Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Bel Canto Read – A Long Party!

So… Bel Canto is a book that intrigues me although I have never read it.  I like the thought of the book the possibility of the book makes me feel as though all could be right in the world and oh that makes me happy….

The synopsis:

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects:

Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God’s own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven.  ~Amazon

I actually own three copies of the book and yes, like I mentioned before…I have never read it.  Yet I own three copies because every time I see it at a sale, I am reminded that I want to read this… and I think, it is going to speak to me and therefore I am ready with additional copies to gush to my friends that it is a must read and hey don’t sweat finding it because I have a copy right here…. or, something like that.  :razz:

Now I am inviting you to experience Bel Canto with me.  It is a different read a long for me because while loved by some, others have found it to be unreal and impossible.  And yet, here I am asking you to take the Bel Canto leap with me. 

All participants are invited back here on September 13th for an all day discussion/party/ giveaway.  To participate fill out the form below, grab the button above and write your Bel Canto participation post and invite others to join us as well. 

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan (YA Review by Camryn)

Camryn stops in again with another YA read that has captured her heart!

~Sheila

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else is a shorter novel written by Erin McCahan. Bronwen Oliver has never really related to her parents. She doesn’t look like them, she doesn’t act like them. Because of this, she developed a make believe scenario in which her name is Phoebe Lilywhite, and she was switched at birth with the real Bronwen Oliver. She and her best friend Kirsten have been doing this for years. Bronwen was dating Chad Dykstra, but the relationship was never serious and was ended. Bronwen is a senior in high school, preparing for college. At a coffee shop with Kirsten, she meets an adorable friend of her brothers, Jared Sondervan.

As the summer progresses, Bronwen falls for Jared, hard. And vice versa. But when Jared proposes, and Bronwen accepts, she’s not sure she made the right decision. As Bronwen figures out her feelings, she can’t help but wonder what she would do, were she Phoebe Lilywhite.

 

I really liked this book. I always love a good love story, and this one was sweet. It was well written, and the plot moved fast enough but not too fast. You learn lots of things about Bronwen that makes her seem more real, and I always see from the point of view of one character, usually the dominant one. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a novel with twists, turns, and a good ending.

Camryn is 13 years old, and enjoys reading YA books of the fantasy and romance genre. A few of her favorite books are “Hourglass” by Myra McEntire, “The Other Countess” by Eve Edwards, “Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick, “The Immortals” series, the “Marked” series and the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series.  When she’s not reading she enjoys watching Gilmore Girls or going to book sales for more books to add to her ever-growing collection.

Morning Meanderings…. I want To Make This, I want To Read That!

Good morning.  I am sitting here with coffee this morning watching Mater (new dog – part beagle/ part basset hound) tear through the house.  Its funny… and like I said, I have coffee so all is well in my little corner of the world.  :D

Yesterday I actually found some time between work and laundry and lawn mowing and reading to visit a few blogs, most were part of the Monday What Are You Reading Meme, but a few were blogs I just love to read and some were random that I seen in my travels.  Point being, when one (errr, I) travel around to blogs….  books, maybe movies, sometimes recipes or ideas, travel back with me….. clinging to my brain.  :D

So while looking around the blogs yesterday here are a couple finds I came back with:

Heather at Based On A True Story just read this one and many things appealed to me about it.  One and probably two… the title… Eat and Run…. I do like to eat and while I do not like to run…. I wish I did.  Scott’s memoir s about his training, how he ate to get the best performance and 3., he is a Minnesotan… and well, Minnesotan’s are just really cool people.  :razz:

Heather’s entire book list she posted yesterday were books I wanted to read…. dangerous site!

And then…. I stopped in to see how Meg was doing from write meg! and she is cooking.  Yes!  Cooking…. and she is cooking these awesome looking Spanish Green Beans that have me thinking… I could do that! 

Seriously, look at these – this is Meg’s picture and links to her recipe:

I seriously am going to make these this week some time.  I am trying to make healthier eating choices and this has all goodies in it!

My final thought for the day, (well, actually I hope this is not my final thought for the day because work is going to be interesting if I can not think…) I mean – my final thought here on this post that I want to share is that BOOK PAGE listed Gone Girl yesterday as their book of the day and that is super SQQUUUEEE  Worthy if I do say so myself, and yeah, I guess I just did. 

