Tuesday, September 30, 2014

(August) September Book Clubs

September was a double month of book club! Two times the fun!

Month: August 
Hostess: Chrissy
Book: The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell
Food: Greek Pizza, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, fancy cupcakes
Wine of the Night: A luscious merlot

It was a hot fall day the day we met for Chrissy's book club, which seemed appropriate due to the fact that Chrissy had August, although we had to meet in September. The end of August was just so crazy for everyone - vacations, and in the case of Mary, her little baby boy's surgery. Little Will had had surgery just a week before, and was in attendance so we could all coo over him. Chrissy's cats have never seen a baby, and they were very curious about him! He took it all in stride, as he has cats at home himself. 

Speaking of cats, this book. I wish we could say we liked it, but we just didn't. It was not what we expected, which was a Neil Gaiman/Christopher Moore blend. For us, this book just didn't work. I am going to say it was just too weird, even for me. 

We caught up on each other's lives, as it had over a month since we had all been in a room together, hanging out.  All in all, it was a fun, low-key, mellow kind of evening, the kind you would expect from an early September evening, that was warm and humid, even better to have been spent with your close friends.

Month: September
Hostess: Mary
Book: The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan Wiggs
Food: Homemade veggie lasagna, butternut squash soup, chips and salsa, chocolate cake
Wine of the night: A Trempranillo

What a perfect month for a book about honey! Bees are out in full force here in September, as they make their final hurrahs before winter hits. I can't imagine a fall without bees buzzing around the apple cider and donuts! 

It had been another warm fall day, too warm in my opinion, but the evening was cool. We all one by one filed into Mary's house, which was warm and bubbly from the sounds of the soup on the stove.

When the author Susan Wiggs found out that our book club was reading this book, she awesomely sent us a little care package! Inside were coasters, sticks of honey, tea, and bookplates. We loved the coasters, that say "My wine club has a reading problem," especially since we like to call ourselves the Bottle of Wine Book Club.

We all settled down with our soup, eating and talking about this and that. It was fun because we had just gathered together two weeks ago, for Chrissy's book club. It was a double book club month! 

I had fun discussing this book, talking about the flashbacks and how they made me cry. Mary and I disagreed and debated on which book was better, The Beekeeper's Ball, or the first in the series, The Apple Orchard. I firmly believe that Beekeeper's was better, although I did enjoy them both. I feel this one had more feeling, and I liked the main character better as well. I had been curious about her in The Apple Orchard, and was happy when she got her own book. If you want to check out my reviews, you can find them here and here

Have any of you read either of these books, or The Apple Orchard? What are your thoughts? 

Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

Read Last Week:

Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels: The first book in the Georgetown series. This book usually doesn't scare me, but I must be in a different state of mind as it did scare me this time. Lol. I have posted a review before, here is the link.

The Witch With No Name by Kim Harrison: I loved this book. I am so sad this series is over!! 

Blubber by Judy Blume: Read and reviewed as part of Banned Book Week.

Reading This Week:


Visions by Kelley Armstrong: I didn't get to this last week, so it is on my list again for this week.

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater: I am excited to read this Wolves of Mercy Falls book!


We finished Firefly (cancelled too soon!! Such a good show) and started watching Friday Night Lights. Season 2 of that show has started off crazy! I am anxious to see where the season will take us. I am also catching up on Downton Abbey via Amazon. I just started Season 4. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Banned Book Review: Blubber by Judy Blume

In honor of banned book week, I am participating in Sheila at Book Journey's banned book challenge. Visit her blog to discover posts from bloggers all over the blogosphere celebrating their freedom to choose what they read!

Blubber: Banned/Challenged: For language and because a bully did not get into trouble

Title: Blubber
Author: Judy Blume

Goodreads Summary:

Blubber is a good name for her, the note from Wendy says about Linda. Jill crumples it up and leaves it on the corner of her desk. She doesn't want to think about Linda or her dumb report on the whale just now. Jill wants to think about Halloween.

But Robby grabs the note, and before Linda stops talking it has gone halfway around the room.

That's where it all starts. There's something about Linda that makes a lot of kids in her fifth-grade class want to see how far they can go -- but nobody, least of all Jill, expects the fun to end where it does.

My thoughts:

Kids can be cruel and mean. There is no doubt about that, and the characters in this book, including the main character Jill, are no exception. Jill joins forces with her classmates to make one fellow student's life a living hell. They bully Linda mercilessly, calling her Blubber and fat and a smelly whale, and some of their stunts border on assault. Jill isn't just a jerk at school, she is at home as well. She picks on her brother, calling him dumb all the time, and on Halloween she and her best friend Tracy run around pulling mean pranks on people, such as breaking rotten eggs into the mailbox of the neighborhood curmudgeon, and of course, writing mean things on the sidewalk in front of Linda's house.  However, something happens that puts Jill on the other side of things, and she becomes the victim of bullying. Ultimately, Jill puts a stop to everything, but only after suffering herself, and learning what it is like when the shoe is on the other foot. 

This book is unpleasant to read as an adult. It is hard to read about the depths of the bullying that occurs at such a young age, but from working in an elementary school, you can see cliques start to form early, like first or second grade. The mechanics are already in place for someone to be the odd man out, the scapegoat. This book doesn't pull any punches, and there is never really retribution. The lead bully never gets into trouble, her life stays mainly the same. Does this suck? Yes, absolutely. We live in a world where we like to see the villain get their due. But in reality, that doesn't always happen. I read this in elementary school, and I wish I could remember what I thought of it. The definition of flenser stuck with me, but as far as how this book made me feel, that is lost to the years.

Judy Blume is no stranger to censorship. Her books are realistic, and are often challenged. Blubber has been challenged for the swearing it contains (there are few instances of bitch and damn, also some racial slurs) and because the bully gets away without punishment. Again, this is just another discussion point, that not everyone gets what they deserve. That statement, about getting what you deserve, is actually in the book. Jill and Tracy get into trouble for their Halloween stunts, and they are told that maybe now they will learn that they are not necessarily in charge of deciding what other people deserve, which obviously applies not just to their Halloween prank, but to what is going on with Linda.

Linda never tells anyone what is going on. The adults and teachers in the book seem either clueless or like they are turning a blind eye to what is going on. We all know bullying is a huge issue right now, especially as kids can go home and still be bullied through digital media and their phones. I would think this book would be a good entree to a classroom discussion about bullying, and what to do if you are being bullied, not a book that should be banned, or hidden away. It's a book that parents and children can read together, or if a student happens to pick it out from the library and read it on their own, maybe it will cause them to think about what happens, and to empathize with Linda. Maybe they will learn what it means to be a bully, to be bullied, and what they should do if bullied: Speak up. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

I had a great weekend. My husband and I spent Saturday at Detroit's Farmers Market, and then trundled father south for Hawkfest. I saw so many birds of prey! I love birds, although I can see why some people don't, with their ancient eyes that seem to peer through you. I will probably post a detailed post about our day later, but here are two pics I took. 


Read Last Week:


Thornyhold by Mary Stewart: I read this as part of Mary Stewart Reading Week, hosted by Gudrun's Tights. I had intended to read another Stewart, but it didn't pan out. 

Shattered Silk by Barbara Michaels: Reading Mary Stewart always makes me want to read Barbara Michaels, another comfort author of mine. I love the Georgetown series! Review soon.

Reading This Week:

I am going to be working on my R.I.P. Challenge as well as participating in Book Journey's Banned Books Week!


Visions by Kelley Armstrong:  I think I was a little so-so with the first book, but wanted to give it more of a chance by reading the second book. I love the cover!

The Witch with No Name by Kim Harrison: This book makes me sad - the last book in the Hollows series! Nooooo!!! I am going to the author book signing on Devil's Night with my friend Mary, it will be bittersweet. 

Blubber by Judy Blume: My banned book. I will be posting my review on Thursday!


I saw this on Rita H's blog, My Home of Books and thought it was a fun idea! My husband and I have been watching Firefly (love it!), Outlander (love it more!), and The Witches of East End. I can't wait for the first week of October, when Gilmore Girls is being released on Netflix! I am such a GG fan! We are also looking forward to the return of Grimm and Sleepy Hollow.

Posted Last Week:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: The Edge of You by Theresa DaLayne

Title: The Edge of You
Author: Theresa DaLayne
Source: NetGalley

Goodreads Summary:

Maya knows she’s doing the right thing by moving to Alaska with her parents, but that doesn’t mean she has to be happy about it. Forced to give up a scholarship to a prestigious art school, she relocates to a Podunk town with one college the size of her high school cafeteria, all to help hold her family together after the death of her little sister. But a fresh start can only do so much.

Jake doesn’t like handouts and he certainly doesn’t need any distractions. Working on a salmon boat in Kodiak, Alaska is the only way to pay for his mother’s surgery back in the lower forty-eight. Juggling college courses and constant worry about his mother’s health, Jake couldn’t imagine anything else fitting into his life. That is, until he meets Maya, the sexy Californian artist who tints his world in technicolor.

But when Maya’s family starts to crumble and Jake’s mom takes a turn for the worse, will they drag each other down, or can they find what they were missing all along?

In this new adult romance, Theresa DaLayne paints a swoon-worthy story about life under the midnight sun, following your heart, and learning to live on the edge.

My thoughts:

I read this book back when I was going through my weird I-can't-read-anything business. This book was the perfect antidote! I was sucked right into the world of Maya and Jake, two young people with adult sized problems.

These two were dealing with some heavy issues - domestic abuse, depression, the death of a family member, alcoholism, yet were still trying to find time for themselves in the midst of their family trials. This book was lighthearted when it needed to be to keep it from being a super downer, yet retained the right amount of gravity as well. I think this book is one that could be used as part of bibliotherapy with older kids, to get them talking about things they might be going through. It does have teenage sexuality in it, just as an FYI, which doesn't bother me, but I thought I would throw it out there for anyone who wanted to know.

The setting was amazing as well. I love the thought of Alaska, so pristine and wild. I am not sure I would want to live there (bears!) but I love reading about it, and this book gave me some different views of life in Alaska.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I found it entertaining and it helped me break through my reading slump, always a positive!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: Thornyhold by Mary Stewart

Title: Thornyhold
Author: Mary Stewart
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

This old-fashioned gothic romance is as good as they get. When Gilly's witch aunt leaves Thornyhold to her, a house in the middle of the woods, Gilly finds that she has inherited far more than she realized. Along with the house comes a cat, a still room filled with herbs (and a missing recipe book), an attic chamber with carrier pigeons (who have secret messages), and an attractive neighbor whose young son offers the sacred and unique blessing of friendship. But Thornyhold possesses far more than even these simple offerings. The place itself seems to convoke otherworldly gifts as well: Gilly cultivates the abilities to heal and to foresee the future once she makes Thornyhold her home. (For those fans of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, there is a Geilis the witch in this book, too.)

My thoughts:

Perfectly charming from start to finish. Ok, maybe not from the very start, with all of poor young Geillis' troubled childhood moments. With a cold and stern mother, parents that hold her at arm's length, and worse, refuse her the love she seeks from having pets, the only brightness is her mom's cousin of the same name. When she visits, Gilly finally feels loved and important, and ramble around the countryside together, while Gilly learns the names of flora and fauna.

