Thursday, August 29, 2013

Just because I LOVE it!


Found it here

Had to save this somewhere because it is just awesome! All that work to nail the Gatsby smile - Leo did a pretty good job! Just bought this movie and can't wait to watch it again and again. Actually, my 11th graders are reading the book...I had two students disappointed we aren't starting it until end of next week because they want to see what it's about. They were really excited to hear we'll be watching it in October! Yea, I know how to have a good time ;)

"It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment."

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 6

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Quick Bit About "The Devil"


I finally read Erik Larson's much praised nonfiction work, The Devil in the White City. I've read nothing but praise for this book and dived right in; however, the beginning 35 pages or so were slow moving for me. It may be in part because it's nonfiction and there's a foundation of people, places, and the time period to introduce and explain, but after I was able to keep it all straight, it moved along much better.

I enjoyed the play by play of the World's Fair being designed and built. I can't say I felt all the awe that I'm sure was present those months, but that's more because many things that were new and amazing during the fair's time (approx 1892-1893) are common place in our day. I won't spoil it by saying what those things are, because that was actually my favorite part of the book. Larson will talk up various people who have new ideas (for products, songs, etc) and voila, you find out the idea is something we all know so well now, but was a crazy new invention at that time. Learning the origin of so many historical/cultural things tied to the Chicago World's Fair was my favorite part.

The other part to the story - the Devil part - was done tastefully. You had the details to understand how Holmes worked the people around him, but it wasn't over-the-top. I mean, it was still sad and you could imagine the scenarios, but for me there wasn't a whole bunch of yucky details to make it worse. My imagination will limit itself unless given visuals or too much detail, so it was good for me.

The one thing I think Larson really should've included we're pictures of the fair - the building of and the end results. Pictures from a time period we can only imagine would have been priceless in this book.

So for me, definitely a TBR book, but not necessarily number one on the list. Although I hear there is a movie in the making, with DiCaprio as Holmes possibly. I think this book would make a great movie. If you've read it, what did you like about the book?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bookish A - Z

I never noticed that this logo basically says A - Z

Well, reading is slow going this week with all the preparations for school underway. Seems like a good start so far. So here's another fun bookish survey I found. This one is from Wensend. (Hop over there and read her answers too!)

Author you’ve read the most books from
I'm thinking Jodi Picoult.

Best sequel ever
Are we talking series too? Harry Potter and the Mortal Instruments are great series.

Currently reading
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson and Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel

Drink of choice while reading
Tea (cold weather) or pop (hot weather)

E-reader or physical book?
Physical book is my preference; however, reading cuddled in bed at night, I've found the e-reader more convenient.

Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school
Sadly, I might've dated Edward Cullen from Twilight. I was all for that mushy, unhealthy obsession stuff. A teenager phase, thankfully.

Glad you gave this book a chance
Twilight...I put off reading it for so long, but ended up liking the series.

Hidden gem book (not sure it's hidden, but I don't hear of it very often)
The Color of Water, by James McBride

Important moment in your reading life
First time I read an entire book in one day...Ribsy by Beverly Cleary when I was in third grade. 

Just finished
MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche

Kinds of books you won’t read
Sci-fi and's a fine line, cause I've read in both and have found some I like.

Longest book you’ve read
The Count of Monte Cristo at 1462 pages.

Major book hangover because of
Driving with Dead People...quite a memoir. Read it in one sitting. (Is that what they mean by hangover?)

Number of bookcases you own
5. Four at home (one in each bedroom and one in my living room). One overflowing bookcase in my classroom.

One book you have read multiple times
To Kill a Mockingbird.

Preferred place to read
Snuggled up in bed...but I always have a book to read anywhere I may be.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read
? There are way too many possibilities...and I'm not good at recalling them off the top of my head.

Reading regret
That I took so long to find my reading niche...spent a lot of time reading anything and lots of worthless stuff instead of really paying attention and being just a little pickier. Or maybe this question is asking for an actual book that wasn't too great? The Weird Sisters, by Eleanor Brown.

Series you started and need to finish
Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. It would help if I knew it was a huge, not completely published series when I started it years ago, I would've waited. Now the first book is a movie and book 6 isn't out until next March!

