Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (8-31-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to Moonlight on Linoleum by Terry Helwig (release date: October 4, 2011).

Synopsis (from In the tradition of The Glass Castle and The Liar’s Club comes the captivating memoir of a young girl forced by her mother’s instability to care for her siblings. Terry Helwig and her five sisters were raised by their charismatic, troubled, and very young mother, Carola, who struggled with loneliness and infidelity. Because of their stepfather’s roving job in the oil fields, the family moved frequently from town to town in the American West. The girls were often separated and left behind with relatives, never knowing what their unstable mother would do next. Yet, even in the face of adversity, Terry found beauty in the small moments: resting in the boughs of her favorite oak tree, savoring the freedom she found on her grandparents’ farm, and gleefully discovering the joys of dating and dancing. Despite the hardships and the limitations of age, Terry rose above her circumstances to become an excellent and faithful caregiver to her five siblings. She finds power in bonding with her sisters, and they manage to thrive in the face of constant upheaval and uncertainty. A moving and motivating portrait of love and perseverance, Moonlight on Linoleum is a poignant tribute to the bonds of family and the tenacity of love.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (8-30-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a different topic and you get to create your own top ten list. It's a great way to meet other bloggers and have some fun at the same time. This week's topic:

Books that are on the Top of my TBR Pile for Fall

1) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - I bought this collection of books at Borders, remembering how I enjoyed reading Dickens in high school. I figured that Great Expectations can be my classics read for the fall.

2) The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown - I have had this book in my TBR pile for months now! I am anxious to read it and decided that this autumn would be the perfect time to sit down and read it.

3) The Distant Hours by Kate Morton - I have heard so many good things about this book! It seems like every blog I visit talks about this book, so I'm looking forward to finally reading it and seeing what all the hype is about.

4) Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris - I bought this book at a Borders liquidation sale last spring and have anxiously been waiting to read it until it was the Christmas season. I know that fall isn't really the holiday season, but this will get me in the spirit!

5) Becoming Marie Anntoinette by Juliet Grey - I have taken an interest in books set during the French Revolution and what sounds better than learning about it from the point of view of the woman who was at the center of it all? Cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

6) any Kristin Hannah book - I discovered Kristin Hannah a few months ago and have fallen in love with her work! I really want to read all of her books right now but restrain myself so I only read one every month or so. So I'm looking forward to getting my dose of Kristin Hannah soon!

7) A Dublin Student Doctor by Partrick Taylor - this is my favorite series (and the only one that I keep up with). It's very cozy and relaxing to read about the Irish countryside. I plan on reading this while sipping on a Pumpkin Spice Latte (yum!)

8) Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - I have heard great things about this book and keep on meaning to read it, but something else always grabs me before I remember this book lingering in my pile. So I will definitely be making time for this book in the fall.

9) Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close - I picked this as one of my Waiting on Wednesday picks a few weeks ago. It sounds like something right up my alley and will be something lighter amongst the harder books that I hope to read this fall.

10) The Lantern by Deborah Lawerson - a gothic novel set in the French countryside with a story that reminds me of Rebecca. Sounds like the perfect book to read around Halloween.

There are so many books that I am looking forward to reading this fall, but this gives you a glimpse into what I'm most looking forward to. What's at the top of your TBR pile this autumn?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Skinny by Diana Spechler

Author: Diana Spechler
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Published: April 13, 2011
Paperback: 337 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from After her father’s death, twenty-six-year-old Gray Lachmann finds herself compulsively eating. Desperate to stop bingeing, she abandons her life in New York City for a job at a southern weight-loss camp. There, caught among the warring egos of her devious co-counselor, Sheena; the self-aggrandizing camp director, Lewis; his attractive assistant, Bennett; and a throng of combative teenage campers, she is confronted by a captivating mystery: her teenage half-sister, Eden, whom Gray never knew existed. Now, while unraveling her father’s lies, Gray must tackle her own self-deceptions and take control of her body and her life.
Visceral, poignant, and often wickedly funny, Skinny illuminates a young woman’s struggle to make sense of the link between hunger and emotion, and to make peace with her demons, her body, and herself.

My Thoughts: This books seems like it would be a good one. As a woman, I know the battles with food that overcome us all. There are days when I can just gorge myself on anything and everything, and other days when I have no appetite whatsoever. So this book, focusing on a young woman's battle with food following her father's death, seemed like it would be a great book. It order to deal with everything, Gray (the main character) spends the summer at a weight loss camp for teens in North Carolina. She truly believes that running away from her life in New York City to this camp will help her overcome her issues. That, and the opportunity to meet her half-sister, Eden, who she had no idea existed until after her father's death.

The plot could have been great and moving, but Diana Spechler always seemed to fall short of reaching that greatness. Instead of battling her real issues (her father's death, her relationship with her boyfriend, her job), Grey just complains about everything and withing moments of the campers moving in, she seems better. She even says that since she is the skinniest person there that she feels better about herself. She never really deals with her issues with food, as witnessed at the end of the book. She doesn't seem to help the other campers that are there either, so her purpose at this camp is for her to feel better about herself because she's the skinniest when compared to all the overweight teenagers.

I think that if Spechler had just written about a summer spent at a weight-loss camp and not had Grey as the main character, it could have been interesting. I never went to summer camp so I always enjoy reading books about people who work at one. It's just something interesting to read about. But as it stands, this book isn't very good. Instead of tackling a topic that so many women identify with, Spechler fell far short. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

In Her Shoes
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Published: September 17, 2002
Paperback: 421 pages
Source: purchased at used book sale

My Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis (from Meet Rose Feller. She's thirty years old and a high-powered attorney with a secret passion for romance novels. She dreams of a man who will slide off her glasses, gaze into her eyes, and tell her that she's beautiful. She also dreams of getting her fantastically screwed-up little sister to get her life. together.
Meet Rose's sister, Maggie. Twenty-eight years old, drop-dead gorgeous and only occasionally employed. Although her dreams of big-screen stardom haven't progressed, Maggie dreams of fame and fortune -- and of getting her dowdy big sister to stick to a skin-care regime.
These two women with nothing in common but childhood tragedy, shared DNA, and the same size feet, are about to learn that their family is more different than they ever imagine, and that they're more alike, than they'd ever believe. In Her Shoes observes Rose and Maggie, the brain and the beauty, as they make journeys of discovery. Along the way, the'll encounter a wild cast of characters and they'll borrow shoes and clothes and boyfriends, and make peace with their most intimate enemies -- each other.

My Thoughts: After reading one of Jennifer Weiner's novels earlier this year, I decided that she was an author I should definitely check out more of. Unfortunately, this book was a huge disappointment for me. The characters were bland, the writing lackluster, and the plot almost nonexistent. Telling the story of two sisters who don't have anything in common with one another, there are so many things that Weiner could have focused on to show how the two women grow individually and as sisters, but there was nothing there connecting these two together. There wasn't even much talk of shoes (at least for me)!

The story is basically this: Rose and Maggie have always been polar opposites of one another, with Rose basically being the perfect child and Maggie the screw-up. Maggie makes a huge mistake, losing Rose's trust, and must find herself while Rose discovers who she is. At the end, they reconnect and everything turns out wonderful. It's pretty conventional, nothing all that surprising, and nothing that really stuck out in my mind. Like I said, the plot was lackluster. Nothing made it stand out or different from most chick-lit. The characters had no sparkle. The two sisters were completely stereotypical: Rose is perfect, Maggie is beautiful and gets by on her looks. Way too predictable.

I have sisters and enjoy books that explore the relationship between sisters. When the subject is well-written, it can make a book phenonmenal. But when there's little thought put into the characters, it just makes for a dull read.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday! (8-26-11)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that everyone is soaking up the last of the summer sun (or seeking shelter if you are in Hurricane Irene's path ... be safe!) and squeezing in a few more summer reads before it's all over. I am very excited for two reasons this morning: one, I leave for Las Vegas later today for a much needed vacation! I cannot wait to relax and let loose! And the second reason is that ... I HAVE 100 FOLLOWERS!!! When I logged on and saw this this morning, I was so excited! I started this blog back at the end of February and never thought people would actually be interested in what I have to say! So to all my followers, I thank you, and once I get back from vacation, I will be having my very first giveaway to celebrate (check back sometime at the end of next week for more info)!

If you are an old follower, welcome back! If you are hopping on through, then welcome! Look around and see who I am and what I like to read. Feel free to comment and let me know that you were here ... I love meeting new bloggers and will stop by your blog! Now, onto the Friday fun ...

Jen at Crazy for Books asks: “Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?”

Yes I do! I have an English Springer Spaniel, Millie. She's 11 years old (my goodness, that's old!) and she's a bit eccentric, but I love her! I know that eccentric is a weird word to use to describe a dog, but Millie is just that. She needs to tan for a few hours everyday, she likes to roll around on her back for 5-10 minutes every nite, and she must have her bedtime snack. She's pretty pampered, haha. Here's a few pics:
(Millie indulging in her favorite past time ... sleeping on as many pillows as possible)
(One of Millie sitting upright ... she probably thinks there is food involved so that's why she's sitting for a picture!)

I don't really understand the Follow Friday question, so I'm gonna skip it this week. So, do you have any pets? Let me know ... I love pets, especially if it's cute pics of them! Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting On Wednesday (8-24-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to A Dublin Student Doctor by Patrick Taylor (release date: October 11, 2011).

Synopsis (from Patrick Taylor’s devoted readers know Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly as a pugnacious general practitioner in the quaint Irish village of Ballybucklebo. Now Taylor turns back the clock to give us a portrait of the young Fingal—and show us the pivotal events that shaped the man he would become.
In the 1930s, fresh from a stint in the Royal Navy Reserve, and against the wishes of his disapproving father, Fingal O’Reilly goes to Dublin to study medicine. Fingal and his fellow aspiring doctors face the arduous demands of Trinity College and Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital. The hours are long and the cases challenging, but Fingal manages to find time to box and play rugby—and to romance a fetching, gray-eyed nurse named Kitty O’Hallorhan.
Dublin is a city of slums and tenements, where brutal poverty breeds diseases that the limited medical knowledge of the time is often ill-equipped to handle. His teachers warn Fingal not to become too attached to his patients, but can he truly harden himself to the suffering he sees all around him—or can he find a way to care for his patients without breaking his heart?
A Dublin Student Doctor is a moving, deeply human story that will touch longtime fans as well as readers who are meeting Doctor Fingal O’Reilly for the very first time.

This is the only series that I really keep up with, so I'm very excited for this book to come out! What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (8-23-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a different topic and you get to create your own top 10 list. It's a great way to meet other bloggers and check out new books! This week's topic: 

Books You Loved But Never Wrote a Review For

1) A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith - this is my favorite book of all time. I love the story of Francie growing up in Brooklyn with immigrant parents. I haven't read this book since I started my blog, but I think that it would be too hard to write about a book that I love so much (it would be like reviewing a family member - something that I love too much to critique).

2) Harry Potter series by JK Rowling - once again, I haven't read any of these books since I started blogging, but I don't think I would be able to write a review for something that I love so much (this post shows how much this series means to me). That, and the story is so fantastic that I don't know if I would be able to review it because I get so swept away in the story.

3) Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris - I love Sedaris' work and think that he is one of the greatest writers out there. His work is funny and so sharp that you wonder how you haven't noticed some of the absurdities that he writes about. This book was just a little too weird for me, though. I read it right when I started my blog and didn't think that I would be able to write anything about it. I have reviewed some of his other books (Me Talk Pretty One Day and Barrel Fever), but this one was just a little too odd for me.

4) An Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor - besides Harry Potter and this series, I prefer to read books that stand alone. It just becomes too much trying to keep up with the books that come out and I feel that nothing can ever compare with the first book in a series, the one that hooks you. This series is my reading guilty pleasure ... it's series, but it's so well written and so comfortable. It's like reuniting with an old friend from college for drinks and I feel that if I reviews these books that I would be betraying a friendship (sounds weird, I know).

5) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series by Steig Larsson - I read these books this past fall and they were so addictive! I read them all in a week, staying up late and night trying to finish them! I wish that I had read them while I was blogging to write reviews for them ... Lisbeth Salander is one of my favorite female characters!

6) Night by Elie Weisel - this is Weisel's story of life in a concentration camp. It's haunting and has stayed with me for years (I read it almost 10 years ago!). If you haven't read this book, then you need to read it right now! Maybe I will reread it sometime this fall.

7) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand - I read this book back in high school and loved it. I have tried to read Rand's other books but haven't been able to get into them. This book was magical and filled with meaning and symbolism. It's long, but well worth it.

8) The Art of Racing In the Rain by Garth Stein - I read this book about a month before I started blogging. If you are a dog person and you haven't read this book, then you need to. Written from the dog's point of view, it's a simple story, but a beautiful one.

9) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick - another book that I read last fall. It was such a good book and was completely different than what I expected it to be!

10) The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown - while some consider it controversial because of the religious issues discussed in the book, it was so good! It was such a page turner and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it!

Now that I list them all out, there are a few of these books that I want ot go back and reread! What's on your top ten list this week?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publisher: Putnam
Published: February 10, 2009
Paperback: 534 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from Aibileen is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, who's always taken orders quietly, but lately she's unable to hold her bitterness back. Her friend Minny has never held her tongue but now must somehow keep secrets about her employer that leave her speechless. White socialite Skeeter just graduated college. She's full of ambition, but without a husband, she's considered a failure. Together, these seemingly different women join together to write a tell-all book about work as a black maid in the South, that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town.

My Thoughts: Following three women in Mississippi in 1962, The Help chronicles the hardships of being a black maid to white families. Two of the narrators, Aibileen and Minny, are black women who raise white children and take care of white families. The other narrator is Skeeter, a white, 23 year old woman with a college degree, no husband, and a dream to become a writer. These three women tell their stories in this moving novel from Kathryn Stockett, depicting the unfairness shown towards African-Americans and the bonds that they develop with their young charges. Stockett also shows how these maids have an impact on the children that they help raise; Skeeter never got to say goodbye to her maid and she always wonders where she ended up. Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter come together to write a groundbreaking book, where the maids tell their stories. They are aware that there are consequences and that they may lose their lives, but they realize that what they are doing is important and that these stories must be told.

There were so many things that I loved about this book so I will try to mention all of them. For starters, the characters. Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter are such different women, but each had her own distinct personality. Chapters shift between these three women, so a few chapters are told from one woman's point of view, then switches to another. Each woman's voice is clear, their characters fully developed. I found myself loving each of them (something I find hard to do when books have multiple narrators), cheering them on to be brave and continue with their book.

The setting was also amazing. Mississippi in 1962 is never a place that I thought would be a great time to live in, but Stockett does such a great job of describing the homes in which the women work and live and the town that they live in. I felt as if I was in the story instead of just reading about, that's how good Stockett is at describing her settings.

I love the convictions of the women, too. Skeeter believed in her book, that there was a story worth telling her. She also believed that there is more to life than finding a man and getting married. I LOVED that! It's so refreshing to read about a woman (regardless of race) who longs not only for love, but a great job. Aibileen was so sure of herself in that the most important thing she does is empower the children that she watches. She gives them love, which some of the children never receive from their parents. And then there's Minny, who knows that she has a right to be heard, that she has the right to be treated with respect and will speak her mind when it's not being given. Each woman is so different and yet they each have strong convictions that guide them.

I loved this novel and will have it on my bookshelf forever. It was different and enlightening, something that I think anybody would be able to read and enjoy. I cannot think of anyone not liking this book, and it will be one of the books that I recommend to people who are wondering what a good book to read might be.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mice by Gordon Reece

Author: Gordon Reece
Publisher: Viking Adult
Published: September 1, 2010 (UK edition), August 18, 2011 (American edition)
ARC copy
Source: won from

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from Shelley and her mom have been menaced long enough. Excused from high school where a trio of bullies nearly killed her, and still reeling from her parents' humiliating divorce, Shelley has retreated with her mother to the quiet of Honeysuckle Cottage in the countryside. Thinking their troubles are over, they revel in their cozy, secure life of gardening and books, hot chocolate and Brahms by the fire. But on the eve of Shelley's sixteenth birthday, an unwelcome guest disturbs their peace and something inside Shelley snaps. What happens next will shatter all their certainties-about their safety, their moral convictions, the limits of what they are willing to accept, and what they're capable of. 

