Challenge….. Accepted.

I love a good challenge…. the competitive edge in me is sharpened and in most cases I am only competing with myself.  So lets look at what Challenges I have accepted this year as well as the ones that are still in play.

The Gilmore Girl reading Challenge

(Jan 1 – Dec 31 2010)

Ok – I seriously love all things Gilmore.  This is my favorite show of all time… and well, dont even get me started…. just read my post if you want to know more.

This one is a challenge to read books that are mentioned in this popular show and there is A LOT.


Emily: Read 5 books from at least two different categories.
Lorelai: Read 10 books from at least three different categories.
Rory: Read 20 books from at least four different categories

(I am trying for the Rory)

The Historical Fiction Challenge

(Jan 1 – Dec 31 2010)

Ooh I love historical fiction!  This one has several levels as well:

– Curious – Read 3 Historical Fiction novels.

— Fascinated – Read 6 Historical Fiction novels.
— Addicted – Read 12 Historical Fiction novels.
— Obsessed – Read 20 Historical Fiction novels.

It’s not to late to join!  🙂

YA Reading Challenge

Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2010
Oh yes!  YA was a huge hit for me in 2009 and this challenge really has my excited to be involved!
Levels are:

–The Mini YA Reading Challenge – Read 12 Young Adult novels.

–Just My Size YA Reading Challenge – Read 25 Young Adult novels.

–Stepping It Up YA Reading Challenge – Read 50 Young Adult novels.

–Super Size Me YA Reading Challenge – Read 75 Young Adult novels.

I am going for the Just My Size.  🙂

These challenges can still be signed up for.  Click on their title under the post and it will take you there!  You can also mix and match in the categories so say that you read a YA book that also happens to fall into the GilMore Girl Category – you can count that book in both spots.  🙂

The Christy Awards Challenge

This one is for all the great Christian Fiction Reads that won the Christy award in 2009.  As in the other challenges you choose the level you want to commit to.  This is a good challenge for me as I enjoy good Christian Fiction reads and am probably missing out on some authors I have never experienced before.

The Social Justice Challenge

I am super excited to take part in this one!  This challenge will focus each month on a different social injustice in the world.  Reading will be suggested and encouragement to get involved when you fill called to is also a part of the challenge.  This one is near and dear to my heart!

Support Your Local Library Challenge

This challenge will be my cryptonite…. my mount everest…. my…. well you get the point.  Would you belive that I am not a library frequenter?   Dont even have a library card?  It is true… I will go to their book sales but a book borrower I am not….  or wasn’t…

J Kayes challenge here reminds me that I need to support my local library and so – I am…. I will.  🙂

100+ reading Challenge

Uhhhh… lets just say I dont think this one will be a problem…..

Harry Potter Reading Challenge

Aug 1 2009 – July 31 2010

This one as you can see, is already in progress and I have really “muggled” it up so far by producing… nada.  BUT- I have not given up and as two of these books also cross into the Gilmore Challenge… count on seeing an amazing some back int the 2nd half of this challenge.  🙂

So that is what I have currently committed to.  In the next few days I plan to have these all on my sidebar so you can click on them anytime and see where I am at on each challenge.  **These challenges are all still available to sign on to.  Simply click on the link I provided under each challenge picture and learn more about the challenge itself.

Challenges are fun – a great way to push yourself into new areas of reading and meeting other book bloggers with like minded goals.  🙂

The Murder Of King Tut by James Patterson (audio)

Thrust onto Egypt’s most powerful throne at the age of nine, King Tut’s reign was fiercely debated from the outset. Behind the palace’s veil of prosperity, bitter rivalries and jealousy flourished among the Boy King’s most trusted advisors, and after only nine years, King Tut suddenly perished, his name purged from Egyptian history. To this day, his death remains shrouded in controversy.

The keys to an unsolved mystery

Enchanted by the ruler’s tragic story and hoping to unlock the answers to the 3,000 year-old mystery, Howard

King Tut

Carter made it his life’s mission to uncover the pharaoh’s hidden tomb. He began his search in 1907, but encountered countless setbacks and dead-ends before he finally, uncovered the long-lost crypt.

The clues point to murder

Now, in The Murder of King Tut, James Patterson and Martin Dugard dig through stacks of evidence–X-rays, Carter’s files, forensic clues, and stories told through the ages–to arrive at their own account of King Tut’s life and death. The result is an exhilarating true crime tale of intrigue, passion, and betrayal that casts fresh light on the oldest mystery of all.

I listened to this audio over the past week.  At first I found it a bit hard to follow the back and forth of Tut’s time (1300 BC) to Howard Carter’s time (1920) … to the occasional James Patterson time (current) where he fills us in on his progress and thoughts on the book.

Once I was able to pick up this flow…. I really started to enjoy the audio.  The historical value of the story of Tutankhamen was fascinating to me.  I had flashbacks to my experience when I first seen the movie Titanic and suddenly I couldnt get enough of Titanic related facts.  Now here I am again in that place except now it is King Tut.

I have always been fascinated with movies the likes of  Tomb Raider, National Treasure, and Raiders Of The Lost Ark.  Being an archeologist would be an incredible job and the adventures of searching and finding the treasures of the past makes my heart beat a little faster.

I really enjoyed learning more about King Tut in this non fiction dig back into the days of Egyptian tombs, pyramids, and Pharoahs ruling the land.  While I knew King Tut had been a young Pharoah – I had not realized how young or that he had married his sister!  (oops – have I said too much?)

The excavation of Tut's Tomb

The sections on Howard Carter (the man who in November 26, 1922, discovered King Tut’s tomb) were equally as interesting.  I even enjoyed the take directly from James Patterson himself on how this book came to be and his onw exensive research into the history and the mystery that surrounds Tut.   James also shares some of his personal rules in writing that to me, were note  worthy.

If you enjoy historical fiction/non fiction I think you will find a lot of value in this audio.  For me the adventure had just begun as I am now following up on more information on Howard Carter and his amazing discovery of the boy King.  James Patterson takes this piece of history and breathes life into it.  I recommend taking it in.

Thanks to Hachette Audio, I have three copies of this audio to use for a giveaway!  Enter here!

I received my review audio from Hachette Audio Group

Morning Meanderings…

SO here we are … another year down.  For me this is a great time to look over the last 6 months of my blogging journey.  I started blogging (seriously book blogging) the first week of June 2009.  From that date on it has been a wonderful whirlwind of:

  • I have connected with people from all over the world.

  • been introduced to books I may not have ever encountered

  • Spoke with publishers and authors

  • fed my passion for writing

I have given a lot of thought how I would wrap up my year.  Do I post my favorite reads over the past year?  Make resolutions for 2010?  How about a bit of both…. walk with me down memory lane:

Dragon House will always hold special memories for me.  Not only was this a fantastic read, this was my first book sent directly from the author.

Pope Joan was another read that really was incredible.  Author Donna Woolfolk Cross is fantastic and she and I communicated back and forth for a few months while they were filming the movie for this book.   This was all new to me…. chatting with authors?

The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy was such a fun read.  It was great to participate on Kay’s 2.0 Blog and chat with ehr on Twitter as well.  This book is not available to the public yet but I have pom poms ready to go to cheer like crazy when it does.  YA look out in 2010!

The Help by Katherine Stockett is a great example of the power of book bloggers.  As I watched this book gather steam through the blogs I purchased it and never looked back from page one to the very end.  This book holds a high place in my 2009 reading favorites.

Jantsen’s Gift touched me deeply and author Pam Cope and I talked for over an hour on the phone as I interviewed her and shared our common interest in helping children all over the world.

Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins were books I would have never dreamed I would have enjoyed…. I mean seriously…. fighting to the death?  Yet… I read them because of the wonderful bloggers I had come to trust and I LOVED these books.  I cant wait for book three!

The Book Thief caused me to really put a new author on my radar that was reason for applause.   A book told from the perspective of death….  if you havent read this – read it.

And this list is not by any means inclusive to everything I have read and loved this past year – just some that stick out in my mind as what I would say to someone who asked what book I would recommend.

As for resolutions for this blog…

  • I am excited to really take a close look at the challenges I will be doing this year and keep way better track then I did this past year.

  • There will be more author interviews

  • Word Shakers will get the kinks worked out and we will move ahead
  • I want to better at keeping track of the challenges I am in…. (I still have clean up to do on the ones I am completing – so behind!  (My challenge post should be up later today)

  • Pondering Moments will be a mid week meme that will stem from book related questions and/or topics….  I am hoping to get more involved in a weekly discussion as I really enjoy talking all things bookish.

Finally I want to thank all of you that stop in and read my thoughts on books, crazy life moments that I share over a cup of coffee, and the day to day support.  I so appreciate all of you.  This past 6 months for many of you I have went from knowing you by a blog name – to a first name….  and that is pretty awesome.

May you all have a wonderful and safe New Years Eve!

Defining Twilight by Brian Leaf M.A.

Brian Leaf’s book is smartly done!  ~ Sheila

Can you resist the allure of Edward’s myriad charms—his ochre eyes and tousled hair, the cadence of his speech, his chiseled alabaster skin, and his gratuitous charm? Will you hunt surreptitiously and tolerate the ceaseless deluge in Forks to evade the sun and uphold the facade? Join Edward and Bella as you learn more than 600 vocabulary words to improve your score on the *SAT, ACT®, GED®, and SSAT® exams!

Use this workbook side-by-side with your own copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight!
• Each chapter of the workbook gives you eight words taken from Twilight, with page references for you to read the words in the context of your favorite novel
• Define the words on your own before turning back to the workbook for their actual definitions
• At the end of each section you’ll take SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT drills and quizzes to review and integrate what you’ve learned
• Plus, you’ll learn synonyms, Latin word parts, and memorization tools throughout the workbook

Honestly?  I think this is brilliant!  What a clever way Brain Leaf has put together here to learn great vocabulary words and actually make learning fun.  Right from page 1 you have the words from the book Twilight with the page number provided to look it up.  AT this stage of the book you are to write down what the word might mean.  Flip to the next page and the definitions are there so you can see how you did.  From there you move on to synonyms for each word, choosing analogies, and sentence completion.  I had a wonderful time going through this workbook page by page and seeing what I did and did not know.

“Did I learn from this book? I would think would be a question you may be asking.  The answer is yes.  Even words that I thought I had a good grasp on, I discovered in a few cases I did not quite hold their correct meaning.  When I read Twilight I did not notice the words that were put into use but now as I see how they are used in Defining Twilight, I am even more impressed with Stephanie Meyer’s work.

For a person who is a lover of words… this was a great exercise for me and I would think if you have a YA in your life who is a fan of Twilight, this is a great companion read that could be very beneficial.

About Brian Leaf

Brian Leaf, M.A., is the author of  six books, including Defining Twilight and the four-book SAT and ACT test-prep series McGraw-Hill’s Top 50 Skills. He is Director of the New Leaf Learning Center in Massachusetts, and has provided SAT, ACT, GED, SSAT, and GRE preparation to thousands of students from throughout the United States.

My Amazon Review

I received my copy of this book for review from Author Brian Leaf

Morning Meanderings…

Good Morning!  It took two days but I am thrilled to say that I have my house back in order and I have book shelves!  YES!   I said it out loud and there was a happy dance.  Here they are the finished product and I am so glad to be clutter free!  🙂

(Seriously… this will be the last babbling about these shelves… after this post I will return to my regular scheduled Morning Meanderings)

Oh wow!  These are the first books I put up there…. congratulations to author Randy Alcorn who took up this corner!

Here is the other side of the room.  I love it…. its better than I even pictured it!

I still have space !  Yes!  The step in this picture belonged to my Great Grandmother.  I have had it in the basement for years but now I think I am going to paint it and maybe put some cool book quotes on the steps to use in this room.

One close up of the shelf in action.  🙂

Ok enough about the shelves….  what are you reading today?

Take Your Best Shot by Austin Gutwein

It is people like Austin Gutwein who inspire me to be a better person.  ~  Sheila

Only God could weave a story that would captivate people all over the world, bring thousands of people from seventeen countries to a free-throw line, raise over a million dollars in international AIDS relief, and build a school and medical clinic in Zambia.

And only God do it through the hands of a nine-year-old boy.

What an amazing story of what a difference one person can make!  Austin’ story is one that made my heart sore.  I love true stories of young people doing things that those two, three, or four times their age have not attempted.  There is something pure int hat kind of thinking and that is what I found within this book – within Austin himself.

This past September I had the opportunity to take part in a bike ride that raised money for children with AIDS.  It was one of those experiences that caused me to step away from my own life and really take a look at what is going on around me.  It was life changing and I am so ready and willing to do it again.  This book, Austin’s story, brings me back to that moment – a moment of seeing things that often are overlooked.

At the end of each chapter are questions to ponder, scripture to think on… and a task to do.  The task could be send a card to someone you know who is ill, connecting with an old friend – all the way to putting together your own Hoops of Hope event.

I found this book to be a wonderful reminder of the power that each of us has within us.  When we think there is nothing possibly that we could do – we need to remember we dont know the power of a smile to someone who is desperately hurting, we dont know the power of a kind word to a stranger, and we do not know what picking up the phone and calling that person who has been on our heart lately will not only do for that person – but for you as well.

Click here for Austin’s Blog

My Amazon Review

I received my review copy from Thomas Nelson

Morning Meanderings…

Good Morning!  By the time you read this know I have already been to the gym working off (hopefully) the wonderful Chocolates I indulged in over the weekend.  🙂

In yesterdays Meandering I was all pumped up about the book shelf that is being placed around the upper part of my reading room.  Today I promised pictures.  I dont have a fully finished product yet as they did not get finished, but most of them are up.  I will add more pics after it is completely done and with books even on them!

Oh and how appropriate…. this post marks my 100th Morning Meandering 🙂