Three of your all-time favorite books (these are just three favorites...there's so many)
To Kill a Mockingbird
One Thousand Gifts
Les Miserables

Unapologetic fangirl for
I don't know that I've gone absolutely crazy over a book. My most recent kick was Les Mis. I read the book, saw the movie, saw the musical all in a couple months time. I even had a photo album of all the uses I found for that fat little book as I carried it around with me.

Very excited for this release more than all the others
I don't know about more than all others, but I am looking forward to the Salinger biography coming out September 3rd. It's called Salinger, by David Shields and Shane Salerno

Worst bookish habit
Scratching my head in concentration while I read.

X marks the spot: start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book
Which shelf? I have four here at home! Of the 4 below, I've only read #4!
Shelf 1: Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Stories, by Joseph Conrad
Shelf 2: The Preservationist, by David Maine
Shelf 3: Triangle, by Katharine Weber
Shelf 4: Bibliotopia or, Mr. Gilbar's Book of Books & Catch-all of Literary Facts & Curiosities. Compiled by Steven Gilbar

Your latest book purchase
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up way late)
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Therese Anne Fowler

Monday, August 19, 2013

Good Choices for Girls

A Girl's Guide to Making Really Good Choices, by Elizabeth George
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Publication date: September 1, 2013
Category: Christian, Parenting
Source: from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review
Pic Source:

A main concern parents have for their children as they get older is that they make good choices. At ages 14 and 12, my daughters are in prime time for the lessons of making good choices. So, when I saw a book up for review on NetGalley titled A Girl's Guide to Making Really Good Choices, by Elizabeth George, I couldn't pass it up. (As usual, nonfiction books I review such as these are by Christian authors.)

Like other books I've read intended for girls approaching new stages of life, I found this one appropriate for the pre-teen crowd. I don't know if it's just me, but it seems that teenagers would laugh at these kinds of things. However, I could see how I, as a mother, could read the book, and relate the information to my 14-year-old through conversations and situations as they arise. It's the nature of the beast teenager...

Chapter by chapter, this book discusses topics in which girls must realize they have choices. All discussion is backed by examples, stories, and Bible verses. The chapters are titled as:

1. You have a Choice. Many times we do or don't do things thinking it was all we could or couldn't do, when really, we had a choice. This chapter establishes that just about everything we do is a choice.

2. Choosing to Get Up. Kids' lives center around getting a good start to the day. Anyone who's tried to get a kid or two up and moving for the day of school and/or work knows how volatile the experience can be. This chapter talks about choosing the right things to start the day at its best.

3. Choosing to Read My Bible. This should be fairly obvious...talking about why Bible reading is important to daily life (closeness to God and direction for life) and how making the choice to read or not will affect a girl in various ways. Also, I should mention here, that at this point, the author shows how choices in the list of chapter affect each other. For example, if you ignore your alarm and don't get up, you don't have time to read your Bible, your morning is a rush, etc.

4. Choosing to Pray. Talks to girls about how prayer is communication with God, which is detrimental to Christian life. Tis chapter also speaks to the promises God gives about prayer and the purposes of prayer in life.

5. Choosing Your Friends. Always a source of angst in teenhood is friendships. The topic here concerns itself with following certain crowds and what to look for on friends. What I liked here was that the author encourages girls to involve their parents in discussing friendships and tells girls to be themselves. I see so many teens try to be someone they're not, only to regret it later...some with worse consequences than others.

6. Choosing What to Say...and Don't Say. Another good topic and hardship of teenhood...controlling your mouth. Things touched on here are saying hurtful words, your words as a view of your heart, and speaking the truth.

7. Choosing to be Patient. I don't think this one needs much explanation. Part of it is putting others first and the other is just plain old being patient!

8. Choosing a Happy Heart. I like that this chapter differentiates between "happiness" and "joy," pointing out that things can wreck your happiness, but you have the choice to remain joyful. The example sued is that of a girl told she will be helping her parents prepare the house for their party. She is instantly ticked...the chapter works the information through that scenario as an example, showing how choosing an attitude of joy can change us as opposed to attitudes of anger.

9. Choosing to be Faithful. Of course, faithfulness is a word we think of applying to God or a religion we practice. However, this chapter shows how faithfulness applies to every day life with those around you, like keeping your word and being reliable and not lazy.

10. Choosing to Trust God. Even in the midst of bad decision making, we can go back to God for help. This chapter shows girls how to seek God to straighten these things out and make changes in their choices for the future.

Overall, I like this book for girls ages 9-12. My 12-year-old (who acts young for her age) read this with me just fine and was willing to talk. My 14-year-old thought it silly to read, but if I read it myself and started a conversation that seemed related to a topic she brought up, it was all good. Know your girls is the key. I would also recommend flipping through a physical copy before purchasing it to make sure it seems like something you'd want to use. Seeing it can make all the difference in deciding how it may work with your girl or if you can utilize it in some way.

Think I'm on overload for these types of books! But I have a couple more left to review. Including A Boy's Guide to Making Really Good Choices, written by the husband of the author above, coming in September.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Beach Reads 2

If the first half of our Destin, Florida beach vacation was good, the second half was better. Reading was slow moving as we took on lots of activity the second half of the week. We saw dolphins and sharks on a boat tour that boasted a glass bottom (really it was windows below deck).

Grandma and Grandpa (aka my parents) handed out a good amount of spending money and we had a shopping spree at the nearby outlet mall. My daughters found some decent deals and when we all got home, it was like Christmas in...August. Let's just say school shopping is done. I bought two casual sun dresses, found at 70% off! Good deal and me in a dress? Usually only happens once a year (no joke), so this is a first for me.

Thursday was something of a date day. The kids stayed with my parents and my husband and I went down to the harbor for parasailing and jet skiing! Now, we are in no way adventurous. The fact that we considered any of it is a bit out of character. Parasailing was awesome! If you have a chance, just do it. I can't recommend jet skiing with the same intensity, but it was fun. And my husband will tell you parasailing was fun and jet skiing was awesome - minus the screaming wife. (I don't have a picture of jet skiing, but just imagine me behind him screaming in a high pitched voice, "Brandon! No, don't go that fast! My butt keeps flying off the seat! No, don't turn like that. Stop! STOP!!" This was only for the first 20 minutes of the hour long ride and then intermittently when we hit huge waves...and my husband was more amused than annoyed. He laughed at me the entire time and plenty afterward.)

Yes, I am using B&N as a vacation highlight and
 yes, I stood in the roadway to take this picture.

The restaurant we ate at Thursday night was in a plaza with Barnes & Noble. Honestly, our B&N here in little ole Boardman, Ohio is bigger and better organized on the inside; however, Destin's B&N's outward beauty takes the cake. The lighting and palm trees framing the majestic store front...wonderful. I walked around, seeing many titles I've been waiting for, until one hit me. I picked up Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Kinda like my daughter buys magnets and my friend buys collector spoons, I always buy a book when I visit a new place.

After 14 years of carrying my stuff in a diaper bag or a huge
bag-purse to haul my kids' stuff, my first real purse!

I unexpectedly received an early birthday present from my husband. We hit the Coach store at the outlet mall and I got a purse and wallet for 80% off the already sale price! I've never owned anything Coach and this bag is Denver Broncos colors, so he digs that.

Even with all of that going on, I managed to do some late night reading on the balcony swing - the perfect reading nook, as the nights are warm and I could sleep out there if I wanted to.

I read MWF Seeking BFF, by Rachel Bertsche. Bertsche's memoir tracks her year long effort to make new friends after marrying and moving from New York to Chicago (hence, MWF = married white female). She goes on one "friend date" per week for a whole year, using "relationship behavior as the framework through which [she] sees the world," looking for the people who become so dear to us: good girlfriends.

Between anecdotes, Bertsche give statistics and current research of the effects of relationships on us, on others, and even on marriages and family life. Humorous and honest, Bertsche says what many people won't admit they're thinking as they search out the special niche it takes to make and be good friends. Along the way she learns a few things about the kind of friend she is and what she must do to be a better one. It took me a little time to get into it and I wouldn't say it's a must read, but it is a topic to which we can all relate. If the topic of friends and making friends is on your mind or interests you, this is a good pick. More than once I found myself nodding in agreement or having an 'aha' moment as I realized she was describing something I knew, but couldn't put my finger on. As someone who's done a lot of soul searching in my relationships the past year, this book was a good piece to add onto my log of research, reading, and advice I've collected on the topic.

And I have to say that I have never reached the end of a vacation and wanted to stay. This is a first...if my parents had said "Let's stay," I would've cancelled everything back home this week and stayed. But life moves on and, in the back of my head, the wheels for next vacation are turning.

Now on to The Devil in the White City!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Special Feature


Exciting happenings today! My Life in Books is being featured on Book Bloggers International! This is a wonderful blog, run by a trio of ladies, that brings a variety of book blogs to the forefront! You meet new people, engage in some book talk, and may come away with a new blog to follow.

So hope on over and check out their post about me and see for yourself the other things their blog has to offer!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beach Reads 1

Yes, I haven't really posted for a week, but that's because my family, parents, sister, and I just came back from a week of reading vacation in Destin, Florida, on the Gulf. We had temps in the high 80s that felt like high 90s - 100 due to humidity and any rain lasted no longer than half-an-hour. Our second story condo had a master bedroom and bath the size of half of my house and a total of four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom...loved it. My favorite part of the condo was the sturdy porch swing on the screened in balcony. Being the person who best dealt with the humidity, I could sit out there reading quietly almost any time of day. It instantly became my reading nook. So, needless to say, I did some reading and I'm going to talk about it in two posts, so I can add some fun vacation pics too!

Although I've never regretted a vacation I've taken, truth be told, I can do without them. If I had a week of eating out and no appointments, kids' activities, etc, here at home, I'd be just as happy, probably more so. (And yet, paradoxically, I like to see new places and say I've been there.)

So, to put me in a good mood for the 19 hour drive to the panhandle of Florida and the idea of leaving home, I decided to read something funny and witty before we left. (I generally can't read for long in a car without getting nauseous and having kids in the car makes the unknown content of audio books pointless to even try. The wasted down time drives me nuts.) Going on the recommendation of my book buddy M.O. and many bloggers, I chose Bossypants, by Tina Fey. It was just what I was looking for. I suppose the only way the book isn't amusing is if you aren't familiar with Tina Fey's work or you hate her. Otherwise, you can just picture everything you're reading in her voice and facial expressions. I would actually listen to this one on audio (big step for me) because Fey does the reading and it would be even funnier. Big shout out and thank you to Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity, where I won Bossypants in her giveaway!

First order of business upon arrival was the beach, of course. We swam in ocean so clear, we could see the white/clearish schools of fish nibbling our toes.

 My kids fed and held alligators at a restaurant, Fudpuckers...yea, don't try to say that name in a hurry, it will come out wrong every time.

My kids got lucky...the alligator peed on the guy
right before he handed it over

 We met up with my cousin and his wife and their 2 1/2 year old son, who we met for the first time. They drove down from Tennessee just to coincide with our trip!
My cousin David with his son and my dad

 And that's just the first couple days!  The first few days felt nice and long as we meandered between beach, pool, and various restaurants for dinner. In between these trips and late at night, I read The Other Life, by Ellen Meister. Quinn is married with a seven-year-old son and expecting a baby. Her life is pretty normal and stable, except for this "force," accompanied by a natural understanding that she has the ability to live her "other life." This feeling that tempts her to directly see and possibly live the "what if" of major decisions has pulled at Quinn since age four, but becomes especially strong as she faces a major challenge in the present day. The main focus being the life she would've had if she had stayed with her ex-boyfriend Eugene, instead of marrying her husband Lewis. As Quinn straddles the two realities, she finds that the real factor she faces is her mother.

I think the concept is pretty intense. Then again, I am always somewhat homesick my first day of any trip, so it could've just been me. But, I think that was just a small part of it. Who hasn't wanted to go back and travel the road not taken at some point in their life? If presented the chance, would you be able to leave one life permanently to take on the other? Although a work of fiction that isn't completely realistic, The Other Life raises thoughts we often entertain but never truly think through seriously. Not a hurry out and read type of book, but a decent read because the concept really does speak to us as humans.

Two books in a few days - that's what I call a successful, relaxing vacation! Stay tuned for part 2 of my Beach Reads.

What have you read on vacation this year? Or what has been your favorite vacation read?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Bookish Q&A

Came across this fun set of bookish Q&A to wile away the day until I can post my vacation posts. I found it on Worms for Words, where Katie posted her own answers, so stop by and take a look at what she thinks too!

Book Q&A Rules

1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favorite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

Your Favorite Book Cover: The England edition of The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. One year I had 9th grade honors read it for summer reading and we did a discussion on the various book covers. I found this one and bought it even though I already had the American copy!

What are you reading right now? MWF Seeking BFF, by Rachel Bertsche. I started it, then interrupted it to read another, so now back to it again.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that? The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson is next. It's the last of my vacation books that I won't get to, since vacation is winding down.

What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to? 
1. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards.
2. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
3. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson
4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford
5. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now? None! I don't generally read magazines and my bathroom is kinda small to keep any...besides the fact that I don't like the idea of my books in a bathroom! Yucky.

What’s the worst book you’ve ever read? I'm not sure. I can think of books I was disappointed in, like Ursula Hegi's The Worst Thing I've Done. I read her other stuff first and this one didn't measure up for me.

What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like? Books in the style of David Sedaris and Sloane Crosley. I usually find them okay, but not enough to recommend or rave about. And I guess that's a fine line because I love I'm not sure if it's the writing style or what.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone? I feel safe recommending anything Jodi Picoult because they're usually good and I'm familiar with how her storylines work. Sometimes I get wary of recommending to people whose reading preferences I don't know because there isn't much that offends me in books.
What are your three favorite poems?
1. I had been hungry, all the years - by Emily Dickinson. (After relating it to a real life person, I grew to love this one. See post here.)
2. The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Cliche maybe, but it holds such truth.
3. Bits and pieces of Walt Whitman. His poems are so long that you can easily like one part and not another.

Where do you usually get your books? Barnes and Noble, Amazon, NetGalley (which are technically prepublication files, not even the final ebook version) and (PBS). PBS allows you to request books from people across the nation for the cost of media mail postage (roughly $3). When someone receives a book from you, you get a credit to request a book from anyone else. If you look into PBS and decide to sign up, put my user name, LuvReading79, in the form so I can receive credit! 

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits? Not that I can recall. I was just always reading and often two books at once, which I don't like to do any more.

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down? The first one that comes to mind is Driving With Dead People, by Monica Holloway. It's a memoir about her growing up and the things she realizes about her childhood as an adult.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book? No, but I have forgotten if I've read a book or not. My memory doesn't hold the details of a story for very long, just the feeling I had about it usually.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover? Yes. I am going to get The Flame Alphabet because of the cover. And as mentioned above, I bought a second copy of The Book Thief because of the England cover.

What was your favourite book when you were a child? I liked Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books. I still have an original set that I read too many times to count growing up.

What book changed your life? Most recent was One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and a few years ago Crazy Love by Francis Chan started me down a different path in life. 

What is your favorite passage from a book? I never remember these after the fact, so I will go with the few from The Book Thief that I always recall with a question like this. (I know, seems to be a trend, but once you teach a book, it sticks with you!) Here they are:

1. Death as narrator says, "I do not carry a sickle or scythe. I only wear a hooded black robe when it's cold. And I don't have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like? I'll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue." The idea that death doesn't take people, but other people is set in WWII.

2. Death again, saying, "I am haunted by humans." Wow, talk about turning a paradigm on its head.

3. The main character Liesel Meminger closing the book with "I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."

Who are your top five favorite authors? (First to come to mind...)
1. Jodi Picoult
2. Ursula Hegi
3. Harper Lee
4. Lysa TerKeurst and Ann Voskamp (they're kind of alike, so counting them as one)
5. William Shakespeare

What book has no one heard about but should read? Interruptions by Ursula Hegi. It's a story where the characters start talking back to the author and the author's family members butt in, giving her a hard time writing her story. I had a big time editor pick it from a list of recommendations last year and send me three free books because she picked mine!

What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for? To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The more I reread it, the more I see each time. I call it the Literary Bible.

What are your favorite books by a first time author? Not sure about this one.

What is your favourite classic book? Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. 

Five other notable mentions? (Classics I presume?)
1. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy, which I found paralleled Les Mis in some ways, namely the characters and their development.
2. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
3. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
4. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
5. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne