did a wonderful job on this picture. It'…

Weekly Reading Recap

Good evening! I'm a little late writing this since we were on the road today. We spent the weekend in Myrtle Beach, SC, visiting family. I'm very excited to say that I finally got some reading done in 2013! I finished the book I was reading last week, and I read an entire second book. Woohoo!

Recent Reviews and Other Posts
I finished reading Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu, and I wrote the review too!
I also posted an interview with author Steven Manchester.

The recap linky is still open for the Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge in 2012. If you participated in the challenge, be sure to link up so you can be entered to win an Amazon gift card!

What I'm Reading

In addition to finishing Watering Heaven, I also read Crossing the Rubicon by R.C. Richter. I hope to write the review later this week.

This week is the Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon at Seasons of Reading. It started today but I'll be starting up with it tomorrow.

Up Next for Me
I'll be picking…

Interview with author Steven Manchester

Today, I'd like to welcome Steven Manchester, author of the recently published novel Goodnight, Brian.

Q. Thanks for visiting! Who or what inspired you to become an author?
A. I served in Operation Desert Storm and it was a brutal experience. I promised myself that if I made it home alive, I would pursue my dream of being a published author. I began writing in 1991—upon my safe return—and have been writing ever since.

Since then—and today—the thing that inspires me most is my children. I’ve always taught them that they should chase their dreams because dreams come true. However, we don’t get what we wish for; we get what we work for. Every time I put pen to paper and pursue my lifelong dream, I’m inspired to teach them to reach for the stars.
Q. Can you tell me a little about your most recently released book, Goodnight, Brian? A. Fate was working against little Brian Mauretti. The food that was meant to nourish him was poisoning him instead, and the doctors said the damage was dev…

Book Review: Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu

A woman who has no reflection. Another who lays an egg every time she has sex! A man who refuses to kill the rats that take over his home. Another who completely changes his face. These are just a few of the uniquely creative characters featured in Watering Heaven, a collection of short stories by Peter Tieryas Liu.

I don't generally read short stories, as regular readers of this blog can attest. But I must say I really enjoyed this collection. Of course, there were some stories I liked better than others. But overall, this is an interesting assortment of outrageous yet often profound stories. I honestly feel that I need to reread some because I'm sure I'm missing some of the symbolism and messages Liu is putting forth.

This is a not a happy or joyful look at life; most of the stories are more reflective and don't always end well. But the creativity and literary style that Liu employs is quite enjoyable to read (if you like that sort of writing). Some of the themes I …

Weekly Reading Recap

Good morning. I hope you're all doing well. I've been sick since before the new year began, and I'm sick of being sick! Unfortunately, being sick means I haven't felt like doing anything ~ even reading! I've read a total of 118 pages this year. That's it. I haven't even finished one book ~ and the book I started with is only about 150 pages!!! I'm so frustrated but know that once I feel better, I'll get back into reading.

Recent Reviews and Other Posts
I did put up a couple posts this past week:
Stages of Reading ~ a post for those of you with young kids
Interview with author Michelle Day

The recap linky is still open for the Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge in 2012. If you participated in the challenge, be sure to link up so you can be entered to win an Amazon gift card!



What I'm Reading
I'm still reading Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu. It's a very interesting and well-written set of short stories. I just can't seem to f…

Interview with author Michelle Day

Today I'd like to welcome Michelle Day, author of Prodigal Son, an adult romance novel.

Q. Thank you for stopping by! Who or what inspired you to become an author?

A. I never had any aspirations to become an author and didn’t overly enjoy essay writing at school. I am however, an avid people watcher, I like to observe and used to record these observations in a diary from time to time. From this, ideas began to form and eventually, a good twenty years later, those ideas became my first book.

Q. Can you tell me a little about Prodigal Son?

A. Prodigal Son is the first book of the Jensen family series with the main focus being on the youngest son Paul and his acerbic relationship with his father. It details his trials and tribulations throughout his early life and the reader comes to realise what a determined and charming young man he is.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. I am currently working on the second and third books in the series and hope to have them available this year with the …

Stages of Reading

In 2013, I'm planning to incorporate more posts about children's literature into My Book Retreat. To start, here's a post I wrote a couple years ago for another blog. I've updated it a bit with some new information and more book recommendations for each level. I hope you find this useful!

When I checked on Google, I found several different ways to categorize the stages of reading development, but I tend to favor this list of Stages of Early Literacy Development:
Early emergentEmergentEarly fluentFluent Here are some details about each of the reading levels, including some recommended books at each level. Note that some of the books I recommend are at the top end of the reading level, and some series cross between two different reading levels, so be sure to take a look at the books yourself to see if they're right for your child.