Debut novelist Gordon Reece has written a taut tale of gripping suspense, packed with action both comic and terrifying. Shelley is a spellbinding narrator, and her delectable mix of wit, irony, and innocence transforms the major current issue of bullying into an edge- of-your-seat story of fear, violence, family loyalty, and the outer reaches of right and wrong.

My Thoughts: Gordon Reece's debut novel is told from the point of view of Shelley, a teenager who has recently seen her parents ugly divorce where she had to choose which parent she would live with. She chooses her mother and they both decide that they need a fresh start and move to a small cottage in the English countryside. There are no neighbors, no loud noises from the street, and no bullies picking on Shelley anymore. After a traumatizing incident at school, Shelley is homeschooled. Except for the occassional shopping trip with her mother, she rarely leaves their cottage, with tutors coming to teach her and prepare her for her upcoming exams. One eventful night, on the eve of Shelley's 16th birthday, changes her and her mother's lives forever.

A gripping thriller at times, comedic at other times, Reece packs a lot into this novel. You witness huge character changes in Shelley and her mother, who Shelley continually describes as mice. Mice don't hurt other people, keep to themselves, don't like to make a scene or disturb others. However, one night changes all of that. The characters are rich in this story, though there are few of them. Shelley goes from the victim of bullying to an attacker. Her mother changes from a law-abiding citizen to someone who is rearranging evidence so the police won't caught on to what they have done. It's a fast-paced book that was difficult to put down at times. 

I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to thrillers (I used to love them but now, I can't read them because I can't fall asleep at night!), but this was a great book. It had me on the edge of my seat, flipping the pages quickly. The characters were great, the setting eerily beautiful, and the story engaging. The cover alone is enough to draw my interest, but the plot will pull you in.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday! (8-19-11)

Happy Friday everyone! I'm so excited that this weekend is here ... even though I'm working the next two days, I'm on vacation after that! It's a much needed vacation and I'm looking forward to getting away from it all (girls weekend in VEGAS!). If you are an old follower, welcome back! If you are hopping on through, welcome! This is my little blog where I review books (mostly contemp. fiction, historical fiction, memoir). Look around, see who I am and what I like to read. Now, onto the Friday fun ...

Jen at Crazy for Books asks: “What’s the LONGEST book you’ve ever read?” 

I believe the longest book I have ever read is Harry Potter. But, for a non-Harry Potter answer, I would have to say The Invisible Bridge, which was almost 800 pages.

Parajunkee asks: 

Q. If you could write yourself a part in a book, what book would it be and what role would you play in that book?

Well, the obvious answer is Harry Potter. I would love to be a part of the wizarding world and experience all that they get to! I don't know which part of the book I would write myself into ... maybe Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. I wouldn't want to be one of the main three. But to be there and see it all first hand would be awesome.

So, which book would you write yourself into? Let me know and have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Publisher: Knopf
Published: June 14, 2011
Hardcover: 388 pages
Source: purchased at Borders

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from In her debut novel Commencement, J. Courtney explored the relationships of four women during and after their college years. In this much-anticipated second book, she probes into four very different women connected only by family. Alice is the alcoholic, mass-going matriarch burdened by festering guilt; Maggie, her daughter, is single, pregnant, and at a crossroads. Ann Marie, related by marriage, seems obsessed by dollhouses and unattainable love and her black sheep daughter Kathleen is only searching for the nearest exit. One earlier reviewer described Maine "as a summer spritzer that's equal parts family drama, white wine, and Hail Marys." Stirred to a perfect turn.

My Thoughts: Set on the coastline of Maine at an Irish family's summer house, J. Courtney Sullivan tells the story of four women. All of these women are different but they have one thing in common: they are all family. Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of these four women. You have Alice, the matriarch of the family. Her daughter Kathleen, who is the black sheep of the family and has finally found happiness in her life by moving 3,000 miles away to California. There is Ann Marie, who has married into the family but acts more like a daughter to Alice than her own daughters. And Maggie, Kathleen's daughter who just discovered that she is pregnant and broke up with her boyfriend. All have relationship with one another and the house in Maine and each of them shares their stories through the summers that they have spent there.

I don't want to go into too much detail on the story, but it was very engrossing. A story focused on the women of a family isn't new, but Sullivan writes it in such a way that it is fresh. It isn't slow or boring or predictable. Instead, you truly understand where each woman is in her life and her relationship with the rest of the family. When reading Kathleen's chapters, it's easy to hate Alice. But then you read an Alice chapter and you understand why she does the things that she does (you may not agree with them, but you understand her actions). I also really liked how Ann Marie is a part of this family by marriage, the wife to Kathleen's brother, and how her story is told. I didn't think that I would like Ann Marie when I first started reading this book, but I appreciated her and what she did for this family that isn't actually hers. If you are looking for one more book to squeeze in this summer before it ends, I would recommend Maine. Sullivan's writing is fantastic and the story is easy to read and engaging and will leave you wanting to travel to the coastline of Maine for your next summer vacation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday (8-16-11)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Each week, they post a different topic and you get to create your own top ten list based on that topic! It's a lot of fun and a great way to meet a lot of other bloggers. This week is a freebie week, meaning that I can make my top ten list whatever I want! I decided to do the very first top ten topic, favorite childhood books (I didn't have a blog at that time and I'm not very creative today to come up with my own topic).

1) Berenstein Bears - I LOVED these bears! Each picture book focused on a topic that I could relate to as a child (jealousy of a sibling, wanting candy from the grocery store, helping your elders) and made it so easy to understand the moral without being preachy. They were wonderful and I usually always had one with me when I was little.

2) Amelia Bedelia - another great series. I always liked seeing how Amelia would do things in that story. I also wondered how she still had a job (I was pretty smart for a 5 year old). But they were always funny and made you realize how silly somethings in the grown-up world sound.

3) The Babysitters Club - Such well-written, easy chapter books that were also so addictive! I remember that I would check out one from the school library, read it that nite at home, and return it the next day so I could get the next one! The girls were real and well-written ... I just wish that there weren't so many books in that series so that I could have finished it!

4) Goosebumps series - another easy chapter book that was so great to read! I love that they were scary (at least they were to me, way back then!) and made me feel like a grown-up reading such a scary book. It was also great because it was something that boys and girls would read, and so few books can do that!

5) Goodnight Moon - I remember reading this book before bed (as I'm sure many people do). Such a simple book but one that was comforting. I look forward to the day when I have children and read this to them.

6) Nancy Drew series - really my first introduction into the world of mysteries, Nancy Drew was a series that I could dive right into and not put down. I remember reading these books and having my heart race at the excitement and tension (looking back at them now, they are really tame). But they ignited my passion for reading and always had me looking forward to getting the next one from the library.

7) The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - my mom bought me this book when I was younger and I thought that it looked lame. However, after reading it, I learned one of life's most important lessons: never judge a book by it's cover (or title). I remember reading it and then thinking how I could have a similar adventure with my sister. Luckily for my mother, we never ran off.

8) American Girl books - now, I realize that there are different girls in these books, but I read them all when I was growing up. My favorites were probably Molly (my love for WWII started young) and Felicity (American Revolution). They were a great way to introduce me to historical fiction and it made history seem so much more interesting.

9) Dear America series - another historical fiction series, these books were all written from the point of view of a young woman during a certain time in America's history and published as if they were a young girl's diary with a bookmark ribbon included in the book to make it really seem like this was a diary that you stumbled upon. I loved reading about these girls' adventures through some of the most dangerous times in our nation's history.

10) Santa Mouse - this was a Christmas tradition in my house growing up. Every year when we dragged out the tree and ornaments, out came Santa Mouse. Mom would read it to us before bed and each year, at the end of the Christmas season, we were sad to put the book away until the next year. It's a cute little board book and something that I still like to look at during the holiday season.

So, what's your top ten list this week? I'm excited to see what everyone comes up with!

Waiting On Wednesday (8-17-11)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. Each week, you highlight an upcoming release that you are eagerly anticipating. This week, I'm looking forward to The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (release date: August 23, 2011).

Synopsis (from A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

I have been looking forward to reading this book for months now, so I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy! What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer in the South by Cathy Holton

Summer in the South
Author: Cathy Holton
Publisher: Ballantine
Published: May 24, 2011
Hardcover: 352 pages
Source: won from Kristin at Always With a Book

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn. Her charming hosts offer Ava a chance to relax at their idyllic ancestral estate, Woodburn Hall, while working on her first novel. 
But Woodburn is anything but quiet: Ancient feuds lurk just beneath its placid surface, and modern-day rivalries emerge as Ava finds herself caught between the competing attentions of Will and his black-sheep cousin Jake. Fascinated by the family’s impressive history—their imposing house filled with treasures, and their mingling with literary lions Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner—Ava stumbles onto rumors about the darker side of the Woodburns’ legacy. Putting aside her planned novel, she turns her creative attentions to the eccentric and tragic clan, a family with more skeletons (and ghosts) in their closets than anyone could possibly imagine. As Ava struggles to write the true story of the Woodburns, she finds herself tangled in the tragic history of a mysterious Southern family whose secrets mirror her own.

My Thoughts: I am always drawn to books set in the South and the setting in this book is a perfect example why. The story unfolds in a little Southern town where everyone knows one another because the same families have lived there for centuries. The homes are old and filled with history and many stories. Summer in the South takes place in a sleepy little town in Tennessee. Ava decides to finally pursue her lifelong dream of writing a novel and takes up her old college friend's offer of coming to his family's estate to do so. As the story unfolds, Ava learns all about the Woodburns and the many secrets that have amongst themselves and also within the town.

I found this to be a really relaxing novel, easy to read and interesting to learn all about the Woodburn family. Some of their secrets go all the way to the Civil War and have been kept for decades. While their stories are interesting, I felt that the characters were a little dull. None of them really leapt off the page and grabbed my attention. I felt that Ava was too wishy-washy. She didn't seem to have much of a personality and I didn't think that she grew or learned anything as the novel progressed. I also thought that she hindered the real story, that of the Woodburn family. I could have read a novel just about them, but Ava seemed to get in the way with her relationships. I would definitely recommend this book if you like books set in the South, because the way that Cathy Holton describes this small town is sublime and a perfect way to wrap up your summer.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Blog Hop and Follow Friday! (8-12-11)

Happy Friday, everyone! I know I sure am excited for this week to be over. It has been a long week at work and I'm EXHAUSTED! I definitely need a vacation! If you are an old follower, welcome back! If you are hopping through, welcome! I love to meet other bloggers and check out your blog, so leave me a comment and I will definitely hop on over!

 Jen atCrazy For Books asks: “Let’s talk crazy book titles! Highlight one or two (or as many as you like!) titles in your personal collection that have the most interesting titles! If you can’t find any, feel free to find one on the internet!”

I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship (While it may sound like a woman's self-help book, but it's a collection of essays from humorists, all talking about their dogs. My review will be up in a few weeks!)

Parajunkee asks: 

Q. How has your reading habits changed since you were a teen? or If you are still a teen what new genres are you in love with currently?

When I was a teen, I read sporadically. It was always based on what was going on in school. If we were reading Grapes of Wrath, that pretty much took up all my time or patience with books (which sounds bad, I know). In the summer, I was reading nonstop, but the school year was hit and miss. As I went off to college though, I started reading a whole lot more. The types of books I read as a teen were basically what I read what now, but with more memoirs thrown in. I wasn't that into YA growing up. I found it really cliched and felt that it was just too easy to read. 

So, what's the most interesting title on your shelf? I would be really interested to know! Leave me a comment and I will hop on by! Happy Friday!