"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.  Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, here's what my week looked like:  Last week I finished reading The Faith of Ronald Reagan by Mary Beth Brown and posted my review.  I continue to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett and just started reading Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie for our bookclub read for February.  Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella is on the back burner.  I had started reading it but have so many so it's put aside at least until I finish the bookclub read.

What are you reading this Monday?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just Received - Proud to Have Been a New York City Transit Cop

Proud To Have Been A New York City Transit Cop
Author:  John R. Martin
Copyright 2011
Outskirts Press, Inc.
Genre:  Biography/Autobiography
Pages:  287 (not including photo section)
Source:  author

(from the back cover) "John Martin did a great deal of good for a tremendous number of people in law enforcement.  He was intuitively a leader.  A man of integrity, a man of intelligence.  He was one of the finest men I've ever known."  ~ Thomas O'Rourke - Chief, Transit Police (1955-1966)

"This is a true story about a World War II veteran who becomes a cop, a New York City Transit cop.  Over thirty-five years, from his early days as a Court Officer through to his days as commanding officer of some high profile districts in the Transit Police Department, the stories and adventures of this innovative leader will intrigue you.  Proud To Have Been A New York City Transit Cop is a biographical work describing the journey of Captain John Martin through his thirty-three years of service as a police officer in the City of New York.  It's a story about a native New Yorker who joined the New York City Transit Police Department after service in the United States Navy during World War II.  It's a story about how he and his partner helped to make the Transit Police Force one of the finest, and one of the biggest, in the country.  It's a story about how these two guys charmed the Mayor of the City of New York, upset at least two City Police Commissioners, and forced the City of New York to provide improved police protection for the riding and general public.  And finally, it's a study in human relations and what it takes to provide effective leadership."

Through Bostick Communications and the author, John. R. Martin, this book has been provided me to prepare a review on this blog for no compensation other than the joy of reading this biography.  I haven't yet begun to read this work.  Watch my sidebar for books currently reading.  Review to be provided shortly.

The Faith of Ronald Reagan - Book Review

The Faith of Ronald Reagan
Author:  Mary Beth Brown
Copyright: 2004, 2011
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson Inc.
Pages:  237
Genre:  Biography

(from the back cover) With warmth and insight, this best-selling book by Mary Beth Brown delves into the spiritual journey of America's 40th president and offers profound stories of the provisions God made in Ronald Reagan's life-from first making it as an actor to winning the presidency, from surviving an assassination attempt to eventually changing the face of politics and the world.

Supported by Ronald Reagan's own words and writings plus firsthand interviews with his family, friends, and co-workers, Brown weaves a magnificent story that inspires as it informs.  Reagan's strong devotion to God will encourage believers to enter public service, allowing their faith to motivate their actions, and will draw focus to Christ's matchless sacrifice-forever near and dear to President Reagan's heart."

"We can rekindle the spirit of America, because God intended this land to be free, because we are free to dream, to plan, and to make our dreams come true." ~ Ronald Reagan, 1980

This quote personifies the man, the actor, the leader of the United States.  Born in Tampico, Illinois February 6. 1911, to Nelle Wilson Reagan and John Edward "Jack" Reagan following one of the worst blizzards, Ronald Wilson Reagan was born at home under the care of a local midwife.  The local doctor was out on another call leaving Jack to trudge through drifts of snow a foot or more deep to find help for his wife who was experiencing a difficult labour.  The doctor arrived after the birth and announced "he looks like a fat little Dutchman."  Thus he got his nickname "Dutch".

Ronald was the second born in the family, his older brother's name was Neil.  They grew up in the small town of Dixon during times of a poor economy.  Ronald's father was an Irish Catholic and his mother a "born-again Christian".  From his father he learned the value of honest hard work and from his mother his faith.

An athlete with a dream and a scholarship, Ronald attended college, played football and later became a sportscaster which was the first step in his plan towards an acting career.  In Hollywood his career took off, he married and divorced. 

Years later, as his life turned toward the political aspect of the film industry, Ronald met and married Nancy Davis.  They had two children, Ron Jr. and Patti. He ran for governor of California and later, the president of the United States.  Ronald Reagan felt he was called to serve the people.  It wasn't that he sought power, he saw things that needed changing and, with the God's help, he sought to change his country and the world for the better. 

"He sought to mend America's wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world, and to free the slaves of communism."  "His politics had a freshness and optimism that won converts from every class and every nation-and ultimately from the very heart of the evil empire."  (Margaret Thatcher, eulogy)

Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (prime minister of Britain) became good friends as they battled communism, were instrumental in the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin wall.  Gorbachev (president of the Soviet Union) and Reagan worked together to rebuild the Soviet Union from a country of communism to a land of freedom.

"We have been blessed with the opportunity to stand for something-the liberty and freedom and fairness.  And these things are worth fighting for, worth devoting our lives to."  Ronald Reagan, 1985

Reagan's many kindnesses and deeds are touched upon in this book.  Could this man have achieved all that he had alone?  He is the first to have given credit to God for his successes. 

'If we trust him, keep his work, and live lives for his pleasure, he'll give us the power we need-power to fight, to finish the race, and to keep the faith." Ronald Reagan, 1984

I enjoyed reading this biography of one of the most influential men, an accomplished actor and a much beloved president.  Reading this, I discovered the depth of the faith of Ronald Reagan and his strength of character.  He did great good for his fellow men, whether in his own country or abroad.  He knew no prejudice but sought for freedom for all.  I have greater admiration for him, having read this book. 

Rated 3/5.

This is book one for me in the Dewey Decimal Challenge hosted by The Introverted Reader.  So far, with one book read in the 200's for biographies, I am a dilletante!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Canada Wide Family Literacy Day

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA CELEBRATES FAMILY LITERACY DAY: Canada's Economic Action Plan invests in skills development

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, January 27, 2010—Improving literacy skills is essential to building stronger futures for Canadian families and strengthening our communities, said the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, today in marking Family Literacy Day.

“Family literacy helps children achieve in school, and it enables their parents to get jobs and build better futures for themselves and their families,” said Minister Finley. “That is why our government is investing in skills development, so Canadians have the opportunity to achieve and contribute to their communities and families’ well‑being.”

Created by ABC CANADA and Honda Canada in 1999, Family Literacy Day increases awareness of the importance of family literacy through a number of events and activities across the country.

“Family Literacy Day is a great way to rally Canadian communities and help raise awareness of the benefits of adults and children learning together,” said Ms. Margaret Eaton, President, ABC CANADA. “Literacy is more than reading and writing. Literacy can be practised by spending just 15 minutes of family time a day to read, play a board game, sing or follow a recipe together.”

For more information on these activities and to integrate literacy into your family activities, visit the ABC CANADA Web site at http://www.abclifeliteracy.ca/en/family-literacy-day, the Fédération canadienne pour l’alphabétisation en français Web site at www.fcaf.net and the National Adult Literacy Database Events Bulletin Board Web site at http://www.events.nald.ca/

This was a press release provided to media by the Government of Canada.

In keeping with Family Literacy Day, what are you doing?  Going to a bookstore, visiting the library, sharing a story, reading together?  Literacy, it's important for the success of all.

Heavy - Booking Through Thursday

What’s the largest, thickest, heaviest book you ever read? Was it because you had to? For pleasure? For school?

That is the question Booking Through Thursday asks of readers this week.  I think about this for a moment.  Yes, the Bible is definitely a heavy read, in more ways than one.  I've read and reread it both for pleasure and for Sunday School. 

The next heaviest/largest read, if I recall correctly, is Gone With the Wind at 733 pages.  This I read for pleasure and loved it.  There may be others, heavier than this, but not that I recall nor have in my current library. 

So, what are you reading?  Respond in comments below with a link to your blog and follow up with Booking Through Thursday by doing the same.

Just Received - The Faith of Ronald Reagan and Good Returns

The last day or two, I have been pleasantly surprised (well not surprised, really.  I did expect their delivery.) to find The Faith of Ronald Reagan and Good Returns in my mailbox!  Nothing brings a smile to my face like a new book or two to read! 

The Faith of Ronald Reagan by Mary Beth Brown is a look at the man behind the scenes.  A look into the faith of one of the most popular U.S. presidents, how his faith developed and was the "force" behind his success.  I have often thought Ronald Reagan was a wonderful president, and that is coming from a Canadian.  I don't have first hand knowledge as a citizen of the USA, but I recall many newscasts and the journalists who had the opportunity to get to know Mr. Reagan and his wife Nancy.  He accomplished much that was good for his country and, frankly, worldwide (ie. the fall of the Berlin wall) and always seemed to me to be an outstanding person.  This book is written by a New York Times and USA Today journalist whose husband worked within Reagan's administration.  She writes from the standpoint of someone who knew firsthand those who were in daily contact with the president.  Her insights and interviews of family members serve to encapsulate the character of the man and his faith.  I am about halfway through this book and I just started it today.  I look forward to more.

Good Returns by George P. Schwartz, CFA with William J. Koshelnyk raises awareness about morally responsible investing.  "When you buy stock in a company, you are not just holding a piece of paper.  You become part owner of that company, and that role includes some rights and responsibilities.  Your financial investment is supporting something, and you need to do the research to ensure that you are not supporting or tacitly agreeing to activities that are morally abhorrent to you." George P. Schwartz, author of Good Returns.  Have you ever thought of investments in that way before?  I hadn't.  Perhaps this is an eye-opener for us all.

I have my work cut out for me for a little while here with these two books and my current reading list.  What a happy predicament!  Can you see my smile?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

 Teaser Tuesdays 

MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesday. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here's a tease of what I am currently reading:

The Faith of Ronald Reagan
by Mary Beth Brown

"When we sat down in the Oval Office," Feldman writes,"Reagan had just finished paying tribute to the fallen astronauts, quoting the poet John Gillespie Magee Jr. and saying:  We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.'" (p. 175)

Please leave a comment with a link to your Teaser Tuesday so I can drop by!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks - Book Review

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
Copyright 2008
Vision, Hatchette Book Group
384 pages including acknowledgments and epilogue
Edition:  paperback mass market
Author website:  http://www.nicholassparks.com/
Recommended for a mature audience:  war, death, references to sex

(from the back cover) After U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a photograph of a smiling young woman buried int he dirt during his tour of duty in Iraq, he experiences a sudden streak of luck, winning poker games and even surviving deadly combat.  Only his best friend, Victor, seems to have an explanation for his good fortune:  the photograph--his lucky charm.

Back home in Colorado, Thibault can't seem to get the woman in the photograph out of his mind and he sets out on a journey across the country to find her.  But Thibault can't seem to get the woman in the photograph out of his mind and he sets out on a journey across the country to find her.  But Thibault is caught off guard by the strong attraction he feels when his search leads him to Elizabeth, a divorced mother in North Carolina with a young son--and he keeps the story of the photo, and his luck, a secret.  As he and Elizabeth embark upon a passionate love affair, Thibault's secret will soon threaten to tear them apart, destroying not only their love, but also their lives.

Filled with tender romance and terrific suspense, The Lucky One is an unforgettable story about the surprising paths our lives often take and the power of fate to guide us to true and everlasting love.

The Lucky One is the story of a young marine who, after returning from war, pursues his destiny, whatever that may mean.  His friend Victor, a strong believer in such things, is persuaded that the photo Logan found has preserved his life in-so-much that Victor deemed it possible to remain alive during the war by being in close proximity to Logan.  Logan is not convinced. However, he and Victor come home from war while many of their brigade aren't so lucky.  Still in possession of the photo of a young woman, Logan decides to follow Victor's advice when he tells him he must repay the debt.  He must find the woman in the photo.

     "It's a sign," he said.  "She's your good-luck charm....
     "She was tonight."
     "Not just tonight.  You found that picture for a reason.  No one claimed it for a reason.  You took it today for a reason.  Only you were meant to have it."....
     "But you can't ever lose the picture."
     "If you do, then the charm works in reverse."
     "Which means what?"
     "It means you'll be unlucky.  And in war, unlucky is the last thing you want to be." (The Lucky One p. 27-28)

Nicholas Sparks weaves a story of love, of mystery, of intrigue and suspense in this novel.  This was my second time reading it and I enjoyed it immensely, despite knowing how the story twists and the plot thickens.  He develops each character so the reader feels they know the individual.  From the quirky, intelligent and loveable Nana; . 

     Beth motioned to the set. "How're the Braves doing?"
     "Like a bunch of carrots."
     "Is that good or bad?"
     "Can carrots play baseball?"
     "I guess not."
     "Then you have your answer." (The Lucky One p. 84. Conversation between Beth and her grandmother) 

to Deputy Keith Clayton, Beth's possessive, power hungry and odd ex-husband;...

     "He was obsessed with you even though you'd never met, like someone who gets obsessed with movie stars.  And what did he do?  He hunted you down, but seeing you from afar-or simply meeting you-wasn't enough.  Instead, he had to become part of your life.  That's what dangerous stalkers do, Beth." (The Lucky One. p. 327)

to (Elizabeth) Beth the school teacher, divorcee and mother, who feels inordinantly unlucky in love;

     "She found it hard to breathe.....
     On the drive home, her mind flashed from one image to the next, a kaleidoscope of sight and sound and smell.  She tried to convince herself that Keith was lying, grasping for a way to rationalize his news.  It was possible, considering the way he'd lied in the past, and yet...." (The Lucky One. pp 329-330

 to Logan the drifter, ex-marine, mysterious and brooding.  In the midst of it all is young Ben - a boy at odds with his father, adored by his mother and grandmother - who finds in Logan a kinship and in Zeus, Logan's german shepherd, a doting companion.  Sparks introduces us and seduces us so we are right there with the characters cheering them on, chastising at times, and eager to see justice.  The sudden plot turn near the end leaves the readers hanging until the epilogue.  A remarkable tool the author has developed to keep you guessing, until the last moment, if all will end happily ever after.

Rated 4.5/5 

Linking up with The Book Vixen for the Nicholas Sparks reading challenge http://www.thebookvixen.com/2010/11/2011-reading-challenge-sign-up-nicholas.html

It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.  Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, this is my first time joining the book blogging community in this meme.

I am currently reading:

"A tale of redemption...holds readers in suspense until the final chapter...it will test readers' beliefs in the power of destiny and fate, and how they relate to choices one makes in life." - Chattanooga Free Press

"Possibly one of Spark's finest novels...Picture yourself reading it this week." - Examiner.com

"In true Nicholas Sparks fashion, the reader is engaged from the first to the last page.  The characters are authentic and the plot is engrossing and emotionally charged.  Sparks is a talented storyteller who is adept at tugging the reader's heartstrings." - BookLoons.com

Almost finished, my book review should be up tomorrow.  This is also part of a Nicholas Sparks reading challenge.

 "Wise, poignant...You'll catch yourself cheering out loud." - Vick Boughton, People.

"One of those magical books that will suck anybody in." - John Searles, The Today Show.

"Kathryn Stockett has written a wondrous novel.  You will be swept away as her characters work, play and love during a time when possibilities for women were few but their dreams of the future were limitless.  A glorious read."  - Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series and Very Valentine.

Still reading this novel......

"Kinsella delights again!...Winning...Kinsella keeps things fresh and frothy with workplace politicking, romantic intrigue and a vibrant...cast...Readers will be rooting for Lexi all along." - Publishers Weekly

"A lively new novel...a breezy blend of romantic comedy and cautionary fairy tale...Kinsella is hilarious." - New York Post

"A delicious page-turner, filled with hearty chuckles and heartache...[Kinsella] finds a way to make losing one's memory seem refreshingly funny." - USA Today

I've really only just begun reading this novel. 

I don't know how other bloggers manage so many books at a time.  I am juggling three and still find myself devoting more time to one than another.  I love to read.  If only time would allow more of it.  Upcoming reads include The Chinese Conspiracy by John Mariotti and Deed So by Katharine A. Russell in addition to our book club read of the month for February Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Pledge to Read.....

Another book challenge.  That's what I've signed up for.  With Savvy Reader I joined the 50 Book Pledge. 

 Welcome to the 50 Book Pledge. (In the words of Cory Beatty of Savvy Reader)
"The best part of the 50BookPledge is the discussion. That’s what we want. We want to know what you’re reading, what’s good, what we should immediately pick up and what book you couldn’t even finish–sorry, those don’t count. :)

We swear, no one who falls short of 50 will be flogged. Honest. Let’s be fair, for some people, reading 10 books a year would be a more meaningful accomplishment than someone who reads 100.No, reading is not a competitive sport. So why 50? Well, it sounds good, for one. Secondly, a book a week seems like a good pace for everyone–and having a two week grace period will come in handy next Fall.

