Vicki RAVES about The Help Movie


Hi everyone! I’m Vicki from I’d Rather Be At The Beach. I started my first blog, Reading At The Beach, which I lost due to Malware, around the same time Sheila started her blog. Somehow we found each others blogs shortly after. I’m not really sure how, but it was probably from blog hopping, which I know we both do a lot of. I’m honored to be a guest here, and hope you will leave me a comment… we don’t want Sheila’s stats to go down now do we? LOL!

Today I’m going to share my thoughts of the movie “The Help”. 

Since my daughter got married we don’t get to see each other on a daily basis, so we have a girls night out every so often. Recently we decided to go to a restaurant in a town nearby and then to see “The Help”! I was trying to wait until I’d read the book before I saw the movie, but with review obligations I knew I wouldn’t get to the book soon enough to suit me. So I did something I rarely do. I caved and saw the movie first. It wasn’t my fault though, it was all of those blog post I saw raving about the movie. You made it sound so awesome that I HAD to go see it.

I. Could. Not. Wait.

99.99% of the time, when a book or movie is built up in my mind due to glowing reviews such as “it was amazing”…it isn’t. But “The Help” was better than I was expecting. The characters were so real and vivid that I loved them all, even though I wanted to slap some of them. The movie had me laughing over and over, crying a few times, and even made feel ashamed as a person that there were some people who could treat other human beings so badly. That said, it was still such a feel good funny movie. There were many laugh out loud moments, but there was one scene in particular that had me laughing so hard I just about slid off my seat into the floor! Those of you who have seen the movie know which one I’m talking about. 

There was never a dull moment and I thought this movie was FANTASTIC! It is now one of my favorite movies and I plan on buying it on DVD so that I can watch it over and over. I’d definitely give it a AAA+.

If you haven’t seen this, GO NOW!!! You won’t be disappointed! Want a sneak peak or refresher course? Here you go:


Thank you Sheila, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog while you’re in Honduras. I hope you’re having a great time. It’s wonderful that you give so much time and love to others!!


*Note from Sheila:  I second Vicki’s thoughts here about The Help… the book is so good, and the movie is a fantastic companion to it.  If you have not seen it… you need to. 


Alison is screaming “Don’t Miss This Book”!!!


Good morning, Book Journey friends! 

I am honored to be your substitute host today while Sheila is spreading her joy across the globe.  I had the pleasure of meeting Sheila in May 2010 at the Book Expo America in New York.  She is just as lovely in person as I hoped she would be, and we hit it off right away!!   I’m not only a friend and fellow book blogger, I’m also a loyal reader of Book Journey, so I figured I could stop by and we could keep one another company in Sheila’s absence.

Me and Alison

Photographic proof!  This is from BEA 2010.  With all the time we spent together this past May, I don’t have a photo of the two of us…Sheila?  Do you have one??

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the Alison from Alison’s Book Marks.  I have a little book blog on the other side of the Internets where I chat about an eclectic mix of books.  Any book that is being read in my house is discussed on my blog – right now, The Man is working on KILLING LINCOLN; the 6 year old is tackling his first “real book”, DIARY OF A WIMPY KID; the 9 year old, is reading HOLES by Louis Sachar; and I am currently reading HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.  I am blessed with a reading family!!

There is one book I read this year that I can’t stop talking about with my book friends – THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday; Hardcover; 400 pgs.; September 13, 2011: 978-0385534635).   

I would send you over to read my review of the book, but I think Sheila’s review was much better.  Not only do I feel this is the best book I have read all year, but it has also earned a place on my Book Shelf of Fame, where I place my all-time favorites like THE BOOK THIEF, EAST OF EDEN, THE HELP, SARAH’S KEY, and HARRY POTTER.

I went into this book knowing very little.  In fact, I didn’t even read the blurb on the back cover. All I was told was that there was magic and mystery, all wrapped up in a cast of characters one will not soon forget.  It did not take me long to get sucked into the mystery of the Circus, which is a character in and of itself. 

I read quite a bit, as you might imagine, and always looking forward to the next great book, but this is one of the few books that I can’t wait to read again and again. The next time I experience this book will probably be listening to the audio, by Jim Dale (of Harry Potter audio fame!) There are all these wonderful little details that I can’t wait to experience all over again.  There was a reason for everything – the color of a dress, the shape of a tree, the taste of a dessert.  This book was an all-sensory experience! 

THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern is a special book.  I hope you read it this winter, and be sure to come back and chat with us when you do! 

*Note from Sheila:  Alison ROCKS!  She is a lot of fun and I enjoy her blog and her friendship.  Her review of Night Circus is awesome and it is linked here so check it out… and Alison, you asked if I had a picture of us from BEA 2011…. I do:

Me and Alison - BEA 2011

Sharon brings her thoughts on Mrs. Tom Thumb

Hi all!  Sheila asked me if I would fill in for her one day while she is on her amazing Honduras trip, and I readily agreed to help out!

I’ve “met” so many wonderful people, including my friend Sheila, who all share my love of reading and books through blogging. I met Sheila through the “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” meme that she has now taken over and taken to great heights of popularity!  It’s been so much fun to watch how Sheila’s blog has grown over the years, and how excited she still is about the whole process. (She wears me out sometimes, with all her activities – J – but I always know I’ll find a great book idea at her blog!)

Sheila asked me to tell you a little about myself. My name is Sharon Galligar Chance, and some of you may know me from my blog, Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews.  I’ve been blogging for three years now, and still love it as much as I did the day I began!

I have also been a freelance entertainment journalist for the past fifteen years. In addition to being a senior book reviewer for the Times Record News, I am also a regular guest contributor for the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Book Nook blog, The Ventura County Star, and write a monthly column at highlighting cozy mysteries, “Sharon’s Cozy Corner.”

So, enough about me!  On to books!

Sheila asked me to talk about which book has been my favorite, so far, of 2011.  Wow, tough question!  There have been so many wonderful books out this year, it’s hard to choose just one. But I sat down and went through the books I have reviewed over the year, and settled on one that I feel has been one of the most interesting books I’ve had the pleasure to read … so far!

My choice is Melanie Benjamin’s “The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.”

I fell in love with this novel. Plain, and simple. 

Melanie Benjamin has taken the bits of known history of one of the most fascinating female personalities in entertainment history, added in a captivating fictional narrative from the tiny lady herself, and delivers a gentle, loving, captivating story that takes readers into the heart of Lavinia Warren, aka Mrs. Tom Thumb.

Here is the link to my review over at my blog, if you’d like to check it out!
There is little doubt, to me, that this novel is destined to be one of the best books of 2011.  It has recently been nominated for a Goodreads Good Choice Award.  I highly recommend it!

I so admire Sheila for her commitment to this mission and I wish her safe journeys on her trip!

*Note from Sheila:  Sharon is so sweet!  I remember connecting with her on Book Blogs when we were both new to this world and I love that she is still reviewing and loving it just as I am.  Her review of Mrs. Tom Thumb peaked my interest and I have yet to read it but need to!

Danielle Sharing The Books She LOVED This Year

First of all, thank you so much Sheila for thinking of me to guest post while you’re away having fun in Honduras! I’ve been a reader of Sheila’s site since around the same time I started book blogging about two years ago and I love her site. One of the aspects of book blogging I love the very most is the community and how welcoming everyone is, Sheila is no exception to this. Her “Monday Reading” feature is something I participate in weekly and have met so many wonderful readers thanks to it.

At my site, There’s A Book, I review primarily Children’s books though I also review women’s fiction at Chick Lit Reviews and News. So, in a break from Sheila’s normally talked about books I thought I’d share my Top Five favorite picture books this year! (Click on the links to be taken to my review or Goodreads.)

Pirate vs. Pirate by Mary Quattlebaum – Argh! Do you have a little pirate in your midst? This book is not only perfect for pirate fans, but gorgeously illustrated and written. Not only that, but it has a wonderful message of the importance of looking for the best in others. An absolute favorite of ours!

I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems – This is most likely my kiddos favorite series of picture books, there are currently around 15 in the series and they love every one of them. Mo Willems knows how to write so that both children and adults love reading and re-reading his books. Elephant and Piggie are two best friends who have “typical” problems with very silly solutions. I promise you’ll laugh hysterically while reading any of the books in this series.

The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic – Beautiful. Gorgeous. Heartbreaking. Needed. These are only a few of the words I’d use to describe this incredible book about a little boy who has lost his mom. It’s something that’s not always talked about in picture books, but it’s needed and so well done in this heartbreaking tale. Love this book.

Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford – A delightful book about individuality and teaching children the importance of being comfortable with who they truly are. This is a story about a little girl who wants to be different from all the other little girls and does so with an adorable hairdo. It’s fantastic and the illustrations by Holly Clifton-Brown are wonderful!

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – I can’t talk enough about this book. It’s most likely our family’s favorite picture book this year, maybe ever (though Interrupting Chicken is a close runner-up/tie). The humor is dry and perfect for adults, but the moral of the story isn’t lost on children – honesty. This is a book I’d encourage to everyone, not just children, it’s going to be a Classic I’m positive.

To be honest, this list is a bit insane. How could I ever narrow down my favorite picture books? There are so many more I’m leaving off and I hope you’ll stop by There’s A Book to discover more great books, no matter if you have a kiddo in your life or not. I should also mention that it’s International Picture Book Month!

Thank you again Sheila! I hope you have a fantastic trip and we’ll be looking forward to hearing all about your trip when you return.

– Danielle aka The1stdaughter

*Note from Sheila:  If you have not spent any time on Danielle’s blog – you must!  True I do not read a lot of Grade School reads, but she also has Middle Grade, and YA, both genres I enjoy!

Staci shares her review of The Homecoming Of Samuel Lake


Hello Fellow Readers! My name is Staci and I blog at Life in the Thumb. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t have a book in my hand. I’ve been reading since the age of five. I’ve had a few run-ins with the library police during my childhood because I wanted to keep the books so bad, I would hide them from my mother and tear out all of the library pockets!! I’m the Library Lady ( little ironic, huh?) at my local middle school and love my job! I’ve been blogging about books for a little over three years.


Staci reading a racy scene between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth


I came to know Sheila through reading her comments on other blogs and really liked what she would write. I was interested enough to check out her blog and I’ve been a pretty loyal reader ever since. I also love to participate in her meme, It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?




Sheila asked me to choose a topic to discuss and I decided to talk about one of my favorite reads this year which is The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. It’s been a long time since a book has affected me quite like this one did. In fact, the last time I cried, laughed, and was heartsick was when I read Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Secret Life of Bees. I was immediately sucked into this story and wrapped up in the lives of the characters. I couldn’t put this book down for one minute and I sat outside for the entire day until I finished this story. This is a book that I think would translate well to the big screen. I would love to see the main protagonist, Swan, brought to life. She may have been young but she was a firecracker. If you’re looking for a book that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions, then I highly recommend that you find a copy of this stellar read and treat yourself!!!



Note from Sheila:  Staci and I share a love for dogs and a common heartbreak this year as well.  Staci writes some amazing reviews and I think I have now added The Homecoming Of Samuel Lake to my TBR.

Esme Shares her Favorite Books Of The Year

Hi, I am Esme from Chocolate and Croissants.  My blog is a little about books, a little about my kitties and a little about food.  I am a huge collector of cookbooks.  What are my favorite genres;  I love memoirs, especially food memoirs, followed by historical novels and biographies.  I am always up for a good novel.  Sitting in bed reading cookbooks is always fun. 

Esme's kitties

Sheila and I have known each other for two years now.  I still remember when she reached out to me and asked if she could use one of my posts on her blog.  I was quite honored that she would want to borrow one of my posts.  From there we left comments on each other’s blog and then shared a room in NYC at BEA in 2010.  My friends thought I was a little crazy to share a hotel room with someone I had never met.  I knew it would be great fun.

So Sheila has asked me to blog about my favourite book this year.  That is such a hard one.  What makes a book your favourite?  That is like asking me what my favorite pastry is.  I like them all for different reasons.
I am going to give you three favorites from this year.  They are all favorites for different reasons.  The one book I did not want to end was The Soldier’s Wife .  Set in Guernsey during WW11 I loved the story.  My favorite food memoir was Mama’s Homesick Pie.   The author followed her dreams studying cooking at the Cordon Bleu in France.  The book was so much more than her story as a chef.  It was about her family and the love for each other.  Author Adriana Trigiani wrote a beautiful tribute in Don’t Sing at the Table  to her grandmothers.  Don’t Sing at the Table tells the story of Viola and Lucia, two Italian immigrants.  This book is about these wonderful women and the lessons they passed on to their granddaughter.  
Please stop by for a cup of tea and tell me what your favourite book this year is.
* note from Sheila:  Esme is always tempting me with delectable recipes on her blog….  of the three books she mentions here I have read two… but sounds like I need to dig into Mama’s Homesick Pie as well!

Laurel Gushes About Her Favorite Books Of The Year

Sheila asked me to share some thoughts today, in her absence, and when she extended the invitation and suggested a couple of topics, I thought back to my first encounter with Sheila in her online persona.  Not only do I enjoy her blog, but I soon learned that she was always ready to extend a helping hand with all the technological stuff I had yet to learn.

It was in the early summer of 2009, and I was still very new to the idea (or the gravitational pull) of the blogging community.  An author friend suggested the Book Blogs.ning site, along with a few others, as a way to connect with like-minded individuals, and Sheila was one of the first to comment on a post I wrote.  She suggested doing an author profile on me.

Always happy to talk about books, including those I’ve written, I agreed.  That was only the beginning, though, because Sheila’s interview opened up a whole network of bloggers in this great community.  As I started exploring other blogs, beginning with Sheila’s own, I realized how much fun blogging could be, and that a viral kind of energy emanated from each blog.  Blogging was contagious and I was soon addicted.

Some of you may know that I have a lot of blogs.  They’ve ranged from two when I first met Sheila, and at one point, I had twenty.  Now I have ten:  two on Blogger and eight on Word Press.  An Interior Journey and Curl up and Read are my two most popular WP book blogs, while Rainy Days and Mondays is my Blogger site with the most followers.  Creative Moments is my “author” site, for my works and for writing challenges.

I’ve always loved reading, but my love of books has grown since I began blogging, and I have reviewed everything I’ve read since I started.  Even before I was blogging much, I reviewed my books on Amazon.  I have nearly 600 reviews on that site at this time.  I have tracked the books I’ve read on Curl up and Read for the past two years, for which I’m grateful.  As a result, I can look back over what I’ve read and recommend some favorites.

This year has been full of great books that I’ve enjoyed, and having to choose one favorite is challenging.   A handful of favorites include books like Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, TheWeird Sisters, These Things Hidden, Northwest Corner, Violets of March, and Never Knowing.  But two recent reads stand out for me: The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta and The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

These books are very different from one another, and what sets each of them apart is the uniqueness of the characters and plots and the writer’s ability to connect with the reader.

Since I most recently read The Language of Flowers, I will talk about what grabbed my attention about this book.  My review can be found here.

As a retired social worker, the story of Victoria Jones resonated with me.  Shunted from foster home to foster home, never expecting anything good to happen to her as each experience chipped away at her self-esteem, she was not prepared for the love and warmth she would find in the foster home of Elizabeth.  Just ten years old, she was more than ready for some kind of permanency, but nothing in her life up until then had given her a reason to believe in such a dream.  For whatever reason, Elizabeth seemed to offer the promise of family and hope.  She also helped Victoria learn how to communicate through the meanings of the flowers she grew, and the two of them connected over these lessons.  But both Elizabeth and Victoria had suffered damages in life, and something would rip apart these connections by year’s end.

Curious about what happens to Victoria next, and wondering what would ultimately unfold for her, kept me turning those pages.  I loved how the story showed us Victoria on the verge of adulthood, while still sharing snippets from that pivotal tenth year.

While I think of myself as an eclectic reader, I would have to say I’m most drawn to books that show ordinary people struggling with issues of loss, trauma, and family dysfunction.  Probably the appeal for me has a lot to do with the kind of work I did for more than three decades.  Or maybe I’m just a sucker for the drama of these stories.

Whatever the reason, I do pick up these kinds of books over and over.  And I think the appeal of The Language of Flowers has captivated many other readers as well.

What books are your favorites?  What are you hoping to find for your shelves next year?

* Note from Sheila:  Laurel and I did start blogging the same year, I think I have a 2 or 3 months under my belt more than her but it was in that same season.  Laurel has been a long time commenter and if she does not pop in each day… I wonder where she is!  😛  She is a blogger extraordinaire and a blast to chat with The two books she pictures here are two I have yet to read but want to!!!

Guest Post: Christmas Memories

Laurel is one of the first bloggers I remember really connecting with back when I first was a rooky blogger.  She was new as well so we bounced ideas off of each other.  Laurel is an author of several books and runs more blogs than anyone I know! She’s great to stop in and visit me in the mornings with her own coffee cup in hand.




When we think about home, we are immediately swept away by all kinds of images—emotional ones, to be sure—and they range from nostalgic to other, less positive images.

There are many clichés about home, from “home is where the heart is” to “you can’t go home again.”  We each have a wide range of memories about home, starting with our own childhoods.  Probably the ones that are most familiar are those associated with special events and holidays.

Right now, with Christmas looming, “home for the holiday” themes abound, from the ads we see to the TV movies that strike a nostalgic chord about home.  Those “Norman Rockwell” images used to grace the covers of popular magazines.

My childhood was full of TV families in their homes that came into our own homes, creating an image of home and family— from “Ozzie and Harriet” to less conventional ones, like “The Beverly Hillbillies.”  One such TV family’s existence owed its life to a holiday special about home, which then expanded into a TVseries.  Remember the voices calling out in the evening?  “Good-night, John-Boy!”  Of course, you say, “The Waltons”—they became almost an institution, with those homey scenes.  Those poignant tones calling out at the end of the day conjured up nostalgic images.  Even if you never had “home-like” experiences like those.

Some of you missed out on those particular scenes, growing up after shows like that faded away.  But for us “Baby Boomers,” our younger days were replete with these shows.

In my own life, my homes have been varied.  Growing up in a farmhouse surrounded by fields and country roads, I had a different kind of experience from my own children, who lived in all kinds of houses, including apartments and townhouses, as well as suburban ranch style or English tudor ones.  We even lived for awhile in an A-frame cottage in the foothills.  But in each “home,” their fathers and I brought our own little piece of home into the physical dwellings, and encircled our families with our traditions.

These days, I live alone, but grown children and grandchildren come to my home periodically, so I have created still another version of home for the holidays with these special visitors in mind.  I have collected a few holiday-themed items over the years, but have none of the ornaments from my own childhood or my children’s.  Instead, I have more recent acquisitions that are themed to evoke childhood memories, like my Disney collections.  They were selected with the goal of reminding me of special childhood feelings and memories.

Referring to these collections as part of my “second childhood” series, because of that aspect about them, I can fantasize to my heart’s content and create the ambiance that I seek.

Two days ago, my grandson Noah helped me pull some of my special decorations out of their boxes, and we surrounded ourselves with the “home for the holidays” theme, Disney-style.

Here are a few of my favorites.

This first one says “hearth and home” to me, while the second one says “welcome,” with the miniature tree covered in ornament frames of each of my grandchildren.  Then, instead of hanging my stockings on a mantle, you’ll see them on my folding screen.  One of them belongs to my son who is not going to be home for the holidays, because he lives in Europe.

Then, on my largest bookshelf, I have clustered various Christmasy Disney images, with a family of Christmas bears tucked away underneath, next to the giant Mickey Mouse.  In the final photo, Mr. and Mrs. Santa cozy up to a birdhouse, a birdcage, and some more bears.

So there you have it!  My current version of “home for the holidays.”

Visit Laurel at Creative Memories to see what is going on in her life.

Guest Post: Christmas Cheer and Giving

Trisha really cracks me up!  I had the privilege of meeting her at BEA this past spring and knew after I met this fun full of life person that I had to watch her blog!  She writes amazing posts and I had the opportunity to fill in as a guest post for her a few months back and it was a lot of fun!



This time of year makes it perfectly clear
That women really run the show.
Their skirts and their tops stay pleasantly hot
Despite the cold and the snow.

They jingle and jangle in beads and in bangles
With nary a wince or a frown.
With red-lipped smiles and feminine wiles,
They inspire men to lay money down.

To charity it goes for food and for clothes
Presents for those who are without.
Spreading good cheer, at this time of year,
Is what the holiday is all about.

So bring on the minis, on the curvy and skinny,
Sweet perfume wafting gently on air.
We’ll give you a peck, if you give us a check
To show the whole world how you care.

Sheila is off to Honduras on a mission trip, and in the spirit of her giving nature, I thought I would provide you guys with some links to charities which would love your support this Christmas:

Toys for Tots: The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Make a Wish Foundation: The Make a Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

Angel Tree: Angel Tree, a program of Prison Fellowship, seeks to reconcile prisoners and their families to God and to each other through the delivery of Christmas gifts and the Gospel message.

Soldiers Angels: To make sure that no soldier goes unappreciated, Soldier’s Angels provides Christmas care packages with blankets, snacks, socks, and holiday cards.

If you know of a great charity to donate to for Christmas, please leave a link in the comments section!


Stop in and visit Trisha at Eclectic Eccentric

Guest Post: The Perfect Love Song

Sharon and I originally started chatting though Nings Book Blogs.  She is fun to discuss books with and I enjoy visiting her blog and seeing what changes she has made to her layout as well as what she is reading.



I was so excited when Sheila asked me to be a guest blogger while she is away on her mission trip! I so admire her for her courage and willingness to help others by going on these wonderful trips to the Honduras. Safe travels, my friend!

Since the holiday season is now upon us, I wanted to share with you a lovely holiday book that I read recently – “The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story” by Patti Callahan Henry.

Here is a little about the book from the cover:

Jimmy Sullivan has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and his band The Unknown Souls. Without a place to call home, Jimmy and Jack lead a nomadic life filled with music and anonymous cities. When they return to a place Jimmy never wants to see again—their old hometown of Seaboro, South Carolina—he falls in love with his childhood friend Charlotte Carrington.

With his soul now filled with hope, Jimmy writes his first love song. When he performs it at a holiday concert to a standing ovation, the lyrics are dubbed the “Perfect Love Song,” so much so that Jimmy finds himself going on tour with famous country music stars, catapulted into a world where the trappings of fame and fortune reign supreme.

All too soon, the hope that had once inspired Jimmy to write such beautiful, genuine lyrics is overshadowed by what the song can do for him and his career. In his thirst for recognition, he agrees to miss Jack’s wedding in Ireland to sing at a Christmas Eve concert. And his ties to Charlotte seem to be ever so quickly slipping away. Is it too late to find his way to Ireland, to his brother, and to love?

My Thoughts:

I have enjoyed Patti Callahan Henry’s books for several years, and was delighted to find out she had written a Christmas story this year. A semi-sequel to her previous book, “When Light Breaks,” it was a real treat to revisit the familiar surroundings and warm characters that I enjoyed in that story.

“A Perfect Love Song” incorporates the voice of a narrator, one lively Irish lady named Maeve Mahoney, who although now deceased continues to be interested in the lives of her beloved friends and guides them to the happiness they so richly deserve. Gotta love a pushy Irish ghost!

Henry also captures the behind-the-scenes workings of the music business with accuracy, including all the wheelings and dealings that often go on in spite of what the musicians and performers want. And this story also includes a great look at how true love can overcome overwhelming obstacles.

I found “A Perfect Love Song” to be a perfect Christmas story to start off the season!

Check out Patti Callahan Henry’s website for more information on her writing and upcoming projects at

Happy Holidays, everyone, and as always – Happy Reading, Ya’ll!

Sharon Galligar Chance

Pop in  and say hi to Sharon at:  Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews