Monthly Archives: June 2012

Book Review: The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain

The Good FatherThe Good Father by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heartfelt story of fatherly love, The Good Father is an inspiring tale that proves we can overcome our bad choices, conquer our greatest fears, learn to live in the moment and not in the past, and that there’s no greater gift than a child’s love.

Diane Chamberlain always writes a compelling and engrossing story with characters I can relate to and care about in situations that have a way of teaching you a lesson you didn’t know you needed.

The Good Father is told through the perspective of three adults whose lives become interwoven by a little girl, a barely four-year-old, named Bella.

We’re introduced to Travis, Bella’s father. A single dad who’s trying to make ends meet in a down economy. He’s young, in his early 20’s, and doing the best he can to provide for Bella’s needs. They live with his mom in a beach town he loves. When tragedy strikes, their lives are forever changed and Travis makes some very bad decisions that could have grave consequences.

Travis is so young. I have two teenage boys myself and trying to imagine them taking on a baby by themselves is impossible. My heart went out to him with every turn of the page. He makes some grave mistakes out of desperation and things quickly get out of control.

We meet Robin, Bella’s mother. Health problems and a controlling father have led Robin down a path far different than Travis. Putting her child out of sight and out of mind (she’s literally never met her) she’s engaged to a mayoral hopeful whose family is grooming her for their world. When her teenage sister-in-law-to-be has a baby, buried feelings for her own child start resurfacing.

We also meet Erin, a woman who has just separated from her husband and who befriends Travis and Bella. She’s harboring secrets and demons of her own, alienating her family and friends. When unwittingly helping Travis and Bella, she comes to some life changing realizations of her own.

I thought this book was beautifully written, moving back and forth between present and past. It made me realize just how lucky I am, that our mistakes don’t have to define who we are, and that we shouldn’t judge people too harshly.

A great book! I highly recommend it!

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The Diary of The Traveling Bookbinder – Rachel Hazell

Penguin Books posted this video on Twitter. Very interesting concept. I love how the Bookbinder says she thinks everyone has a book inside them. So true!


Great App for Readers: Podcasts

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Apple quietly introduced a new Podcasts app today. If you’ve ever gone hunting through the iTunes app for podcasts you know how much trouble it is to find and subscribe to what you want. This new app is a welcome convenience, an all-in-one stop shop for podcasts.

You can search a catalog of titles, scroll through the top stations in each category, subscribe and listen all in one easy to use interface.

I listen to podcasts to brush up on my grammar, find out about new books, learn a little Spanish and listen to free classic audiobooks.

Do you listen to podcasts? Which are your favorites?


Book Review: The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

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The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, #2)The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picking up where The knife of Never Letting Go leaves off, The Ask and the Answer is an emotional roller coaster full of action, suspense and a love worth dying for.

This sequel builds on the foundation of the first book and turns events that seem simple into something extraordinary. Separated and longing for each other, Todd and Viola have to endure trials and tribulations that will test their devotion to each other and their loyalty to themselves.

I loved this book even more than the first. Patrick Ness has a way of making you feel so much for his characters. My heart breaks for Todd and Viola through every test they have to endure. The story’s twist and turns really kept me guessing. What else could possibly happen to these two? How much more pain and suffering will they have to endure? Will they ever find the peace they so deserve?

The introduction of new characters creates a larger world and the way characters from the first book evolve was surprising. My thoughts on certain characters totally changed during the course of the book.

Next up book 3. I’ll be so sorry to finish this series. I don’t want it to end! It’s that good!

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Book Review: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

1Q84 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I did it! I finally finished 1Q84. There were times I didn’t think I was going to make it. It was long. It was weird.

In the words of Michael Kelso….
“That was a wicked burn. I mean, it had all the elements. You didn’t see it coming… parts of it really hurt…”

I decided to read this based purely on the fact that the book was literally everywhere I turned. It showed up in magazines and on book lists. I had never read anything by this author. I read some reviews both in magazines and on Goodreads. They were all fairly vague so I really had no idea what to expect. Now I know why they were so vague. This book is over 900 pages long. Huge! And I’m sitting here trying to figure out how put my thoughts on paper but the book was so strange I just don’t know what to write.

It’s ultimately the story of Tengo and Aomame, a man and a woman living two very different lives. Their last memory of each other is of holding hands when they were 10. Twenty years later circumstances bind them together again in surprising ways. Along the journey the reader is subjected to murder, death, religious cults, incest, two moons,”little people” and the constant mention of cats, ears and breasts. Strange huh?

The story of Tengo and Aomame was an interesting one and I enjoyed how their narratives converged over the course of the book. What holds me back from saying I liked it is all the odd (and I mean really odd) people, places and things that are thrown in that really do not advance the story in any way. This book really would have benefited from some heavy editing. Some of the parts were redundant and over thought which made the book long and drawn out.

Overall, I’m glad I read it but I’m not sure I really understood it. But then that may just be the point. I’m not sure I would recommend this book as it may be more of an acquired taste. It’s one of those I don’t think you could hate but it can’t be wholeheartedly loved either.

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Book Review: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

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A Stolen Life proves that the basic human instinct to survive can get you through just about anything.

I rated this book 3 out of 5 based on the reading experience alone.

It’s an indisputable fact that this was a tragedy beyond what any one person should have to endure and I give Jaycee Dugard all my respect and compassion for allowing all of us insight into the horrible circumstances surrounding her kidnapping and years of confinement.

That being said, the book wasn’t what I expected. I was prepared to be teary eyed and ready to forge through the hate that I was bound to feel toward the people who took years from such a young life. However, I felt like there was a detachment between Jaycee and the words she wrote. Maybe understandably so. How else could someone write about such things. It just didn’t hold the emotion that usually gets to me when reading these kind of memoirs. It may be attributed to the child like writing style trying to convey an adult’s feelings and perspectives.

I think The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls has a better writing style that conveyed more feeling and allowed the reader to enter the writers world. A Stolen Life would have benefited from the same writing style.

I have a feeling this was more of a source of therapy for her.

I wish her and her family peace and hope she can regain at least some of what was lost to her.

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A Stolen Life: A Memoir


Showing My Creative Side: New Bookmarks

I was playing around with the new Martha Stewart CraftStudio app and created these 2 bookmarks. I think they turned out pretty good! The app is easy to use and offers lot of options to extend your creativity.

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Book Review: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with MarriageCommitted: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After reading Committed, I’m not sure Elizabeth Gilbert has made peace with anything.

If she would have stuck to her and Felipe’s trials, tribulations and travels through their experience of trying to obtain a marriage visa, I would have liked this book much better. Her story telling skills make for a style that flows easily and kept me reading. Ultimately though, it wasn’t enough to drowned out the incessant need for her to justify her feelings and analyse EVERY single thing. I find it so hard to believe that she was able picked out a house without ever seeing it first.

After one marriage and divorce I can’t imagine it would have taken all that research to learn that marriage, or any relationship for that matter, is what you make it. No matter how many opinions you ask for, no matter how many books you read, nothing can prepare you. It’s an ever evolving thing. Yes, you have to give up things. Yes, that includes part of yourself. Did she not realize that she was already doing that?

She should have left the child-rearing opinions out of the book. She can not possibly know anything about this subject. Being an aunt does not make you an expert. I felt like she was trying to justify this life decision, like every decision she makes, to the reader. This book was published in 2010. Have kids or don’t. At this point nobody cares. There’s no need to beg for acceptance. It’s ok. Having children is by no means for everybody.

In the end she did it. She married and settled in. However, I’m not convinced that she made peace with it. I don’t even think she has made peace with her divorce, her ex or even herself. Maybe in another book or two.

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Book Review: Grammar Girl’s 101 Troublesome Words You’ll Master in No Time by Mignon Fogarty

Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No TimeGrammar Girl’s 101 Troublesome Words You’ll Master in No Time by Mignon Fogarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Grammar Girl will help you improve your writing with this easy to understand guide.

I have enjoyed Grammar Girl’s website and podcast for years and this guide is a perfect reference to use at home, school or at the office.

Words and phrases are alphabetized which make them easy to find in a hurry. I love the fact that famous quotes are used as examples. The hints on using plural forms and correct spellings were particularly helpful to me. I’m embarrassed to say that I have probably written donut and smokey before. Not anymore!

I had fun reading this with my teenage son. We were both surprised to find that our grammar skills are not as good as we thought.

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NPR Books Wants to Know Your Favorite YA Novels of All Time

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NPR Books wants nominations for best YA novels of all time. From the nominations they’ll be putting together a list of the top 100.

You can nominate 5 and trilogy’s count as 1 nomination.

Here are the books I nominated :

1. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
3. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
4. Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
5. The Wolves of Mercy Falls Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

What are your favorites? Head over to NPR Books and let them know.


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