Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Ana's Story by Jenna Bush

Goodreads: She's seventeen. She's been abused. She has a child. And she's HIV-positive.

She is Ana, and this is her story. It begins the day she is born infected with HIV, transmitted from her young mother. Now she barely remembers her mamá, who died when Ana was only three. From then on, Ana's childhood becomes a blur of faint memories and secrets—secrets about her illness and about the abuse she endures.

Kritters Thoughts: A quick read due to very very short chapters and easy language. This book may have been a quick read, but it was intense due to the very subjects that are the heart of the book.

Written from Jenna Bush's experiences interning with UNICEF, this book is the narrative of one of the lives of a girl she spent time getting to know. In reading, you could tell that Bush made a huge effort to delve deep into this girl's experience to share a true story about a young woman living with HIV in a very difficult situation.

It is weird to say - but I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed reading something completely different from my norm and learning a little tidbit about a girl from a completely different world then the one I live in.

Although my main reason for picking this book out was for the challenge, I am very glad I had the chance to read it.

Rating: definitely good read, but can't read two in a row

Pages: 256

GR July-Sept Challenge: It's All Relative (Mother & Daughter)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hop to It!

Another Friday has come - this weekend is jam packed! Some bookie things and non bookie things! There will definitely be a fun post to be had in the future to share the adventures - look for my new weekly post!!

Now for the hop - the question this week is: Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?

My favorite new-to-me author this year is Katrina Kittle. She wrote The Kindness of Strangers. Although I did not review this on the blog because it was read pre-blog, I think me talking about this book to the mom prompted the conversation of me writing a blog. That book is AHHMAZING - I have passed it onto many others and would recommend it to everyone. SUCH a great read!!

Happy Friday! Going to hop along to find some new blogs to follow!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Dress Rehearsal by Jennifer O'Connell

Goodreads: No one knows wedding cakes better than the owner of Boston's hottest cake boutique. Lauren Gallagher is a pro at helping brides and grooms of tomorrow pick out the perfect Big Day dessert. She also has a talent for predicting which marriage will last and which is destined to crumble-simply by observing their cake selection process.

Her latest prediction, however, is anything but sweet. Unless her martial Magic Eight Ball is off, one of her best friends is about to tie the knot with Mr. Absolutely All Wrong. But while she's trying to prevent a potential mismatch, she's got her own problems-involving an ex-boyfriend, his new fiancee, and the cake of Lauren's dreams.

Kritters Thoughts: A cute little read. With only 250 pages, this book was one of the shortest I have read in a while. I was absolutely bummed when I turned the last page. I didn't feel like the story was complete when it ended. I would have loved another 20 pages to make me feel like I was leaving the characters in a good spot. I don't always feel this way - I just wanted to make sure these three ladies were completely happy when I left them!

I have read a lot recently where the characters took turns telling their part of the story - it was nice to stay in one character's mind throughout the whole book. With three ladies as best friends at the center of the book, I appreciated it only hearing one voice in the book.

One other personal note - the title Dress Rehearsal. I kept finding myself not understanding why it was given to this story. There is one line where I could see it fitting the story, but I kept wanting to rename the book. I never found one that I fell in love with, but I was never sure if this title really matched with the storyline. This point did not ruin the story, but kept me wondering.

Rating: perfect beach read

Pages: 246
Chick Lit Challenge

GR July-Sept Challenge: On Location (Boston)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

CSN review

Hello blogging world!

I just posted a review for a bookshelf that I received and I have been asked to review another item.

I am beyond excited to pick out something. I have been looking at their dinnerware sets and I just can't decide what to order. There are some bookends that I was eyeing the other day!

Head on over to CSN to order something fantastic for your home or for a friend.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CSN bookshelf review

Well friends, I was contacted awhile ago from CSN to review anything I wished from their many websites. After the item I chose was on back order, it finally shipped on July 22. Upon receiving the shipping notice, it took very little time arrive to my front door.

I told the boy that I was determined to at least put it together on my own, but would definitely need some help mounting it on our wall. It took very little time to get through the four steps to put it together, but my own concern was that the wood "grain" wasn't matching up to the instructions. Everything else on the diagram was matching up perfectly. I forged on and put it all together.
One of the downfalls I would say was it definitely felt flimsy before we put it on the wall. I was nervous that it may fall to pieces while we were trying to get it on the wall.

Unfortunately, the boy didn't have a moment to hang it, so I had to wait until Monday evening to get it on our wall, but I am very pleased. It is definitely taller than I thought. I love it. I have loaded it with some books, frame and candle. I am not sure they are permanent, but I like the look of it hanging over my big reading chair.

**This item was provided free of any obligation by CSN stores. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

Monday, July 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (9)

I went all week thinking I would have nothing to share from my mailbox AND then Thursday came along!

I received my first package from me contacting a publisher - thank you Jason at Henry Holt!!
City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
The Good Psychologist by Noam Shpancer
The News Where You Are by Catherine O'Flynn
Sunset Park by Paul Auster

Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand (thank you DC Metroreader)

I also received a very fun package from CSN stores - a fun corner shelf. It will be reviewed this coming week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Moo Review

So after blogging for 2 months and going to dinner with bloggers, where others had business cards, I decided to order my own. Miss Cecelia advised I head over to Moo to order some.

SO thats where I went. I was able to use the header on my blog for one side and then import my profile picture, along with the important information. They are half the width of a normal business card and too cute!!
I would definitely recommend this website. They were inexpensive, shipped quickly and looked just as I had designed them. So if you are looking for some great cards to promote a blog, business or just some fun - head over to Moo.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hop to It!

Another Friday, so another week has come and gone. This week was less crazy than last week, but it felt just as long.

The question this week: What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Dress Rehearsal by Jennifer O'Connell. It is a very cute read. I am half way through and I am sure I will be able to finish it this evening. It has read super quick. I will definitely be passing it onto my fam.

Check out who else is hopping this Friday!

Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Goodreads: Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis. He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel -- and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. HOUSE RULES looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way – but lousy for those who don’t.

Kritters Thoughts: What can I say about Jodi Picoult? Every book she has written that I have read has become one of my favorites. I love her combination of a great story with depth and intelligence added in. All of her books that I have read have included some form of the law and a trial. I love these parts of the stories because they put the characters in different situation than their "normal" lives.

House Rules is a story based on a family with a son who is living with Asperger's Syndrome. I have heard a few things on parents living with autism, but I absolutely enjoyed hearing the real day-to-day struggle of families living with this disorder.

Without absolutely spoiling the basic premise of the novel, the family ends up in the courtroom where a child with autism has a hard time executing the proper social graces.

I loved how Picoult switched from different points of view to keep the story moving along, but to also enable us to understand how each family member is affected by Asperger's and their trips to the courtroom.

The one thing that I always seem to make sure is never to read two of her books in a row. They are so good and deep and though provoking that I can't handle more than one in a row. So I will be taking a short vacation from Jodi Picoult while I continue to digest this most recent read.
Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Pages: 532 pages

GR July-Sept Challenge: Keeping up with the Math (Multiplication)
2010 Challenge: New in 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Chris and Nancy by Irvin Muchnick

Goodreads: Exploring the steroid-fueled world of professional wrestling, this riveting chronicle lays bare the devastating events that led to the 2007 murder-suicide of Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and their seven-year-old son, Daniel. Benoit's performance-enhancing drug addiction - massive amounts of doctor-prescribed human growth hormone were found in Benoit's home - and subsequent suicide proved to be the tipping point for the professional wrestling world, resulting in unprecedented scrutiny of the sport's sub par health and safety standards. Using public record, dozen of interviews with those inside and outside of wrestling, and investigative results, this authoritative analysis provides an uncompromising look at the price athletes pay in this rough-and-tumble world.

Kritters Thoughts: Before I review the book, I found a very cool site to read galleys online - NetGalley. I requested to read a few galleys, most will be electronic versions, but the variety in books is great. So this book was my first to read from NetGalley and my first to read completely electronically. Beyond forgetting not to scroll until the page was completely read, I enjoyed this different reading experience.

Now to the review: First, I am not a wrestling fan, but I am a fan of celebrity news, gossip and scandal. Also, I have a hankering for unsolved and solved mysteries. I knew of this incident before I read the book, but I was not aware of all the details of this dreadful weekend. One other aspect that kept me drawn to the book is the location. Right near Atlanta where one of my dearest friends lives, I love to read a book where I can imagine being there. I also have a special place in my heart to anywhere south where sweet tea is served at every restaurant - why NoVA why??

Irvin Muchnick paints a great picture of all sides of the story providing details of the events that took place. I appreciated how he set the book up with all the information the reader needs to know about the weekend and then goes to evaluate how this whole happening could have been prevented. Before reading, I stood on the fence as to the complete involvement of steroids in causing the murder-suicide. Now after reading it, I am firmly and completely still on the fence. As to my opinion, I believe that obviously having drugs in his system, this can not be denied and they probably helped fuel the situation. Although, upon hearing how he calculated his own suicide with weights, I think there was some thought put into it and the "roid rage" theory would not enable him to have pure thoughts.

The part where I am firmly off the fence is the involvement and cover up by the WWE. I believe Muchnick and I are on the same side of the fence in stating that the WWE had great responsibility to reprimand Benoit when he failed numerous drug and steroid tests. As well, after reading the book and the detailed timelines of the weekend, Vince McMahon and the WWE went to great lengths to cover their names, instead of helping with the investigation. I was beyond disappointed when I read their take on the timeline of events.
I would recommend this read to either gender who is interested in celebrity scandals, but also interested in hearing the facts behind the whole investigation.

Rating: enjoyable, but didn't leave me wanting more

Pages: 256 pages
GR July-Sept Challenge: Keeping up with the Math (Addition)

Monday, July 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (8)

A crazy week at work is always made better with packages to open almost every day!! The one day I didn't have packages, I was at the author signing where not only did I get my copy of Fly Away Home signed by Jennifer Weiner, but Borders was having a sidewalk sale.

For Review:
Hollywood Stories by Stephen Schochet
A Note From an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker (review, guest post and interview eta August)
The Winnings (and Miss Charlotte - she wanted in on the picture action):
Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas
One Season of Sunshine by Julia London
College Girl by Patricia Weitz
More Than it Hurts You by Darin Strauss
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Purchased for the author signing:
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

This was an awesome week in my mailbox! How was your week?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekly Round Up (1)

My first edition of Weekly Round Up. Due to Sunday Salon not accepting any more members, I am starting my own weekly round up to be posted on Sunday with the happenings of the past week, book or non-book related.

This past week has been both very exciting and very exhausting.

Our pup - Miss Charlotte turned 1 on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it was properly celebrated because both me and JP had some crazy days at work this week. My parents sent their fur grandbaby a gift, a rope toy that has become the current favorite and a crisp $20 for a day at the spa!

I stopped by a very cute store - Wylie Wagg and picked up a birthday bone and this very fun Gulpy! Note - we did not light the candle, Miss Charlotte would have been too happy to lick the fire!

We are planning on taking her on a canine cruise on the Potomac. Our pup is definitely spoiled!

Leave a comment if you think Weekly Round Up would be a great meme to start up. And if you have a better name, I am completely open to suggestions!

Hope you all had a great week.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jennifer Weiner Book Signing

I had the awesome opportunity to go to a local Borders and attend a book signing by Jennifer Weiner. If anyone is near her next stops - go and quick!! She was hilarious, entertaining, whitty, and friendly.

She was promoting her new book - Fly Away Home. I took the mom with me and we both bought our books, grabbed a quick bite to eat and then planted ourselves in prime seats. She started off with some hilarious stories, fo
llowed by reading an excerpt from the book and then of course the questions.

We had tickets, so we got our books signed and posed for a picture with her. She really took the time to chat with each and every person.

I could go on and on - all good things. For my first author signing, it was beyond what I thought it could be. I have already started searching for another one for the mom and I.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hippoty Hop!

Another week hopping along. It has been a long and hectic week, I was more than excited to see Friday come!

The question this week: Right this instant, what book are you dying to get your hands on (past, present, or future)?

Kritter - Well, this answer might be weird but I am definitely wanting - The Cult of the Presidency by Gene Healy. We saw it on a recent trip to the Crime and Punishment Museum in D.C. and I love to read the ins and outs of celebrities, I deem presidents as a form of celebrity. Another book that I have been meaning of picking up is In the President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler.

Head over to Crazy for Books to see who else is hopping along on this Friday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Author Signings?

Hello to all my blogger friends -

I have a question. Tomorrow evening (July 15th) I am headed to a local bookstore for an author signing. It will be my first - so does anyone have any tips of the trade?

Hopefully I will have some fun pictures to share this weekend after the adventure!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Goodreads: Thirty-three-year-old Minerva Dobbs is annoyed when her current boyfriend dumps her three weeks before her sisters' wedding. But she's downright furious a few moments later when she overhears her now "ex" boyfriend bet hunky Calvin Morrisey that he can't take her home and bed her. In fact, she's so angry at them both that she lets Cal take her to dinner and decides to string him along until after her sisters' wedding.

Minerva pegs Cal as a handsome "used car salesman of seducers." Cal thinks Minerva is a "cranky, starving, risk-averse statistician." But Minerva's hormones keep whispering "this one," although she knows the gorgeous Cal isn't the man for her practical, white-cotton-bra, several-pounds-over-thin, self. And Cal is blindsided by the lust he feels for the voluptuous, sensual woman he glimpses behind Min's actuary exterior. While Cal and Min struggle to deal with their mutual distrust and attraction, their friends and families try their best to interfere and direct the progression of the unlikely romantic connection.

Kritters Thoughts: What a great book. A cute story showing how two completely different people can get swept up in the beginnings of a relationship - and fight it the whole way.

I loved the storyline where couple meets in the bar based on a bet. I don't want to over share because I want everyone to go check out this book, such a great summer read. It is light and cute.

The one issue I found was - my copy that I have been moving with me for awhile was a mass market paperback. I had not read a mass market paperback in awhile and now I know why - I hated it. It was impossible to read on the treadmill. I had to use two hands to read it. I officially will avoid mass market in the future, the price does not entice me anymore.

Back to the book review - I really don't want to share much for fear of ruining such a cute little book. But I would absolutely pass this book onto all the ladies in my life.

Rating:definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row

Total pages: 391

2010 Challenge: TBR

GR Jul-Sept Challenge: Keeping up with the Math (Subtraction)

Chick Lit Challenge

Sunday, July 11, 2010

In My Mailbox (7)

Well, it was a rough week personally - just a lot going on and completely overwhelmed. It is sad to already know that next week, the work life is going to be very very busy.

But my mailbox this week was very full!! Go check out The Story Siren to see what others received in their mailboxes.

For Review:
The Eighth Scroll by Dr. Laurence B. Brown

From Paperbackswap:
Nice to Come Home To by Rebecca Flowers

The Library Loot:
House Rules by Jodi Picoult
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hop Along!

Every Friday I join the hop over at Crazy For Books. I have loved the addition of asking questions to get to know one another.
The question this week is - Tell us about some of your favorite authors and why they are your favorites.

One of my absolute favorite authors is Jodi Picoult. Every book that I have read of hers is deep and always keeps me hooked from beginning to end. The one difficulty I have with her books is because they are so deep, I can't read more than one in a row! I need a breather and something light. I am beyond giddy that I picked up her latest - House Rules from the library today!!

Go check out everyone else's favorite authors over at the hop!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: Nothing Can Keep Us Together by Cecily von Ziegesar

Goodreads: Welcome to New York City's Upper East Side, where my friends and I get everything and everyone we want. Snagging the latest Marc Jacobs bag or your best friend's boyfriend isn't pretty, but it's always hot...It's almost graduation and our lives are really heating up. Everybody's into college and it's obviously time to party as if we hadn't been doing that already!

Will Blair and Nate's love affair continue? More importantly, will Blair finally get into Yale? Or will Nate and Serena hook up in New Haven and leave Blair alone in the city? And as for the juiciest scoop of all, what's this we hear about Jenny leaving Constance Billard to go to boarding school? Only time will tell how everyone will end up, but one thing's for sure: love is in the air, and it smells a lot like Gucci Envy.

Kritters Thoughts: Well, this read was bittersweet. I read to the 8th in a series for my Goodreads challenge, but I had always wanted to read the books behind the Gossip Girl tv show.

I had an internal debate as to whether I should finish the series. But after reading that the rest of the books in the series were written by ghost writers I lost my motivation to finish the whole thing. PLUS there is a rather large pile of books I have read and checked out from the library sitting next to my nightstand!

So this book was a great way to end the series because they graduate from high school and I assume in the next book in the series head off to summer happenings and then college. It was perfect to end the series with their graduations and be able to put it down and not feel obligated to keep reading.

I am not one to be able to start in the middle of the series - hence when I found out I needed an 8th book in a series for the challenge I wanted to make sure I found a series that had 8 books or more and I would enjoy reading the 7 before the required 8th for the challenge.

I am glad I read this series. There are some parts where I like where the tv series took some characters, i.e. Jenny Humphrey and Vanessa Abrams. While the book and tv show were very similar in their portrayal of Serena and Blair. I don't care for the Chuck Bass in the tv show or the book, so no further thoughts there.

I would definitely recommend this series to my ladies to read, but they are definitely easy by the pool or on the beach reading. OR in my case holiday weekend crazy readaholic reading!!

Rating:perfect beach read

Total pages: 240

GR July-Sept Challenge: Keeping up with the Math (Division)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In My Mailbox (6)

After a holiday weekend - Happy 4th! - I am running a little late on things! Hosted by The Story Siren - In My Mailbox is a meme where we can share what has arrived in our mailbox or came into the house in shopping bags!

After another trip to Goodwill:
Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
Whacked by Jules Asner
The Fiction Class by Susan Breen
They Did it With Love by Kate Morgenroth
Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik

From Paperbackswap:
Belong to Me by Marisa De Los Santos
Between Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

Blog Winnings:
The One that I Want by Allison Winn Scotch

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: Gossip Girl Series (Part 2) by Cecily von Ziegesar

Kritters Thoughts: Well I have read books 4-7, the story is progressing along and I am still enjoying the fact that I can picture some of the characters from the show, but I have recasted a few in my head.

My negative in my last review - repeating of previous bits of stories - with each book the repeating is diminishing. Although, there are still small truths that are repeated that I would have left out assuming that the reader has read the previous books in the series. After my last review I kept thinking why this was bugging me so much - after realization - because none of these books were written to stand alone, SO they are meant to be read as a series.

I have enjoyed that each book is small, but is jam packed full of happenings that take place in a short amount of time. Each book only covers an average two month span in each character's life.

One more Gossip Girl review for the 8th book in the series that will be used for my Goodreads challenge!

Books included in this post: Because I'm Worth It, I Like it Like That, You're the One that I Want, Nobody Does it Better by Cecily von Ziegesar
Rating:perfect beach read

Total pages: 880 pages

Saturday, July 3, 2010

50 Followers Giveaway Winners


Julie from BookHooked

Thank you to those who entered and those who are following!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Review: Gossip Girl Series (Part 1) by Cecily von Ziegesar

Goodreads: Welcome to New York City's Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep - sometimes with each other.

S is back from boarding school, and if we aren't careful, she's going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn't fit into, steal our boyfriends' hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I'll be watching closely . . .

You know you love me,

gossip girl

Kritters Thoughts: WARNING: I am reading this series for a few reasons: a. I have watched the show and thought it was some good entertainment, b. I always wanted to know how different the books were from the tv show, c. It's YA, it has to be entertaining, d. I had to find a series that had an 8th book in it for the Goodreads Challenge. (details on this challenge can be found on the separate page at the top of the blog)

SO, I am reading at least the first 8 books of the series.

I am going to combine my reviews and thoughts into just a few blog posts. So if for some reason there is a little more lag between reviews, you know why that is.

OK to review: I am very glad I have chosen to read this series. It is different enough from the tv series to enjoy it as a stand alone, but it is nice to have a mental image of how the characters could look like in "real life."

I have started with the Prequel and the first 2 books of the series. The Prequel was great - it definitely set the tone for the series of books and again was close to the tv show, but different enough to enjoy it alone.

One of the frustrations I have with the first and second book lie in the repetition. Let me explain - If you read them in order, the first book retells background stories that were in the prequel and the second retells background stories from the first book. Its kinda irritating when you reread a story that you just read in the previous book. I don't need it repeated because I just read it. This may have allowed these books to stand on their own and not be a series, but reading them as a series - this point has annoyed me.

I would recommend this series to girls my age who want some semi-mindless pool reading where you are already familiar with the characters. As far as the younger crowd - just as in the tv show, there is a little more sex, love and rock and roll then I would recommend to my teen crowd. Maybe kids are reading and seeing more than I did growing up, but I just couldn't pass this series onto my niece when she comes to the recommended age.

Books included in this post - It Had to Be You, Gossip Girl, You Know You Love Me, All I Want Is Everything by Cecily von Ziegesar

Rating: perfect beach read

Total pages: 1,029

2010 Challenge: YA

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hop to It!

Another week of blogging and I am excited for another hop!! I hope to visit and find some friends this weekend!
The Twist: Your name and why you started blogging?

My name is Kristin. I started blogging because I kept finding reviews for books on blogs and realized that I was always returning to the same blogs to see what they were reading and their thoughts. I mentioned to my family and friends this whole new world I had discovered and they encouraged me to try it out for a month and see how it goes. Well - over a month and I am loving it!!

Go to Crazy For Books to find some new blogs to follow!

June in Review

Another month come and gone, I have read an eclectic group of books some challenging and some just enjoyable.

Here is the recap for June (9 total read)

1. The Meaning of Matthew by Judy Shepard
2. Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes by Cathy Holton
3. Billy Graham: His Life and Influence by David Aikman
4. Nightmare on Sunset Lake by Melody Maher
5. The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews
6. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
7. Gossip Girl Prequel- It Had to Be You by Cecily von Ziegesar
8. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
9. Gossip Girl - You Know You Love Me by Cecily von Ziegesar

Total # of pages read: 2,666

June Highlights (borrowed from Reading without Restraint)

* I have joined a local book club with some great ladies!

* I have completed a month of blogging.

* I have tweeted away! Follow me - kdurham2

*I joined a goodreads challenge - begins tomorrow. I think I had more fun picking out the books then I may completing the list!
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