Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Best of 2010

I can not even believe we are here on the cusp of 2011, and I hanging on by a toe hold trying to get this post done.  For me 2010 brought with it my first full year of book blogging.  I learned a lot this year about blogging, reviewing, commenting, giveaways, authors, and more…

I can not write this post without giving a virtual high-five to Natasha at Maw Books and the event she hosts called Bloggiesta.  I will be writing a more detailed post about this event in January, but have to say that Bloggiesta, starting back in June of 2009, really established the ground work of the blog and the blogger you see today.  I recommend Bloggiesta to all bloggers.  It does not matter if you are new or been around the blogosphere for a while, this has something for everyone and I learn from it every time I do it. I have participated every time, twice during 2010.  Click on the logo below to check out what it is all about and join in on the next one that takes place in January.


And of course I have to mention BEA (Book Expo America).  Not only did I not even know what this was in 2009, even if I had I would never have imagined myself attending.  Yet, in 2010, I flew by myself for the first time ever to New York where I met up with my new roommates Reagan from Miss Remmer’s Reviews, Esme from Chocolates and Croissants, Care from Care’s Online Book Club, and Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness.  It was a huge leap for me and I LOVED every minute of it.  I met so many wonderful bloggers, and authors…. I toured Simon and Schuster, went to dinner with authors, a blogger party, the Book Blogger Conference… and the books… oh the books!  Let’s just say it is a book lovers dream! Click the logo below to find out about BEA 2011



BEA - New York, May 2010



Of course there are the books and it is hard to look at everything I read in 2010 and pick the books that effected me the most, but I did it and here they are (If you click on the book covers you will be linked to my reviews).


To Kill a Mockingbird was one of those classics I always wanted to read but… just had not.  When I was offered a chance to read and review this book for its 50th anniversary this year I knew it was time to jump in… and I am really glad I did.  To Kill A Mockingbird instantly jumped to the all time favorites for me.  This book is amazing and if you have not had the pleasure, please add this to your “MUST READS” for 2011.


I have found myself drawn to books like this for some time now and born under a million shadows was one that really touched my heart.  With the feeling of Kite Runner, this one pulled me into a mesmerizing tale of a country I only know through the books I read.



It is a big deal that I add this book to my top of 2010 list as when I started reading it, I honestly wasn’t sure I would even like it.  As I became more involved in the book I really began to appreciate the brilliant story that Lauren Oliver had created.  In the end, I loved it and I have to give credit where credit is due.  People who enjoy a good YA read should really appreciate this book.



Most people read this years ago… I only got to it this year, after the book has sat on my shelf for years… unread.  And then, I didn’t read the book, I picked it up on audio from my library as I had travel time to listen to a book.  I am so glad I did.  This audio book is read by author Khaled Hosseini and I am so glad I was able to hear this in his own words… literally.




The Fiddler’s Gun is such a beautiful read as I write this now I do not even know how to describe to you how much I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the sequel.



I really just got into YA reading in the past few years.  It is no secret that I appreciate a good message within my books, especially in a YA read and I found that in this book.  I found Thirteen reasons Why to be amazing and I chatted with author Jay Asher about this unique read.



This book is receiving my vote for best book club book of the year for 2010 and ranked high on my overall 2010 reads as well.  I did not read as much historical fiction as I would have liked this year and thinking about this book now makes me really want to move to correct that this next year.  Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter and Sweet is a love story but also a historical, factual book that I found left me want ing to know more about the actual events that are mentioned in this book.




I am not even sure why I am adding this one to the list but I feel as thought I should.  I read this one in early 2010 and it was light and fun and for some reason really sticks with me as a “that was a good read!”.



Finally… I do not think a 2010 recap would be complete without me adding in some of my favorite Morning Meanderings of the past year.  I love the conversations that have been had over my early morning rants and happenings over a cup of coffee…


The Secret is out… it is I who has the Invisibility Cloak!

Random Things In My Head…

What Is It With Me and Jayne Eyre?


What Would You r Name Have Been?

My Letter from the state and a fine (Life Is Never Dull)


“Banned Aid!”  (In honor of Banned Books Week)


The Pinky Swear


Sleeping At The Library

Why I participate in a bike ride for AIDS


I am on the lam!

Crowing a new Book Club Queen

First word of the day, “meh”

Moments for BEA


Ok I could do more but I have to run so there is my 2010…. I cant wait to visit all of you in 2011!!!

Morning Meanderings… It’s so funny how things work out…

Good Morning!
*waving crazily with a scary big smile on my face*

Yesterday morning when I wrote my meandering I was whelmed. Ok…. let’s be honest… I was OVER whelmed. I looked at everything I had going on for the day and found myself wondering how I was going to do everything I planned to do that – and do it well.  Then as the day rolled on, a snow storm rolled in – that canceled my work out at the gym, and my 6 PM meeting, allowing me to bump up my dinner with my son adding more time for us to spend together and taking a little off of me for the evening.

This morning as I sit here with COFFEE CUP after a wonderful good night of plenty of sleep and I look back on this past week I cant help but feel blessed to be a part of it all.


  • Both boys (BOTH BOYS) were home for Christmas!

  • On Christmas day Chance, Justin, and I stayed up until 2 a.m. playing Sequence…. addicting game!
  • My 14-year-old puppy who has doggy dementia (yup – it’s an actual disease for dogs) since this summer, is still with us and doing well.
  • Chance and I have been spending our evenings watching episodes of LOST like they are popcorn and loving our time hanging out together.
  • I had a wonderful lunch with Dawn yesterday – which was not on the original crazy agenda – but I am so glad we were able to do that – good food and good company!
  • A couple of days ago I went and seen friends of ours adopt a little guy at the court-house.  It was AMAZING and I am so glad I went.

  • Last night having dinner with Brad before he headed for the airport at 3 am this morning was PRICELESS.  We had fajitas, talked, and laughed.  He may not be back from the navy now until August of 2011.
  • I love my job.  I really do….I love the people I work with and what I do.
  • Al and I will probably go out to a nice dinner tonight to close out 2010 and welcome 2011 with all the mystique and wonder that it will bring with it.

And that is just a week… I can’t even contemplate the entire year of good things that have come our way.


This afternoon I will be posting what I believe were the best books I read in 2010.  I look forward to expanding that list in 2011 and really stretching myself in my reading.  I have not had time to plan out resolutions yet but I will.

If you are off and making plans for this historical moment of the ending of 2010 and the ringing in of 2011, I hope you have a wonderful time, stay safe and if I do not see you in the blogosphere yet today, I hope to see you often in 2011.

Morning Meanderings…

Good morning!  COFFEE CUP and I are moving full steam (get it?  steam?) ahead.  I was up early and with a plan.

Today is super nutso in everything as I am juggling work, Zumba Class at 3:30, home, groceries,  Brads last day in town before he goes back to the Navy so he is having dinner with us, a 6:00 pm meeting tonight, and …


AND I am so bummed that I have yet to post my top picks for 2010 AND I need to update my challenges.

When did life get so busy???

I hate to say it but I may have to pass on the Zumba tonight just to get everything else done.  I hate it when that happens but things are bound to settle down soon.

I am excited for the New Year that is quickly approaching… at that time I plan to share a few goals with you and hope that you too will find renewed motivation and/or direction in 2011.

Any big plans or reading planned for the New Year weekend?

Morning Meanderings… Does Anyone Else Wake Up With Random Songs In Their Head?

Good Morning.

So here is my awkward moment for the a.m.

I wake up this morning humming this song about lipstick…. your lipstick… the only two words I can recall of this entire song, but oh no, that doesn’t stop me…. I am going through my house singing, “Your lipstick…. da da dada…”


How cool am I?

So as it continues to drive me nuts I Google the words “your lipstick song” and come up with this:

That is actually the song stuck in my head and then I spend the next 20 minutes or so trying to figure out where I would have heard it to stick it in my head anyway…. (I don’t listen to a lot of music… I am more an audio book chick when in my car or cleaning around the house).  Then it hits me, this is a Group Power song.  It is one of the songs we listen to as we lift weights….

and I have not gone to Group Power for almost three weeks now between my traveling to Honduras and the business of Christmas planning…

Is it possible the class is calling me home?  Telling me I have had enough Biscotti and chocolates and it is time to get moving towards a healthier more positive direction?



A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (audio)

This is a story of Mariam who lives in Afghanistan with her mother and dreams of being with her father.  When her father refuses her entry to his home when she tries to go and stay with him, she returns home only to find that her mother has committed suicide in Mariam’s absence.

At 15 years old Mariam is married off to 40 year old Rasheed, who is extremely abusive and Mariam suffers many miscarriages.  Rasheed, a brute of a man, believes that it is shameful for a man to ever lose control of his wife.  This is the only life that Mariam has come to know.

When Rasheed is 60, he takes in a 14-year-old girl named Laila as his second wife, whose parents were killed by stray bombs.  While Mariam hates Rasheed, she still finds herself jealous of this younger woman now sharing her home.  Rasheed’s violence soon turns on Laila as well and the two women start to find a common bond… in survival.

This past spring I had the pleasure of listening to Khaled Hosseini’s audio of The Kite Runner.  I was totally engrossed in this reading and so impressed that the author narrated this himself.  His voice and strong accent made this audio even more powerful for me.

Due to my experience with The Kite Runner and the raves I heard that if you loved The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns would blow me away because it was even better.

Even better?  Could that even be possible?

It took me awhile to take the time to listen to this one but before I left for Honduras in November I downloaded this on to my IPOD to experience what I hoped was going to be another adventure in Afghanistan culture, colored with vivid characters and images of a world beyond my own.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, was written after Hosseini traveled back to his native Afghanistan to examine for himself the nation’s situation in the aftermath of decades of turmoil.  I appreciated the language, basking in traditions and cultural differences that fascinate me:


The Islamic spiritual observance that lasts one month, spanning the time when the Koran was given to Muhammad. Considered the most spiritual month of the year, fasting (between sunrise and sundown), prayer, and charity are emphasized.

I enjoyed this reading very much but did not find the narration or the book itself as totally captivating as I found The Kite Runner.  I feel that Kite Runner started with such a huge turmoil event and the book was the resulting aftermath of that event where as A Thousand Splendid Suns takes a longer time to get to where it needs to go, which is not a bad thing, but took longer to pull me into the story line and as a result I came out the other side not feeling the immense emotion that I carried with Hosseini’s first book.



I purchased this audio from

Morning Meanderings…. Challenge Time!

That’s right, that’s not my normal morning meandering logo…. but this is not your normal meandering post.  Nope!  Today I am promoting the challenge I am hosting for 2011.  As I host the meme What Are You Reading, I thought it would be fun to host a challenge called WHERE Are You Reading.

This challenge is easy because you can include all the books you are reading anyway, just record what country/state you are reading about.

IE…. you are reading a novel centered around the North Shore of Minnesota…. that’s a Minnesota point.  If you are reading a non fiction about polar bears in Alaska, that’s an Alaska point.

Super easy and works with any or all other challenges.

Click here for my original post about this challenge as well as the links to sign up.  I will be using a Google Map to record my 2011 readings, and you can do so as well or just list them somewhere on your blog.

I am really excited to begin and my goal is to be able to read a book in each of the states as well as a few out of the US.  I am offering up a few prizes too!

(This week I will be working on cleaning up my 2010 Challenges and trying to see where I scored – and where I failed.  I also plan to post the Book Journey best of the best for 2010 – which will not only be my favorite reads but also my favorite meanderings. )

Are you joining any challenges for 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.

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.  You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

Last weeks winner:

Samita from Book Purring

Congratulations!  Please choose an item out of the PRIZE BOX and email me your choice with your mailing address as well!

What a great week!  It was busy but so good and I am excited to share my highlights with you:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (Finally!  Finally I read this book and well, what was I waiting for?)

Guess What I Got For Christmas!!! SSSQQQQUUUEEEEEE!!!

The Secret Society Of The Pink Crystal Ball by Risa Green (Super YA read!)

Relentless by Dean Koontz – audio review (I love Koontz…. but this one was an EPIC FAIL)

WHERE Are You Reading Challenge 2011 (it’s not to late to join in the fun!)

I did not get the reviews written that I wanted to but have high hopes that I will get caught up this week.  With the holidays over my spare time is once again returning to a normal level.  (Fingers crossed on that anyway!)  My reading plan for this week is as follows:

“Even now, after all these years, I can hardly bear to look in a mirror,” is the opening line of this dark, atmospheric, densely patterned novel. Ghanaian pre-teenager Ajuba is sent to boarding school in Devon. A lonely, confused child, she befriends the charismatic Polly Venus, who talks entirely in transatlantic clichés (“Hallo?”, “That totally sucks!”, “You just don’t get it, do you?”). Exploring the attic of Polly’s house they find a bundle of what they take to be kitten bones. But they’re not. They are the bones of babies.

Inspired by their reading of the magazine True Murder, the pair form “Crimebusters” to solve the mystery; but the past tragedy which they make a game of investigating is an ironic foreshadowing of the tragedies looming over them and their families.

Fallen angels sure seem poised to become the new vampires, with a similarly ideal blend of brooding mystery and sexy rebellion. After a fiery accident kills a boy she is crushing on, Luce gets sent to a reform school populated, most notably, by two gorgeous fellas, Daniel and Cam. Cam is safe and charming and eager to win Luce’s affections, while Daniel operates somewhere between aloof and downright hostile toward her. Readers will figure out Luce and Daniel’s star-crossed-lovers angle early on, making the hints dropped throughout about past lives and dangerous fates more obvious than compelling.

This book was a Christmas present to me last year.  Yes… last year.  About time I read it right?

This sequel to Fallen (Delacorte, 2009) continues they complex tale as Luce tries to uncover the truth and break the cycle of falling in love, dying young, and being reincarnated. Daniel, her lover through the ages and a fallen angel, institutes a truce with Demons to protect her from the Outcasts, who would do her harm. For her safety, Daniel hides her at a boarding school for the Nephilim, children of human and fallen angels, and cautions her to remain on campus and learn all she can. Unfortunately a little knowledge can be dangerous and Luce’s naive attempts to manipulate her powers constantly put her and others in danger. Some of the rescues employ a deus ex machina as is the case when Arriane inexplicably arrives in Vegas and saves the day. At times the story plods along, with a full chapter devoted to a fencing lesson. Daniel regularly returns to check on Luce and there’s lots of swooning, passionate kissing, and playing at being in love, though it often ends with bickering. Interest is piqued with the hint of a love triangle, and the suspense is ratcheted up in the heart-pounding final battle scene.

I usually have a good reading week during New Years Week.  We are not big New Years people so that usually gives me a bonus weekend of reading and I look forward to it.

I am excited to see what bookish things you have all been up too and what you are reading.  Please add you post link to the “Click Here” Linky.  I will be around to visit your post and see what i will add to my own reading agenda for 2011.  😀

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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

At the age of nine, Grace is torn away from a swing she is playing by a pack of wolves that come into her yard.  Surely she should have been killed, but one wolf – one with particular captivating eyes appears to save her.  Since that day Grace feels a connection with the wolves and sees the wolf with the eyes many times throughout the years around her home, almost as if he is watching her.  In an odd way, Grace is comforted by the wolf’s presence.

Then, when Grace is seventeen, a boy she attends school with is killed in a wolf attack and the hunters take to the woods.  Grace finds a boy on her doorstep with a gun shot wound… oddly, the boy has very familiar eyes… almost like her wolf…

Yes, I did it.  After Shiver has sat on my book shelf for a long long time, I finally took the time to read it.  I had heard the comparisons to the Twilight series, and before you groan about me comparing books… there is a method to my madness….

First of all… my only real dive into the paranormal as far as vampires, and wolves go is the Twilight books (other than The Passage, but that is really not a comparable book as that is so much a deeper/ complicated read).  And I have to admit after hearing buzz about Sam (Shiver) being a much more likable that Edward (Twilight), I had to bite…  (no pun intended.)

Ok…maybe a little bit of a pun….

In the early pages of this read as I was introduced to Grace and Sam, I started making a mental list of what I thought so far of the Sam/Edward comparisons:

1.  I like that in Twilight we get to know Edward and meet Edward before we are introduced to the vampire side of him.  I found it harder to connect with Sam in the beginning and I feel that is due to me first knowing him as a wolf.  I felt I had to work harder to think of him as human.

2.  I didn’t find the love connection of Sam and Grace as totally captivating as Edward and Bella.  Edward’s love for Bella made you have to book crush on his character as he is so emotionally there for her.  I didn’t feel it as strong with Same and Grace although I found Grace a much more likable character than Bella.  No where near as ditzy.

My initial plan as I read this book was to come up with a whole pile of comparisons for this review… I was actually excited about it and even thought about a separate post on Sam VS Edward, which maybe… as I read through this series may still happen – but not now and here is why:

As I read on and shook off my prejudices, I really started to get into the story line and found it less easy to put the book down and leave it as I had in the early pages.  By the middle of the book I had driven to my local book store only to find out they did not have Linger and not wishing to wait, I ordered it immediately on-line.  I enjoyed the alternating  chapters told in each of the main characters voice.

Today, I took the liberty of the holiday weekend to SHIVER under a new blanket from my hubby until I got warm and could LINGER through the end of this book.  I loved that it is set in my home state of Minnesota and I imagine as I am in central Minnesota that I am about two to three hours from Mercy Falls, where Sam and Grace are.

In the book we are introduced to a rich snooty girl named Isabel who goes to school with Grace.  This character is not easy to get along with.  She is sarcastic and unfriendly and only gets involved with others when it is to her benefit.  The more her character come up, the more she formed in my head of what she would look like.  If Shiver ever becomes a movie (and I hope it does!) the perfect character to play Isabel would be Maggie Grace who plays Shannon on LOST.


In the end, I was really surprised and impressed on how much I enjoyed this read.  I  am looking forward to the arrival of Linger!

Amazon Rating

I received this book as a win from a past Read-A-Thon

Morning Meanderings… Basking In The Glow… Of What?

Good Morning!

Have you noticed this past week my Morning Meanderings have been a bit later than the norm?  This is a good thing!  It means in the morning I am RELAXING a bit!  😀

Granted I will get back to the early posts again in the next couple of days here (in fact I have many big plans moving forward that I will be sharing over the next week….) but for now…. I am hoping you were able to sleep in a bit this morning as well, or at least settle down with family, friends, or a great books (which to me… can be a lot like family and/or friends).

Quick Christmas recap:

  • We had both sons:  Brad (Navy Son) and Justin (College Son) home for Christmas.  SSSQQQUUUEEEEE!!!!  (First time we were all home together in 13 months!!!)
  • Brad’s friend (and honorary son) also from the Navy joined us for Christmas dinner.
  • Chance went home to be with his family for Christmas morning and dinner than came back for movies and games here.
  • Justin’s friend Branden (another honorary son) joined us after dinner for board games.

I love that we are THAT house.


We laughed a lot… opened gifts together….

Guess what I got!!!


That’s right!  I got this really cool t – shirt.  Ok, ok, that is true…. but obviously I am all SSSQQQQUUUEEEEE like because my hubby bought me the NOOK.  YES!  My first e -reader.  EVER.  I have never even used one before and I am so super-uber pumped!!!

Hubby got golf clubs, hoping he takes the hint to take a little more time for himself in 2011, boys received gift cards and goodies.

We ented our very late evening…. actually early early this morning like uhhh….. 1:30 am after playing many rounds of Sequence.  If you have not played this game I HIGHLY recommend it…. it is addicting.

So that explains the late post.  I am drinking my coffee this morning… already basking in the memories of a wonderful Christmas.  I am off now to finish reading a book and to start on my first book on the Nook (from this day forward fondly named “SNookie”).

What book did I choose you ask?

You have no idea what a pain staking task that was!  I mean the first book (much like my first DVD ever) is a big deal to me.  It will be the remembered one and it took me over an hour of book browsing to choose what should hold the honor.


This is a book I read a review of recently and I wanted to read it and my library did not have it.

Ok… now I am just rambling with random excitement so I am going to close this post with these pics of my sons.  My SNookie is calling me.  😀

Happy After Christmas glow to all of you!


Morning Meanderings…. and so this is Christmas…

There are certain times of year that make me a bit melancholy and for me and for many others, today is one of those times.

This morning I sit at my kitchen table in the stillness of the morning and close my eyes and remember.

I remember teasing with my mom that last year over silly putty she bought the boys… I remember riding snowmobile with my dad, and I remember… oh how I remember and miss my sister Tara.

The people of my heart may no longer be with me on earth…

but the memories remain…

forever and ever

and no one can change that.

My wish for all of you today is that your heart memories remain as fresh and real as the day they were made.  That you know that you are never alone and that many people care about you – some you may not even realize….

Today is Christmas.  May yours be filled with love, happiness, and joy.

Merry Christmas!