But mostly it’s 50 because I suspect that most of you are like me, that the reason why you’ve signed on is not to hit an arbitrary number but because you sometimes have difficulty tuning out the noise of life and taking time for yourself. What we’re committing to is making reading a priority in 2011, and that is a very, very good thing. Take the “50” out of it if you want. This is a BookPledge. What you’re committing to is being in it with others like you, sharing your reading experiences and having a whole phalanx of backup there to remind you, when life’s stresses inevitably creep in, to take a timeout with a good book." - Cory Beatty (Savvy Reader)

A roundup discussion will take place every few weeks.  Therein all those readers will discuss what we're reading and our thoughts.  There are no restrictions as to genres, nor deadlines, nor giveaways at the end of it all.  It's purely reading for the joy of it and joining in discussions about that which we've read.

THAT’S what the 50BookPledge is about. Sounds like fun, reading for the pure love of it.  If you are interested in joining in, follow Cory (from Savvy Reader) on  Twitter @corybeatty.

Just Received - From the Author

It's like Christmas for me all over again.  There, in my mailbox, were two novels for me to read and review.  This is a new venture for me, reviewing novels direct from the author, and I am excited about it!  Can you tell? Here is an introduction to Deed So and The Chinese Conspiracy.  I'm sure you'll find them as interesting as I.

Deed So by Katharine A. Russell

(from the back cover)  "A young girl struggles to understand a tightening web of racial and generational tensions during the turbulent 1960s in the astonishing new novel, Deed So by Katharine Russell.  All twelve-year-old Haddie Bashford wants is to leave the closed-minded world of Wicomico Corners behind, in the hopes that a brighter future awaits elsewhere.   But when she witnesses the brutal killing of a black teen, Haddie finds her family embroiled in turmoil fraught with racial tensions.  Tempers flare as the case goes to trial, but things are about to get even hotter when an arsonist suddenly begins to terrorize the town.  Can Haddie help save her town, and herself?

Gorgeously written and filled with warm, luminous characters, Deed So is both a snapshot of a tumultuous time and a moving coming-of-age story of a remarkable young girl."

The Chinese Conspiracy by John Mariotti

"Not since the Manchurian Candidate have I read such a compelling thriller about global conspiracy.  But Mariotti goes much further, linking his masterfully fast-paced narrative to the clear and present danger of total cyberwar.  This novel is a call to action that our society must answer now." - Richard S. Levick, President and CEO, Levick Strategic Communications

(From the release provided me) "Powell, OH - Jan 5, 2011 - Author John Mariotti announces his new cyberthriller, The Chinese Conspiracy. This fast paced thriller is based around today's headlines of cyber-terrorism.

Your office phone hasn't rung for some time, which is unusual. You pick it up, and you hear a
hissing sound. You grab your cell phone, punch in a number, and get an "all-circuits-busy".
Your computer monitor shows your home page, so you select a web site and get a "server not
responding" message. That's odd! You email your assistant, and ask, "Did if it go through?"

The answer is, "no". You turn back to see another "server not responding" notice.

The TV screen behind your desk is filled with snow-the cable is out. The radio doesn't work
either-just static hiss. If you go down to the ATM, it'll just spit your card back at you. Bank
transactions are dead. On Wall Street, trading has stopped amidst massive confusion. The ticker
is dead. The monitors are dead. Everything's dead-"silenced!"

At the airport, the lines are growing; people are restless and confused. No planes are landing or
taking off-or even taxiing-ATC is down and the airlines overhead monitors are full of snow.
Agents can't ticket passengers or issue boarding passes. Chaos reigns.

From the White House to Congress, the Pentagon to Parliament, nothing related to electronic
communications works. It's all completely SILENT. The only things not silent are the car horns
in the street outside. It's a veritable cacophony of horns blaring. This scenario is repeated across
the country. Nothing works. All electronic forms of communications and computer control
have been "shutdown"-TV/Radio, all kinds of phones, the Internet, Wall Street, banking,
Air Traffic Control, etc. But how? And by whom? And why?

This totally new form of terrorism-Cyber-Terrorism-potentially the most frightening of all."

Both are intriguing and could be bestsellers!  Return soon for my reviews of Deed So and The Chinese Conspiracy.
Note:  These novels are supplied to me by the authors.   I receive no payment for reading and presenting my reviews of these works.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Supportive Library Patrons Clear Shelves in Protest

It could  happen in your neighborhood!  With economic uncertainty worldwide, cuts are being announced all over.  In the UK those cuts include the possible closures of two libraries.  Stony Stratford library is one of two branches being considered for closure by Milton Keynes council.

