Literary Life    |    Reflections    |    Chasing My Bliss

Danny and the Dinosaur

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Danny and the Dinosaurby: Syd Hoff
published: 2005 by Barnes & Noble Publishing,(first published 1958)
isbn13: 9780760765029
Hardcover, 61 pages

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story begins with a little boy named Danny. He takes a trip to a museum where he meets a dinosaur who comes to life and together they spend the day around town. A lovely story that kids of all ages can enjoy!

Not only is this a good picture book to be read to a young child, but it is also a great story for confidence boosting in children who are starting to read. Being a beginner reader book, it's probably a level 2, since it introduces a lot of digraph words mixed with first grade level sight words. With lots of repetition of words throughout the story, the child becomes a more confidant reader by the end.

A must have for all boys who are starting to read!

Handle with Care

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Handle with Care by: Jodi Picoult
published: March 3rd, 2009 by Atria (first published 2008)
isbn13: 9780743296410
Hardcover, 477 pages

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

"Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Promises break.
Hearts break."
"Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.

Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?" (from the back cover)
Although I normally enjoy Picoult's novels and controversial subject matters this book was a true disappointment. Any Picoult fan can tell you that she follows a formula -- which I normally enjoy. The problem with Handle with Care is that with the formula; it is too similar to My Sister's Keeper to not compare the two. There's a child with a medical issue, parents with personal issues, a sibling that is struggling with life and lawyers with long dragged out stories that have nothing to do with the main story line except to add a few extra hundred pages.

If you read My Sister's Keeper, you don't need to read this one to know how it will pan out or how it will end. The only part I enjoyed about this book was learning about Osteogenesis Imperfecta and how Picoult used recipes in the fronts of chapters to elaborate more. Other than that, a huge disappointment! I suggest either taking it out of the library or skipping it all together. It's not worth the purchase price on clearance.

Eating Heaven by Jennie Shortridge

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Eating Heaven My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eating Heaven is the story of one woman's struggle with her relationships with her family, men and food. At times the book is humorous and other times it's sad but it deals with real life issues that everyone can relate to on some level.

Although I found a lot of the relationships to mature unrealisticly the main story had enough depth to keep me reading and attach myself to the characters while rooting for a happy ending.

All in all, a good quick read.

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Time Traveler's WifeMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

I honestly have a love-hate relationship with this book. The storyline was well thought out, mesmerizing but the author got in the way of the story. Her need to impress the reader with her knowledge of art and music did not serve the story but took away from it with wasted pages.

Another problem I had with the book was her derogatory word choices. When one is having sexual encounters with ones spouse how often do they use the word f*ck to describe something romantic? And what woman in her right mind would describe her private area as her c*nt when pleasuring herself? Plus the sex scene between the two Henry's had me re-reading it over and over to see if I was reading it correctly. None of this had to do with the story and could have been omitted so that the author could explore the plot better.

The actual story was very romantic and had me sitting on the edge of my seat waiting and wondering what would happen next. A definite tear jerker.

I think if Niffenegger worked more on character development this book could have been the five star that so many people are giving it. For me, it needed a bit more work and rates more as a 3.5 stars.

Overall, a good read and one that can be devoured on a rainy afternoon with a box of tissues close.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The HelpMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kathryn Stockett has made a bold, brilliant and successful effort with her first novel, The Help. This story is not just about the struggles of black maids in Mississippi back in the 1960's. This story is about the struggle to find one's identity and the means of preserving it while trying to fit in as one is expected. The characters who are either too tall, too flashy, or too black by society's standards laugh, cry, love and hate their way through this novel that offers hope for better tomorrows. This book is a reminder on how much society can change in a remarkably short period of time when people of courage and strength insist that change is both possible and necessary.

I highly recommend this novel and greatly anticipate seeing what Kathryn Stockett will come up with next.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Bridges of Madison County My rating: 1 of 5 stars

What to say about this book.....*sigh* Waller's writing style is at most sophomoric. The prose and cliches through this book had it reading like a teenage rendition of a Harlequin Novel.

The book had so much potential. The plot was THERE but Waller did not know how to make it into anything worth reading.

Don't waste your time, skip this one.

Dagger and a Rose

Monday, August 3, 2009

There’s something moving in the air tonight.
There’s something about you,
like a child’s eyes dancing by the candlelight.

When I am with you, are you really there?
Those eyes of yours are like a hard smack,
tangled with an evening stare.

No there’s no road too hard for me to ride.
And there’s no mountain too hard for me to climb.
But, there’s something about you too hard for me to know.
How can there be love, with a dagger and a rose?

There’s something fallen from the sky tonight.
These nights I read you like a blind man,
begging just to see some light.

Just like a shadow floating through the air.
This passing time is like a warm breeze,
searching for what isn’t there.

No there’s no road too hard for me to ride.
And there’s no mountain too hard for me to climb.
But there’s something about you too hard for me to know.
How can there be love, with a dagger and a rose?

Well, it can never be easy.
It can never be easy.
Don’t let it go.
Please don’t let me go away.

The night has ended, now it’s time to fly.
To make you hate me makes it easier,
easier to say goodbye.

Cause there’s no road too hard for you to ride.
And there’s no mountain too hard for you to climb.
But there’s something about me that you could never know.
Don’t it make you wonder just how far we’d go?

Now it will never be easy.
It will never be easy.
Don’t let it go.
Please don’t let me go away.

© Robert Brown Fulford, IV

Just a peek at lyrics from his book of poetry,
Cold & Gray: When days seem like years, and years feel like days.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sarah's KeyMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

On July 16 & 17th 1942, 13,152 Jews were arrested in Paris and the suburbs, deported and assassinated at Auschwitz. 1,129 men, 2,916 women and 4,115 children in the Vel' d'Hiv roundup.

This is the tragic story of Sarah Starzynski, an 11 year old girl who was caught up in the roundup and Julia Jarmond a journalist assigned to do a story on the incident for the 60 year anniversary.

The beginning of the book is narrated by alternating the first person of each of the main characters between the past and the present in very short chapters. This structure of writing keeps you intrigued and flipping pages wanting to know more about Vel' d'Hiv and the fate of this little girl and her family.

About halfway through the book, the story is then told only through the narration of Julia Jarmond, and I found at this point the book lost something. The shock and disgust that dominated the first part of the book soon evolved into a much less emotionally gripping tale of Julia's determination to find out what had become of Sarah's fate.

I think if told more through Sarah's character this book could have been more powerful. Still a powerful and emotional story that you will never forget.

Zakhor, Al Tichkah.

Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Between Sisters My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every relationship is unique but none is more special than the bond between sisters. Even if circumstances long ago created distance in miles or in emotions, sisters have a distinct capacity to regain the connection and kinship that defines what sisterhood really means.

Kristin Hannah captures just this in Between Sisters. A heartfelt story of estranged sisters who find there way back to one another. A definite tear jerker and one worth picking up.

Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are You There Vodka? It's Me, ChelseaMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

I officially have a girl crush.

This book is freakin' hilarious. I have never laughed so hard reading a book before. I couldn't hold it in. Tears were pouring down my face and at some points I had to stop and share with my husband because it was just so out there that I couldn't believe that this was a memoir and not just a comedy routine.

I must admit some of these stories are so extreme it makes you wonder whether they have been over embellished but at the same time you are laughing hysterically thinking, "Oh No!! She couldn't!" while the tears start running again. As she states in the book, she has no problem admitting that she is a compulsive liar and is known for not knowing where the truth ends and where the lies begin, so you can keep that in mind while reading this.

I never saw Chelsea Handler do her stand-up but this reads like mini bits and I could picture her doing all of these stories in her routine. I was going to share a glimspe of her humor but I can't choose, their are so many good parts and I don't want to offend anyone who reads this with her racy topics.

There is a lot of off-color humor and offensive material throughout the book so if you are sensitive this book is NOT for you. But, if you don't offend easily pick up this book and make sure you empty your bladder before reading otherwise you may pee your pants from laughing so hard and give yourself a few hours of free time because you won't want to put this book down.

The Beach House by Jane Green

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Beach HouseMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Typical Chick-Lit.

Everyone is divorced, having an affair or going through some earth shattering problem. They all meet in Nantucket at the Windermere house. They become family and live happily ever after.

Not the best of Green's books but it was a fun fluff read. I loved that she wrote a book completely on US Soil and still used British words to describe things. It helped remind me why I love British Writers so much. I mean honestly doesn't having a row sound so much better than having a fight?

The characters were easy to relate too and all the different story angles were all written in enough details to make you really soak up the story. The book did seem rushed about halfway through like Green was going to miss her deadline but all in all a good light read.

At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

At First SightMy rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not sure about this one. It had a lot of twists and turns but it was kind of boring and did a lot of backing up to remind everyone about True Believer. The story had me at the edge of my seat at times, nervous for the characters and I did cry at the ending but was pretty disappointed in the actual story itself.

Jeremy seemed to whine a lot. A whole lot. He was miserable and I started hating his childishness. Lexie was starting to get to me as well with her absentmindedness. I don't know. Just not the best Sparks book. Glad I finished it but I found myself skimming ahead a lot to see if it was worth reading further. Not normal for me and his work.

True Believer by Nicholas Sparks

Thursday, July 2, 2009

True Believerrating: 2 of 5 stars

This had all the makings of a good Nicholas Sparks book. But, it wasn't his best work. If someone else would have wrote it maybe I could have given it a better rating but for Nicholas just wasn't anything spectacular and even then it probably would have received a 2.5 star rating.)

I enjoyed the characters and of course am now reading the follow up book, At First Sight with higher hopes but the storyline was too overplayed. -- Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy will do anything to keep girl. -- Very sweet story, but nothing over the top to make you love it.

Summer Island: A Novel by Kristin Hannah

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Island: A Novelrating: 5 of 5 stars

Summer Island is a very touching story about the power of love through healing and forgiveness. It gently reminds us that each story has three sides and how sometimes we need to look past our own hurt and anger to renew an old relationship.

Summer's Island is sold on it being a book about Mother/Daughter relationships but it is so much more. It is truths hidden behind masks; love lost yet still yearned for. It is pain from being apart from family; and resentment for losing so much time.

Kristen Hannah once again delivers a powerful story that anyone can relate too. Summer's Island is both sad and uplifting having you laugh and cry throughout the whole story and reaching for the phone to call someone you lost contact with when it is over.

Free Range Kids

Friday, June 19, 2009

Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry rating: 5 of 5 stars

Throw away your children's educational toys , remove all your baby-proofing gear and let your kids go crazy!

Well, not really. But wouldn't it be great to not be so nervous and fearful of every little thing that could possibly happen to your kids? Is the world really that much worse than when we were kids? Were our parents bad parents for allowing us to play outside unsupervised and *gulp* letting us eat raw cookie dough?

Free Range Kids discusses the way we today have grown into a society full of fear. Children are no longer allowed the opportunities to explore, play, exercise and have fun. Society today would rather have educational toys that teach what is outside your front door rather than giving your child the hands-on experience.

Lenore Skenazy takes these horrible threats to our children and transforms them into her very own 14 Free Range Commandments. She lays them out there in black and white with the "real" statistics and shows us just how naive we are today. (Did you know no one has every died from poisoned Halloween candy?!? EVER!!)

No one wants to put their child in danger or be judged by the better than thou parents and Skenazy does an amazing (and humorous) job at showing us how ridiculous some of our fears really are.

This is the mother to all parenting books. Before you open up any other parenting book besides as a reference, read this one! Don't let the parenting book business, the baby-proofing business or the media scare you. Trust your instincts (and help your child acquire his/her own.) You know your child(ren) better than anyone. No child needs or has ever needed 24/7 supervision. Just like our parents, we need to lay out the foundation, teach them to be safe and then trust them (just like our parents did with us) to do so.

The Guardian by Nicholas Sparks

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Guardianrating: 5 of 5 stars

Sparks enhances his regular romance writing style by bringing it to the next level by adding a thrilling curve to The Guardian.

This is one of those books that will grab your attention during the epilogue and keep you wanting more after the prologue. You will connect and/or relate with the characters and find yourself cheering at certain points, on the edge of your seat at others, and in tears by the ending. A very well rounded book.

My only complaint about the book (did you think I would go without complaining?)is the bad editing. Not only did a lot of grammar errors go unnoticed (no biggie I find them all the time); but at one point Sparks starts confusing the characters and their roles and the editor never picked it up. Not difficult for Sparks to do when the three important names in that part of the story are Julie, Jessica and Jennifer. Other than that, I loved this book. I hope they turn it into a movie (although I bite my tongue saying that); and I think this may have made it to my Top 5 books.

Say When: A Novel by Elizabeth Berg

Monday, June 1, 2009

Say When : A Novelrating: 1 of 5 stars

I don't know if it was Elizabeth Berg's writing style (childish) or the book itself, but i really did not like this book. I tried to like it but it was pretty bad. The writing was immature, the characters were whiny and where I could normally relate to or like at least one character -- I disliked everyone in this book. I'm happy to put it behind me.

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Weddingrating: 5 of 5 stars

I don't know if it is because my anniversary is tomorrow and I am feeling nostalgic or if it was this book but I am an emotional mess right now....

The Wedding is a love story following Sparks earlier book The Notebook. The story is told through Noah and Allie's son-in-law, Wilson and is about his relationship with his wife over the past 30 years.

I enjoyed reading this from Wilsons perspective and seeing that he noticed he made mistakes in his relationship. It took him 30 years to correct them and start a new beginning with his wife. I also enjoyed the stories of Noah and Allie that were captured in the book. I loved The Notebook and it was nice to see the story come alive again.

Although the book was very predictable I felt it was more enjoyable this way rooting for Wilson and hoping that he could patch up his marriage and have Jane fall in love with him all over again. A wonderful love story.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Change of Heartrating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book but could admit it's not a book for everybody. This book involves lots of different religious doctrine including the Gnostic Gospels and many points of views on religion all together (A Catholic priest who is questioning his faith, a Rabbi, an Agnostic, an Atheist, a Televangelist and not to mention the possible next Messiah....who also happens to be an inmate on death row.) I felt she did an amazing job with the characters and their views on religion but I personally don't follow an organized religion so i was able to look at it with an open mind and enjoy the very well researched history of the various doctrines. I can see how some could get upset because Jodi Picoult does tread on a pretty thin line with it but I believe she did it tactfully and with grace. As for me, thanks to this book I am going to pick up the 'Gnostic Gospels of Thomas (and maybe even Mary Magdalene) and read more about them.

On another note, I don't feel we learned a lot about the victims family and feel it lacked a lot on the actual plot. The book is advertised to be about a mothers loss and a mans need for justice but the plot continually gets lost in the big religious debate and then lacks on the other details.

Although it was very predictable and more of a religious history lesson then a book about capital punishment and loss; I enjoyed it thoroughly and had a hard time putting it down. (Not to mention it left me in tears at the end.) All-in-all a great quick read. =)

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F. Wright

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Wednesday LettersMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! It's been a long time since I read a book in a day but this book is smooth reading and before I knew it I was finished!

This is the story of Jack and Laurel who died in each others arms one Wednesday night. Their three children come together for the first time in 2 years and they discover letters that their father has written their mother -- every Wednesday since their wedding day.

I thought the story would be told mostly through the letters but it wasn't -- it was more than that. The children had flashbacks of their childhood, they shared stories with friends and neighbors, they grieved, they laughed and they discovered secrets about their family and the power of forgiveness and faith.

Although I didn't really like the twist at the ending (sorry don't want to give the book away) the book was very heartwarming with a wonderful message.

I know the book caught a lot of criticism because the views throughout the book are very Christian-Conservative and the book preaches the same messages over and over again; but put that aside and pick it up anyway. You won't be disappointed.

On a side note, I just wanted to add that the author is not by any means a good writer. His writing reads like a teeny-bop book with poor writing skills and too much "detail" but the story is still worth the read.

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Sister's Keeper My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There's not much you can share in a review about this book without giving away the story. This is a heart-aching story about a controversial topic and the struggle one family goes through.

Throughout the book you can feel the emotions of everyone involved in the story whether you liked the character or not -- they came to life and made you look at the situation as if you were walking in their shoes. Picoult did an amazing job at showing you the situation from every angle and wrote every character very well.

The ending was a huge shocker for me. But I could understand where Picoult was coming from when she wrote it. This was sadly the only way to end this story to give us all a good lesson. Sometimes we live in the "What Ifs" and days, months and years fly by us without us even realizing it. We tend to find ourselves living more on rainy days and waiting for sunshine instead of jumping in the puddles and enjoying the little things. That is what the ending was trying to show's not until we lose what's really important in life that we change our ways and realize what blessings we truly have.

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

Monday, April 13, 2009

True Colors My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading Firefly Lane and claiming it "my favorite book of all time," I was really looking forward to reading Kristin Hannah's newest book.

As many reviewers have stated, this book is a very slow start. You find yourself skipping a lot of the details and trying to enjoy the story. The writing in the first half of the book has barely the amount of heart or passion that Hannah felt through the second half.

Overall a very good read. A definite tear jerker and hard to put down. (Well after the first 1/4 of the book, anyway.)

Read With Dick And Jane: Go, Go, Go

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Read With Dick And Jane Go Go GoMy rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a great book for beginner readers. This 32 page book is split into 6 short stories that make it easy to break up reading time with your child. Dick and Jane make reading fun with lots of repetition to help your child master their vocabulary and expand their word recognition more than the basic sight words. Each page also offers color picture clues to help make the reading experience more comfortable for your child and encourage their commitment to reading.

A definite must have for all beginner readers!
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"You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." ~ Paul Sweeney