Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My favorite things

Books I love

 I received one of the most awesome gifts ever today.  I met up with my best friend and she had an amazing birthday present for me.  She, of course, knows me so well and with a little help from her friend Jaymee she created a uniquely personalized framed print. I can't tell you how obsessed with this print I am!

My friend Lyndsay is a teacher and a blogger at Educated...not so Domesticated and Jaymee has a shop on Etsy called Retro Menagerie.  They are both annoyingly creative but I am a big enough person to not be extremely jealous of them....and yeah, it helps that my walls benefit from their awesomeness. I love presents!!

Notice my blog at the bottom!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone
By Laini Taylor

I originally picked up this book after reading a raving review by Stephanie D at Misfit Salon and now I am convinced I have to listen to everything she says. This book rocked!!

I read it a couple months ago and even went to a book signing (which I posted about here), but I slacked on writing my review. Since it is now the last week of the year I will tell you that this was one of, and possibly the single best book I have read this year (I actually think I am going to post a “best of” list in a couple days).

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has everything. It is set in Prague with a badass, artistic girl named Karou who has blue hair. It is hilarious! I really want to quote page 22 but you should just read it in context to fully appreciate it. Let’s just say “inessential penises” are both freaking hilarious and a life lesson.

The story is also full of beauty, from the unlikely relationships between the characters to the prose. I am as far from being an artist as one can get but this book, with its fantastic descriptions, made me want to draw everything I was visualizing.

Read it!

**Source: I bought this with my own sweet loot!

6,000 reasons I love my brother...

Because he is hilarious!!!

$30....$6,000...it's all the same, right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Don't tell me 28 isn't still mid-twenties!

Today is my birthday and I didn't plan on posting about it but I had to share this amazingly sweet gift that I received.  The reason it is so sweet is that the girl who gave it to me did so the second time we met, I barely know her and she still made me a birthday present!

My husband's coworker brought his girlfriend to their work holiday party and I had heard a lot about her but never met her before.  We studied the same thing in college and are pursuing the exact same career so we instantly had a lot to talk about.  We were talking about age and it came out that my birthday was coming up, at which point she assured me that 28 was still mid-twenties and I am choosing to believe her.  Yesterday, I saw her again at another job event and she had an orchid as an early birthday gift!  She even decorated it with a glittered letter "J" and a cake.

Now, I just have to manage to keep it alive....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Giving...and Receiving Time of Year

Front of both necklaces

It is the wonderfully stressful time of year when we have to buy things for other people. My siblings and I finally got smart and decided that this year we would draw names. My husband drew my step-sister and of course had no idea when to get her so I turned to Etsy because she LOVES jewelry and I love Etsy. I started going through all kinds of awesome items I wanted until I finally remembered I was trying to help him find a gift. Once I had a few tabs open with ideas he gave me the thumbs up or thumbs down (most of them were thumbs down...he has no taste). One of the items was from a local girl who I met at some point and complimented her necklace at which point she handed me her business card.

I was so excited that Mike actually agreed with me on how perfect the necklace would be for my sis and he picked out the one he liked best (I swear the whole process was like helping a five year old pick out a gift).  The day after I placed the order, I had a note on Etsy because there was a mix-up and the necklace she had didn't exactly the one in the picture...it was on a different cap and there wasn't any glitter.  She offered to make me a new one that matched and have it to me only a couple days later, send me the one she had, or give a refund.  I actually liked the Blue Moon cap better so I just took the one she'd already made and it all worked out.
Back of necklaces


I received the package and it included a SECOND necklace with a note thanking me for my understanding about the mix-up.  It was completely unexpected and unnecessary but I was so excited.  I can't wait until I have another excuse to buy some more bottle cap items.

Check out bottlecapbetty's Etsy!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another post on my love for New Girl

Yes, I did already post about my love for the show New Girl but it's awesome...and this one is book related.

So...I'm watching New Girl with the husband and while Jess is out shopping for lingerie (see trailer below) she puts something on her head and impersonates Elizabeth Bennett talking to Mr. Darcy.  At which point, the following conversation takes place:

My husband: "Mr. Darcy! I know what movie that is from...Little Women"
Me: "Umm...no!"
"It's not?"
"No...but the fact that you guessed is so cute."
"Okay! What movie is it from?"
"First of all, it's not from a movie, it is from a book that they made into a movie so let's just get that straight."
"Okay, so what movie is it from?"
"I'll give you a big clue...I walked down the isle to one of that songs from the movie."
"That's not a big clue...that's a girl clue! How am I supposed to know that?"

So, he doesn't remember some of the more important things... but he does love New Girl as much as I do and that earns him some points back.

Also...I heart Justin Long!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Guest Post: Doug Skopp, author of Shadows Walking

 I am extremely excited to have a guest post from Douglas R. Skopp, author of Shadows Walking (which I reviewed last week).  So, without further ado, please welcome Doug Skopp...

“Why I wrote Shadows Walking”
by Doug Skopp
I am—rather, I was, before I retired in 2006—a teacher of history. The hardest part of my job was convincing my students that history can be fascinating, indeed exhilarating. For those who are willing to really look into the past—to realize it, that is, literally, to make it real—studying history is empowering and humbling at the same time. 

I tried to teach my students that the past is done, irretrievable except through the stories we tell about it. It is not what happened, but what historians say happened that constitutes our understanding of history, of the past. This telling of stories about the past can awaken us, frighten us, empower us, energize us; cause us to tremble, weep, worry, and rejoice. At the least, if we look into the mirror of the past as closely as we can, if we honestly try to see who we were and who or what we might have become instead, given the revelations and dangers that are evident on every page of our history books, we can become empowered for the opportunities we have. Just as important if not more so, we can begin to find humility and compassion in the responsibilities we bear. Given the precariousness of our lives and the obvious dangers that are too real in lives of our children and grandchildren, it is more imperative than ever that we learn who we were, in order to prepare ourselves for who we might (again) become. 

On April 14, 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke a warning in a “fireside chat” that was insightful then and still relevant now: “Democracy has disappeared in several great nations,” he said, “not because the people of those nations dislike democracy, but because they have grown tired of unemployment and insecurity, of seeing their children hungry while they sat helpless in the face of government confusion and government weakness…. Finally, in desperation, they chose to sacrifice liberty in the hope of getting something to eat.” 

One of the nations where democracy disappeared was Germany. Until Hitler came to power, Germany represented the epitome of Western Civilization: brilliant, profound philosophers; inspiring, unequaled composers and authors; astounding insights in science, especially medical science; technological geniuses—all these and more were justifiably celebrated in their native Germany and throughout the world. Within the space of a few years, this legacy was betrayed by Nazism and replaced by unspeakable tyranny and atrocities. The perpetrators of Nazi ideology were highly educated. What went wrong? All of my scholarly research was directed at learning more about this question. I needed to try to understand how this had happened. And I wanted my students to join me in asking ourselves how it could have happened there, and what would prevent it from happening here. 

I was fortunate to receive a Senior Fulbright Scholar/Teacher Award that allowed me to spend the 1985-1986 academic year in Germany as a guest professor at a university and to have time to research medical ethics and practices in Germany from 1880-1945. I envisioned a scholarly work detailing and analyzing this history. Before I could complete my research and produce a manuscript, however, several other excellent studies were published. All of them, I now see, are superior to anything I could have produced. And thanks to them, we know an incredible amount about the administration and practices of Nazi medicine, about its perverse experimentation on unwilling human beings, and about the sufferings of its victims. We especially know a great deal about the monstrous personalities and the highest ranking physicians and medical administrators who shaped the Nazis’ cruelties toward their victims. 

Just the same, all of these studies, despite their merits, to my mind did not adequately explore the why or the how that a typical, well-intentioned, thoughtful, even idealistic young physician could decide to become a Nazi. How could such a person do what we know Nazi doctors did? What could lead a person, especially a person whose career is supposed to be one anchored on compassion, to choose this path? What would happen, I asked, if he came to realize what he had done? (Most Nazi doctors did not realize the extent of their crimes.) How would he try to explain himself? (Most would have shirked blame.) And what should happen to him, once he did? (Most died in their beds, having resumed their practices; some even achieved prominence and praise.)

The problem was, “ordinary” Nazi doctors did not leave a conspicuous paper trail. I began to imagine one’s life, a composite of the fragments of some actual careers I could trace. I wrote a “biography” of this imagined Nazi doctor. I put him into the context of the events he most likely would have experienced—the pre-World War I era of his childhood; World War I and the disappointment at Germany’s defeat; the hated, punitive Versailles Peace Treaty that demanded unimaginable reparations from Germany; the ensuing economic crises, especially the Great Depression; the euphoria in thinking that Adolf Hitler would solve all Germany’s problems. I knew that my typical Nazi physician would certainly be a strong nationalist throughout these events, rather than an internationalist, a socialist or a communist. 

As the unavoidable backdrop to these events and the sentiments they evoked, I knew that my typical Nazi physician would have imbibed at least some of the pervasive, long-standing animosity toward Jews and the unspeakable racism that authenticated it. Anti-Semitism was by no means unique to Germany, or even at its zenith there; on the contrary, it was in minds and hearts wherever the sun shone down, in Europe, the Americas, even in places where there were hardly any Jews, such as Asia. Another, related ingredient in the values of those times was the sexism that held women in contempt; even while lip-service was given to them as mothers, they were seen as unfit and needed to be protected from the realities of a world they could not possibly understand or change. 

My story would have to include the wide-spread enthusiasm for medical science as taught in all the major universities of the day. Leading the way was German medical science. It promised itself that it would eliminate all human ailments and cure every disease. Medical science at the time was animated in great part by eugenics—the pseudo- scientific belief that human health—some even argued, the survival of our species—depended upon having the will to cull and terminate those whose “lives were not worth living” and the “useless eaters.” At the same time, and more reasonably, there was enthusiasm for fresh air, good nutrition, exercise, and public hygiene as a way to transform the human race into noble specimens more like gods and goddesses than men and women. 

By 1990, I had sketched out a version of Shadows Walking. I gave my typical physician, Johann Brenner, a family, friends, associates, and ultimately, victims. I created a plot. I invented a disguise for Brenner once he survived the war. I began to write my novel. 

Over the next twenty years, I wrote fourteen drafts of my novel. I had six working titles and nine possible endings. I published it myself, not being willing to risk never seeing it on the shelf. I know it can be better. I wish I had included other characters, for one. I wish I were a more succinct writer. (The length of this piece shows I’m not.) 

My students always came to life and had better insights when we were reading fiction from or about the era we were studying. I believe in fiction as a way to explore the past. It helps me discover others’ values and test my own, as a way to discover myself. Learning about others’ lives helps me learn about my own potential—my capacity to be whatever the historical record shows human beings have been—saints and sinners; beggars and royals; the powerful and the powerless; the wise and the foolish; the brilliant composers and the maniacal destroyers; a Mozart, a Mengele; the one who does good and the one who, like Camus’s protagonist in The Fall, who walks by someone in need of help. As best I can, I need to know what made a well-intentioned man willingly choose to become a Nazi doctor. I think we all need to know that, if we can. We might in the process become more humble. We might better appreciate the courage of his victims and regret their pain. And we might be more inspired to do the right thing when, as President Roosevelt warned, democracy can be sacrificed in the face of desperation.

Thank you so much Doug!

For more information on the book and the blog tour check out:
My review
The tour schedule
Douglas R. Skopp's website
Twitter Event Hashtag: #ShadowsWalkingVirtualBookTour

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Shadows Walking - Douglas R. Skopp

Shadows Walking
By Douglas R. Skopp

The story opens up with Johann in his “current” time of 1946, during the Nuremburg Trials. After the first chapter, every chapter opens with a portion of a letter that Johann in writing to his wife to try and explain the things he has done. After that, the chapter continues with a combination of current time, and flashbacks to Johann’s past as well as the past of his Jewish friend Philipp. At times these transitions were a bit confusing but as the story moved I got used to it.

The unspeakable things that Johann did as a Nazi doctor are hinted at but for most of the story you don’t really know the details. Because of this, Skopp sets up a story that allows you to forget, for moments, who he actually turns into. Skopp is careful to show Johann’s compassion and humanity before he gives the details of the terrible things Johann did. I think this makes the book even more haunting because it almost unexpected. Skopp really dives into the mindset at the time and tries to look at what would make someone commit those awful acts. He also attempts to get to the heart of how someone begins to justify their actions and beliefs.

“Philipp paused again to empty his glass. ‘But Johann, I have to ask—even though I am not eager to hear your answer—what do you mean, ‘act Jewish’?’

It was Johann’s turn to stiffen. He tightened his grip on his wine glass. ‘Ach, you know. The usual description of Jews. Money grubbing. Deceptive. Clannish. As you said, an outsider. Jewish,’ he said, his voice trailing off. ‘Not you, as I said. I mean no offense, Philipp.’”
Pg. 163

The story is heartfelt and of course heartbreaking. It is also, at times, very graphic because it doesn’t just hint at the terrible things Nazi doctors did in the name of science. It definitely made me think and I am glad I had the opportunity to read it. But, I do also have to say that the end was completely aggravating with its open-ending…but that’s life.

SYNOPSIS: Johann Brenner, an idealistic physician and ardent German nationalist, has joined the Nazi Party and willingly participated in its "crimes against humanity." His Jewish childhood friend, Philipp Stein, has also become a doctor. Their lives inevitably intersect until their last, fateful meeting.

After the war, Brenner, with stolen papers and a new name, has become a janitor in the courthouse where the Nuremberg Trials are being held. Hoping to "heal himself" and wishing to begin a new life with his estranged wife, he decides that he must write her a letter telling what he has done and why.

Brenner's letter sets the theme for each chapter of Shadows Walking. Through his letter, we see him admit his choices and their consequences as he slips deeper and deeper into the brutality of the Third Reich.

**Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and Douglas R Skopp for providing me with a copy for review.

Come back Monday Nov. 28 when I will have a guest post from Douglas R Skopp!!

For more information on the book and the blog tour check out:
Link to tour schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.blogspot.com/2011/10/douglas-r-skopp-on-tour-for-shadows.html
Link to Douglas R. Skopp's WEBSITE: http://www.shadowswalking.com/Shadows_Walking/Welcome.html
Twitter Event Hashtag: #ShadowsWalkingVirtualBookTour

Monday, November 21, 2011

Summer in the South - Cathy Holton

Summer in the South
By Cathy Holton

Summer in the South was a perfect transition book. You would think it would be best as a Summer read, (it is in the title after all) but as the weather turned to Fall I found this book to be the perfect companion.

Ava didn’t exactly have the “perfect” childhood and she tries to sort the messier parts of it out while writing her first novel. An old college friend invites her to a small town in Tennessee, where she can stay with his family on their huge estate. There she finds more of a story than she was expecting. I think this line is actually a wonderful summarization of the story:

“She could imagine herself holed up in a little cabin like his mother’s, overlooking a wide sweep of rolling hills, churning out novels about people who understood the joys of living in a place where nothing ever happened. If you didn’t count murder, tragedy, undying love, and familial revenge.”
-page 314

I have to say, my favorite part of the story was where she really got into the writing. I loved reading about her process and wondering if it at all mirrored Holton’s. Of course, I’ll admit it was fun to imagine getting away to a mansion with so much history, a love interest and all you had to do was write.

I was intrigued from the beginning in a calm and steady way that was refreshing. There were moments when Holton seemed to be trying to be vague and it just made the story a bit confusing but there was so much more that grabbed me and kept me interested. There was also some hilarious insight and I will leave you with one of my favorite lines…

“’You reach a point in your life where you have to make a decision. Do you stay with the wild and sexy boyfriend, the one who makes your pulse race and your heart pound, or do you settle for the guy who will always pay the mortgage?’ Her eyes were wide, tragic. ‘Do you settle for regular orgasms or money in the bank?’”
-page 181

**Source: From author for review

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hunger Games Movie Trailer!

My first reaction when I saw the trailer for Hunger Games was released today was "holy crap yay!"  But while I watched it I just kept thinking "oh crap, oh crap, oh crap" and also "don't cry Jess, you're so stupid it is just the trailer."  I am so excited for next year, this movie is going to be incredible.  The trailer was better than I ever expected! Check out the link.

Movie Trailer: The Hunger Games

Thursday, November 10, 2011

33 Days - Bill See

33 Days: Touring In A Van, Sleeping On Floors, Chasing A Dream
By Bill See

In 1987, Bill See and his band Divine Weeks set out on a 33 day tour. The book follows the band, showing their ups and downs while also giving a bit of their history through flashbacks. It was interesting to see the different circumstances each person came from and the way music brought them together. The time jumps in the flashbacks didn’t always flow well but they did portray the way our minds wander while serving the purpose of telling the back-story.

I loved seeing the other side of a tour when they have to get out there and play because they love the music so much. See gave great insight and started off really strong. I connected with his story right away but it did slow around the middle of the book. It became a bit repetitive and at times seemed too cliché but I reconnected with it towards the end.

I think I would have connected even more with the story if I was a bit older and actually aware of music while this was all happening but I was still able to relate it to my experiences at shows and the music I love and that was the best part of the story for me.

If  you are curious about the music of Divine Weeks, check out Bill's website.

**Source: from author for review

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods (audiobook)
By Bill Bryson

A walk in the Woods is about simple that, a walk in the woods. Bill Bryson and his friend Stephen Katz take a long…very long…walk on the Appalachian Trail. While Bryson recounts his preparation for his long walk as well as the walk itself, he also scatters facts that are both fun and freaky throughout the story. Facts that will make you want to hop on the AT bandwagon and at the same time run screaming.

I took listening to this book as a long and slow process and I loved that about it. I dabbled in it while I cleaned and trudged along with him on my longer drives and let me tell you, I was fully entertained the entire time. I was constantly pausing it and turning to my husband with an “oh my God you have to hear this” story.

Listening to an audiobook narrated by the author can be a very hit or miss thing but I am happy to say that Bill Bryson stepped up. He had a remarkable way of bringing the characters to life, probably because he not only wrote them but actually knew them. I loved Katz and all his faults. He brought the story to life and also made it relatable. This is definitely a story that I would recommend listening to when you really need to get a taste of nature.

**Source: courtesy of my lovely local library

Friday, November 4, 2011

Catching up on awesome stuff!

I meant to write this post a while ago but I was out of town and then I got
disgustingly sick.  Don't you just hate that!

I'm blurry with excitement!
Last Friday I went to a book signing for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (watch for my review).  I met up with the awesome Stephanie D of Misfit Salon and we had a blast listening to Laini talk about the book.  She even read the piece that included my favorite line from the book but she said it was the most quoted line so I guess I'm not as unique as I thought.  Or maybe it is just that good.  Read it and find out! P.S...it is.

Anyway...I talked to another local blogger named Stephanie who just got an agent for her novel...how freaking awesome right!!!  Then went for some hot chocolate and chit chat.  It was the start of an awesome weekend.

Also, congratulations to the winner of my Blogiversary Giveaway!! 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!


Watch out for ghosts and goblins!

My friend captured me trying to  decide how to carve the pumpkin.    Photo credit.
I couldn't pass up this shot of my cat in the window!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2 Year Blogiversary!! And a Giveaway!

I can't believe my little bloggy baby is already 2 years old.  Time does fly!

Blogging, of course, would not be what it is without all you awesome folks to share it with so to celebrate my anniversary and say thanks I have a giveaway!

In keeping with my hoarding theme, I can't just give away one of my books.  Luckily, my hoarding tendencies have caused me to pick up some duplicate books along the way.  So, here is the deal...

One lucky winner will get to choose between these three books:

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros - I read this book in college and loved it so when I came across it sitting on a table at a used book store I had to save it.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller - I haven't read this and I actually have no idea how I ended up with two copies because I don't even remember buying one but it is one of the books I am determined to read before I die so apparently that causes copies to flock to me.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton - I haven't read this yet but I have heard such great things about it that when I saw a copy for $1 I had to pick it up.

Giveaway details:

You can have up to 3 entries:

* 1 entry just by leaving me a comment on this post with your email address so I can contact the winner.
* 1 entry if you subscribe to my rss feed or follow me via blogger (new or current subscribers).
* 1 entry for spreading the word about this giveaway (in your sidebar is okay).

Open to entries from US and Canada only.

The deadline to enter is November 2.

Good luck!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page.

This month's Mailbox Monday blog tour is hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit.

Check out the blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

The Countess: A Novel of Elizabeth Bathory by Rebecca Johns (from publisher)

From author's website:
Was the “Blood Countess” history’s first and perhaps worst female serial killer? Or did her accusers create a violent fiction in order to remove this beautiful, intelligent, ambitious foe from the male-dominated world of Hungarian politics?

In 1611, Countess Erzsébet Báthory, a powerful Hungarian noblewoman, stood helpless as masons walled her inside her castle tower, dooming her to spend her final years in solitary confinement. Her crime—the gruesome murders of dozens of female servants, mostly young girls tortured to death for displeasing their ruthless mistress. Her opponents painted her as a bloodthirsty škrata—a witch—a portrayal that would expand to grotesque proportions through the centuries.

In this riveting dramatization of Erzsébet Báthory’s life, the countess tells her story in her own words, writing to her only son—a final reckoning from his mother in an attempt to reveal the truth behind her downfall. Countess Báthory describes her upbringing in one of the most powerful noble houses in Hungary, recounting in loving detail her devotion to her parents and siblings as well as the heartbreak of losing her father at a young age. She soon discovers the price of being a woman in sixteenth-century Hungary as her mother arranges her marriage to Ferenc Nádasdy, a union made with the cold calculation of a financial transaction. Young Erzsébet knows she has no choice but to accept this marriage even as she laments its loveless nature and ultimately turns to the illicit affections of another man.

Seemingly resigned to a marriage of convenience and a life of surreptitious pleasure, the countess surprises even herself as she ignites a marital spark with Ferenc through the most unromantic of acts: the violent punishment of an insolent female servant. The event shows Ferenc that his wife is no trophy but a strong, determined woman more than capable of managing their vast estates during Ferenc’s extensive military campaigns against the Turks. Her naked assertion of power accomplishes what her famed beauty could not: capturing the love of her husband.

The countess embraces this new role of loving wife and mother, doing everything she can to expand her husband’s power and secure her family’s future. But a darker side surfaces as Countess Báthory’s demand for virtue, obedience, and, above all, respect from her servants takes a sinister turn. What emerges is not only a disturbing, unflinching portrait of the deeds that gave Báthory the moniker “Blood Countess,” but an intimate look at the woman who became a monster.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thoughts on a movie - Red

I don't review movies but I picked up Red from redbox and about 15 minutes into the movie my husband made a comment that I knew I had to write about so the rest of the movie I kept laughing about scenes, thinking "oh man, people have to know about that too." 

We have been wanting to watch Red for some time now and we finally picked it up and let me tell you I was not disappointed.  I was constantly laughing and it was full of don't-take-me-too-seriously-action-packed-fun! Plus, it has a cast full of bad-asses (John Malkovich is crazy and I heart him). 

So...the moment that inspired this was when Mary-Louise Parker is in her bed, wearing her sweater, reading a book that she says is "terrible, but I love it," and I look over at my husband because he is laughing hysterically.  When I ask him what he is laughing at, he says, "that would have been you if we didn't get married!"  I can't even deny that it is true!

Seriously, if you just need something that is not too serious and you need a giggle, watch Red.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lions of Kandahar - Major Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer

Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds
By Major Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer

You may or may not know that my husband, Mike, was enlisted in the Army until last year and he had 3 deployments in Afghanistan. When I saw Lions of Kandahar on Amazon Vine, I immediately requested it. It wasn’t until received it that I told Mike about the book. He looked at the author and told me that they were actually in the same unit.

Of course, Mike snatched the book and finished it before I even had a chance to think about reading it. Just so you know, I can’t watch military movies with him because he criticizes anything that isn’t accurate. When he finished the book, I asked him if he liked the book and he said “yeah, because it was just the facts and no fluff.” I can’t think of a better recommendation from him, and after reading it, I have to agree.

Lions of Kandahar follows Major Bradley and his men as they embark on an extremely dangerous mission. It shows how the military work with the Afghan National Army and the importance of their relationship. It takes you to the heart of a battle without holding back any of the pain and trauma.

I really appreciated how the story was laid out with facts and it wasn’t until the very end that Bradley got a bit preachy about the military…but it was brief and didn’t annoy me too much. The fact is that this is a real story, not something made for Hollywood. It’s not meant to make you angry about the war or rally you to enlist. Bradley has his opinions, and they should be pretty obvious being that he enlisted, but he writes just the facts. His emotions come through to bring the story to life and show what someone in those situations thinks about. This is a book that can be appreciated by anyone who wants to get a better idea of what is happening no matter their opinions.

**Source: Amazon Vine

If you are interested in more, I recommend checking out a documentary by National Geographic called Inside the Green Berets.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page.

This month's Mailbox Monday blog tour is hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit.

Check out the blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

Life got in the way and I missed a couple MMs. I am going to school one day a week and my class falling on a Monday is really putting a damper my Monday posting.  Luckily, today is a bank holiday (Happy Columbus Day!!) so I have the whole day off before I have to get to my night class.  Here is what I have snagged in the last two weeks.

Shadows Walking by Douglas R. Skopp (for review on blog tour)

From author's website:
Johann Brenner, an idealistic physician and ardent German nationalist, has joined the Nazi Party and willingly participated in its "crimes against humanity." His Jewish childhood friend, Philipp Stein, has also become a doctor. Their lives inevitably intersect until their last, fateful meeting.

After the war, Brenner, with stolen papers and a new name, has become a janitor in the courthouse where the Nuremberg Trials are being held. Hoping to "heal himself" and wishing to begin a new life with his estranged wife, he decides that he must write her a letter telling what he has done and why.

Brenner's letter sets the theme for each chapter of Shadows Walking. Through his letter, we see him admit his choices and their consequences as he slips deeper and deeper into the brutality of the Third Reich.

Books from Book Festival:

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman
Beloved by Toni Morrison

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

When there are no words...just dance

I am loving the new show New Girl and just had to share one of the best moments ever!!  The video is kind of terrible but I am just grateful that someone recorded it at all. If you aren't watching New Girl you seriously need to check it out.  Yes I am biased because she has my name AND her own theme song but still...

Umm yeah...I want to get married again so we can totally do the slow chicken dance!!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Welcome October Fun!!

Who can resist a cute cutout?

 October is here and we decided to spend some time with a couple friends getting lost in the awesome corn maze at the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch.

We didn't know if we would make it out alive!

 I am in love with this Fall weather and all that comes with it.  Now I'm off to roast a kabocha squash!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

City of Fallen Angels - Cassandra Clare

City of Fallen Angels
By Cassandra Clare

This is book four of Clare’s Mortal Instruments series. After what seemed like a complete trilogy, she took some time and came out with this book. I am sad to say I was disappointed with City of Fallen Angels. I think Clare would have been better off allowing the Mortal Instruments series to end as it had in book 3 and move on to a different series, as she has with Clockwork Angel.

The storyline in City of Fallen Angels didn’t hold any interest for me. The romances were all played out and all the stories seemed to be told. I felt like Clare was grasping to put another story together with old characters. It didn’t help that I read the first 3 books so long ago that I had forgotten some of the details and because of that it took me a moment longer than it should have to grasp some of the references.

I was curious enough to finish the book but I was hoping for more from the story, especially after how much I enjoyed the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series.

**Source: Personal copy

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Orchard - Jeffrey Stepakoff

The Orchard
By Jeffrey Stepakoff

I was very excited when I first heard about Stepakoff’s second book. I read his first book, Fireworks Over Toccoa (my review), and I absolutely loved it but I, sadly, did not have the same strong feelings towards The Orchard.

The Orchard is about a career driven woman from Atlanta and a widowed father who owns a remarkable apple orchard. The lives of these two people quickly end up very entwined. My favorite characters in the story quickly became the orchard and the apples themselves. They had a storyline all their own with their sweet scent and the building anxiety of the perfect time to pick.

I grew up in a small town in which the festival is the Apple Blossom Festival. The memories this book brought up were amazing and I loved the way it brought me back to a time when my favorite sound was the plunk of an apple in a 5 gallon bucket and my favorite thing to eat was a just-picked apple slightly warmed from the sun.

All that said, I did have a few issues with the story. I found it to be extremely overwritten. There were so many moments that Stepakoff clearly wanted to play to the all the readers senses as best he could but it seemed like he got caught up in overly “showing.” While he was able to pull off many of his excessive descriptions, there became a point when I realized it was almost every moment and it was too much.

Although the story turned out to be extremely predictable I still closed the book with a giggle and an almost giddy smile on my face.

**Source: ARC from author