Monthly Archives: March 2009

Library Book Sale recap….

large_club1Oh man….

The Brainerd Library sale is all that I had hoped for…. and then some.  After a LLLLOOOOONNNNNGGGGG winter of no garage sale “book finding” opportunities, I had forgot how much I miss just browsing for great books at great prices!

Walking into the sale today I quickly went to my favorite style of book, the oversized paperback.  After cruising that section and placing my selections into the box (yes, box) I then went to the hard covers, then Christian, then over to the regular sized paperbacks.  And then, after skimming through titles… I went through it all again, more carefully this time… checking also the overstock boxes below the tables.

I chose books by author, by title, and in some cases, by beauty.  Some books I have no idea if they are good or not, but they had a beautiful title and a big beautiful title and cover on a hard book is too me… a piece of art.  These beauties will grace the shelves at our cabin…. temping to visitors to read, but also appealing to the eye.

When all was said and done I checked out at $35.00…. that’s 50 cents per book, so yeah… 70 books.  Some are for me, some are for friends, some for the church, some for the cabin, and a few are for Swaptree so I can trade for something I do want.

Best picks… hmmm…. hard to say…. I found Harlan Colben’s Hold Tight (that was exciting!).  That may be my prize of this sale.

My heart is racing now…. the Spring book sale is a kick off to what is to come and now the scent of books is in the air…. like the scent of Bella is to Edward….

I am thirsty.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

bookIt’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I have come to a point in my life long journey through books that I truly enjoy the book that it out of the norm… you know, an author who takes an idea out of left field and molds it into a tale that tantalized the brain, that stimulates the outer reaches of your mind…..this is such a tale…. and this is exactly what drew me to The Book Thief.

Yet another book that waited patiently on my book shelf.  I am sure it was the title that interested me first.  It has to do with books…. and not only that, but a main character with a strong desire of needing to steal books.  Interesting…

But that’s not all!  Flip the book over and you find out it is told from the perspective of Death.  Now that’s different….  and why not?  Screwtape letters is told from the perspective of a Demon.

In recent weeks I stated seeing this book pop on on book sites that I frequent with messages like, “Book Clubs are raving!” and “The extraordinary best seller“….  and so I pulled this treasure off my book shelf and read the first 30 pages before suggesting it to the Bookies as our April read.  It won the vote.  So here we are, the Bookies all reading The Book Thief and I, now 333 pages into this 552 page book, am hoping they are finding it as stimulating as I am.

Like I said earlier, it is written from the perspective of Death.  And in this case, Death has taken an interest in a young girl who’s brother had died and she, Liesel, is now under the care of foster parents… it is 1939.  Nazi, Germany and Hitler is in his full reign.  As Death narrates the story, sometimes jumping ahead to share the long-term (or in some cases short term) outcome of people in Liesel’s life, I become so entangled in the weave that I often forget the narrator and his role.

Deeply and well written, I find the book fascinating and I can get the feel of the times, the level of poverty, the act of stealing just to be fed…. even if that feeding is in the form of literature.  I can relate to that and can not imagine what a life would be like not having the written word available to you freely.  I too, can relate to the desperation of our Book Thief.

So – as I have said, I am not done reading the book.  I have 200+ more pages to go and am glad of it.  I will report back at the completion of this read, and again after the last review of the Bookies in April.

Today – March 30th, moments ago… I completed this book.  I have to say – I really enjoyed the read.  It is nothing like I have read before and I loved the story line.  The book was beautifully written and I am still sitting here in high respect for Markus Zusak’s style in which he wrote a book that as of this date is my favorite of the year, perhaps in my top 10 of all time reads.  It is not often you find a treasure when you have so much book stuff already in your head….

but I think I did.

I am excited to do the review on April 14th with the Bookies to hear their thoughts.

Update April 14th:  tonight’s book review was fantastic!  I love hearing everyone’s thoughts and takes from the book.  It was interesting to discuss our narrator, Death as a creäture with feelings.  Angie even pointed out that on page 328 Death even has hope.   Our ratings were all over the board.  We had a couple lows of a 1 and a 2 and a few middle of the road 3’s and several high 4’s as well as a couple 5’s.  The difference in our opinions on this book made such a  great review and made me thankful for each and every girl who is a part of the Bookies.  I am blessed to be a part of them!

Brainerd Library Book Sale

Thanks to a quick pit stop I made in the Library parking lot this weekend to meet a friend, I found out that the big book sale for spring is scheduled for NEXT THURSDAY, FRIDAY, and SATURDAY!

This is a do not miss event as any book lover knows.  On Thursday a crowd will line up in front of the Library waiting for the doors to be opened at 9 am to rush in and start loading up on books.

I will be in that line.  Three years of this has brought me great books – loads of books, for rock bottom prices.  I can hardly do better than this at garage sales.  For hints to doing this sale well, see my post from last year:  click here

Eat This Not That

eat_this_not_thatThis is a great little book that I picked up on Amazon.  This book compares brands of food to find the best products for health in all categories.

I really enjoyed reading through this book and actually learned quite a bit about products that I have thought were the best choices in their category only to discover there was a better choice.  In other circumstances, the product I was using, was raved about – so kudos on making a few top selections!

I have been getting into this healthy eating more and more – trying to eat things not only that taste good, but are good for me.  It isnt a 100% and probably never will be beacuse I love to snack and while I try to make good snacking choices as well… I do have moments of total “off the program” where I just eat whatever.  (Hey, who doesn’tdo that???)

Book – excellent

A+ I have already tried some of the suggestions and loved them.  This is a book I will hang on to as a Reference Book, right up there with my copy of The Top 100 Foods.

See more on this book here

To Kindle or not to Kindle…

kindle-frontI am a Bookie.  Book worm, Book Geek, Reader…. whatever you want to call it – I am it.  I have been one since grade school starting with favorites like Dr. Suess, Judy Blume, moving into The Little House in the Prairie series, and beyond.

I love books.  I love the look of them.  I love the feel of them.  I decorate with them in little stacks all over my house… on coffee tables and on shelves. I keep one on my dresser to read while I fix my hair in the morning.  There is one on my night stand.  At least two books by the couch at all times and one in my car.  There is something about a book.  A whole world of information, adventure, fantasy, and knowledge in between the covers.

Then along came Kindle.  Little flat tiny Kindle.  Nothing to stack on shelves… no browsing for hours in a book store just soaking in all the variety and the great book smell.


Jodi in my book club brought one to book club a couple months ago.  She glowed with excitement and told us all about the benefits.  Small enough to carry anywhere.  You can download any book title in a touch of the pad.  No standing in check out lines, no searching and searching for hard to find titles.  Kindle will give you a definition of any word that you don’t know just by highlighting it.  You can save passages that you wish to refer back to later… Jodi had our book we chose to read on Kindle minutes after we selected it.

I, of course, fought back.  What is reading without the adventure of finding that beautiful hard cover limited addition coveted book that has been on your wish list for months?  What about the gift of giving books?  A treasure passed from one friend to another.  What about Libraries and book stores? I toured her by the arm through  my home library.  What would be on all of these shelves if the books were no longer there.  Kindle would look kind of silly sitting alone on a huge 6 foot book case.

But Kindle is out there.  I seen it this week at the YMCA.  The lady who had it was on the stationary bike just peddling away and reading.  She didn’t have to prop Kindle open or hold it open with one hand.  It just sat there on the little lip for holding magazines, sleek and clean.  I asked her what she thought of it.  She loved it, she said.  Easy to handle, great for working out or putting in your purse to go with you anywhere.

I wonder if it comes in color choices?


Books Anyone?

i_heart_book_clubI had a wee bit of time today to snoop through some websites and blogs on books.  I found – A GOLD MINE!  Book sites that have great book reviews – book info and book giveaways!  It is a Bookies dream world!  I am posting some of these sites here so you can check them out for yourself!  Be sure to look at them too becuase they are offering free book drawings which I LOVE!!!!  Woo hoo!!!!

Book Club Girl – filled with rich stories and links to book givaways I could spend hours on this site alone and probably will!  Within my first few minutes on the site I was able to link to two (yes two!) book givaways that both sounded like great reads!

** There is also a give away on this site for a copy of the NEW Jodi Piccoult Book!  Link to it here! – Author talk and book reviews as well as info on new books.  This site also has reading guides for groups.

Bookpage – Kind of fun…. reviews and contests and a cool magazine that you can click on and turn the pages online to other book info as well as more contests!

Bookfetish –  Looks like a large magazine…. lots of book information and articles

Dearreader – Kind of a homey book site.  Contests and possible cookies to win…. this site allwos you to get weekly book samples in your email, join an online book club, and get recipes as well.  Simply done site that is nicely done and not overdone.

There.  I am sure there are thousands more out there but with my wii fit calling me and being a little over an hour until I am due to my own book club meeting (in a snow storm no less!) I will have to wait another day to research more.  Out of these that I linked you to today, I most enjoyed the Book Club Girl site, finding it fun and with lots of different things to look at, sign up for, and do!

Later fellow book lovers!!!!

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

aaaaRemember what childhood friendships can be like? Quite often, we become best friends with someone and probably swear to each other that this friendship will last forever. Such is the case in Kristin Hannah’s touching story Firefly Lane. We hear, “Best friends forever. They’d believed it would last, that vow, that someday they’d be old women, sitting in their rocking chairs on a creaking deck, talking about the times of their lives, and laughing. “

Even the best intentioned promises can sometimes go awry as we learn in this 30 year history of friendship between Kate and Tully. It began in 1974 when Kate Mularkey was feeling especially isolated and coming to terms with the fact that she wasn’t popular or pretty. In fact, she might best be described as ordinary.

Then, miracle of miracles a new family moved in across the street and in that family was Tully Hart , the coolest, best looking girl Kate had ever seen. Further, Tully wanted to be her friend, not just an acquaintance but best friends. They were opposites in many ways, but that didn’t matter they swore their friendship would never end.

Tully had aspirations and in the years to come she would do whatever it took to become successful, to be acknowledged by all as the best. She does reach the top as a broadcast journalist. Kate, although, has no such dreams. She simply wants to be a wife and mother, which she does with her husband Johnny and daughter Marah.

Years pass, 30 of them, when suddenly a friendship that was to last forever seems irreparably broken.

I nominated this book for our March Bookies read and it won the vote.  I know it was the friendship storyline that drew me to choose it.  I love reading about strong women friendships, I always have… and reading the back of this book led me to believe that is what we would be getting by venturing into this world of “friends forever” from a young age to adult.

While I wasn’t disappointed… I actually struggled a bit with this friendship – Tully whose life was a mess, no securities with her family, a non-existent father who last she heard was in jail, a mother who never got beyond the 60’s and drugs and lives her life in a fog…. all Tully really has going for her is her incredible beauty which she learns how to use at a young age to get things she wants.

Kate on the flip side of that is a wallflower.  Quietly living out her life with both parents intact, while pretty, she doesn’t know it or have the confidence to enhance it.  She dresses outdated, she wears glasses that should have been tossed decades ago and she lives life in the shadows and prefers it that way.

Put these two together and while I love to see Kate grow stronger in herself and that is yes, thanks to Tully – Tully takes advantage of the friendship again and again and again throughout the book all the way to the point of it effecting a relationship between Kate and her teenage daughter.

Honestly – there were times I would have shown Tully the door – for good.  Her actions angered me, and it wasn’t until I started writing the review that I in the end – the very end as in my mind I lay this book to rest – I got it.

Kate needed an outrageous Tully to become who she was going to become.  Kate’s life would have never gone the way that it did if not for Tully, her marriage, her lifestyle… Kate would have continued to live life in the shadows and never known there was something more out there for her.

Tully needed Kate.  If not for Kate’s level headed advice and Kate’s family – Tully would have self destructed long ago.  She needed to know she was loved…. and after years of trying to find it the wrong way… she always knows it is real from Kate and her family and she is drawn like a moth to light, time and again.

Mixed feelings on parts of the book but over all I think I have to give it a 3.9.

I started and finished this book in Honduras.

Update after Bookies Review on March 10:  Our book review was during a snow storm.  We met at Boardwalk Bread and Bagel, 5 of us made it to this review.  We all agreed that the friendship between Tully and Kate was one we were not sure we could have dealt with – mainly, Tully and her missing sensitivity chip.  I was pleasantly surprised though that the book rated a high 4 overall, and while the book made us angry at times, overall the read was pretty good and the message at the end about cancer was good for all of us to remember.

For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

bWhat’s going on in a man’s mind? From their early days, every woman has struggled to understand why males behave the way they do. Even long-married women who think they understand men have only scratched the surface. Beneath a man’s rugged exterior is an even more rugged, unmapped terrain. What bestselling author Shaunti Feldhahn’s research reveals about the inner lives of men will open women’s eyes to what the men in their life—boyfriends, brothers, husbands, and sons—are really thinking and feeling. Men want to be understood, but they’re afraid to “freak out” the women they love by confessing what is happening inside their heads. This book will guide women in how to provide the loving support that modern men want and need.

I picked this book up off of about a year ago and placed it on my shelf as I do with so many of the books I find.  Sometimes it takes me years to get to them… others, sadly, I may never get too as books come and go in my life and sometimes it is easy for the shelved ones to get…. well…. left behind.

I was cleaning up my massive amounts of books in Janualry and compiling them into our once business office, now (and I am so excited to say this) Library.  (Pause for a “woo hoo!”)  I picked up this book, For Women Only, now realizing that not only do I have one copy on the shelf but two.  So I pass one on to a friend… amd I start reading the other.

I loved it.  From the very first chapter I had an “aha” moment that seriously, changed the way I do my marriage.  Seriously…. and if you know me… I am no fan of self help books or any of that so this book to change the way I think is huge.  Also productive.

By tweaking the way I acknowledge and speak to my husband, not even in a big way – but a subtle way, I almost immediately seen a difference in the way that he responds to me. This book interviews 500 men on responses to such questions as “Which is more important to you, feeling loved, or feeling respected?”  The answers may surprise you.

I have a lot of books that I just read.  This was not one of them.  This was a little bit at a time, in some cases reading chapters again.  I will keep this book as a reference and will continue to use it as a reminder.  Highly recommended to all women – and for the guys, there is also a book written by the author and her husband, Jeff Feldhahn:  For Men Only.

In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols

aaToday is your birthday… I want you to know that you are in my heart, as you always have been. I pray for you every day. I pray I did the right thing…

Thus wrote Miranda DeSpain on the anniversary of the day that changed her life forever, the day her heart was torn in pieces. Ever since that wrenching event, she has been unable to settle down, embrace life. She finds herself starting one adventure after another, trying to forget. But she never can. As she approaches her twenty-seventh birthday, she determines once again to reinvent her circumstances, to start anew. But there’s one loose end to tie up first…

This book, In Search of Eden,  was loaned to me by a fellow Bookie (my book club), Brenda.  It had passed through a few of the Bookies hands and now it was my turn!  I brought it with me to Honduras and read it on the plane, in Texas, and then finished it in a small bedroom in the top bunk at the Manuelito Project in Talanga Honduras.

This was a good read.  I enjoyed the story line and character development.  Miranda is a likable character, and while she starts out with little to no self worth she grows quickly in her mission and in her liking of herself for who she is.

This is a great read about faith and finding where you fit into all of it.

On the plane, while reading this book, I dumped blueberry (yup… blueberry even)  yogurt all over the book and me.  Of all the books I brought with me, this is the only one that wasn’t mine….  figures.  🙂  I continued reading, and then passed it on to Tim Lake, our Team Leader who had not brought a book with him to read.  He comments about the blue pages…..

I will be buying my friend Brenda a new copy of this book, she will want to have to continue to pass this great story around to others.  I love that about books – you actually can share worlds with your friends.

Thanks Brenda for allowing me (blueberries and all) to share this read with you.

A 4.5 rating in my book…..  and in my blog.  🙂

(This book passed through many hands before it got back to me… and everyone who read it really enjoyed it).  A friend of mine who was expecting, after reading this named her baby girl, Eden.

Update on This Post – July 11, 2009:  As of this date I am saying this is the best Faith and Fiction read so far this year.  I am responding to the question presented by My Friend Amy as to what is the best Christian Fiction I have read to date…  Amy’s question actually reminded me that I have a few others waiting on my book shelf that I need to get to as well.  🙂


Harry A History by Melissa Anelli

a1During the brief span of just one decade, hundreds of millions of perfectly ordinary people made history: they became the only ones who would remember what it was like when the Harry Potter saga was still unfinished. What it was like to seek out friends, families, online forums, fan fiction, and podcasts to get a fix between novels. When the death of a character was a hotter bet than the World Series. When the unfolding story of a boy wizard changed the way books are read for all time.

And as webmistress of The Leaky Cauldron, one of the most popular Harry Potter sites on the Internet, Melissa Anelli had a front row seat to it all. Whether it was helping Scholastic stop leaks and track down counterfeiters, hosting live PotterCasts at bookstores across the country, touring with the wizard rock band Harry and the Potters, or traveling to Edinburgh to interview J. K. Rowling personally, Melissa was at the center of the Harry Potter tornado, and nothing about her life would ever be the same.

The Harry Potter books are a triumph of the imagination that did far more than break sales records for all time. They restored the world’s sense of wonder, and took on a magical life of their own. Now the series has ended, but the story is not over. With remembrances from J. K. Rowling’s editors, agents, publicists, fans, and Rowling herself, Melissa Anelli takes us on a personal journey through every aspect of the Harry Potter phenomenon—from his very first spell to his lasting impact on the way we live and dream.

Justin bought me this book (along with The Reader) for my birthday last month.  It is no secret that I, along with my kids Brad and Justin, have waited out each books arrival to the stores and usually sat around with three copies going at once of the Harry Potter books.  I am just as big a fan of these books as my kids and towards the final books – finshed before either of them did.  I love the story line, the story behind the author and her hardships, the amazing reads that bring out an incredible imaginative world in the minds of children and adults alike….

This book, Harry a History,  took it to the next level.  While I knew the books were good reading, I had no idea to the extent to which this went.  I never thought about things like “Fan Get Togethers” for pre release nights…. and I didn’t really think about the fact that these books and their popularity makes our generation a kind of “they were there when it happened!” group.  Kind of like being the first people to read one of the all time classics of today like Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Jane Austin… while they were still alive and thinking, “well, thats a pretty good book.”

We are the generation that actually had to wait for each book to see what will happen next – our generations coming up will get to read them all at once while we wait to talk with them about “what did you think of that??? Or did you believe that?????”

I love Melissa’s story – a college student who stumbled into a position that she loved….  it sounds exciting and I dream for that kind of excitement in a career.  What an amazing season of her life!  She was such a large part of what was happening through the years of the books and she writes it well.

Anyway – obviously I found the book a great read.  I was also impressed with the fact that kids all over the world who struggled with reading or even had dyslexia or other reading disorders, were able to correct this and even move beyond their age reading level because of these books.

A+ read for any Potter Fan.  Thank you Justin for seeing this book and thinking of me – my favorite all time gifts are books!  It is a gift that keeps on giving and can go with you anywhere.  I finished this one in the back seat of a truck on the way to the airport in Minneapolis to go to Honduras.