Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Little Word 2012

Did you participate in One Little Word this past year? My word for 2011 was CHANGE. Choosing a word worked for me. I joined Weight Watchers and started cooking at home. I was able to lose 40 pounds during the course of the year. How did you do?

My new word for 2012 is ACCOMPLISH. What will your word be?

The idea for the OLW challenge came from Ali Edwards. She is once again offering a class over at Big Picture Scrapbooking if you'd like to join in (or you can choose a word on your own). Here's her suggestion for picking a word:
Can you identify a single word that sums up what you want for yourself in 2012? It can be something tangible or intangible. It could be a thought, or a feeling, or an emotion. It can be singular or plural. The key is to find something that has personal meaning for you.

A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow. From my own personal experience, it can be a catalyst for enriching your life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Year in Review

Before 2012 officially arrives, let's recap the 2011 reading year...

Our favorite overall book of 2011 was Cutting for Stone.

Our best discussion was about Room.

We thought the most well-written book was Cutting for Stone.

The funniest moment occurred in The Bucolic Plague with the goat poop before the Martha Show.

Our favorite female character was Betty White.

Our favorite male character was a toss-up, but it went to Marion from Cutting for Stone.

The best topic or theme was Room.

The most impactful book was I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.

The book we recommended most was The Bucolic Plague.

Room had the best ending.

Our least favorite book was Never Let Me Go.

The saddest moment was when Nujood was raped by her "husband."

The worst female villain was Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

The worst male villain was Old Nick from Room.

Looking forward to 2012! Happy New Year!

New Winter Challenge

It's officially winter (well, it's actually been winter for a week now, but it's been a crazy holiday season)! It's time for a new seasonal reading challenge. Before we get to that, how did everyone do with the fall challenge? Don't forget, we're meeting at the end of January to discuss Devil in the White City. There's still time to finish if you haven't already.

On to the winter challenge...

I think some of us may have read this book back when Oprah selected it for her book club. It's been quite a few years now, though. I selected it because I saw that it will soon be a movie (coming out later in 2012) starring Andrew Garfield and Jennifer Garner.

Let's read Back Roads by Tawni O'Dell this winter...we'll set the date for the meeting in the spring.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

At first, this book sounds like a Christian based story, but maybe it isn't after all! The synopsis of this book peaked my interest. It sounds part dystopian, and part Sci Fi! I put it on my to-read list. It looks like the author, Tom Perrotta, has written several other books also.

What if the Rapture happened and you got left behind? Or what if it wasn't the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event?

This is the question confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family falls apart. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the streets of town as 'living reminders' of God's judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet by the name of Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she's definitely not the sweet A student she used to be.

Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about people struggling to hold onto a belief in their own futures.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Group Picture-One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

This classic was one of our favorite books of the year! It won various year-end awards. We were happy to end the year on such a good note!

It was another successful gift and cookie exchange. Already looking forward to next year!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow has been in the news A LOT lately so I thought I'd check out his new book. I am truly impressed by a man in this day and age that will stick to his convictions regardless of what others say. This is a true testament, not only to his religious beliefs, but also to the parents who raised him. It's hard to stay true to your beliefs in our society. Regardless of what team you root for, or what you believe about morality, you have to admire his conviction. I will definitely read this.

Over the course of the last five years, Tim Tebow established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football and a top prospect in the NFL. During that time he amassed an unparalleled resume—winning two BCS national championships, becoming the first sophomore in NCAA history to win the Heisman trophy, and in the face of massive public scrutiny, being drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by the Denver Broncos.

Now, in Through My Eyes, Tebow brings readers everywhere an inspirational memoir about life as he chose to live it, revealing how his faith and family values, combined with his relentless will to succeed, have molded him into the person that he is today. As the son of Christian missionaries, Tebow has a unique story to tell—from the circumstances of his birth, to his home-schooled roots, to his record-setting collegiate football career with the Florida Gators and everything else that took place in between.

At every step, Tebow's life has defied convention and expectation. While aspects of his life have been well-documented, the stories have always been filtered through the opinions and words of others. Through My Eyes is his passionate, firsthand, never-before-told account of how it all really happened.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

V is for Vengence by Sue Grafton

I love serial books; the reoccurrence of characters that I get to know is so much fun. Everytime a new book comes out it's like meeting old friends and catching up!!
Kinsey Millhone is one of my favorite characters. If you haven't read any of these start with A is for Alibi.

Following U IS FOR UNDERTOW, Kinsey Millhone is back with a vengeance! She gets a 38th birthday "punch in the face and busted nose," in May 1988. A cake would have been nice. Kinsey is a pragmatist, "a big fan of forgiveness as long as I'm given the opportunity to get even first."

Reluctantly shopping at an upscale retailer, Kinsey spies Audrey Vance stealing expensive silk PJs. The civic-minded P.I. discovers that the woman is in cahoots with another and reports them both. Vance is arrested, while the other scofflaw nearly runs Kinsey down in the parking garage with a Mercedes. Vance is later found dead, an apparent suicide, but homicide is soon suspected.