My day today looks like this – I work until 3, then I pick up my bike from the shop.  It is getting new tires, an a few other goodies I am excited about.  Then I hope to go for a bike ride to check it all out because I have a BIG ride this weekend and want my bike to be in fab working order. 

Hope your day is awesome and many great reads come your way! 

On that note, while blog traveling, and books that you decided you must read thanks to someone’s gushing/raving sqquuueeeeing about a book?  (I do love it when that happens!)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Welcome to It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme.  I offer a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment telling me how many you visited.  **You do not have to have a blog to participate! You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

This past weeks winner:

Lori from Escape With Dollycas!!!

Congratulations!  Please email me your book choice out of the Reading Cafe at journeythroughbooks@gmail.com. 

In two words… Wiped Out.  I had a FANTASTIC weekend hanging out with good friends at the cabin and we ran around and biked and explored Minnesota and I have massive tan lines and now, home, unpacked, laundry done, dinner cooked, dogs walked…. I am wiped out.  Again.  AND I am not complaining…. I love the amazing people in my life.  :D

This past week in books was nothing impressive.  I am reading and I did read… and I am still reading, just not as much or as quickly as I would like to.  Here is what I posted this past week:

Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen (Camryn’s YA Review)

Objects Of My Affection by Jim Smolinski  (Can anyone say “hoarder?”)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – seriously the go to book of the month – perhaps, the year!

AND, if you have read Gone Girl, talk to me about it on this Spoiler Page – open discussion on the book!  :D

Yeah…. that’s it.  I am still (STILL) reading Yes! Chef, and listening to a couple audios that I think will finish soon so here is what I think is up next:

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life – dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge – he follows.

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues – and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

Flying through this one on audio right now!

Marcia Brady, eldest daughter on television’s The Brady Bunch, had it all. But what viewers didn’t know about the always sunny, perfect Marcia was that off-screen, her real-life counterpart, Maureen McCormick, was living a very different – and not-so-wonderful – life. Maureen tells the shocking and inspirational true story of the beloved teen and the woman she became.

Maureen takes us behind-the-scenes of America’s favorite television family. But the real story begins after The Brady Bunch ended. Maureen found herself tangled in a fast-paced, drug-fueled Hollywood existence that ultimately lead to the biggest battle of her life.

There is no question: Maureen McCormick is a survivor. Here’s the Story is the empowering, engaging, shocking, and emotional tale of Maureen McCormick’s courageous struggle over adversity and her lifelong battle to come to terms with the idea of perfection – and herself.

It was just another ordinary day at McKinley High—until a massive explosion devastated the school. When loner David Thorpe tried to help his English teacher to safety, the teacher convulsed and died right in front of him. And that was just the beginning.

A year later, McKinley has descended into chaos. All the students are infected with a virus that makes them deadly to adults. The school is under military quarantine. The teachers are gone. Violent gangs have formed based on high school social cliques. Without a gang, you’re as good as dead. And David has no gang. It’s just him and his little brother, Will, against the whole school. 
 
In this frighteningly dark and captivating novel, Lex Thomas locks readers inside a school where kids don’t fight to be popular, they fight to stay alive.

Keira Johnson, a 50-year-old mother of two grown sons, believes she lives a good Christian life without secrets– until she discovers a life-jarring fact her late mother kept hidden all her life. Kiera was born out of wedlock, and the man she had always known as her father had adopted her as an infant.

Meanwhile, Keira’s beloved 17-year-old niece, Kirsten, has just discovered an unwanted pregnancy. Her boyfriend, Jose, is bound for college and Kirsten does not know what to do. As the family comes together for a reunion, Keira and Kirsten struggle with their fractured pasts and jumbled present. Will truth and honesty be the catalysts that allow the entire family to find peace?

That is probably more than enough for the week.  I have a 150 mile bike ride next weekend that will keep me busy and this week has a couple little challenges but nothing major :D 

What are you reading this week?  What did you read last week?  Please add your What Are You Reading Link below where it says click here :D

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and those of you who read mainly children’s through YA reads – please also link your post here:

Morning Meanderings… A Few Things From The Yard

Hi all — I am up North today and the first part of tomorrow… laptop is safely on the kitchen table at home because I have no internet at the cabin so this is a timed post and I am hoping it all worked well and it went live Saturday morning and you are all like “wow… that Sheila, so clever!”  LOL….NOT.

