Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016 I Love Libraries Reading Challenge

I do love my library, and I try to use it as often as I can. It's a great resource! I usually can get any book that I want. It saves you money! They have books! And eBooks! And music! And this year, Bea from Bea's Book Nook is hosting the Goodreads library reading challenge that nudged me into using the library in 2015. The name of the challenge has changed (in 2015, it was Snagged @ The Library Challenge), but the purpose is the same - to encourage people to use their libraries more. And those libraries depend on you using them to keep them going! Save our libraries by walking through those doors once in a while! So, I'm officially joining the 2016 I Love Libraries Reading Challenge!


        Here are "The Rules"…

  • The challenge runs… January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016
  • Use your library to check out reading material - books, magazines, any sort of reading material that you are allowed to check out, physical or digital.
  • Put a sign up post on your blog and link it on The I Love Libraries Reading Challenge post. If you don't have a blog, make a dedicated goodreads shelf (or LibraryThing), make sure it's public, and link it on the "Challenge Post". 
  • Any reading material that can be checked out of your library counts - print books, audio books, digital books, magazines, etc. 
  • As part of your sign up post, briefly write why you like using your library - free books, internet access, a quiet place to work, whatever draws you to the library. If you don't have a blog platform, post it in the comments below.
  • Write a review - 2 sentences or an essay, whatever works for you, but there is a minimum of 2 sentences. Not sure what to write? How about something like, "The characters were a delight but the story was slow and confusing. It was disappointing." 
  • There will be a post each month where you can link your reviews. Each linky will run for the calendar year.
  • Pick a level from the list below. You can move up as needed but you can't move down.
  • Books may overlap with other reading challenges.

Levels:
          board book - 3
          picture book - 6
          early reader - 9
          chapter book - 12
          middle grades - 18
          Young adult - 24
          adult - 36
          just insert IV - 50

My Level? I'm going for "Picture Book", which is 6 books. I think I can manage that and if I can, I can move up to Early Reader! What do you think? Interested in supporting your library, sharing your book choices with other like minded readers and joining in on the reading challenge? Go to I Love Libraries Reading Challenge to get more info and sign up!
********************************************************************************
My Challenge Books...
I signed up for "picture book" level, which means 6 books. Here they are...

1. Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
2. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haru
3. American Housewife by Helen Ellis
4. Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas
5. The Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer
6. The Great Danbury State Fair by Andrea Zimmerman
7. The Guise of Another by Allen Eskens
8. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
9. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
10. Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
11. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
12. The Revenant by Michael Punke

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge

It's the start of the Reading Challenge posts! I enjoy Graphic Novels and have participated in The Graphic Novel Reading Challenge since 2010, when someone handed me my first one and told me to read it! It was called Blankets and it was not anything like I expected. At that time I thought Graphic novels were all super heroes and scooby doo, but did I have a lot to learn! This reading challenge is to help you step out of the box if you've never read any graphic novels and experience something beyond what you were expecting. And if you are a more experienced "graphic novel reader", this challenge is designed to help you share what you discover & enjoy and see what other people recommend. Nicola over at It's All Comic to Me is the host for this reading challenge. Thanks Nicola!

Here are "The Rules"


The Challenge runs from Jan.1 - Dec. 31, 2016

  • What counts:  graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books or combinations of text and bubbles all in the same book. In print or digital.
  • You must write a review and link to it for it to count towards the challenge. Reviews may be posted on your blog or goodreads or similar places. Several reviews may be gathered and posted in one link on your blog, but each book must be linked back to The 2016 Graphic Novel & Manga Challenge post in the monthly linkies to count. Go to that link  every month to record your progress in the comments. 

Here are the Levels...

     Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that's only 1 book a month)

     Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year (Can you handle 2 books a month.)

     Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year (Are you up to a book a week!)

  • You must sign up for a level, but once you complete that level you may move up and try for the next one.
  • Bloggers, Please write a sign-up post on your blog and then sign-up at the 2016 Graphic Novel & Manga Reading Challenge site with a link to your specific sign-up post (NOT to your home page). I'm sure Nicola would welcome non-bloggers too, just comment on the challenge site to let her know you don't have a blog.
My Level? I'm going for "Modern Age", challenging myself to read & review 12 books in 2016! 

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My Challenge Books...

1. Sunstone Volume 1 by Stjepan Sejic 
2. The Girl on the Shore by Inio Asano 
3, 4, & 5. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (Issues #1, 2, 3) by Brandon Montclair and Amy Reeder
6. Farlaine the Goblin: A Fairy tale about Finding Your Forest (TPB)
7. Farlaine the Goblin #4
8. Love: The Lion by Frederic Brremaud
9. I Am A Hero Omnibus Volume 1 by Kengo Hanazawa
10. Rosalie Lightening by Tom Hart
11. Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Chick with Books "Book Bingo 2016" Challenge

Chick with Books Book Bingo 2016!

