Sunday, October 31, 2010

In My Mailbox (14)

Ok - so back in the swing of things! This is what arrived in my mailbox for the last two weeks.

Sorry no pictures, still trying to get all my ducks in a row!

For Review:
The Life of O'Reilly by Brian Cohen (signed by the author - thanks!)


Such a Perfect Sister by Donna Hay

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis

Purchased - from my new library (50 cents!!):
The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

What have you found in your mailbox?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Hope in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum

Goodreads: Fifteen-year-old Ashley Asher has spent half of her life living in fear. Her stepfather has been sexually abusing her for years, but her mother doesn't believe her. After his latest assault lands her in the emergency room, Child Protective Services finally removes Ashley from her home, and sends her to live with the father she barely remembers and his new family. Her new life in Patience, Texas, is much better. She's in therapy to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is trying to make her way in a new high school. She's getting used to living with her father, stepmother, and stepbrother, and she's made new friends in the summer course taught by her stepmother, Bev. She even joins the track team at the urging of her new African American friend, Z. Z.

But Ashley is so traumatized by her past that she sometimes scratches herself until she bleeds and sleeps in her armoire, even though she knows she's safe now. Worse, when her stepfather is finally put on trial for hurting her, she learns that truth and justice don't always go together. Will Ashley adjust to a better life? Will she trust enough to date Josh, the cute guy on her track team who likes her? YA readers will be caught up in the heart-pounding story of a damaged girl trying to heal herself and get on with the rest of her life.

Kritters Thoughts: What a great read. I absolutely loved this emotional and realistic depiction of a young woman who is battling with the life after abuse. I love to see her battle with being strong, but still feeling intense moments of weakness. And what a true story of how females are deeply affected by actions that ocurr in their younger years.

Knowing that the author had personal experience with abuse, I knew going in that this would feel like a real life story of a girl dealing with abuse. But I was amazed at how complex the after effects are - dealing with unsupportive parent and grandparents, while trying to cope with adult issues at a very young age. I cannot stop saying anything but the highest regards.

I am not sure if I would pass this book along to my young readers, but I would most certainly pass this book to anyone who is raising children or could have an impact on a child's life. I found myself hoping that my niece E will always have strong women around her to remind her how amazing she is and help her develop a great sense of self worth.

Unfortunately, this is the second book in the series, the first Courage in Patience, so I am headed to the library to pick up that one! Review to follow!

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Pages: 310

GR Oct-Dec Challenge -

Friday, October 29, 2010

Interview with Beth Fehlbaum - Hope in Patience

I was so excited to be given the opportunity to interview Beth Fehlbaum, the other of a great series - Courage in Patience and Hope in Patience, with a third to follow. My review for Hope in Patience will be coming tomorrow. Now for the interview . . .

1. What do you find yourself rambling about?

I’m passionate about social justice and advocating for abused women and children. I want to use my skills as a writer to benefit organizations that provide services for them. As a teacher of English Language Learners, I push my students and myself very hard. I want each of my students to believe in themselves as much as I do. As an author of Young Adult realistic fiction that deals with sexual abuse, I want to shout from the rooftops the message that it is possible to overcome that which frightens you most. All of us are much stronger than I think we realize.

2. When you started this series, did you know where these characters would end up?

No, because when I wrote the first book, COURAGE IN PATIENCE, I did not know where I would end up. My goal at that point was to be able to get Ashley to see that her mom’s
refusal to believe and act on Ashley’s outcry of abuse is not a reflection of Ashley’s value as a person. My hope for Ashley is that at some point, she will realize her own amazing strength. She will be able to look back over her journey and say, “Wow! I made it! There were times I thought I couldn’t survive the pain of recovery, but I did, and the view from here is spectacular!”

3. What inspired you to use such personal experiences as a backdrop for a series? What was the spark that started it all?

I went into recovery for childhood sexual abuse in November of 2004, at the age of 38. Like Ashley, I was abused by a family member from a very young age into my teens. Throughout the process of digging through the layers of pain, anger, and grief that people who were supposed to love and protect me had chosen not to do that, I was writing poems and short stories, and sharing them with my therapist. About two years in, he suggested that I try writing a novel. It wasn’t a conscious decision, like, “Hey, today I’m going to start writing a book.” It was more like an extension of what I was trying to do inside myself—which was pull myself out of the dark hole of disbelief and pain I had been slowly clawing my way out of but kept sliding back into. I started writing and after four months I realized I kept falling into my story. Frankly, I was tired of the scenery. One day I decided to try imagining what it would be like for someone else—and that’s when Ashley Nicole Asher and the tiny fictional town of Patience became real for me, and I began telling her story instead of mine.