In an attempt to save the Stony Stratford library, a facebook campaign encouraged library patrons to borrow their 15 book allottment and they came in droves.  A member of town council, Robert Gilford, arrived too late to participate.  Every shelf in the library was cleared of the 16,000 volumes they normally carry, a day ahead of schedule.  If that doesn't speak volumes (pun intended) to town council, I don't know what will.

It is sad that during times of economic downturn, literacy and education seem to rise to the top of the chopping block.  If anything, those are areas that should receive ultimate emphasis along with healthcare, of course.  It is the literate and educated who will keep the economy going.  With education comes opportunity, and employment, which begets a positive impact in the retail industry which in turn boosts the economy. Why don't politicians see it that way?

I applaud those individuals who stood up for their local library.  Action speaks louder than words.  Support your local library.  As one man was quoted "The library is the one place where you find five-year-olds and 90-year-olds together, and it's where young people learn to be proper citizens..."  So true!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dewey Decimal Challenge

Wow!  I've found so many great book blogs and some exciting reading challenges but this is the first non-fiction challenge I've come upon.  This year I've committed to read 4 non-fiction books, any subject, as long as it is adult or young adult.  This is considered the Master category.  Only four?  Count me in!!!  The Introverted Reader is hosting this challenge.  The levels in this challenge are as follows:

Dilettante--Read 1 non-fiction book.

Explorer--Read 2

Seeker--Read 3

Master--Read 4

Have I bit off more than I can chew?  It's likely.  How will I ever read all the books for the challenges I have so enthusiastically signed up for?  Actually, I welcome the challenge!  I'll fit it in somehow.  My wonderful hubby works out of town, so I can cross off that distraction   don't have to worry about ignoring him.  So here goes.  A new year, new challenges, new books.  Bring it on! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

Author:  Nicholas Sparks
Copyright 2002
Grand Central Publishing, Hatchett Book Group, USA
Paperback, 222 pages
Genre:  romance

At a time when Adrienne had given up hope for happiness, she found what she wasn't looking for in a beach house in Rodanthe.  Divorced and raising three teenagers on her own, Adrienne takes a weekend away to housesit a friend's bed and breakfast.  There is only one guest scheduled that weekend.  The one guest who will change her life.

Paul had lost or given up all.  Recently divorced; estranged from his son, a doctor volunteering in Ecuador; Paul closed up his practice to begin a new journey that he hoped would reunite himself and his son.  He must first go to Rodanthe, at the request of a recent widower.  He had booked a room at a bed and breakfast near the ocean.  Little did he know he was embarking on a new course that would change him forever.

This was my second time reading Nights in Rodanthe.  It is a story of hope, of love lost, of forgiveness and sacrifice, and true love.  I cried, again.  I didn't think I would, having read the book before, but it is so touching and heart wrenching and yet, so full of hope.  I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.

"Sparks knows how to tug at a reader's heartstrings." (Chicago Sun-Times).

The only thing that still nags at me is the brevity yet intensity of the relationship between Paul and Adrienne.  Can one really truly fall in love over a weekend?  Is it true love?  This seemed too rushed for me.  Perhaps it was the short time-table that they both knew they were faced with that sped up the process.   Or perhaps it was the impending hurricane.  At any rate, they fell in love.  But that is just the beginning, or rather the middle of the story.

Rated 4/5  some sexual content and some language

**As part of the book challenge at Book Vixen this is my first Nicholas Sparks novel to be included in the challenge.**

Catch my movie review of Nights in Rodanthe here and here

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Author:  Jodi Picoult
Copyright:  2004
Publisher:  Washington Square Press, a Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
423 Pages
Acknowledgments, Prologue, Epilogue, WSP Reader's Club Guide

"Anna is not sick, but she might as well be.  By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood.  The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate--a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now.  Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is.  But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister--and Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.  A provocative novel that raises some important ethical issues, My Sister's Keeper is the story of one family's struggle for survival at all human costs and a stunning moral parable for all time.