Want to play along?! For my reading group, I made this Bingo card with each square representing a different book and I thought "Hey, maybe some Chick with Books followers might like to play along too!" So, here's the Bingo card for YOU too!   

                                                                                                  
                              Chick with Books Book Bingo 2016 
A Newbery or Caldecott Winner
***********
(Mr. Wuffles)

Nonfiction
************
Concussion
Longer than 500 Pages
Published in 2015
***********
Farlaine the Goblin

With a Blue Cover 

************* (River Road)
Historical Fiction
*********
The Edge of Time
A Booker Prize Winner (or made the short list)
************
The Drivers Seat
Set in a Place you’d like to visit
Currently on the Best Seller List
*********
The Nest
Graphic Novel
***************
(Sunstone Vol.1)
Poetry or Short Story Collection
**********
American Housewife
With a Red Cover
******
The Girl in The Red Coat
Chick with Books Bingo!
Romance or Love Story
************ (Our Souls at Night)
By An Author That Shares your first Name
With a Number in the Title
Has Water on the Cover
**********
Eternal on the Water
Translation
A Western
Something from your TBR Pile
Biography or Memoir
A Banned Book
Food as the Theme
**********
(Beat, Slay, Love)
Manga
********
(A Girl on the Shore)
Listen to an audiobook

 The rules are simple… 

1. Be adventurous! This is for fun! Enjoy finding books you want to read that fit in the squares!

2. The Challenge runs from January 1, 2016 - December 31, 2016

3. If you want to participate, you can join anytime! If you're a blogger, feel free to write a blog post with the "rules" and link back to me. You can just sign up below by leaving a comment telling me your ready for some adventurous reading and come back and share your progress.

4. It's one book for each square! If you read a book that fits more than one square, you can only use it for one square. And once you check a square off, it's checked off for good. (Remember, it's all about reading the books). Feel free to print the Bingo card to help you keep track OR email me for a large PDF of this Bingo card! 

5. The middle square is a freebie! No need to read a book for that one!

6. Every 3 months, I'll post an update here where you can share your progress, what books you read for which squares and if you got any Bingos! I'll post the updates, April 1st, July 1st, Oct. 1st, and Dec. 31st. 

7. Remember it's not really a competition, but let's see who can get the most Bingo's! 
                                                                                            
Now…Ways to be REALLY adventurous…

*The 5K Bingo… That's your first Bingo, 5 in a row! How awesome is that! And you can just keep getting Bingo rows to add up those Bingos! Remember a Bingo row is 5 squares in a row. 

*The Double Barrel Shotgun Bingo… That's 2 Rows going the same direction! 

*The Double Cross Bingo… X That's X'ing out the Bingo Card with the 2 diagonals! 

*Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend Bingo… ◊ That's getting the 8 squares checked off that form a diamond.
*Diamond Earrings Bingo… ◊◊ That's 2 small diamonds (made up of 4 squares each) that touch each other. So that would be 7 squares . You can also lose an earring for a Lost an Earring Bingo made up of just one small diamond of 4 squares.  

*Around the World Bingo… That's getting all the boxes around the perimeter, like a square! That's 16 Squares!

*25 Shades of Black Bingo… That's the WHOLE Bingo Card! What an accomplishment! You must read ALL THE TIME!

Up for the adventure? I sure am! I have enjoyed Book Bingo in the past and look forward to it this year with all of you! Let's see how many Bingo's we can get, if we can get any of the fancy Bingo's above, and what books we read to fit theses Bingo squares!

Good Luck! Leave a comment below to join in!      
******************************************************************************

**UPDATE: I've filled in 9 Bingo Squares, With a Blue Cover and Romance or Love Story! AND Graphic Novel! And Manga! Nonfiction, Newbery or Caldecott Winner or Honor Winner, With Food as a Theme, and A Poetry or Short Story Collection. AND, Book with a Red Cover! How are YOU doing??

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Sunday Salon and My 2016 Wrap-up



Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the last Sunday Salon for the year 2015 and time for us to look back on our year in books. So find yourself a comfy chair, pour a cup of joe and relax. Let's talk books!

My year started off with my first book choice of 2015, which was Wonder by R.J. Palacio, a story about Auggie Pullman who was different, but only because he looked different, and how he coped with being in the fifth grade. What a wonderful book! I checked it out of the library and so glad I did! Follow the link above if you haven't read it yet, to read my full review. It was touching, funny, and tender at times.

2015 was the year I didn't join a zillion reading challenges. I love reading challenges! But it can be crazy trying to read books that fulfill your challenges if you have too many. So, I limited myself to 3 challenges- Snagged at the Library reading challenge, which had me checking out books at the library instead of buying them at the bookstore, The Graphic Novel reading challenge, which I love because it encourages me to make sure I remember to fill my reading time with Graphic Novels too, and the Goodreads Reading challenge, which I set a goal of reading 50 books this year. So, how did I do on my reading challenges? Well, I did check out quite a few books from the library, but read only 4. My graphic novels totaled 5 this year, and my total books were 27 out of the 50. I would have read more books, but after reading The Fault in Our Stars, I was unable to read anything else for quite some time. It just affected me in such a way, that it took a long time to pick up another book. (Yes, I thought it was that good!) I also went back to full time work, after going through almost 2 years of physical therapy for that horrible auto accident I was in, so that put a dent in my reading time too.

I read in total, 27 books, totaling 8009 pages! My longest book was The Bone Tree by Greg Iles, which was 809 pages (but went quickly because, yes, it was that good!).

My Favorite Book of 2015 was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins! Followed by Circling the Sun by Paula McClain AND Hemingway in Love by A.E. Hotchner.  Best romance was The Liar by Nora Roberts Best Graphic Novel was Pablo by Clément Oubrerie. Those books were published in 2015, but I did enjoy some books that were in my TBR pile (hmmm, I should have joined that challenge to get through more of my TBR's)… I Loved The Martian by Andy Weir, I loved The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and  I loved The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (which was a book club selection this year too!)


So, what are we planning on reading this year?! I've joined the First Book of 2016 event held by Sheila of Book Journey for starters. Stop by on January 1st to see what book I've chosen to begin my reading year with! And if you're interested in joining in on the fun, follow the link for Book Journey and sign up to participate! It's always fun to see what everyone is going to read. Besides that, I plan on joining the Goodreads reading challenge again with goal of 50 books again. AND, I will join the Graphics Novel reading challenge hosted by Nicola of It's All Comic to Me again too, because it's just so much fun. I plan on using the library more this year (I've got some books checked out right now) and I'm going to take a look at and decide on any other reading challenges I may want to join this week. I am going to host a reading challenge for my reading group this year! Maybe you'll want to participate too? I'm going to have a Book Bingo challenge that should be a lot of fun! Ever play Book Bingo? I'll post all about it this week along with the Bingo card you can use!

How was your reading year?! What was your favorite book? And do you have any plans for 2016 yet? Share it all here, I'd love to hear about it all!

Happy reading… Suzanne

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Sunday Salon and Best of the Year Books...


Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Yes, it's that day of the week we talk books! And it's a special week because we are going to take a peek at some of the "Best Books of 2015 lists" and see what keeps popping up. What are your choices as the best book of 2015?! After looking at a zillion "Best of" lists, there are some books that keep popping up over and over…


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins… Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
                         ***                                                  
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff… Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it. Profound, surprising, propulsive, and emotionally riveting, it stirs both the mind and the heart.
        ***
Between The World and Me by Ta Neis Coates… In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder.

Here are some books that I missed that were on some of those lists and are now on my "Would like to read"list…
                           
                           

Want to check out some of those Best of Lists? Here are some great links...

Goodreads Readers Choice Awards can be found HERE.

Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2015.

Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2015

So now that we know what the "experts" say, what do YOU say?! What were your favorite reads in 2015?! Next week I'll give you my top reads for 2015 (and one of these on this page is included!) 
PLUS, coming up are the 2016 Reading Challenges! Do you ever participate in a reading challenge? I usually do, and will this year too, but Chick with Books is going to post a reading challenge that you might just want to say yes to! Stay tuned for that next week!


Happy Reading… Suzanne

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hemingway in Love: His Own Story by A.E. Hotchner… A Review

Loving two women at the same time is the worst affliction a man can have.” 

Hemingway was passionate. In his work and in his life. Hemingway in Love, His Own Story, a memoir by long-time Hemingway confidant AE Hotchner exposes the great love he had for his first wife Hadley and his lifetime of despair over betraying her and losing her. It's a love story and a glimpse into Hemingway the man, whose writing came from his passion for life.

Following a second plane crash that Hemingway didn't think he was going to survive (but he did), he confided in his friend Hotchner the story that was closest to his heart, the story of how he gambled and lost the one true love of his life, his first wife Hadley, the woman who believed in him, who championed him on through lean times, and the only woman who could complete him and meet life head on just like he did. As his health was failing him, Hemingway wanted to make sure the story would be told if he couldn't do it himself. And that's exactly what Hemingway in Love does, it tells the story of the love he had for Hadley, his true love, how he betrayed her, lost her and continued to try and find her in the women he became involved with after her.

Oh how my heart ached for him! Hotchner did a wonderful job revealing the true heart of a man whose facade seemed so unshakeable, and all the while layering it with the people and places that served as Hemingway's playground. Paris comes alive, Cuba is revealed, Josephine Baker makes an appearance, as well as F. Scott Fitzgerald. These are the people and places that became his stories, and here we see them without the flourish of the pen. Though Hemingway revealed his story to Hotchner prior to his suicide in 1961, it wasn't until now that Hemingway in Love was published out of respect for Hemingway's fourth wife, Mary.

Are you a romantic at heart? Then you will love this book! A slim 192 pages and small enough to fit in a pocket, it's a perfect little gift for that romantic on your list too! A definite 4 star book.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida… A Review

What can you do if you accidentally become a flesh eating ghoul? After the initial shock of finding out you survived an attack, that you don't like regular food any more and starving yourself isn't an option, you try and figure out how to adapt and live. And that's exactly what our 18 year old protagonist, Ken Kaneki, does in Tokyo Ghoul Vol. 1 by Sui Ishida.

As in much Manga, this starts out as an innocent crush on a girl, who in reality is one of the monsters and instead of romance our girl wants her next meal. The characters are well developed and distinctive visually (sometimes in Manga the characters all kind of look the same, but not here). The artwork is nice, and the storyline will definitely hold your attention.

This goes deeper than just a horror story. It makes you question the basis of evil, as Kaneki straddles the fine line of having the body of a ghoul, but the soul of a human. Torn between two worlds, Kaneki is a great protagonist, although a reluctant one. Great story line, great artwork and enjoyed it thoroughly. Now I am hooked (that's what a good Manga series does to you!) and am going to read the next 4 books. Book 5 is out in June 2016.

I would recommend this to any Manga reader who enjoys a bit of horror with a touch of humanity.

Monday, December 14, 2015

eReader on Your Christmas List? Flash sale at Barnes & Noble on the Nook GlowLight Plus!

Are you thinking of purchasing an eReader? Well, Barnes & Noble is having some great deals and the Nook GlowLight Plus is one of them!

I'm kinda an eReader junkie. I like trying them out and I love reading on them. I started out with the original Barnes & Noble Nook and have numerous other eReaders through the years. Presently I have a Kindle Fire HDX and a Barnes & Noble Nook (which is really a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.0 7inch) Both the Kindle Fire and the Nook are small 7 inch tablets, which is great because I can read, search the internet, check my email, etc. But sometimes… I get distracted from my reading and start doing other things because I have that capability. So, I thought it would be nice to get back to basics. Yup, just a dedicated eReader that has Wifi so I can download books, but that's it. So, I've been looking at the Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight Plus. It's a nice small size, small enough to fit in a purse, it's pretty durable being waterproof and dust proof, not to mention an aluminum back, and it's on SALE! 

I'm not going to review the GlowLight Plus here (I will be reviewing it in the near future) but I wanted to let you know that if you're interested, it is on sale until Dec. 16th for $99. That's $30 off the normal price. ( I should also mention that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is also on sale for $99 until Dec. 26th)

So, if you want to get back to basics and save some $$, check out the Nook GlowLight Plus. It's an eInk based eReader that may be just be what the Librarian ordered! Personally, I'm going to put one in my stocking!

*P.S. One of the recent hiccups with the GlowLight Plus has been a problem with downloading ePub books that you can borrow from your local library. The updated software was suppose to fix that, but readers are still having issues. Though I would want to use this eReader to read purchased book, I would want to be able to borrow library books too, so I have to decide whether the eReader is worth it just for reading Nookbooks. What do you think?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

'Twas Twelve Days Before Christmas… Gifts for the Readers on Your List!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! And welcome to winter! Although "technically" winter doesn't start until December 22nd, in Connecticut we are usually dealing with piles of snow, snow shovels, spinning tires and scraping windshields by now. But what has been going on is unseasonably warm weather, with 57 degrees weather just yesterday. I'm not complaining, but it just doesn't feel quite like Christmas to me without just a little snow. But Christmas is almost here and are you ready?! Doing any last minute reader gift shopping?  As a book blogger and avid reader, people always think I am very hard to buy a "reader" type gift for. It's true I do have a lot of books, but books aren't the only things us readers like! Here are some great gifts any reader (including myself) would love…

Bookends! If your reader has books, what a great gift bookends would be! I like these Hand bookends from Tech Tools ($18.50), but there are plenty of other types of bookends. Do a google search under "bookends" and plenty of images and links will pop up. You can also google search "bookends" and whatever type of bookend you are looking for, such as ""bookends alligator" if you want alligator bookends.

What about a Coffee Mug! I have this Banned Book Mug by The Unemployed Philosophers Guild ($14.95) and love it! It's a nice 12 oz fill and well made. The outside has titles from banned books, and the title "Banned Books" is in relief on the outside. Of course if your reader is a tea drinker there are beautiful tea mugs to be had as well.

Maybe a nice Book Light! Here's something I saw that I thought was really cool... a Book Rest Lamp by Suck UK($78.50)!  It's a reading light and/or nightlight and a book rest at the same time. It's shaped like a house without a roof, and your book laid down over it looks like the roof. It's a frosted illumination at 11 watts, so it's pretty safe to lay your book on it. And I think it's a great idea. Maybe a little pricey, but very cool. I looked around and this was pretty much sold out everywhere but Amazon. (the link to amazon is above).


A Book Rest! How about something to hold your book up for you? Book pillows and book stands always make a nice gift. I found this new one called The Book Seat by The Book Seat ($29.95) that looks pretty nice. It is filled with polystyrene beads to kind of mold itself where you put it. If this isn't to your liking, you can always google "Book rest" or "Book Pillow" to find all sorts of different choices.

Coloring Book for Adults! I haven't
gotten in on "the craze" yet, but I may have to get this COLORING Book! Yes, adult coloring books are all the rage now and why not?! It's suppose to be a stress reducer, but heck, I'm sure it's just plain fun too! Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Colouring Book by Johanna Basford (under $10), seemed to have started the craze in 2013, and has so far sold over a million copies. There are objects to find and beautiful intricate pages to color in. In quite a few reviews I read, people were using colored pencils because they found the sharpie type pens to bleed through the pages, so why not treat your reader to a coloring book and a box of colored pencils too! (I use to like the Prismacolor pencils when I was using them for Art School).

Still thinking about gifts? There are always nice bookmarks, gift cards to a favorite bookstore, or maybe a magazine subscription to a nice literary magazine or paper. Hope these suggestions were helpful! Let me know what ideas you have for great reader gifts! We can all use more suggestions!

                **************************
Next Sunday Salon starts the end of the year Best Book lists! Is your favorite book on any of these lists? Come find out next Sunday! And next week, I'll see about getting up some of those reviews I've been meaning to write! I recently read a GREAT graphic novel about Pablo Picasso (Pablo by Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie) , that is his biography as told by his lover Fernande Olivier, whom he shared the beginning of his life with. Hmmm, have an art lover on your list? This would make a great gift!


Enjoy your week and see you next Sunday…. Suzanne

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

If we think back to 1842, it was Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, editor (she preferred editress) of the popular nineteenth century publication Godey's Lady's Book, who first lobbied president Abraham Lincoln for a national Thanksgiving Day. Initially Lincoln proclaimed August 6th as the date, but Sarah felt that the 4th thursday in November, as selected originally by George Washington, was a better choice. As we all know, Sarah won out on the date. And we won out on the food - originally the "modern" Thanksgiving was a day of fasting and giving thanks. Sarah Josepha Buell is known as "The Mother of the American Thanksgiving", so when you are enjoying your Thanksgiving today, also give thanks to Sarah

There is a great childrens book about Sarah entitled, Thank You Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson, and beautifully illustrated by Matt Faulkner. It's geared towards 4 - 8, but the writing is entertaining (and informative) for adults as well! You can learn more about Thank You Sarah at Laurie Halse Anderson's website. 

As I stream the Macy's Thanksgiving parade on Roku and get my sweet potatoes in the water, I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! I hope ya'll are sharing this day with family, friends and great food! Gobble, gobble!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Perfection Combination Review & Book Tour!



Welcome to the Perfect Combination Book Tour! Chick with Books is hosting today's book tour with a review of Jamillah & David Lamb's book, Perfect Combination! Along with my review, we'll learn a little bit about the authors, Jamillah & David Lamb...

First, What did I think of the book? Perfect Combination is a wonderful book about Jamillah and David, how they met, fell in love and how they keep that love alive and growing. It's their wish to share how they've managed to overcome all the pitfalls of falling in love and become happy healthy partners. Their book is arranged in sections that cover what they call the "Seven Key Ingredients to Happily Living & Loving Together," and I have to say that they've done a great job. In a kind of dialogue, with Jamillah talking first and then David adding his perspective and then vice versa, we learn the lessons that Jamillah and David learned while navigating the dating game, getting married and eventually working together in a business. All these "Key Ingredients" are common sense, but sometimes we just need a kick in the butt to remember why we fell in love in the first place and this book is a perfect reminder. Some of the things I took away from reading Perfect Combination were to "Let your past be the past" (we are made up of all our experiences, but let's not bring all that bad baggage with us), "Create Lasting Memories" (these are things that enhances a good relationship), Appreciate your partner, always be a friend to yourself and your significant other, be supportive, and of course don't forget to add a little romance to keep things fresh.

With anecdotes, playlists and stories, Jamillah and David share with you what has worked for them and what could work for you. Unlike some dry self help books, Perfect Combination is an entertaining read and written from the heart. I definitely enjoyed my time reading this book. Would be a good book for your single friend navigating the dating game, as well as a good book for any young couple wanting to heed some great advice.

A Little About Jamillah and David Lamb... David and Jamillah Lamb are the creative and dynamic couple that founded Between The Lines Productions, Inc. to fulfill their co-mission: to spread inspiration, joy, and love through the power of theater and other media.

David was born in Queens, NY and raised in public housing in Astoria, Queens. He attended Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and New York University School of Law. The successful playwright of the hit off-Broadway play Platanos Y Collard Greens, David has found the love of his life in Jamillah. Despite knowing he had found the right person, David struggled to lower his guard and put aside his tendency to be suspicious of women. Before Jamillah, David would often find himself breaking up with girlfriends rather than risk being hurt by rejection. Recognizing he had found a “kind heart and sweet spirit” in Jamillah, he made the decision “to grow up and grow into feeling what love felt like.” As the relationship has deepened, he’s learned other lessons. He now smiles at his typically male (let’s be honest!) expectation that Jamillah be able to read his mind. The ability of love and romance to conquer hurts and overcome hardships is a theme that runs through David’s books and plays. He loves being a business, marriage, and parenting partner with Jamillah.

Jamillah grew up in Chicago in the same neighborhood as First Lady Michelle Obama. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wesleyan University and then a Masters degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. A former Vice-President at Citibank, Jamillah uses her education and experience in the daily operations of their business. Just like David, Jamillah had baggage of her own to overcome. Raised in a strict environment with high expectations, she struggled to lighten up. She put men she met before David “through the ringer,” worrying that allowing someone to care for her meant being less independent. As she learned to overcome her fears and become more trusting, she came up against other challenges. Becoming a family with the birth of their daughter Kaira was not a straight path. The journey to this incredible blessing was filled with adversity and pain, but also the support of David. Jamillah made one of her most important life decisions in 2005. At that time, Jamillah was a VP at Citibank, while also helping get David’s first play off the ground. The play had been going well for a couple of years, but it was still a big leap of faith when she made the decision to leave a comfortable corporate job to work on their business full-time. Through ups and downs, and the typical financial worries of growing a business, Jamillah has never regretted her decision. The choice has allowed them to be together day in and day out doing creative, passionate work together.

For More Information...
       Visit the authors’ website.
       Connect with the authors on Facebook and Twitter
       Find out more about the authors at Goodreads.

I want to thank Jamillah and David for sending along a copy of their book to me to read for this review! And I'd like to that Pump Up Your Book Tours for the opportunity to be a part of the Perfection Combination Book Tour!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Fault in Book Censorship or How could They Ban The Fault in Our Stars...


I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. After crying my eyes out for a good 20 minutes near the end of the book, I paused to think about how unfair life can be. I guess the unfair part is not life, but things that can happen because you have a life. How you have so many days, have no idea how many days that actually is until you have no days left and then probably still don't know how many days because it's just over… Thank you Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters for making me remember that you only get so many days, so let's enjoy them or waste them or do whatever you'd like to do with them, just remember to be conscious of them while it's going on…

I read The Fault in Our Stars for Banned Book Week. The book had been lingering on my Kindle for a very long time and Banned Book Week gave me the necessary push to read it. It was banned initially for a complaint by a parent that "the morbid plot, crude language, and sexual content was inappropriate for her children." My initial thoughts were that I was happy to see a parent paying attention to what her children were reading, or what was available to read, but let's not make those decisions of what's appropriate for other people's children. My thoughts after reading the book were how can anyone think those things about this book

I guess death is a morbid thought. I'm sorry but people die, and I'm even sorrier that children die, but wouldn't it be better to have a dialogue about this instead of putting it away into a closet? I thought the book dealt with Hazel Grace's mortality in a refreshingly honest way. I'm sure that the way Hazel and her teenage friends dealt with the subject is the way real teenagers would.

“I told Augustus the broad outline of my miracle: diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer when I was thirteen. (I didn’t tell him that the diagnosis came three months after I got my first period. Like: Congratulations! You’re a woman. Now die.)” 

Crude language?… OK, I guess when someone has cancer in a certain male area and talks about it, it could be considered crude. Actually, Hazel Grace made light of the counselor who survived his cancer, since at the beginning of every support group meeting he had to tell everyone once again about "his cancer".

And, finally sexual content… well, spoiler alert here…. 16-year-old Hazel Grace and 17-year-old Augustus Waters have sex, but it is primarily left to the imagination. No Fifty Shades, no graphic detail, just a few buttons, hoses and removal of a prosthetic involved. You could almost miss it, but just know that it happened. I imagine that this could be inappropriate for young children, but I'm sure teenagers know about sex. Good teaching opportunity here too.

So, what did I think about The Fault in Our Stars?! I loved it! It was amazing, compassionate, honest and shattering. I loved Hazel Grace immediately and was rooting for her and Augustus Waters from the start, even though I kinda knew that their love story was doomed. There was a twist that left me breathless and crying my eyes out and realizing that John Green is an amazing writer and I should have read this a long time ago. If you haven't read this, READ THIS! An amazing love story, an honest look at "how cancer sucks", and a reminder to all of us to live our life mindfully.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Banned Books Week and Memoir Monday


A Young Woman's Coming of Age Story...
During the Turbulent Political Backdrop of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran

Young Marjane Satrapi came from a well off, loving, modern family. She went to a non-religious french school. Her father drove a cadillac and her family had a maid. All that changed in 1980, when Marjane turned 10 years old... because Marjane lived in Tehran... During the cultural revolution... and 'the veil'.

The book opens with Marjane showing us how a 10 year old perceives the sudden requirement to wear the veil... The little girls didn't understand the need to wear one. One day you don't have to, and the next day you do? Her bilingual school was closed down because it was a symbol of capitalism and decadence... And soon Marjane was being indoctrinated into the political fray. First she is taught that the Shah was chosen by God, then when he is overthrown she is taught to tear his pictures out of all the school books. People were being persecuted, executed, tortured. And Marjane's parents did not protect her from the truth because it seemed the only way to save her from becoming one of the persecutors...

Her parents protested, there were raids & bombs, and patrols... Relatives are murdered, friends of the family disappear, a friend dies is a bombing. How is a 1o year old suppose to deal with all this? Honestly... Unfortunately her honesty was perceived as blasphemy... Marjane called her teacher a liar when she taught that there were no more political prisoners and recited the facts, she wore a simple bracelet under her garment and was expelled... It was then decided that a little girl with a penchant for rebellion and a sharp tongue would be safer growing up away from Iran... So, Marjane next goes to Austria to live with a friend of her mother's... and as if things couldn't get worse, they do.

What is so interesting and compelling in this story is that Marjane is the same as all young girls- she likes music, and posters, jewelry and wearing jeans. But because of where she is born she is forced to grow up faster and learn to survive. Her "slips" are mostly from her acting like a 10 year old. How she deals with all this conflict, even the conflict within herself as she grapples with what is going on around her and what is in her heart, is written and drawn wonderfully.

This coming of age story, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, is a tender, heartfelt story of a girl growing up in a world of conflict. The relationship she has with her mother and grandmother are loving and volatile. But what she takes from each of them and tucks away into her soul shows us glimpses of a girl growing up. How she deals with the war & revolution are important, but how she deals with the injustices imposed on her just because she is a female is even more important. The wearing of the veil, the cut of her clothes, the wearing of make-up, a strand of hair out of place, moral etiquette, dating, divorce... these are all things we learn how a young Iranian girl deals with. All of this is why I thought this book would easily fit into the Women Unbound Reading Challenge... This book shows how this young woman deals with the social and political issues present as she grows up in Iran. Marjane is candid, honest, funny and angry. The book will tug at your heart at moments and infuriate you other times. The book spans 14 years, and it is well worth your time cracking the spin!

I really enjoyed reading this book. The Black & White drawings were so expressive and the story flowed easily from the page. I read it in one sitting because I became absorbed in the Marjane's story. If you're not exactly a graphic novel reader, I hope you'll open this book anyway, it is a wonderful read and would be a great start to reading graphic novels!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Sunday Salon and Read a Banned Book Week!


*


Welcome to the Sunday Salon! Every Sunday we set aside a little time to chat books, and this week is no different, with the theme being Banned Books! So, grab a cup of joe, find a comfy chair and let's talk books!

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 27−October 3, 2015

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Yes, it's the 21st century and still we have book burners and censorship. I think that the point here is that parents should be involved in what their children read and help them understand what they are reading, guide them in choosing appropriate material for their curious minds. BUT, let's not infringe on the reading rights of another child, whose parent may not wish to ban a certain book. Most banning and censorship takes place in the most accessible (and free) place to check out a book - a library! Let's not make reading a privilege. What do YOU think?!

This year the theme of Banned Books Week is Young Adult (YA) fiction… Here are the top 10 banned or challenged YA books for 2014-2015:

 1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for  Young Readers)
 2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon Books/Knopf Doubleday)
 3. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston)
 4. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (Bloomsbury Publishing)
 5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books/Simon & Schuster)
 6. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
 7. Chinese Handcuffs, by Chris Crutcher (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)
 8. The Giver, by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers)
 9. The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage/Knopf Doubleday)
10.Looking for Alaska, by John Green (Dutton Books/Penguin Random House)

It seems that Banned Books Week has been taking on a theme, instead of just promoting the reading of all banned books. Last year was comic books, and I read The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey (read my review), which I loved. In 2013, I read a classic, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, incredible writing and totally not what I was expecting. And I spent a week with Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in 2009.

This whole week we'll celebrate Banned Books Week highlighting challenged and banned books. And I'll be reading...
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, which was banned in a Riverside, Ca. middle school in 2014 because one parent felt, "the morbid plot, crude language, and sexual content was inappropriate for her children... "HER" children. That book was a reading sensation and really promoted kids picking up a book. It may have been inappropriate for her children, and I applaud her for being involved in what her children read, but don't take the ability to read that book away from others. And so, this week, I will finally read The Fault in Our Stars, which has been lingering on my Kindle for some time.

The second book I'm going to read is not YA, but a children's book, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. It's a true story about 2 male penguins at the Central Park Zoo in NYC who enjoyed doing everything together, and when the time came they built a nest just like all the other Penguin couples, but they couldn't lay an egg. Eventually they are given an abandoned egg and raise this as their own. This book is one of the top banned books of all time, and it really makes me scratch my head. Can reading this book really change your child's sexuality? I view this book as a cute book about the love between the two penguins, and I'm not really viewing this as a book about homosexuality. Am I wrong?! I guess it could teach children about tolerance. My library does carry the book, but I could not find it in any of my bookstores.

This whole week we'll celebrate Banned Books Week highlighting challenged and banned books. What will YOU be reading?!

Weekly Recap… This past week I finished Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, and all I can say is WOW! What an amazing beautiful book. I did not want this book to end and my heart sank as I turned that last page. The writing brought me right into the heart of Africa, and the people became real and part of my life the 2 weeks I stretched out this novel. I'll be posting my review this week. But all I can say is READ THIS BOOK! The writing reminded me of Laura Hillenbrand's Sea Biscuit with the movie Out of Africa as the backdrop. If this were a movie, it would be a sweeping big screen epic.

My reading group read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and everyone loved it! It was so different than what I had expected and the author did a wonderful job of merging 2 stories from 2 different time periods together. Look for my review this week on Orphan Train too!

That about does it for this week. Are you planning on reading any banned or challenged books this week? How do you feel about censorship? Follow the link to The Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books Lists of the 21st Century to see the many other books that have offended someone somewhere.

Happy Reading… Suzanne

*Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Sunday Salon and Mysteries, Histories and Something to give you the Down Right Creepies


Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that time of the week we share a little reading time, or at least share what we've been reading! My reading this week has been going back and forth between my hardcover copy of Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (which I am loving) and my Kindle edition of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (which I am equally loving!) I don't read two books at the same time too often, but forgot the one book one day and started the other and can't really let go of either for too long. While I've been wrapped up in these two books, there were a few other books that were trying to get my attention… one is a kind of history (of a marriage), one is a mystery, and one is a dark story that will give anyone the creeps…

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff… Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, and in prose that is vibrantly alive and original, Groff delivers a deeply satisfying novel about love, art, creativity, and power that is unlike anything that has come before it.

I have read so many starred reviews of this book I wonder if it's really that good or if it's just the momentum that's carrying it along. BUT, I did read the beginning of this novel and have to say that Lauren Groff's writing is captivating. I was immediately drawn into the story and wanted to read on. But will the writing live up to itself through the whole novel? I'm hoping so and have put this on my must read list! This is written in two interwoven stories and that in itself sounds like it would make for an interesting read! This was just released this week in hardcover. Paperback due to arrive in January.
*****
In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware… What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller. Leonora, known to some as Lee and others as Nora, is a reclusive crime writer, unwilling to leave her “nest” of an apartment unless it is absolutely necessary. When a friend she hasn’t seen or spoken to in years unexpectedly invites Nora (Lee?) to a weekend away in an eerie glass house deep in the English countryside, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital bed injured but alive, with the knowledge that someone is dead. Wondering not “what happened?” but “what have I done?”, Nora (Lee?) tries to piece together the events of the past weekend. Working to uncover secrets, reveal motives, and find answers, Nora (Lee?) must revisit parts of herself that she would much rather leave buried where they belong: in the past.

Looking for the next "The Girl on a Train"? This is suppose to be it! And it reads like it a bit, with a story that is simple on the outside, but with twists and turns hidden deep within. Touted as a psychological thriller, this is Ruth Ware's debut novel and it is a hit in the UK. I have this waiting in the wings when I'm done with my other two books and can't wait to dive it!
*****
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh… The Christmas season offers little cheer for Eileen Dunlop, an unassuming yet disturbed young woman trapped between her role as her alcoholic father’s caretaker in a home whose squalor is the talk of the neighborhood and a day job as a secretary at the boys’ prison, filled with its own quotidian horrors. Consumed by resentment and self-loathing, Eileen tempers her dreary days with perverse fantasies and dreams of escaping to the big city. In the meantime, she fills her nights and weekends with shoplifting, stalking a buff prison guard named Randy, and cleaning up her increasingly deranged father’s messes. When the bright, beautiful, and cheery Rebecca Saint John arrives on the scene as the new counselor at Moorehead, Eileen is enchanted and proves unable to resist what appears at first to be a miraculously budding friendship. In a Hitchcockian twist, her affection for Rebecca ultimately pulls her into complicity in a crime that surpasses her wildest imaginings.

This is one of those books that has gotten so much "interesting" praise that your curiosity is what will win out. Eileen is suppose to be very dark and morbid, shocking at times, but also fascinating and witty. How does the author manage all of that at the same time? Great writing, but hard story. This book was on so many "lists" pre-publication, that I made a note to take a look at it when it finally came to print. I think if I can get through the self-loathing the Eileen shares at every chance to arrive at the mystery and crime to follow, it might be worth it. What do you think?
*****
On a sad note, author Jackie Collins has died. She died from cancer, and had kept her illness a secret until the very end. Personally, I have not read any of her romances, but they are a world wide sensation, with larger than life characters and hollywood glamour. She kept writing throughout her illness and published 5 novels since being diagnosed with cancer. Looking at her wealth of novels, I think I may give Chances a try. It's a family saga with all the trimmings and one of Jackie's all time favorite characters, Lucky, is born. Have you read any Jackie Collins?


That will wrap it up for this weeks great books round-up! What have you been reading this week? And do you feel curious about what an author has written after they die if you've never read any of their books?

Happy reading… Suzanne




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