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Showing posts from November, 2014

Month in Review: November and #NaBloPoMo

What a month! I cannot believe I made it through and actually managed to post here every single day in November. This was my first time participating in #NaBloPoMo and while I may try again someday, it will likely be a year from now, not next month!!

If you are a regular visitor, you know that I generally post just 2-3 times a week (on a good week) so posting every day for 30 days straight is unheard of! I'm not going to recap every post from this month, but I will do my regular recap of books I read and reviewed during the past month.

BOOKS READ IN NOVEMBER: 6
REVIEWS WRITTEN IN NOVEMBER: 7

Codename Zero by Chris Rylander ~ reviewed The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman ~ reviewed There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, Until They Moved Back In: Three Novellas About Family by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya ~ read and reviewedThe Giver by Lois Lowry ~ read and reviewedDangerous Denial by Amy Ray ~ read and reviewedThe Secret Place by Tana French ~ read and reviewedFirst Impres…

Saturday Snapshot

Today, I'm once again participating in Saturday Snapshot, which is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. We started getting ready for Christmas this weekend. It's still a work in progress but the tree is done! I just need to get a new skirt for it.
Choosing a tree!
Got it into the house!
Lights!
Decorations!
My view from the couch while I read.

Book Giveaway: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

One of my favorite books of 2014 was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I absolutely loved the story and the characters in this fascinating historical fiction novel. I even got to see Kidd talk about her book at Meredith College in Raleigh earlier this year.

Today I'm pleased to present a giveaway of a copy of The Invention of Wings courtesy of the publisher, Viking/Penguin. This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses (no P.O. boxes). To enter, complete the Rafflecopter by midnight ET on Monday, December 1st.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends in the United States! I've spent the day with family and friends, hosting a wonderful dinner in our home. I ate way too much food but it was a great day.

I am thankful for my friends and family, especially a husband who loves to cook and does most of Thanksgiving dinner himself, and a mother who loves to wash dishes! I did help with both activities, but it's nice not to have all of the responsibility myself!

I am thankful for healthy children and friends. I am thankful for a great job and a fabulous side "job" of book blogging! I am thankful for publishers and publicists and authors who are willing to share their books with me. And I am thankful for all of you who read my blog and comment and share your thoughts with me.

I hope you've all had a wonderful day, whether you celebrated Thanksgiving today or not. Thank you for visiting and reading! Without you, this blog would be nothing more than a personal reading journal, an…

Book Review: First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

Sophie Collingwood knows everything about Jane Austen. She has read every book and loves everything about her. Recently graduated from Oxford, she takes a job at an antiquarian bookshop where she quickly gets two requests for the same obscure book. These requests start her on a journey to learn the truth about Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett is a wonderful imagination of how Jane Austen may have been inspired to write her novels. Alternating between Sophie's story and that of Jane herself, we are given a glimpse of the beautiful countryside in which Jane wrote and the fictional relationship between young Jane and Mr. Mansfield, an elderly clergyman who encouraged her to write and inspired her stories. As Sophie works to prove that Jane did not plagiarize Pride and Prejudice, we get to see the "truth" through Jane's story.

I must confess that I don't remember ever re…

5 Tips for Buying Gifts for Book Lovers

As we approach the holiday season, gifts are on my mind. I have lists of ideas for my kids, and a few items in mind for my husband and other family members, but what about me? When someone asks what I'd like for Christmas, books come to mind. But I have lots of books. Piles of books. Shelves of books. How do you buy a gift for an avid reader and know it is something they'll really love?

Here are a few tips that I'd like to share:

1. Ask. That may seem very simple, and not so fun, but if you have a book lover on your list I promise they won't be sad to see one of the books they have on their "want" list under the tree! If you don't want them to know what you're getting them, ask for a list of books and then just buy one or two. It will still be a surprise, but you'll be sure to get something they love.

2. Accessories. If you're not sure which books they've already read or would like to read, don't buy a book. Instead, buy some accessories…

Week in Review

Happy Thanksgiving week to my friends in the U.S. I hope you have some fun and stress-free plans for Thursday. We are hosting dinner here, but only have two guests coming so it's not too stressful. Plus, my husband is the chef in our family, so I won't be doing much cooking myself! Unfortunately, C is home sick today so I'm really hoping he recovers quickly and that no one else gets whatever he has!

I'm still working through National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), and I have managed to publish a blog each day. Just one more week left!

Reviews and Blog Posts
Book review: Dangerous Denial by Amy RayConnect with me on social mediaBook review: The Secret Place by Tana FrenchFinishing the Series Challenge 2015Saturday Snapshot: Library BooksBook review: Codename Zero by Chris RylanderChristmas Spirit ReadathonReading
I didn't read quite as much as I had the previous week, but I did finish The Secret Place, which was excellent. Then I took a few days off from reading and…

Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon

This week, I'm participating in the Christmas Spirit Read-a-Thon, hosted by Michelle at Seasons of Reading. The read-a-thon starts today and goes through next Sunday.

Although it's not required, I do plan to read some Christmas books this week. We have to read our Elf on the Shelf book on Thursday after Thanksgiving dinner, so our elf, Jolly, can arrive. :-) I think I'll pull out a few other Christmas picture books as well. We'll be decorating for Christmas on Friday, so I'll probably read the Christmas books toward the end of the read-a-thon.

Otherwise, I'll be finishing First Impressions by Charlie Lovett, and I might start The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

I'll use this post to update my progress throughout the week:

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett - finished (read last 193 during readathon)
Just in Time for Christmas by Kim Boykin - finished (113 pages)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - in progress (read 50 pages)
The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto -…

Book Review: Codename Zero by Chris Rylander

Carson Fender is extremely bored with his life in North Dakota. Nothing exciting ever happens in his small town, so he has taken on the role of prankster in his middle school to liven things up a bit. But in the midst of his latest prank, a strange man runs up to him, hands him a package, tells him to deliver it to Mr. Jensen and runs off. Suddenly his school pranks don't seem so exciting.

Codename Zero by Chris Rylander is a spy adventure for middle-grade readers. There's lots of action throughout the whole book. Carson ends up involved with a secret government agency that operates right in his town, and he becomes responsible for protecting a boy in his school who is in a witness protection program by helping him to fit in with the other kids.

The story is fast-paced, exciting and fun. The content is perfect for older elementary kids and should hold their attention well. My 10 year old loved it. There is some violence since they are on a spy mission and there are bad guys,…

Saturday Snapshot

Today, I'm once again participating in Saturday Snapshot, which is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. I took the kids to the library today. Here's their stash!

And one more book I picked out for C. He's already halfway through but didn't want his picture taken!

Finishing the Series Reading Challenge 2015

I didn't join any challenges in 2014, but I decided to join one for 2015. It's the Finishing the Series Reading Challenge, and I really need it! There are several series that I've started and never finished. I figure this will be the push I need to get back to them.

I'm going with Level 4 (Expert series reader) - Complete 4 or more series.

Here are the series that I plan to finish in 2015:

Chaos Walking ~ one book left
Monsters of Men ~ DNF

Divergent ~ two books left
Allegiant ~ to be read
Four ~ to be read

Child 44 ~ one book left
Agent 6 ~ to be read

The Giver Quartet - COMPLETE!
Gathering Blue ~ read
Messenger ~ read
The Son ~ read

Challenge Wrap-Up  As is probably evident from the list above, I did not successfully complete this challenge. I did try, to some extent.

I completed the Giver series.

I tried to complete the Chaos Walking series but only made it halfway through the last book and just wasn't enjoying it so I gave up.

I read one more book in the Diverge…

Book Review: The Secret Place by Tana French

Chris Harper has been dead for a year when Holly Mackey shows up in the squad room holding a card with a photo of Chris on it with the caption I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM. Detective Stephen Moran has a history with Holly so she has brought him this card, which she found on a board at St. Kilda's boarding school. The board is called the "Secret Place" and is meant for the girls to post their secret worries and thoughts anonymously. Now it's time to figure out who put up the card so they can finally solve the case.

The Secret Place by Tana French is an amazing mystery that grabs hold of the reader and doesn't let go until the very end. I tend to be a slow reader, but I blew through this 450 page novel in just two days. I could not put it down. I sat up until 2:00 a.m. reading it until I literally couldn't keep my eyes open any longer. This was my first book by Tana French but it won't be my last, especially since I've seen several reviews by her fans saying …

Connect with me on social media ... because I'm too tired to blog

It's getting late and I'm getting tired. It's day 19 of NaBloPoMo. I was going to write a review today of The Secret Place by Tana French. I loved the book, so I want to write a good review. And I'm just too tired at this point.

Instead, I'm writing a quick post about how you can connect with on social media. Because I really don't have anything else in my mind at the moment! And I can't give in and not post. Not after 18 days straight. I apologize. But here you go. And hopefully someone will find this helpful.

I'm on Twitter @MyBookRetreat.
I'm on Facebook too!
I'm also on Goodreads, where I post all of my reviews.

I do have a Pinterest account, but I honestly don't use it much. You'll see I have boards for gifts for a 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. My kids are 10 and 7 now... But you're welcome to connect with me there. And maybe I'll start pinning stuff again. On a related note, I don't have the energy to find a pic…

Book Review: Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray

The story begins at the end, with BK Hartshaw at the charity ball she organized staring down a gunman. Trevor Mayhew is there too. Both have secrets to conceal. The story then returns to the past, to the story of Trevor's parents, and then to that of BK and Trevor as children. Neither had the ideal childhood. Eventually their stories cross paths, and everything comes together at the charity ball.

Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray is a mystery that unfolds over time. We get to know not only BK and Trevor, but also their family members, especially Trevor's parents and grandmother who all have a significant impact on his life. The characters are interesting and most are fairly realistic, although a few are a bit over the top. I definitely sympathized with both BK and Trevor for what they went through during their childhoods, and hoped to see them happy in the end.

Unfortunately, the structure of the book took a lot away from the story for me. Ray switches between several different time…

Week in Review

Good morning. Another week gone in this fall season. It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is next week. Although, the weather has been unusually cold here, so it does feel like fall. I'm hoping we have a warm-up by the end of next week so we aren't freezing while putting up all of our Christmas decorations on Thanksgiving weekend!

I'm still working through National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo), and I have managed to publish a blog each day. Over halfway done with this challenge!

Reviews and Blog Posts
Veteran's Day book recommendationsThe Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge sign upPicture Book Month: Recent ReleasesBook Review Ratings SystemSaturday Snapshot: Fall ReadingBook Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry Reading
I have been reading a lot this week! I finished Dangerous Denial by Amy Ray and will be publishing my review for the tour tomorrow. I also read and reviewed The Giver by Lois Lowry. And then I started reading The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad Boo…