Next week I should have cabin pics for you as I am currently with three good friends and we are biking the Gitchigami trail up by the cabin – yay Rhonda, Sheila, and Belinda!!!

This week however, while mowing I took a couple of pics of the fruit trees in my yard…. first the back story….  in 2001 our home was hit by a tornado.  We lost a good part of our home, our business, and about 40 trees out of our yard.  I am a big time tree lover and the following summer my super great friends of Wal-Mart (Cindy, Heidi, and Sara) all came over, potlucked and each planted two trees for me…. I now have two silver maples, two apple trees and a plum and cherry tree.

Today features one of the apple trees we planted in 2002:

and the plum tree:

I am a huge memory person, LOVE things that have special meaning and surround myself with just that.  These trees and their yearly produce reminds me that even in the worst of events…. life does go on, and friends are always there to lend a helping hand. :)

I post these pics for the Saturday Snapshot Meme by Alyce at At Home With Books.  Pop in and see what everyone else is taking pictures of :)

See you tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon. :D

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Nick and Amy’s marriage started out just as you would hope, two people deeply in love.  Nick was handsome and care free, Amy was beautiful and the “Amy” behind her parents ‘Amazing Amy’ book series which left Amy with quite a little nest egg…

but things are not always as they seem….

As years go by, things change for the happy couple.  Amy gives the majority of her money back to her parents when they hit financial difficulties, then both she and Nick lose their jobs in New York.  Nick’s mom is sick and his dad has Alzheimer’s so the couple moves back to Missouri to be close to his parents and start over.  Amy uses the last large chunk of her inheritance to help Nick and his twin sister Margo purchase a bar. 

Now, on their five-year anniversary a very different couple has emerged from where Nick and Amy started.  They can not seem to connect any more and that morning Nick leaves for his bar, only to receive a call shortly after from a neighbor saying something seems wrong at Nick’s home, the door is wide open, the cat who is never allowed outside is on the front step.  Nick comes home to find the living room tore apart, the iron left on, and Amy missing.

As a closer look is taken, and with the help of the clues that Amy left for Nick as she does every year to find his anniversary present, Nick soon becomes the prime suspect. Having his own secrets, Nick works with his sister trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Amy.

but things are not always as they seem….

As the story unfolds…. there is more than meets the eye and a very twisted tale unfolds which really shows that you never know what goes on behind white picket fences and closed doors. 

It looks like Gone Girl is in the works to become a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. That is a movie I want to see!

Why did I want to read this book?  Angie from my book club and from By Book Or By Crook, was gushing about this book and wanted to discuss it with others who had read it.  Angie has pretty good book choices so to hear her gush made me want to read the book too.  I ordered it immediately.

How does one describe Gone Girl?  At first it came off as a well written mystery… and it is, but it is also more.  I think I may need to quote Alison from Alison’s Bookmarks here, where in her review of this book she said simply, “Holy S_ _ _.”  Yup, that can really sum it up!  :D

So now… here is my review as best as I can put it hours after finishing but still staring at the book cover with a wild eyed look of “What the…” 

Gone Girl is as I said a mystery.  No scratch that… it is a thriller.  But also – not your run of the mill thriller (enter scary man stage left) but add PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER to the mix.  Yup… it is a little wacky but oh so good!

This is one of those books that are hard to review because it is so masterfully put together you (I) do not want to give anything away that is best for the reader (you) to discover on your own.  Which.. leaves me in the awkward position of saying pretty much…

nothing.

Let me put it like this, what you think you know… you don’t.  When you think you have it all figured out (like I did by page 111), you don’t.  You are not even close to the crazy that is happening up in here.  When I told my friend Angie how much I was loving it she asked “are you on part 2 yet?”  and I responded., “There’s a part 2?????”  I flipped ahead about ten pages and sure enough… the book has a part two, and as long as I am sharing… also a part three.

Gone Girl is one of those books you do not want to put down.  I read that first day I picked it up as long as I could into the evening until I felt my eyes droop and I had to stop.  A rarity for me, I read this while standing at the grill the next evening, instead of listening to an audio book.  Folks… this just does not happen.  :shock:  In fact, I spent the better part of two days reading this book in every spare moment I could squeeze out and my thoughts on it went something like this:

“WHAT?”

“Noooooo….”

“That can’t be, ri… oh.  It is.”

“NO WAY!”

“That’s crazy!”

“That’s brilliant!”

“Oh no he didn’t!”

“OH NO, she didnt!”

Yes, this is my review of Gone Girl.  Fantastic.  Perhaps, the best book I have read in 2012 so far.  It is different than anything I have read before, well through out and now I am seriously curious about author Gillian Flynn’s state of mind (kidding, kidding… I think…).  So well thought out… so amazingly put together… I am still sitting here in awe and on my way to see what else she has written.  The more I think about the author Gillian Flynn and how she worked in this story line between other story lines and had me thinking one thing but should have been another… and well, lets just say from  this post forward Gillian Flynn will be known to me as “The Great And Wonderful Gillian Flynn”. 

RECOMMENDED!

*Note:  Occasional crude language, nothing over the top (I hate that), but it is there and I want you to be aware.

Also, those of you who have read this and are DYING to gush,vent, rage, chat, ask questions about the book, I have fueled up and dusted off the SPOILER PAGE – let’s talk details!!!!  Click below!  :D

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

Audible.com sample listen

 

Looking for some other thoughts on this one?  Here are some great book reviewers:

Alison’s Book Marks

S Krishna’s Books

Life In The Thumb

Dear Author

Morning Meanderings… Spoiler Button (I LOVE YOU!) and Weekend Cabin Plans

Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY!  I have been up for hours already but you would never know it.  I have walked the dogs and started some laundry, had a little coffee and really what has kept me busy this morning is that I wrote my review post to Gone Girl.  WOW.

That book kept me reading and readers, you know how we all love that.  I carried that book to the kitchen, to the living room, to my car, to work, and last night, even next to the grill (for those who borrow my book, I apologize in advance for the BBQ sauce on the lower corner of the final pages).  I even went up to the attic of the blog and pulled out the Spoiler Button.  I do not get to use it often… but I love it when I do. :D

The Spoiler Button was something I created a couple of years back that led to a page where I could discuss a book in-depth with those who had also already read that book…. spoilers in that case, are allowed.  If you check out my SPOILER page, you will see all the books I have written Spoiler Pages for and some of the discussions are still going strong because some of these books became movies and that opens it all up again.  :D

 

I leave this afternoon for the cabin with my cousin’s wife and two other friends I ride bike with.  We are taking the bikes to the North Shore and biking tomorrow and I am looking forward to it, but will also miss Mater and the gang here.  I will be back Sunday afternoon.  I have another review to write and will hopefully be able to do that after I run a  few errands this morning and then get back here to pack. 

Any fun weekend plans for you?  I would love to hear about them!

 

Morning Meanderings… Dog Tired….

 

Good morning!  As for the title of this post… not me, I am not tired.  I am pretty good…. rested, good quiet low-key week so far :D  However, you may know I have pretty much started a dog rescue site in my home since April…

Bailey, 14 years old now, lost his best friend (and one of mine as well), Elmo last October.  One of the hardest days of my life.  I suddenly understood how people said they could never own a dog again after doing something like that… too painful.  I agree.  It took my breath away for days.

Then in April, a friend of mine finds a stray dog by her home.  After searching desperately for its owner, calling all the area vets, humane society, etc, she calls me to see if I can give him a  home.

No, is my response.  Can’t do it no way no how….

but I did let her bring him over…. and I did let him stay over night while she looked for a home… and uh….. Sam, is still here and not going anywhere.

Sam

 

Then, my Navy son comes home a couple of weeks ago.  He is sitting on the deck one sunny Monday afternoon and he shares with me this story about this abused dog his friend has that was rescued by the Pequot Vet.  No home, major surgery from the beer (you read that right) they were feeding it, pins in his shoulder from a recent surgery from being tossed out the back of a truck.  He is 16 weeks old.  Enter, Mater into our life.

 

Mater

 

So yeah…. I think I am done now.  Three dogs… all great, but yeah.  My quiet house… not so quiet anymore with the addition of Mater.  I know he will settle down… but currently I feel a bit like “that crazy dog lady”.  :razz:

 

Mater… so tired he fell asleep with a bone still in his mouth.

 

Sam passed out on the couch

 

Bailey… he is always tired.