Years later, Cousin Geillis passes away, leaving her younger cousin her beloved home, Thornyhold. Thornyhold sounds enchanting, located in the country, and Gilly is excited to be able to have something of her own. She moves in right away, and finds the woman who had been watching over her house, Agnes Trapp to be helpful in that irritating way. Is she a help or a hindrance? Are her motives pure, or does she have an ulterior motive for helping Gilly? Gilly also makes friends with a young neighbor, William, who visits with his sick ferret, in hopes that Gilly can fill her cousin's shoes as healer.

The reader is teased with the idea of country witches, spells, midnight rituals and out of body experiences. There is danger lurking somewhere out there, for people and for the animals that Gilly has taken in, pigeons, Hodge the cat, and a stray dog that Gilly hears at night. But where is the danger coming from, and why?

I loved this book. I loved the bits of magic and romance, the great old estate in the country, and Gilly. It is a perfect read for when you want something a little mysterious and supernatural, without going overboard, and might be best when the day is drizzly and you have a cup of tea readily at hand.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

I kind of fell off the face of the earth for a bit there! We had an out of town wedding and I have seemed to have caught my annual fall cold. Blah. I am feeling a bit better though so yay!

Read Last Week:


Ghost Stories of Michigan by Dan Asfar: I am in the mood for ghost stories, and this fit the bill. 

The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry: A reread, but enjoyable.

Reading This Week:


Thornyhold and Wildfire At Midnight - I think I might be able to use these as part of the R.I.P. Challenge as well! My goal is to read and review these this week.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: The Body in the Woods by April Henry

Title: The Body in the Woods
Author: April Henry
Source: Publisher

Goodreads Summary:

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

My thoughts:

I liked this one! I found the concept of teenagers being part of a search and rescue team fascinating, and what is more, it is real. The book is dedicated to the "teens of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue", real kids who join forces with the police to help aid in finding the lost and missing.

This book really focused on the teenagers in the story, rather than the actual murder mystery, I think, and is told from their various points of view. Alexis, Nick, and Ruby are all volunteers for their local search and rescue, all with their own individual motivations. They also all have their own individual issues. First there is Alexis, whose mother struggles with mental illness issues. Then Nick, whose father died in the war, when Nick was four and never got to know him. Finally there is Ruby, who is bright and curious and also has Asperger's Syndrome.

Despite their lack of commonality, the search and rescue begins to bring the three closer together, finding acceptance within their trio. The murders themselves are sort of background to the evolving friendship of these three, and in fact, the reader knows who the killer is pretty easily and quickly, which took a little of the suspense out of it for sure, but made me read the story differently than I might have.

Overall, I think this was an interesting first book in a series.  I am interested in where it will go from here!

Monday, September 1, 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

It's that time of the year again! The time for spooky stories and scary movies, my favorite time of year. I love fall, with its crisp days and brisk evenings, bonfires, and Halloween, my all time favorite holiday. It also means that it is time for R.I.P. IX, a blog challenge that I wait for every year. 

My plan this year:

Read four books that fit the definition of R.I.P. literature. This definition includes:

Dark Fantasy.

Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.

This could be the big screen, or the small screen, as long as it fits the challenge genre.
I don't know exactly what I am reading and watching this year, but I know that I am excited to begin!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, that is guaranteed to add to your reading list.

I was able to break my reading fast! I didn't read a lot, but I did read. Yay! 

 Last week was another rough one, even worse than the week before, but things are starting to look up.  Hopefully I will be able to share about it soon.

Read Last Week:


Fair Game by Patricia Briggs: My husband picked this up for me, since we love Patricia Briggs. I really enjoyed it, although it was the third in this series and I hadn't read the other two. I am definitely going to read the rest of the series.

The Body in the Woods by April Henry: This was good! I have a lot to say about it, so look for my upcoming review.

Reading This Week:

Like last week, I don't have much of a plan, just a few books I might be choosing from. 



The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness: I am excited to get to this book! 

Better Homes and Hauntings by Molly Harper: I have to confess, I have been reading this off and on, and it is a fun read. 

The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry: I read this series before, and I felt like revisiting.