Early emergent
Early emergent readers are developing an understanding of the letters, both upper and lower case, and their relationship to…

Weekly Reading Recap

Good morning and Happy New Year! I haven't participated in these memes in a few weeks. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Here's what I've been up to since my last update on December 17th!

Recent Reviews and Other Posts
Here are the books I've reviewed over the past few weeks:
Redemption on the River by Loren DeShon
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Santa's Sugar by Jane Gerencher

I also posted an interview with David Sakmyster and my 2012 recap/2013 plan.

And for those who participated in my Non-Fiction Non-Memoir Reading Challenge in 2012, I've posted the recap for that.

What I'm Reading
Since my last recap in December, I've only finished one book: Redemption on the River. That's it. I haven't been reading much in my time off, and I've been trying to get caught up with reviews and updates to my blog. I'm now reading Watering Heaven by Peter Tieryas Liu.

What C is Reading
C finished the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Ric…

Interview with author David Sakmyster

Today, I'd like to welcome David Sakmyster, author of the Morpheus Initiative trilogy. So far, I've read and reviewed two of the books in the series ~ The Pharos Objective and The Mongol Objective. I'll be reviewing the last book in the series, The Cydonia Objective, soon.

Q. Can you tell my readers a little about your Morpheus Initiative trilogy and what gave you the idea for it?

A. This trilogy came out of an idea I had while researching ideas for a short story set in the times of Caesar and Cleopatra.  I came across the story of a battle in harbor at Alexandria and just knew I had to use the great Pharos Lighthouse (one of the 7 Wonders of the World) as a setting. So in further research, I came up with a lot of intriguing bits about it, including the theory that Alexander the Great may have intended it to house the treasures of his empire – treasures which were never found. So there I was writing about one thing, and what I really wanted to do was to go another direction …

Kids Lit Review: Santa's Sugar by Jane Gerencher

Santa's Sugar by Jane Gerencher is the story of Nugget, an elf who has the very important job of looking after Santa's cat, Sugar. Nugget had a hard time fitting into Santa's Workshop before, trying and failing at many different jobs. But when Mrs. Claus gave Sugar to Santa, he finally found a job that was perfect for him.

This is a really wonderful story of an elf who takes pride in his job and does what he needs to do to protect Sugar. It's a big responsibility when Sugar suddenly disappears, but Nugget succeeds. The story teaches a valuable lesson about the fact that everyone makes mistakes, but the important thing is to do what you can to fix them.

The illustrations in this book are beautiful. And it's is beautifully written, although I think some of the word choices and sentence structures were a bit much for younger children. Overall, it's a nice addition to our growing library of Christmas books.

Visit the author's website for activities related to th…

Book Review: Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls

Lily Casey Smith grew up on a homestead in Texas, learning to break horses at a young age. From childhood, she was a survivor, showing strength in the face of many challenges. She was the responsible one in her family, making up for her father who was a dreamer and her mother who was better suited to a plantation house than shack in the country. Most important to many readers, Lily became the mother of Rosemary Smith Walls, author Jeannette Walls' mother who is depicted in her memoir The Glass Castle.

Having read The Glass Castle a few years ago, I was thrilled when my book club chose to read Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls. This is not another memoir, or even a biography of the author's grandmother. Instead, it is a "true-life novel" based on Lily's life with some embellishments along the way. Written in Lily's voice, it's an engaging read, much like the author's memoir. Her life is fascinating, from growing up on the homestead, to her marriage…

Happy New Year! 2012 Recap and 2013 Plan

Happy New Year! Sorry to have been missing in action for the last few weeks of 2012. I got wrapped up in family stuff and holiday stuff and just didn't have a lot of time to read and write about books. But it's a new year and I'm ready to take a look back at what I read in 2012.

Here's a breakdown of the types of books I read last year:
It's a bit different than 2011. I read a lot more nonfiction in 2012, and fewer thrillers/mysteries. This is mostly due to the fact that I hosted the Non-Fiction, Non-Memoir Reading Challenge. The other genres were fairly close to the prior year in terms of percentages.

I will say that I got a little tired of nonfiction by the end of the year. I had planned on reading 15 nonfiction books for the challenge, and I read 13, so I was pretty close! I read 6 memoirs as well, but those didn't count toward the challenge.

Overall, it was a good year of reading, although I read fewer books than the year before (only 59 in 2012).

2013

I pla…