 

So that’s what is happening here…  I am finishing up Gone Girl today and holy smokes… so good.  My friend Heidi is coming over tonight to pick it up and I am just loving it but at the rate I am going, I may have to wait to give it to her on Friday…. I still have a ways to go :D 

Have you read anything lately that was sooooo awesome it was hard to put down?  I need a few more of those. :D

 

 

Objects Of My Affection by Jill Smolinski (audio review)

Lucy Bloom is well on her way to nowhere.  Her boyfriend Daniel had left her with an ultimatum, her nineteen year old son was currently in a pricey drug rehab program that Lucy sold her home so he could get the help he needed.  She had written a book called ‘Things Are Not People’ which was basically about how to let go of possessions and finally clean out that pesky storage room or closet…. it did ok, but Lucy needed a job with a little “cha-ching” behind it to get back on her feet. 

When she makes a connection to a job that involves assisting a crew that will be cleaning out the great and famous painter Marva Meier Rios’s home, Lucy is thrilled to put her organizational skills to work.  It doesn’t hurt that the money is good and if she finishes by the date given she will be given a nice bonus that will certainly start her out with a little  nest egg for a home, or at least get her beloved car back in the shape it once once.

What Lucy does not know is that Marva really loves “things” and when Lucy first steps into Marva’s home she could not have imagined in her wildest nightmares, this sort of hording.

Yes, hording.

Marva hardly has space to move as items are stacked in her rather large home from floor to ceiling, in boxes, and free standing, piles and piles, on stairs, in hallways, every room… full with Marva’s treasures.  And that is the kicker, the job would be enormous no matter what, but add the fact that Marva has the final say on each and every item if it stays or if it goes, and Marva really has a hard time letting go of anything. 

This job, will not be easy.

While Lucy wants to make the bonus deadline, she is also juggling a run in with her ex-boyfriend, a hot guy who is leading a work crew at Marva’s, and her son’s inability to stay clean and in the rehab.  Top that off while digging through Marva’s treasures, Lucy discovers that Marva is hiding the biggest secret of all.

Why did I want to read/listen to this book?  I have read Jill Smolinski once before for book club when we read The Next Thing On My List.  This was a great discussion book where we put what would be on our “to do” or bucket list before we hit a certain age.  A chance to read her again seemed like a good thing to do.

Objects Of My Affection is really about a hoarder.  And while we now have reality shows on all sorts of topics that are horrifying (the strange habits one gives me shudders), Jill Smolinski takes hoarding to a level where it is truly extreme, but never heavy.  The book has a nice mix of humor and breaks between the house filled with goodies (and I mean goodies, like original art work, first edition signed books, screen plays, movie props and costumes…) where it ever feels heavy.

For the most part I enjoyed the storyline, it moved quickly and evenly.  My only real “UGH” moment was some choices that Lucy made regarding men in her life that annoyed me and I felt at one point was not only highly unlikely but also highly inappropriate and that is all I am going to say about that.  (I know, I know… I should lighten up, but I do like my books to be realistic!)  Thankfully by the time the book ends, Lucy has redeemed herself.
Audio listeners, I do recommend this one in audio.  Xe Sands narrates this book and she is fantastic!  Her voice is smooth and the perfect narration for Lucy’s first person thoughts and voice.  She also flows seamlessly to the male characters as well and Marva.

Book readers, this one is going to come across well in book format as well. 

In the end, I thought the storyline was done well, there where a few moments where I wanted to hang Lucy’s son by his toes, but as a mother, I understand that her choices were hard ones – and tough love comes even harder. 

I purchased this book from audible.com

Morning Meanderings…. Back to the Real World :)

 

Good morning.  A quick pop in before I go back to work this morning.  Yes, my glorious two free days are over but they were just what I needed.  :D 
I got a little sun, I got in some reading (YAY!!!), my home is all caught up on the cleaning, I had time with friends, and two days to love on the new puppy, Mater.
This morning I am sitting here with Coffee cup, one eye on my keyboard, one eye on the time trying to balance this post, my getting ready, and packing my lunch, with sailing into work at precisely 5 or so minutes early because that is the way I like to start my days, smoothly… and non rushed. 

In bookish news I have read almost the first 200 pages of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and holy smokes I wish sleep was not necessary!  What a good read… I think I know whats happening, but then I don’t… and then… GAH!!!  :D  I also started listening to Paper Towns by John Green last night and it is still in the really early part but I am already picking up themes from Looking For Alaska… 

Ok, thats my time.  Review up later today…. looks like the rain storm that hit us last night has stopped so I think it will be another lovely day for reading on the deck after work today!

Where do you like to read this time of year?

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