In a parallel plot, Lorenzo Dante, Jr., known simply as Dante, is a loan shark with alleged Mafia ties. Dante has quite an inferno of illicit businesses burning --- and a red-hot romance with a powerful attorney's wife. One of those enterprises is a highly organized ring of shoplifters, whose kingpin was Audrey Vance. Vance's unsuspecting fiancé hires Kinsey to investigate what he thinks are bogus shoplifting charges, and the improbable suicide. Thrown into the mix are a corrupt cop, and a gambling addict who sells his soul to Dante.

Predictably, characters face death during the investigation, and Kinsey is pulled into the vortex. Ghosts from novels past haunt Kinsey, even likeable petty criminal Pinky Ford is instrumental in the dénouement. Vixen reporter Diana Alvarez from "Undertow" is a thorn in Kinsey's side but eventually proves beneficial. Heartthrob and former flame Cheney Phillips keeps readers guessing if the fire will rekindle. Unfortunately, friend and landlord Henry is away, visiting one of his ancient siblings with a broken hip.

The structurally complex plot is simplified with the help of Kinsey's index cards that are "like the pieces of a puzzle that would fall into place once I understood what I was looking at." That, and her intuition. "The purpose of intuition is to warn us when the wolf arrives at the door dressed as Little Red Riding Hood."

Any Sue Grafton novel reads like a welcomed but long-overdue letter from the iconic private eye, bringing readers up to speed with her latest escapade. The queen of Alphabet Soup-titled mysteries (who earned the title of Grand Master by Mystery Writers of America) has made a quantum leap by taking on social issues in the last few of her 22 too-realistic-to-be-fiction works.

With perpetrators identified early on, this is more of a whydunit than a whodunit, validating Grafton's title of Grand Master bestowed by her peers. While Kinsey--an average Jo--has learned to leap hurdles in her career, Sue Grafton has become an Olympic-class pole vaulter in hers. Impeccable plot, prose as rich as Wall Street, and everyone's favorite investigator make this a sure-fire bestseller.

Friday, December 2, 2011

January Book Choices!

It's time to select our first book of 2012! The genre this month is mystery/suspense.

Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson | Paperback, 368 pages

Christine wakes up every morning in an unfamiliar bed with an unfamiliar man. She looks in the mirror and sees an unfamiliar, middle- aged face. And every morning, the man she has woken up with must explain that he is Ben, he is her husband, she is forty-seven years old, and a terrible accident two decades earlier decimated her ability to form new memories.

But it’s the phone call from a Dr. Nash, a neurologist who claims to be working with Christine without her husband’s knowledge, that directs her to her journal, hidden in the back of her closet. For the past few weeks, Christine has been recording her daily activities—tearful mornings with Ben, sessions with Dr. Nash, flashes of scenes from her former life—and rereading past entries, relearning the facts of her life as retold by the husband she is completely dependent upon. As the entries build up, Christine asks many questions. What was life like before the accident? Why did she and Ben never have a child? What has happened to Christine’s best friend? And what exactly was the horrific accident that caused such a profound loss of memory?

Every day, Christine must begin again the reconstruction of her past. And the closer she gets to the truth, the more un- believable it seems.

Before I Go to Sleep won the Galaxy National Book Award for best crime/thriller novel of 2011. It has a 3.81 rating on Goodreads.

The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis | Hardcover, 320 pages
Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can't say no when someone asks for help—even when she knows better. When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive.

Is the boy a victim of child trafficking? Can he be turned over to authorities, or will they only return him to whoever sold him? When Karin is discovered brutally murdered, Nina realizes that her life and the boy's are in jeopardy, too. In an increasingly desperate trek across Denmark, Nina tries to figure out who the boy is, where he belongs, and who exactly is trying to hunt him down.

This is the first book in the Nina Borg Scandinavian crime series. The book has just been translated into English in 2011. It has a 3.64 rating on Goodreads.

Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart | Paperback, 400 pages

Gilly Soloman has been reduced to a mothering machine, taking care of everyone and everything except herself. But the machine has broken down. Burnt out by the endless days of crying children and menial tasks, and exhausted from always putting herself last, Gilly doesn't immediately consider the consequences when she's carjacked. With a knife to her throat, her first thought is that she'll finally get some rest. Someone can save her for a change.

But salvation isn't so forthcoming. Stranded in a remote, snowbound cabin with this stranger, hours turn to days, days into weeks. As time forges a fragile bond between them, she learns her captor is not the lunatic she first believed, but a human being whose wasted life has been shaped by secrets and tragedy. Yet even as their connection begins to foster trust, Gilly knows she must never forget he's still a man teetering on the edge. One who just might take her with him.

Megan Hart is known for writing Erotic Romance. Precious and Fragile Things has a 3.35 rating on Goodreads.

We will decide when and where the 2012 meetings will be this month.
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