4. I read in a Q&A that you had some events in your past that have helped shape these novels. Do you believe that your writing helped your healing process? What would you
suggest as other avenues to heal for those who may have suffered pain in their younger years?

Writing COURAGE IN PATIENCE helped me immensely. Just like Ashley at the end of COURAGE IN PATIENCE, I began to be able to see light around the edges of the closet door—the closet I had been hiding in, in my mind. I didn’t have an “ending” in mind—I just knew that I was going to survive the hell that recovery from sexual abuse is. HOPE IN PATIENCE deals a lot with acceptance of reality--because that’s what I was dealing with in my own recovery at the time. I fought it vehemently and cried a lot when writing HOPE IN PATIENCE. Now, I’ve started TRUTH IN PATIENCE, and it’s going to continue Ashley’s journey. I plan for it to be the final book in the Patience series.

With respect to other avenues for healing, I found music to be very powerful. My therapist made CDs for me at various stages of my recovery journey, and it helped me immensely. I made mix CDs, too, as a way of expressing where I “was” at the time. I listen to them now sometimes and it’s very gratifying to see where I was and how far I’ve come. Also, I highly recommend working with a skilled therapist. Recovery from sexual abuse is just too scary a process to undertake on your own. Like Ashley Asher, the protagonist of the Patience series, I have Post-traumatic stress disorder. Learning to cope with and manage flashbacks of abuse is something I could not have done on my own, and I am grateful to have had the support and guidance of an experienced psychologist.

5. After the series is complete, what do you see for your literary future? Would you tackle a completely different genre?

I have a few other storylines working in my mind, from expanding some of the other Patience characters—sort of like a spin-off, to creating an entirely new story that deals with eating disorders. I have also been encouraged to write a non-fiction book about my personal recovery and what it was like to evolve from a very damaged person to the person I am today in the span of a little less than six years. I strongly believe in “just writing”—seeing what comes out of my mind, runs down my arm, and escapes through my fingertips. So, we’ll see…

Thank you Beth for your time and I look forward to reading the third in the Patience series.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review: As Always, Julia by Joan Reardon

Goodreads: With her outsize personality, Julia Child is known around the world by her first name alone. But despite that familiarity, how much do we really know of the inner Julia?

Now more than 200 letters exchanged between Julia and Avis DeVoto, her friend and unofficial literary agent memorably introduced in the hit movie Julie & Julia, open the window on Julia’s deepest thoughts and feelings. This riveting correspondence, in print for the first time, chronicles the blossoming of a unique and lifelong friendship between the two women and the turbulent process of Julia’s creation of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of the most influential cookbooks ever written.

Frank, bawdy, funny, exuberant, and occasionally agonized, these letters show Julia, first as a new bride in Paris, then becoming increasingly worldly and adventuresome as she follows her diplomat husband in his postings to Nice, Germany, and Norway.

Kritters Thoughts: Well, this book was a hard and long read. I am a fan of Julia Childs and loved reading about her life in the parts of Julie and Julia, but this book was rough.

A book that is 90% letters between the pen pals - Julia Childs and Avis DeVoto. This was a great way to get to know two women who changed the face of not only cookbooks, but food on tv. The structure of the book was appealing - but I had a few issues.

I did not enjoy the parts of the letters between Avis and Julia that pertained to politics. I skimmed sweetly over it to get back to the writing of the cookbooks. The length of the book was overwhelming. I am not sure if this is due to my reading it on the computer, but I felt like a few to some of the letters could have been ommitted to make for quicker reading.

The one positive take away - is that I enjoyed reading the extensive work that went into publishing the cookbook. The rounds of edits and revisions was beyond comprehension.

I would send this book off to friends that like a book formatted in letters and who don't mind reading about the politics of the time.

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

Pages: 320

GR Oct-Dec Challenge - Prepositions

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Review: Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

Goodreads: Since she was a little girl, Emma Grant has always loved romance. So it's really no surprise that she has found her calling as a wedding florist. She gets to play with flowers every day and work with her three best friends in the process. She couldn't ask for a better job.

And on the surface, Emma's love life seems to be thriving. Slim and sultry, she brings color into every room she enters, just like the arrangements she creates. Men swarm around her, yet she still hasn't found Mr. Right. And the last place she's looking is right under her nose.

But that's just where Jack Cooke is. He's been best friends with Parker's brother for years, which makes him practically family. The architect has begun to admit to himself that his feelings for Emma have developed into much more than friendship. And when Emma returns his passion - kiss for blistering kiss - things start to get complicated at Vows.

Jack has never been big on commitment. Emma yearns for a lifelong love affair. If the two are to find common ground, they must trust in their history - and in their hearts. . .

Kritters Thoughts: What a great second book in the quartet! I was so excited that it was sitting on the new shelf at my new library AND it fit into the challenge!

I read it in three sittings - it was a great quick weekend read after a very long week.

OK so for my review - A great Nora Roberts read. As this is the first series and books of hers I have read, I have a preconceived notion that they would be those raunchy romance novels - sorry not a fan guys. NOPE - this was great. The sequel was just as good if not better. I had read a few books in between, which I don't usually do when reading a series, but I was able to pick up right where I left off.

I love the dynamics of the four girls and the business they have created. I get a little jealous because I would love to be the Parker (organizer) of the group.

I would recommend these books to all my lady friends. They are great quick reads that I would pass onto readers of most genres.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel (good thing there are 2 more books in the series!)

Pages: 358

GR Oct - Dec Challenge - How Many?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Ramble - the latest happenings

Well as previously stated we have had a TON of things going on.
So October began with a corporate retreat that I had spent a super long time planning! It went off with just a few hitches - all solved on site. This made for a very long weekend two days before we started the move!! YEP only twenty minutes from one place to the other, but oh my gosh, it was a crazy crazy long exhausting weekend and more.

***Sorry no picture***

While moving, I was told by my parents who are in Australia for my dad's work that my grandfather had passed. The boy gets food poisoning and I head to a funeral. YEP that was all in one week.

So here I am, very few reads in October and ready for some downtime.

The best bookish news occurred last weekend - a Borders Tent Sale!!

Alexandra Gone by Anna McPartlin
Un-Veiled by Eileeen Rendahl
Room for Love by Andrea Meyer
Sounds Like Crazy by Shana Mahaffey
The Girl Next Door by Elizabeth Noble

Well, hopefully another update will follow soon with some more bookish news!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Library Loot (5)

Alright it has been awhile since I have shared what I have found and picked up at the library.

Good news for me - my new local library is AHHmazing!! They have an ongoing sale which after a quick gander has some good reads. AND their new section is pretty darn good too!

Vintage by Olivia Darling
Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark
Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts

Have you picked up any good ones at the library recently?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Review: A Dance of Sisters by Tracey Porter

Goodreads: I want to stretch to the moon, Delia thought. Far, far away.

Twelve-year-old Delia Ferri doesn't remember her mother, or her family the way it used to be. All she knows is that her sister, Pearl, and her father are fighting more and more. Pearl is withdrawn and angry, so Delia vows not to give her father anything else to worry about.

Delia loses herself to the rigorous world of ballet, and only when it has consumed her completely does she begin to understand how fiercely her sister had to fight for her own truth. Delia discovers that the bond between two sisters can't be broken -- no matter where the dance of life takes them.

Kritters Thoughts: A cute little book. It was a find to fulfill one of the categories for my goodreads challenge I am doing for this quarter. It was one of the harder categories - books about dancing.

A story of two sisters trying to find their way through the world with just their father due to their mother passing away. One of the sisters turns to acting out and ends up at a boarding school where she finds training horses as a way to devote her energy and time. The other sister turns to dance, but dance has the opportunity to let her down through a horrible and demanding teacher.

I was a ballet dancer through my growing years. For 13 years, I devoted a lot of my after school life to ballet and other types of dance. I was never destined to be a dancer - too short, bad feet and the list goes on. BUT I had the heart for it and I still like to shake my groove thing every so often!! I have rhythm, grace and confidence - but my body just wasn't built for it. I believe that this little girl had a hard time realizing that sometimes you may have the heart for something, although you will never be able to complete the road.

I loved this book. It was a YA book - so an easy read. I would recommend it to all my friends who love the art of dance and would enjoy the journey of a girl trying to discover where she fits in.

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

Pages: 288

GR Oct-Dec Challenge - Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Sunday, October 17, 2010

In My Mailbox (13)

Lucky Number 13 - Congrats to Kristi @ the Story Siren for 100 posts!

Alright, I have been a slacker when it comes to posts other than reviews. But my mailbox has not been quiet, it has been exploding. And with two mailboxes for a bit - they were coming everywhere!
This is what has arrived over the last four weeks (not all pictured, all linked to goodreads)

BookMooch and Paperbackswap
Testing Kate by Whitney Gaskell
The Other Half Lives by Sophie Hannah
Life a la Mode by Linda Lenhoff
Love, Life and Linguine by Melissa Jacobs
A Little Change of Face by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Plum Girl by Jill Winters
His Other Lover by Lucy Dawson

For Review:
New Tricks by David Rosenfelt
Hope in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum
In the Belly of Jonah by Sandra Brannan

Goodwill run: (I left a few there, but I ended up with some good ones!)
Nearlyweds by Beth Kendrick
The Secret of Joy by Melissa Senate
Josie and Jack by Kelly Braffet
A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate
The Love Letter by Cathleen Schine

Winnings and other things:
Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

What has been in your mailbox?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

to my friends, family and followers

I am sorry for the lag between posts - between posting and losing a grandparent this weekend, life took up more time than it usually does! I will be trying to get back on the blogging horse this weekend - that is if our new place can come together quickly!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review: Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

Goodreads: What would a loving mother not do for her child?

Lawyer Danielle Parkman is at her wits' end. Her son Max, a whip-smart teen with high-functioning autism, has always
been a handful. But lately he's shutting down, using drugs and lashing out - violently.

Desperate, Danielle brings Max to a top-flight psychiatric facility for a full assessment. But rather than reassurance, Danielle receives an agonizing diagnosis describing a deeply damaged, dangerous boy - one she's never met.

Then Danielle finds Max unconscious and bloodied at the feet of a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death. A fiercely protective mother instinct rears its head - and Danielle is arrested as an accessory to the heinous crime.

In a baffling netherworld of doubt and fear, barred from contacting her son, Danielle clings to the thought of Max's innocence. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her baby boy really a killer?

With the justice system bearing down on them both, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth - no matter how horrifying. It's a path well on the wrong side of the law. But only finding the true killer will absolve her from having to choose between her son and her soul

Kritters Thoughts: What a fantastic read! I was absolutely hooked on this book in the middle of moving and all - I could not put it down. I loved the thriller/mystery aspect and the story had no moments that were dull, the suspense lasted throughout the whole book.

A story of a mom fighting with everything she has, plus more, for her son that she believes in without a shadow of doubt. I loved hearing what lengths she would take to find and share the truth. And what an ending - I will not even begin to spoil it. I couldn't. It is crazy how people are just not what they seem to be. I wonder how often people in real life present themselves one way, but at home behind closed doors are completely different.

I could go on and on about how much I loved this book. I would pass it along to anyone I walked by - I think this book would be universally enjoyed by many different kinds of readers.

Rating:absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Pages: 400

GR Oct-Dec Challenge: Aannnnddd Action

Friday, October 8, 2010

Review: It Started with a Dare by Lindsay Faith Rech

Goodreads: Self-proclaimed nobody CG Silverman sees her move to an upscale new school as her chance to be somebody different. Her devil-may-care attitude attracts the in-clique, and before CG realizes it, a routine game of truth or dare launches her to iconic status.

While this rebel image helps secure CG’s newfound popularity, it also propels her through a maze of unprecedented chaos, with each new lie and every dare opening doors that, in most cases, were better off left shut.

CG is on a collision course with disaster. Will she be able to keep up the fa├žade? Or will the whole world find out she’s a fraud?

Kritters Thoughts: A cute little YA novel to start a new three month Goodreads Challenge! This book reminded me of the movie Mean Girls with Lindsay Lohan. The classic popular girls with the new girl who usually doesn't fit in, they take her under their wing and drama ensues.

I am not usually a YA reader, but every once in awhile I like a cute light read where I can chuckle - remembering my days in middle and high school. This especially hits home because just recently me and JP (my boy) went to his high school reunion - once a fake cheerleader always a fake cheerleader AND once a band geek always a band geek.

The book ended predictably - but towards the end I noticed that the language just kept piling higher and higher. Call me old fashioned or not hip - but do kids these days really speak this much filth. If I caught it, then it had to have been extreme because I can usually skim right over any language.

All in all a cute read that I would only recommend to those who enjoy books of the YA genre.

Rating: definitely a good read, but can't read two in a row
Pages: 312

GR Oct - Dec Challenge: Copyright Year Rally (Sept 2010)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Goodreads: In her masterful first novel Mrs. Kimble, Jennifer Haigh delivers the riveting story of three women who marry the same man.

Ken Kimble is revealed through the eyes of the women he seduces: his first wife, Birdie, who struggles to hold herself together following his desertion; his second wife, Joan, a lonely heiress shaken by personal tragedy, who sees in Kimble her last chance at happiness; and finally Dinah, a beautiful but damaged woman half his age. Woven throughout is the story of Kimble's son, Charlie, whose life is forever affected by the father he barely remembers. Kimble is a chameleon, a man able to become, at least for a while, all things to all women -- a hero to whom powerful needs and nameless longings may be attached. Only later do they glimpse the truth about this enigmatic, unknowable man.

Kritters Thoughts: What a fantastic read!! I have been holding onto this book and have moved it more than once. I am so upset with myself for not reading it before now.

A twisted story about a man who has relationship ADD. He can't handle a wife after they become in his mind boring or complacent. I loved how she wove the story through not only the views of each of the three wives, but also of his first son. The different perspectives between the women and the son make this story deep and moving. It also made me wonder what we don't know about the people around us. This man was able to switch identities at the drop of a hat and begin again.

I would absolutely pass this book along to all of my friends and family.

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

Pages: 416

GR July-Sept Challenge: Keep it Proper

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Review: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Goodreads: This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls "Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister") is poised to garner yet more adoring fans.

Kritters Thoughts: Well another one on audio, another memoirish book. I have enjoyed that both books I have listened to were read by the person they really happened to - made the experience more personal.

As far as the book, it was interesting. I liked how it was divided up between the three countries that she visited, but I didn't fall in love with this book. The minute I heard the book was going to be made into a movie with Julia Roberts, the book jumped to the top of my wish list.

Sometimes I felt as though she was beating me over the head with her thoughts on religion - I agreed with her at times, but goodness she has opinions! She definitely convinced me that Italy would be a place where I would love to go and visit for awhile.

There isn't much to say - I liked it, but it didn't excite me or send me overboard. It was a good read - I would pass it onto my friends who like memoirish books.

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

Pages: 334

GR July-Sept Challenge - Pop Quiz

Saturday, October 2, 2010

September 2010

So September in review, there was a lot going on at work, at home and in the blogosphere. It was a crazy month and October may top it!

Books read in September ( 7 total read)

1. Your Roots are Showing by Elise Chidley
2. The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman
3. Vision in White by Nora Roberts
4. A Dog Named Slugger by Leigh Brill
5. How Perfect is That by Sarah Bird
6. Bobo's Daughter by Bonnie Barnett
7. Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

Total pages read: 2,277


1. When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead by Jerry Weintraub
2. Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

September Highlights:

*Listened to my first two audio books, will not be including these in my read per month, but will keep a separate tracking list!

*Participated in my first ever blogfest! Sent some Anita Shreve books to Damla in Turkey!

*Received a lot of books for review and lined up three author interviews!

*Completed my first challenge via Goodreads Red Dress Ink Fan Group - yep I am that girl!

Watch out for October - it is going to be one crazy packed month!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hoppin Back

Ok Blog Hoppers I haven't hopped in a long time. So I thought with this jam packed schedule coming up, I would try to hop back into it full swing!!

The question for the week - How do you spread the word about your blog?

ANSWER - I spread the word in random ways and I am not consistently pounding the pavement. I am in spurts kind of girl - I twitter, facebook, comment on other blogs, post my reviews on various websites. But my most favorite way that I spread the word is: when I send out a book on Bookmooch or Paperbackswap - I include one of my small business cards for my blog. I do this assuming that if this person likes the book they are receiving just maybe they may like my blog and what I read. On my card it has my email - just in case someone wants to start a book convo! Not sure if it has warranted any random traffic - but I think it is just something different and fun!

Happy Friday and Happy Blog Hopping!

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