Once in a while you come across a book that draws you in so that you, the reader, feel you really know the characters.  They come to life.  Their problems, their feelings, their triumps are all familiar.  You relate.  My Sister's Keeper was one of those books for me.  Jodi Picoult does an incredible job of character development supplemented with carefully researched situations.  It is evident that many hours were poured into these characters, into the topic of cancer and treatments, of firefighting and methods arsonists use, of astronomy. 

When Sara's and Brian's young daughter, Kate, develops mysterious bruising it is discovered she has a rare form of leukemia.  Their son Jesse is tested to see if he is a match for platelets but he isn't and that is when the decision is made to have another child, one whom is sure to be a match, determined by genetic manipulations.  Shortly after Anna is born she becomes a donor, as the umbilical cord is carefully reserved to provide Kate with the first of many treatments in an effort to save her life.

This story raises moral and ethical issues, examines how a crisis such as cancer affects each member of the family.  How does one act and react?  What choices are made, who is seemingly forgotten, what is sacrificed in the efforts to save another? 

At first one is quick to judge the parents. They did, afterall, have one child to save another.  It is easy to begrudge them that.  But then you get to know them.  You laugh with them, you cry with them.  The lines of moral and ethical right and wrong are blurred.  And you wonder, what would I do?  If I were a parent in this situation, wouldn't I do all in my power to save my child?  Does that mean loving one child more than another or is love equal despite all the attentions and energy involved when someone is critically ill? 

There is so much depth in this story and one is sure to discover that the issue is not black and white. Nothing is simple.  Love knows no bounds.  And because one is going through a crisis of that nature, does not mean that all are not loved with equal passion. 

As a mother who has seen a child go through 10 operations over a period of three years, Jodi Picoult understands and puts a portion of herself in this novel.  The emotions are raw and real!  The pain is hard to bear and the reader feels that.  It sears the very soul as you become involved in this family's story.  There is no winning here.  There is only love and hope. 

The surprise ending is upsetting.  I cried.  Not just tears but audible sobs.  The author is known for her plot twists and she does not fail to shock and upset.  That kind of reaction is becoming more rare for readers.  Not many authors create such emotion in their readers.  It is an art in itself and I applaud her for her ability to create that bond with the characters that the emotion is as if the story were real rather than fiction.

Jodi Picoult is enigmatic.  A true master of story telling.  She delves where few have gone before, as in Plain Truth (previously reviewed), and addresses issues that are kept behind closed doors.  Jodi puts them out there for all to see and presents them in a light that denies prejudice but enlightens one's understanding.  Truly, she is one of the best authors out there.

Rated 4.5/5  Graphic situations and descriptions, some language and some sexual content.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - My Sister's Keeper - a peak between the covers

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading  and it asks us to...

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share a couple of “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers.
My teaser comes from My Sister's Keeper written by Jodi Picoult.  Check back soon for the review.

Without another word, I walk out of her room, knowing Kate will follow.  I pass Anna, who abandons her coloring book to trail behind her sister.  In the basement, I pull out a pair of electric grooming clippers we found when we bought the house, and plug them in.  Then I cut a swath right down the middle of my scalp. (page 239)

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year Reading Challenge

It's a new year and time for some interesting challenges, I think.  I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas holiday and New Year festivities.  Are you ready for a challenge?  Something to shake it up just a little.  For the avid reader looking for ideas to evolve, check out this challenge at http://www.lifewithbooks.com/2010/12/its-back-take-a-chance-challenge-3/.  Jenners at Life .... With Books is hosting this great challenge.  All you have to do to join in is visit her site and join the fun. 

Basic Information:

"The concept of the challenge is to take chances with your reading by finding books to read in unusual or random ways. I’ve listed 10 different ways to find books below. (see Life...With Books for this information.)

Feel free to complete at many as you want. However, anyone completing all 10 challenges by December 31, 2011 will be entered in a prize drawing to win a book of their choice from Amazon.

The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 until December 31, 2011.

Crossover books from other challenges is fine. You can read books in any format."

So check out her site, select one of the ten methods listed to start with, find your new book and blog about it, linking to Jenners site to be counted in the challenge.  You get to expand your reading repertoire and, if that's not enough, you'll be entered in the contest to win a book from Amazon once you've completed all ten.  That's less than one book per month!  I am so looking forward to this.  Let me know if you are joining this challenge and please provide links to your own posts.  I'd love to read of your discoveries!

Happy New Year!!!


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