Friday, April 30, 2010

A Sneak Peek at Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Retellings of old fairy tales are always fun, and this one looks to be a very exciting revamp of the story of Red Riding Hood.



Sisters Red is being released in the US and the UK on June 7, 2010. I recently read an excerpt from the book (click here!) and it really caught my interest. I'm looking forward to this one.

Jackson Pearce is also the author of As You Wish and you can find her blog here, her twitter account here, and her YouTube channel here. I've been following her twitter account for a while and she's got a killer sense of humor. I also loved her video of when she opened her first box containing the finished copies of Sisters Red. It was impossible not to be excited with her.

So, just wanted to give Jackson and her new book a quick shout-out! If you like YA, werewolves, strong female heroines, and creative retellings of fairy tales, you should probably go preorder a copy right now. wink

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guest post by Cathy Bryant, author of Texas Roads

Today I am honored to welcome Cathy Bryant, author of Texas Roads to A Few More Pages! I have been following Cathy's blog WordVessel for several months now, and have watched with excitement as she prepared her book to be published. So without further ado, here's Cathy!

FINDING HOME
By Cathy Bryant, © 2010

Have you ever noticed how some people seem born for the open road? Not me. I’m a put-down-roots kinda gal. Oh, I confess to enjoying a trip away from the daily routine from time to time, but I’m always eager to return home, always happy to turn into our driveway, always content in my own backyard.

What is it about our hearts that longs for home? I believe there’s a home-sized hole in each of our hearts—a hole that can only be filled one way. But at one time I believed if I searched long enough and worked really hard to make it happen, I would find that magical place called home here on earth.

The faith hall-of-fame in Hebrews 11 talks about this quest for home we all experience.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own…they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. ~Hebrews 11:13-14, 16 (NIV, emphasis mine)
As the wife of a teacher-turned-minister, we seemed to move from one small Texas town to the next. Just about the time we began to feel settled, God would move us on to a place that was new and different—a place that for a long time just didn’t feel like home.

But God used this time in my life to teach me a valuable lesson. For the Christian, home isn’t a place, it’s a person.

Jesus.

Only He can fill that home-sized hole in each of our hearts. Only He was intended to.

In the book of John, right before Jesus was arrested, He spent the last hours with His disciples—teaching them, telling them what was about to happen, encouraging them. In this passage He has much to say about “home” or “abiding.” I especially love how The Message by Eugene H. Peterson phrases it.

“Live in Me. Make your home in Me just as I do in you…I’ve loved you the way My Father has loved Me. Make yourselves at home in My love. If you keep My commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in My love. That’s what I’ve done—kept My Father’s commands and made Myself at home in His love.”
What a comfort! How blessed we are to know that no matter where this pilgrimage on earth takes us, home is Christ!

Dear heavenly Father~

We are blessed to call You not only Father, but Savior, Friend, Home and so much more! Help us to remember to abide—to make ourselves at home—in You and Your love.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen
 
* * *

Thank you so much Cathy for being here today. What a wonderful reminder that we can always make ourselves at home in Christ. I also feel like I've gotten a nice peek into the theme of your novel. wink

Cathy Bryant’s debut novel, TEXAS ROADS, tells the story of a disillusioned widow’s quest for home. The book was chosen as a finalist in the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers’ contest, and is available at Amazon.com. Click here to read some sample chapters! Here is the book trailer:




A Texas gal since birth, Cathy lives in northeast Texas in a century-old farmhouse with her husband, a phobia-ridden cat, and a garden full of flowers, butterflies, and late-summer mosquitoes the size of your fist.

Do you want to keep up with Cathy Bryant's latest news updates? Check out her blog at: http://WordVessel.blogspot.com and her website at: www.CatBryant.com. You can also chat with her on twitter at: http://twitter.com/CathyBryant.

Giveaway has ended.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Review & Book Tour Stop: Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran

Watermark by Vanitha Sankaran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Date Published: April 2010
Publisher: Avon
Source: I received an advance reading copy for review to participate in this TLC book tour.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Publisher's book description:
The daughter of a papermaker in 1320 France, Auda has an ability to read and write that come from a place of need. Silenced, she finds hope and opportunity in the intricacies of her father’s craft. But the powerful forces of the ruling parties in France form a nearly insurmountable obstacle.
In a time when new ideas were subject to heresy, Auda dares to defy the status quo. Born albino, believed to be cursed, and rendered mute before she’d ever spoken, her very survival is a testament to the strength of her spirit. As Auda grows into womanhood, she reclaims her heritage in a quest for love and a sense of self.
❦❦❦❦❦❦❦

I was hooked by this book within the first couple of pages. The story begins with Auda's birth, during which her mother sacrifices herself so that her child might live. But Auda is unusual because she is albino, and the superstitions of the Middle Ages take their toll on her life from her very first breath. Superstition results in her being doubly set apart from the average medieval French person when the healer's apprentice cuts out her tongue to keep her from "speaking the Devil's lies"--because albinos were suspected as witches.

Throughout her life, Auda had to stay in the shadows, stay covered up, to avoid suspicion of being a witch. This becomes especially important as the inquisition begins to step up persecution of witches and the heretical sect called the "Good Men." She works with her father, a papermaker in a time when paper was just starting to be accepted as a cheaper substitute for widely-used parchment. Although she has worked out a sign language with her family, she has also been taught to read and write by her father, another unusual skill for a woman not of the aristocracy.

Besides the fascinating setting and intelligent female protagonist, there is also the interesting development of paper, which had significant implications for literary developments at the time. The cheap price of paper as compared to parchment gave less wealthy persons access to reading material and writing material. And Auda finds herself working as a scribe for the vicomtesse, who sets her to work transcribing some of the old documents in the palace (including old poems and songs). She finds herself inspired by it and by her growing romance with an artist, developing her own literary voice in the process. The result is a complex and appealing work of fiction that I very much enjoyed. The only thing that bothered me was that the book seemed to speed to the ending--I felt like the climax of the story and its aftermath could have been less rushed.

When I first started reading Watermark, it brought back memories of what it was like when I was reading Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, another book set in medieval Europe (though set in England a couple of hundred years earlier than Watermark). If you liked Pillars of the Earth I think you would probably enjoy Watermark as well. This is a very nice work of medieval fiction and I am looking forward to reading future books by Ms. Sankaran.

Related Linkage:

Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Medieval Reading Challenge, Twenty Ten Challenge, POC Reading Challenge

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review: The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke

The Hidden Flame by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke (Acts of Faith, Book 2)
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction, Biblical Fiction
Pages: 394
Date Published: February 2010
Publisher: Bethany House
Rating: 4 of 5

Back-of-the-cover blurb:
In first-century Judea, the followers of the Way have burgeoned into a vibrant, growing community that cannot be ignored. Jerusalem is in turmoil as its religious leaders on one side, and their Roman rulers on the other, conspire to stamp out the fledgling Church. And Abigail, who thought she had finally found home and safety, is caught between the opposing forces.
Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail's hand in marriage. Ezra, a successful Hebrew merchant and widower with important connections among the Sanhedrin, is looking for a mother for his children. The Roman soldier Linux is fascinated by her winsome charm and possibly could offer the sanctuary--maybe even the love--for which she yearns. But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Will her faith and courage survive a heartbreak beyond comprehension as the followers face a gathering storm of persecution they never could have foreseen?
The Hidden Flame is the second book in Davis Bunn and Janette Oke's Acts of Faith series. I read and reviewed the first book, The Centurion's Wife in October. After waiting several months to find out what would happen to Alban and Leah, they very quickly leave the story in The Hidden Flame and become secondary characters. The Hidden Flame focuses on Leah's friend Abigail and the men who would vie for her hand in marriage (Alban's friend Linux and Hebrew merchant Ezra).

The setting of this book is fascinating, just as in the first book of the series. Abigail is living among the early Christians, helping Martha every day with her duties taking care of orphans and widows as well as the disciples and their followers, taking on new duties as assigned by the apostle Peter, forming a friendship with Stephen (who becomes the first Christian martyr), and living during a period of time of increasing tension between Jews and followers of The Way, whose numbers were increasing daily. Abigail is at the center of this historic time and these historic events, experiencing God's healing and the beginning of the persecution of the early church.

I also thought the branches of the story that focused on Abigail's suitors were interesting as well. They both were witness to miracles and they both felt the Holy Spirit calling to them, but only one of them came to accept Christ and become one of his followers. The other let his jealousy and anger lead him to a position where he became a vocal opponent of Christ's followers. The different paths the men end up taking are thought-provoking.

Anyway, I enjoyed this newest book in the series, even though it ended at a bit of a cliffhanger (just like the first book did). I have no idea when the next book in the series is going to be released (or who it is going to focus on), but I am looking forward to it. I don't often read biblical fiction, but I have found this series to be very engaging. It is awe-inspiring to imagine actually living during that historic time and I've enjoyed gaining a better understanding of what life was like then. I have especially enjoyed learning more about what life was like for women in that time and place and what it was like for gentile converts in the early Church. If you have any interest in fiction set immediately following the crucifixion of Christ, you would probably enjoy this series.

**I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher, Bethany House, through their Bethany House Book Reviewers program (for more information on my reviews, please view my disclosure policy).**

Reading Challenges: Christian Historical Fiction Challenge, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

CymLowell

Monday, April 26, 2010

Review: Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
Pages: 498
Date Published: March 2010
Publisher: Tyndale House
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book description (provided by Christian Speaker Services):
Near the turn of the twentieth century, fiery Marta Schneider is torn between her father’s declaration that she’ll never be more than a servant and her mother’s encouragement to chase her dreams. Determined to fulfill her mother’s hope, Marta leaves home for a better life. Young and alone, she earns her way with a series of housekeeping and cooking jobs that bring her ever closer to her dream of owning an inn.
Heartbreaking news from home strengthens Marta’s resolve as she moves to England and eventually to Canada. There, she meets handsome Niclas Waltert, a man just as committed as she to forging a better life in a new place. But nothing has prepared her for the sacrifices she must make for marriage and motherhood as she travels first to the Canadian wilderness and finally to the dusty Central Valley of California to raise her family.
Marta’s hope is to give her children a better life, but experience has taught her that only the strong survive. Her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, who craves her mother’s acceptance. Amid the drama of World War II, Hildie falls in love and begins a family of her own. But unexpected and tragic events force mother and daughter to face their own shortcomings and the ever-widening chasm that threatens to separate them forever.
This was my first time reading a book by Francine Rivers, and it will not be my last. Her Mother's Hope is the first book in a two-book series, and having read the first book I am waiting on pins and needles for the next book, Her Daughter's Dream. I am also quite glad that I have a few more of Ms. Rivers's books on my TBR pile already, and they will be moving up in the pile now that I know what kind of writing I can expect.

The book first focuses on Marta and follows her life from young adulthood to the adulthood of her children. Marta is a strong woman who is stubborn and determined to live her life on her own terms. She faces a lot of difficulty and heartbreak during her life, and while her struggles have made her stronger they have also shaped some of her attitudes in ways that cause different members of her family some heartache. She seems to mean well, but it isn't interpreted in the way that she means it--they don't always understand the motives behind her actions.

About a third of the way in, the book shifts focus from Marta to her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose. Marta fears Hildemara is too weak and that she must toughen up to avoid what her weak younger sister suffered in her short life. It makes life difficult for Hildemara, who is a loving and caring girl who only wants to help other people. She has a much different character than Marta, who was always more focused on being independent. Their relationships are so real and painful, just as real relationships are. Nothing is sugar-coated here, and it was so moving and wonderful to be reading about relationships that were so realistic.

The story covers a long period of time (the turn of the twentieth century through both world wars and into the 1950s), and although there were times when the story jumped through the years, it never felt jarring. The story flowed beautifully. It takes place in two continents, starting in Switzerland and moving to England, then Canada, and eventually ending up in California. The California setting really caught my interest, because it is set in the Central Valley, where I live. I don't live exactly where the book is set, but the locations are familiar and the land is largely the same. Not only does the book convey the difficulties of farming in the Central Valley during the Great Depression, it also covers the difficulties that immigrants had during wartime. Marta's husband had been German and one of their neighbors, the Musashis, were Japanese Americans, so not only did they face some grumbling for their "Hun" background, they also faced animosity when they take care of the Musashi farm until their return from internment. This was such an interesting point and place in time to have weaved into the storyline.

This book is one of my favorite reads of the year so far, and I highly recommend it. As Christian fiction, it doesn't get much better than this--it was nice to read about real characters with weaknesses who make mistakes and grow in their faith. I could really identify with these characters, who were imperfect and whose stories were uncomfortable at times, but relatable because I know I have uncomfortable areas of my past that are hard to look back at sometimes.

Her Mother's Hope ends at a bit of a cliffhanger. I didn't know it would end this way and was disappointed at first, but am really looking forward to the culmination of Marta and Hildemara's stories in Her Daughter's Dream.

The trailer for this book is fantastic--I hope you'll take a look at it:




PLEASE NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting an interview on my blog (click here to see the interview). Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services. 

Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Christian Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Awesome Author Challenge

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Interview with Francine Rivers, author of Her Mother's Hope

Please join me in welcoming renowned Christian fiction author Francine Rivers to A Few More Pages! I am quite excited to have this opportunity, so I'll just jump straight into the questions.

How did you get started as a writer?
From the time I was a child, I knew I would be a writer. Because I didn’t know what I would write, I majored in English (emphasis in literary writing) and minored in journalism (emphasis on who-what-when-where-why). My parents had always been non-fiction readers. Rick’s family loved all kinds of books – and lots of fiction. Mom Edith loaned me novels and I loved them. On a dare (from Rick) I decided to write a combination of my favorite genres and wrote a “western-gothic-romance”. Romance novels were booming in the general market, publishers were on the look-out for new writers. My first manuscript sold and was published. I was hooked! I followed with eight or nine more (of what I call my B.C. (before Christ) books). They are all now out of print, are never to be reprinted, and are not recommended.
When I turned my life over to Jesus, I couldn’t write for three years. I tried, but nothing worked. I struggled against God over that because writing was my “identity.” It took that period of suffering “writer’s block” to bring me to my senses. God was trying to open my eyes to how writing had become an idol in my life. It was the place I ran to escape, the one area of my life where I thought I was in complete control. (Hardly!) My priorities were all wrong and needed to be put right. God first, husband and children second (we had three children by then) and third-- work. I prayed God would change my heart. My love for writing and reading novels waned and my passion for reading and studying God’s Word grew.
Rick and I began hosting a home Bible study. I began working with Rick in his business. The children came along and played in the office, hiding in the shipping popcorn. Writing ceased to matter. I was in love with Jesus and my husband and children. God never stops with the transformation process. We began studying the book of Hosea, and I sensed God calling me to write again – this time a romance about Jesus’ love for each of us. Redeeming Love was the result. It is the retelling of the Hosea story, set in Gold Rush-era California. After I turned it in, I wasn’t sure whether I would write anything more. I had so many questions about what it means to be a Christian, how to live for God, different issues that still haunted me. I felt God nudging me toward using my writing as a tool to draw closer to Him. I would ask my question, create characters that would play out the different viewpoints and seek God’s perspective. I began work on A Voice in the Wind. Writing has become a way to worship the Lord through story – to show how intimately He wants to be involved in our lives.
Tell us about your current work.
I have just completed the second in a set of two books about mother-daughter relationship over four generations. This was intended to be one long novel dealing with the different ways generations have lived out their faith – but became so long it needed to be divided. Her Mother’s Hope was released on March 16, 2010. Her Daughter’s Dream will follow in September. There are numerous family and personal details woven into both books and I plan to share those things on my blog. You may find out more about my new book and more by visiting my web site at www.FrancineRivers.com.
Click here to read an excerpt from the first chapter of Her Mother's Hope.

Where do you get your ideas for your plots?
Almost every story I have written since becoming a Christian has come from a question that regards a struggle in my own faith walk. The plot centers around the different ways that question can be answered by “the world” – but the quest is to find God’s answer.
[For] Her Mother’s Hope [and] Her Daughter’s Dream: What caused the rift between my grandmother and mother? When my grandmother had a stroke, my mother raced from Oregon to the Central Valley of California to be with her. Grandma died before she arrived. My mother was heart-broken and said, “I think she willed herself to die just so we wouldn’t have to talk things out.” I have wondered since: What causes people (even Christians) to hold grudges? What might have brought resolution and restoration to these two women? Could my grandmother have loved my mother without my mother understanding it? The two books have many personal, family details woven in and I will be sharing this information in my blog.
Christian fiction continues to boom. What would you like to see happen in the field?
I want to see Christian fiction speak to the hard and real issues that tear people’s lives apart. We need writers who are willing to ask the hard questions and go through the soul-searching and agonizing to find answers – and present these stories with skill that surpasses the general market. Some of the greatest works or art and literature were rendered by Christians. I believe God is at work in these areas now. I would also love to see more Christian stories make it to the big screen and into the world of television, and to have the Christian worldview presented fairly. Much of what comes out of “Hollywood” appeals to the basest side of mankind and crushes the spirit. Right now, with war and a failing economy, people are hungry for stories that inspire them, lift them and give them hope. People need to know there are solutions and we can have peace and an abundant life -- even in the midst of trials.
Thank you so much for the interview Francine! I recently finished Her Mother's Hope (loved it!) and can hardly wait for the release of Her Daughter's Dream. My review of Her Mother's Hope will be featured here tomorrow.

Would you like to keep up with Francine Rivers's latest news? Check out her website at http://www.francinerivers.com or follow her on Facebook. You can also find her blog by clicking here.

PLEASE NOTE: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to the me as a blog tour host by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services at www.ChristianSpeakerServices.com for more information about blog tour management services.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Review: Riddle of Berlin by Cym Lowell

Riddle of Berlin by Cym Lowell
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 296
Date Published: 2008
Publisher: IUniverse
Source: I won a signed copy from the author through a giveaway at his blog. Thank you Cym!
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book description:
In Paris, a voice in the water entices John C. Jaëgerman to leap from a parapet overlooking the Seine River at Notre Dame. A disfigured body without memory is lifted from the water days later by a gypsy nurse seeking her own path. She nurses him back to health and calls him Del, my deliverer. Meanwhile, a campaign of terror engulfs the world. Thousands perish in terrorist incidents in Europe and California. As popular American Vice President Lucius Alcorn struggles to figure out who is responsible, Orange Girl at the Louvre attracts attention to the declared death of John Jaëgerman, her father, on the streets of Paris. Jaëgerman is deemed the terrorist, but is he really? Despite the government's leads, Del suspects that a shadowy arms trader has been cleverly casting responsibility on others through an Internet site, insurance money laundering, and government customers. Who is responsible? Can the terrorist be stopped?
I do not read a lot of thrillers (my husband loves them), but I do enjoy reading them from time to time. Riddle of Berlin strikes me as a very intellectual thriller--there are a lot of threads to the story and at times it gives the reader a lot to think about at once. There are a lot of questions over who is pulling the strings and what role each of the main characters is really playing. And the story takes place in some very interesting locations, all locations I've never visited so it is kind of fun to travel through the world through the book. It left me wanting to find pictures of some of the locations so I could really see it in my mind as I was reading.

There were places in this book where it got too descriptive at times, especially early on. When it got too descriptive and too detailed, it was hard to stay focused on the mystery at hand. But once I got further into the book it went a lot more smoothly. I never really clicked with Carmen, who fell in love with an unconscious man and didn't care if he had a family already or not. She wasn't necessarily a terrible person (she did, after all, risk her life to fish a total stranger out of the river and nurse him back to health), but she just seemed a bit strange to me. She didn't know anything about him and yet she followed along with him as he got involved in some very dangerous situations. Del was a big a mystery to me. I guess he just seemed remote and unknowable, but that makes sense because he didn't really know himself. But he turned out to be an interesting character, even if I wasn't won over by some of his decisions in the book.

I really liked Moriah, John Jaëgerman's daughter, who refused to accept that her father was dead and went looking for him. Her dedication to her father was admirable. I also liked the character of Vice President Alcorn. He was intelligent (a characteristic I don't typically connect with politicians LOL!) and willing to sacrifice his political career to get to the truth of what was going on. He ended up being my favorite character in the book.

Even though there were some sticking points for me, Riddle of Berlin was still an enjoyable read with interesting situations, a healthy dose of suspense, and set in fascinating locations. If you like international thrillers, I think you will enjoy this book.

This is the author's first book, and from the synopses I've read of his works in progress, I'm looking forward to reading his future works. They sound very intriguing!

Do you want to learn more about author Cym Lowell? Click here for my interview!


CymLowell


Challenges: Thriller and Suspense Reading Challenge, Twenty Ten Challenge

Friday, April 23, 2010

Interview with Cym Lowell, author of Riddle of Berlin

Today I have the privilege of interviewing Cym Lowell, author of the international thriller Riddle of Berlin.

Cym Lowell is a novelist who has lived a lifetime in the world of international finance. As a tax lawyer, Cym is intimately involved in the operations and financing of global business and uses this expertise to craft stories about endearing people caught-up in world changing events. When he is not traveling the globe on business matters, he can be found writing stories by the lake in a small east Texas town. I first got to know Cym through his blog, where he reviews thrillers and hosts a weekly link-up called Book Review Wednesday.

Please join me in welcoming Cym Lowell to A Few More Pages!

How did you get the idea for Riddle of Berlin? What was your inspiration?
My inspiration came from running the route of the male protagonist (John Jaegerman) in Paris for many years and standing on the parapet on Ile St. Louis wondering what would happen if someone tried to jump. Would someone rescue an injured jumper? If the jumper and savior (Carmen) then had a thrilling adventure of recovery and saving the world from terror, could each of them ever go home? I thought these were critical elements of life for all of us. I wanted to write a thriller with a heart. The emotional heart of this story is redemption – can each of us find redemption following tragedies in our own lives.
What was your favorite scene to write?
My favorite was when John finally awoke in Carmen’s arms when she thought he was dying and he thought he was in heaven being cared for by an angel. 
What was your hardest scene to write?
The hardest was at the end when John and Carmen had to make choices about the future when their adventure was over.
I love learning about the research process that authors undertake. What kinds of research did you have to do in preparation for writing this book?
I have travelled extensively my whole life, so the geographic locations seemed natural, requiring only to visit again. The money laundering plot of the bad guys was one I designed from my own experience as a lawyer.
Can you give us a sneak peek into what book you are working on right now?
My current manuscript is The Dust Scenario. The synopsis is as follows: The recent economic collapse of the Western world is not as vague or nebulous as most of us think. It was initiated by a Saudi Prince, who has been rewarded by various Governments for his efforts.
Now...richer than ever before... he is preparing to take the economic attack to another level with the capitalists' own money. However, there's a glitch in his plan. An American woman named Jaspar Jahns has tapes of the actual transactions in her possession. And now she's on the run in Italy.
Her husband, who was the tool of the Prince and his Wall Street firm, is gone. Her two children have been kidnapped. And the Prince is after her. But in the midst of this all... a mysterious assassin has come to her rescue. And she's found an unlikely ally in an American Indian investor. Hunted from all sides, unsure of who to trust... this trio will race and be chased around the world in an attempt to stop a madman's disastrous plans.
This manuscript is complete.
Wow! The Dust Scenario certainly keeps up with current events and sounds very exciting! Thanks so much for the interview Cym!

Here's the synopsis of Riddle of Berlin:
Riddle of Berlin is the story of John C. Jaëgerman, a man at the plateau of middle-age frustration. In Paris, a voice in the water entices his leap from a parapet overlooking the Seine River at Notre Dame. A disfigured body without memory is lifted from the water days later by a gypsy nurse (Carmen) seeking her own path. Carmen calls him Del, my deliverer.
Meanwhile, a campaign of terror engulfs the world. Thousands perish in terrorist incidents in Europe and California. Government is impotent to protect innocent citizens from brutal evisceration.
Riddle of Berlin puts the integrity of NATO on the line, led by popular American Vice President Lucius Alcorn. As Alcorn struggles to figure out who is responsible, Orange Girl at the Louvre attracts attention to the declared death of John Jaëgerman, her father, on the streets of Paris. Jaëgerman is deemed the terrorist, but is he? Despite the government's leads, Del suspects that a shadowy arms trader has been cleverly casting responsibility on others through an Internet site, insurance money laundering, and government customers. Who is responsible? Can the terrorist be stopped?
Interested yet? Cool  Click here to purchase a copy at The Book Depository.

Click here to read my review.

[[Giveaway is closed.]]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eye Candy: Mother Poems by Hope Anita Smith

I love the design of this cover--a torn paper collage of a mother and her daughter. It is simple, yet beautiful. I thought it would be a great cover to feature during National Poetry Month.

Mother Poems by Hope Anita Smith
Genre: Middle Grade Poetry
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8231-9

Book description:
A young girl thinks of her mom as a superhero, a doctor, her North Star. She feels loved in her mother’s arms and capable of conquering the world. But when her beloved role model unexpectedly dies, she cannot even cry; sadness is too overwhelming. As she struggles with grief, she must learn how to carry on while keeping the memory of her mother very much alive inside her heart. 
In moving poems, Hope Anita Smith explores a personal yet emotionally universal subject: the death of a parent. Through the eyes of a child and then a young woman, these poignant poems, together with stunning folk-art images, powerfully capture the complicated feelings of someone who shows great hope, strength, and will to overcome.
Eye Candy is a feature that was inspired by Marcia at The Printed Page and Daphne at Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff, who often post about books with eye-catching covers.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

National Poetry Month: Spotlight on Lucille Clifton




On February 13 of this year, Lucille Clifton passed away. It was on that day that I witnessed an outpouring of grief and the celebration of the life of this talented woman on, of all places, Twitter. It was there, amidst the sorrowful tweets of authors and bloggers, that I first discovered the moving work of this marvelous woman. So, when Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit announced the National Poetry Month Blog Tour, I decided to join in and spotlight Lucille Clifton.

Ms. Clifton was born in 1936 in New York and, with encouragement from her poet mother, began writing stories and poems from an early age. In 1969 Good Times, her first book of poems, was published and was named one of the best ten books of the year by the New York Times. She continued to write poetry throughout her life, serving as the Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1979-1985, was the writer in residence at Coppin State College (now Coppin State University) from 1971-1974, and later taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and St. Mary's College of Maryland. In all, she published thirteen collections of poetry. Her poems have appeared in over 100 anthologies, and she also published twenty children's books.

Here are some of the awards she won during her lifetime:
Awards or no awards, what really brings us here to this celebration of her life is the poetry that she blessed us with. One of my favorites is in the video at the top of this post, and starts with the line "won't you celebrate with me" (published in The Book of Light, 1993). I have enjoyed reading Ms. Clifton's poetry over the past couple of months, but thanks to YouTube I have enjoyed listening to her read it even more. Here are a few more videos of her at poetry readings, reading some more of her poetry--some moving and some humorous:


Lucille Clifton reading "Aunt Jemima" and "Afterblues"

Lucille Clifton: "homage to my hips"

Lucille Clifton: "i was born with twelve fingers"

Lucille Clifton: "Walnut Grove"
Earlier this month, poet Ernie Wormwood wrote about her friend Lucille for the National Poetry Month Blog Tour. Click here to learn a bit about their friendship and to read a poem Ernie read at her memorial.

Have you read any of Lucille Clifton's poetry? Which of her poems is/are your favorite(s)? For those who have loved her poetry for years, what did she mean to you?



And this is where I provide links to the sources that helped me put together this Spotlight on Lucille Clifton:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Going on Vacation!

On April 18, hubby and I will be celebrating our 12th anniversary. Since we haven't done any traveling as a couple (aka without our kids in tow) since 2005, we decided to send the kids to grandma's house and we're going on a cruise. It's a nice little short cruise--Friday through Monday.

I don't have any posts scheduled for while I'm gone, but I'll be posting again by Wednesday. I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eye Candy - Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson

There's just something about this cover that really draws me to it. I think it's the rich color in the woman's dress and hat in contrast with the black and white surroundings. I like the purple too. I first saw this book in a review at Things Mean A Lot. The cover is pretty, but the book sounds very interesting too.

Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War by Virginia Nicholson
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9780141020624
Book description:
In 1919 a generation of young women discovered that there were, quite simply, not enough men to go round, and the statistics confirmed it. After the 1921 Census, the press ran alarming stories of the 'Problem of the Surplus Women - Two Million who can never become Wives...'. This book is about those women, and about how they were forced, by a tragedy of historic proportions, to stop depending on men for their income, their identity and their future happiness.
Eye Candy is a feature that was inspired by Marcia at The Printed Page and Daphne at Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff, who often post about books with eye-catching covers.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Detectives Around the World - William Monk's Victorian England


As part of Detectives Around the World week, we've been asked to not just review a book featuring one of our favorite detectives, but to also write about the setting. I reviewed the second book in Anne Perry's William Monk series on Tuesday (A Dangerous Mourning), which is set in Victorian era London. During the 1850s, London was the largest city in the Western world, surpassing both Paris and New York. To explain the way London looked to observers of the day, I'd like to quote Geoffrey Best's Mid-Victorian Britain, 1851-1875:
The scale of London by itself could make it seem frightening to the newcomer and the unattached, but it was not size alone that drew from so many observers, British and foreign alike, one or both of two standard reactions: astonishment at the scale and starkness of the contrasts it presented, and a half-fascinated, half-terrified, loving-hating recognition that, while remorseless, it was irresistible. The contrasts presented themselves in as many forms as there were sensibilities to observe them: to the sociological moralist, London was 'at once the emporium of crime and the palladium of Christianity'; to the French or American visitor, the city where the worst poverty and the wealthiest magnificence of the world could be seen almost side by side... (pgs 25-27).
It is in this setting that the William Monk series is set, and Anne Perry really illustrates the poverty and the wealth side-by-side (along with everything in-between) and the friction that this close proximity causes in London's society, especially with regards to law enforcement.

The class system of Victorian England is one of the themes that Perry often weaves into her historical mysteries. The social hierarchy consisted basically of an upper class, which consisted of people who did not work and whose income came from inheritance and investment, a middle class of men who performed clean work and earned over 150 pounds per year, and a working class that performed manual labor for daily or weekly wages (1). Where does William Monk fit in to this hierarchy? Monk is an inspector for London's "new" Metropolitan Police Force (established in 1829). An inspector was a higher position than a constable or sergeant, who made about 3 shillings per day. Inspectors in the new Metropolitan Police force made about 100 pounds per year (2). So, Monk doesn't quite make it into the middle class--he would be considered a member of the skilled working class.

To most upper class Londoners, Monk's position in the police force basically puts him on the same level as servants and laborers. He rankles at his social position. When he is on investigations in which he must interact with the upper class, he feels slighted when expected to use the servants' entrance. He dresses expensively, which he observes makes people give him a second thought as to whether he is a gentleman or not. But he does not live extravagantly. He does not own his home, and he has no servants.

It is also interesting to look at the way that the members of the upper class respond to Monk. They generally have a distasteful opinion of the police--probably based on their distasteful opinion of the lower classes and the fact that the more numerous constables (aka "Peelers") were paid less than railway workmen and many tradesmen (3). In the two books I have read in the series so far, the upper class patriarchs who are involved in the investigations order Monk around and expect him to follow their directions. They generally believe they know better than Monk and the Metropolitan Police, and that his lines of questioning are inconsequential. It is quite a different attitude toward police than I am used to in this day and age, where inspectors and detectives are considered to be skilled and highly trained to do their jobs. I cannot imagine rebuking an inspector's line of questioning in the superior and smug ways that the upper class gentlemen in this series do.

Another interesting point of view on this comes through Monk's supervisor, Superintendent Runcorn. Superintendents made about double what Inspectors made per year (placing them in the lower-middle class). Runcorn tends to be much more worried about insulting the aristocracy and pressures Monk to arrest lower-class suspects and bother the upper class as little as possible in investigations. In fact, when the investigation in A Dangerous Mourning takes too long to arrest the murderer of an upper-class woman, people in high places contact Runcorn and demand to know why no one has been arrested yet. Even though Monk was not positive of the suspect's guilt, he is ordered to arrest him because the evidence is good enough for Runcorn (and will appease the press and the politicians who are breathing down Runcorn's neck).

William Monk's Victorian England is a fascinating setting, and the class conflicts that Perry has managed to weave into her storylines are rather interesting and unlike anything I have personally experienced in my modern world. She definitely provides a provocative look at Victorian England and its class system. In researching this topic for DATW, I am impressed by her ability to so skillfully depict the class tensions that must have existed in Victorian London.

**Want to learn more about Victorian Britain? I found a great bibliography of books on Victorian England (compiled by Alan Heesom, Senior Lecturer in History at University of Durham), which includes the book that I found most useful for this post, Mid-Victorian Britain, 1851-75 by Geoffrey Best. The books listed don't seem to be traditional textbooks persay, but more like scholarly histories written by professional historians. Good stuff.

Footnotes:
(1) Christine Roth, "Victorian England: An Introduction," University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. http://www.english.uwosh.edu/roth/VictorianEngland.htm
(2) "Metropolitan Police 175 Years Ago," Metropolitan Police http://www.met.police.uk/history/175yearsago.htm
(3) Geoffrey Best, Mid-Victorian Britain, 1851-75 (London: Fontana Press, 1987): 115-117.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wish List Wednesday - 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

It's been a few weeks since I put up a trailer, but I came across this one recently and it creeped me out and made me really want to read the book at the same time. So, something new for Wish List Wednesday this week:



31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan
Book description:
Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell?
Though there are no witnesses and no clues, fingers point to Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed Burdell’s house and his servants. Rumored to be a black-hearted gold digger with designs on the doctor’s name and fortune, Emma is immediately put under house arrest during a murder investigation. A swift conviction is sure to catapult flamboyant district attorney Abraham Oakey Hall into the mayor’s seat. But one formidable obstacle stands in his way: the defense attorney Henry Clinton. Committed to justice and the law, Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows.
Set in 1857 New York, this gripping mystery is also a richly detailed excavation of a lost age. Horan vividly re-creates a tumultuous era characterized by a sensationalist press, aggressive new wealth, a booming real-estate market, corruption, racial conflict, economic inequality between men and women, and the erosion of the old codes of behavior. A tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics, this spellbinding narrative transports readers to a time that eerily echoes our own.
  To find out what other bookworms are wishing for this Wednesday, visit Wishful Wednesday, hosted by The Bluestocking Guide.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review: A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry

A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry (William Monk series, book 2)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 344
Date Published: 1991
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Source: Purchased from local thrift store.
Rating: 4.5 of 5

Publisher's Book Description:
No breath of scandal has ever touched the aristocratic Moidore family--until Sir Basil's beautiful widowed daughter is stabbed to death in her own bed, a shocking, incomprehensible tragedy.
Inspector William Monk is ordered to investigate in a manner that will give the least possible pain to the influential family. But Monk, brilliant and ambitious, is handicapped by lingering traces of amnesia and by the craven ineptitude of his supervisor, who would like nothing better than to see Monk fail. With the intelligent help of nurse Hester Latterly, a progressive young woman who served with Florence Nightingale in the Crimea, Monk gropes warily through the silence and shadows that obscure the case, knowing that with each step he comes closer to the appalling truth....
William Monk is an inspector for London's new Metropolitan Police Force, and by all accounts he is good at what he does, if a bit abrasive. But he has to rely largely on what he ascertains from others about himself because he has a severe case of amnesia, caused by a carriage accident in book 1 of this series (which I read and reviewed in November). In this installment, Monk is assigned the duty of finding out who murdered Ms. Octavia Haslett. He not only has to find and interpret the evidence, he also has to navigate and work within the rigid class system that existed in Victorian England in the mid-1800s. What he finds brings him once again into contention with Runcorn, his supervisor, who would like nothing more than to have a reason to toss Monk out of the force for good.

I really enjoyed this book. Monk was much less angst-ridden in this book, and did a lot less second-guessing and introspection than in the first book of the series. I also really enjoyed the part that Hester Latterly, former war nurse, played in the investigation. Her experiences provided significant insight that helped solve the mystery of what happened the night Ms. Haslett died. Monk was a bit less rude to her this time as well, and they seemed to have a better understanding and rapport with each other. They worked together quite splendidly on the case. I am definitely looking forward to reading what happens to these two characters in the next book, Defend and Betray.

So I enjoyed the characters in the book, but I also thought the mystery was absolutely riveting. I was kept guessing right up until the truth was revealed, and was dumbfounded by the revelation. When I closed the book I was surprised by the way the mystery had pulled me along, kept me guessing, and blew me away without seeming unrealistic or clichéd. And I was angered and shocked by the way Percival, the footman, was treated as a suspect. Everyone assumed one of the servants had to have perpetrated the crime (to think a member of the family did it would be scandalous), and it seemed like everyone (except Monk) wanted to get it over with and charge him with the crime. I definitely recommend A Dangerous Mourning, but if you want to have a good grasp of the characters' histories I would also recommend reading the first book in the series (The Face of a Stranger). It isn't absolutely necessary, but I think it helps to explain Hester and Monk's back stories more completely, which are both quite interesting.

This post is part of the Detectives Around the World event, hosted by Jen at Jen's Book Thoughts.

In conjunction with this event, I wrote up a post on William Monk's Victorian England, with special attention paid to the class system of the times. Monk chafes a lot at the class system, as his occupation is considered socially inferior to the aristocracy he must interact with in his investigations. So click here if you're interested in learning more about William Monk's England!
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge, Typically British Reading Challenge, Twenty Ten Challenge (TBR)


CymLowell

Monday, April 12, 2010

National Poetry Month - One of my favorite poems

I mentioned at the beginning of the month that I would celebrate National Poetry Month by posting a few of my favorite poems. Today's poem is one that I read in an Introduction to Literature course in my freshman year of college. It is a poem that affected me enough that I still remember the feeling I got from reading it for the first time 13 years ago.

OZYMANDIAS

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

--Percy Bysshe Shelley (1818)

This is probably a poem that many people have read before, since Wikipedia says that it "is frequently anthologized and is probably Shelley's most famous short poem". True, in my case--it was in our literature textbook. Anyway, it makes me think of the futility of trying to make a name for ourselves so we'll be remembered after we're gone, while at the same time it almost speaks to the lasting power of art (the sculpture is a wreck, but yet it still remains when everything else is long gone).* I like it. When I think of poetry, this is one of the first poems that comes to mind.

*Please don't be too hard on my amateur analysis. It has been years since I seriously read and analyzed poetry. This analysis is based almost purely on my own feelings about the work, not on any sort of expertise or analytical ability.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

24 Hour Read-a-thon Wrap-up Post


The Read-a-Thon is over, and now I have several new reviews to write! I started out yesterday morning not knowing I was going to do the read-a-thon. Hubby would have been grouchy with me (he doesn't understand my reading hobby), so since he wasn't scheduled to work I didn't sign up. But then he had to go in on Saturday morning, so I made the decision to give it a shot, even though I was starting late and knowing I'd have all kinds of distractions from my 3-year-old and almost 5-year-old.

I was right about the distractions. First I had some work I had to finish before I could dive in (had a few things to finish grading for the weekend) and then I of course had to stop and get the kids snacks, meals, and take some breaks to read with them and spend time with them. I always had an ear open to what they were doing when I did get a few pages in. I barely got any reading done in the morning, but during the afternoon while they were taking a nap I got a couple of good hours of reading in. Most of my reading was done while they were sleeping, though I did count any reading done with them (my kids love to read and be read to). I obviously didn't stay up for the entire 24 hours, but I did stay up until midnight here (Pacific time) reading.

End of Event Meme Questions:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? None of them felt "daunting" since I was doing this in a pretty relaxed manner. I guess the hardest hour was the first couple of hours because I had so many other things going on and wasn't able to get any reading done until about Hour 6.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Not really--I have no problems reading for long stretches of time and didn't lose interest in any of the books I picked up. I also had a lot of interruptions, though, which helped keep me from getting too bored with a book.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Cheerleaders should bring cookies. LOL! Anyway, I would have loved to have had more visitors to my blog during the readathon, but I signed up last-minute so it's OK.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I loved being able to chat with other readathon-ers on Twitter.

5. How many books did you read? 6

6. What were the names of the books you read?
  • Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
  • The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz
  • Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too 
  • Apples and Oranges by Sara Pinto
  • Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
7. Which book did you enjoy most? Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

8. Which did you enjoy least? The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton. It is poetry, and I had a hard time with it because as poetry it is broken up into small bits. I had an easier time sticking with a narrative story, even when it was really long (Her Mother's Hope is 500 pages long).

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? I wasn't a cheerleader, but I plan to volunteer to cheer next time.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I would love to be able to participate again, it just depends on my schedule and what I can work out with the hubby. I think I would volunteer to do a few hours of cheering along with reading.

Just a couple of more stats:

Number of pages read: 435
Total hours spent reading (not counting interruptions): 8

It's National Library Week!

National Library Week is an annual celebration that highlights the value of all types libraries and librarians. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April.

Even though I don't visit the library as much as I used to, it is always a place where I both feel at home and feel like I'm stepping into a vast and fabulous world full of promise and possibility. So, I'm hoping to visit my library at least once this week, check out a book (ha! probably more than one), and thank the librarians for being there, because I know how much their hours have been cut (at our county libraries, anyway)

Anyway, the American Library Association has events planned all week:

So, yay! It's National Library Week! What are you planning to do to celebrate?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Last Read-a-Thon update for the night...

I'm not quitting for the night, but I'm going to go read in bed until I can't read anymore. So this will be my last update for the night. It's been a fun experience! I got a lot of reading done this afternoon and this evening.

Currently reading: Riddle of Berlin by Cym Lowell
Pages read since last update: 65
Books finished since last update: The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton
What's up next: I'll do my best, but I'm pretty sure I won't finish Riddle of Berlin tonight, so sleep is up next!
Total time spent reading: 7 hours

I'll post a Read-a-Thon wrapup tomorrow with a grand total rundown of hours read, number of pages, books completed, etc. Thanks everyone who stopped by my blog today to cheer me on! Great job everyone who participated! I'm impressed by those who are reading for the whole 24 hours!

Read-a-Thon Hour 17 Update & Indie Bookstore Mini Challenge

Kiki's Bookcation Indie Bookstore Mini-Challenge

Russo's Books in Bakersfield, California, is fantastic. I love that they are so supportive of local authors and that they host so many fun activities and events. I enjoy going in to look around any time we are on that side of town--which is usually in conjunction with going out to the movies. Hubby isn't a big fan of going into the bookstore, but he humors me. :-)

Currently reading: The Book of Light by Lucille Clifton
Pages read since last update: 50
Books finished since last update: Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
What's up next: not sure yet
Total time spent reading: 5
Read-a-thon participants visited:

Read-a-Thon Update, Hour 15

I had to take a couple of hours off of the computer & book to feed the kids, get them ready for bed, read to them, and tuck them in. Hopefully they'll be asleep soon so I can get some more reading done. I am still reading the same book I started with, but I'm enjoying it. I just haven't had a lot of uninterrupted reading time today.

Star Shadow's Romancing Your Friendship Mini-Challenge...
The first series that came to mind for this challenge (pick a couple that starts out friends and falls in love) is Harry Potter. And the first couple that came to mind from that series is Hermione and Ron. Their relationship is hurtful and difficult in the beginning, but eventually I think well worth it.

Currently reading: Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
Pages read since last update: 106 (all from kids' books--decided to count the bedtime stories since they're technically reading)
Books finished: Apples and Oranges by Sara Pinto, Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson, Walt Disney's Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too, A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz
What's up next: not sure yet
Total time spent reading: 4
Read-a-thon participants visited:

Read-a-Thon Mid-Event Survey

I can't believe we're halfway through already! Time for the mid-event survey meme!

1. What are you reading right now? I'm still reading Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers. Loving it! But it's almost 600 pages, so that's why I'm still on it.
2. How many books have you read so far? I've been on the same book all day. I'm taking care of 2 kids at the same time while I'm trying to read so I have to take lots of breaks for snacktime, making meals, etc.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I'm looking forward to finishing Her Mother's Hope and then working on Lucille Clifton's poetry in The Book of Light.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? Ha. I didn't free up my whole day. I'm just trying to fit in as much reading as I can while still performing my motherly duties.
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? All kinds. But I expected those interruptions so it's no big deal. I'm trying to participate in a casual way--not trying to pressure myself.
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? How hard it is to tear myself away from visiting all of the other participants' blogs.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Not really. This is my first time and it's going pretty well.
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I'd probably see if I could get my kids to stay over at grandma's house for the day. LOL
9. Are you getting tired yet? A little bit sleepy, but it's early here still (West coast).
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Ha, no. I'm not a super active participant because of my kids, but I'm having fun, trying to keep from feeling too pressured. Just want to enjoy my books and the community. :)

Quick update on my numbers:
Pages read since last update: 110
Books finished: none yet
Total time spent reading: 3.5 hours

24 Hour Read-a-Thon Hour 11 Update


So, I just got done putting the kids down for a nap after feeding them lunch. Got a few more pages read, but it is still slow going. I also spent a bunch of time visiting some participants and leaving some comments. Wanted to cheer people on a bit. :)

Currently reading: Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
Pages read since last update: 30
Books finished: none yet
What's up next: not sure yet
Total time spent reading: 1.5 hours
Food eaten while trying to read: Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies, Cheese Munchies, Grilled ham and cheese sandwich, Diet Pepsi, Banana, milk
Breaks taken: Lunchtime, walked to the mailbox and back, read to the kids and put them down for nap.
Mini-Challenges completed: Reading is Fundamental, Where in the World Have You Read Today?
Read-a-thon participants visited:

Reading is Fundamental!

 This is my 3-year-old daughter, "reading" a Little Golden Book called A Blessing From Above. She loves books, even though she doesn't know how to read yet. She also loves being read to. :-) I read to both of my kids every day before naptime and before bedtime. I let them pick which books they want me to read. Today before naptime we read several books that we checked out from the library this week. They were so thrilled about the library! I hope my kids become avid readers as they grow older. 

Need some tips and activity ideas to help motivate your kids to read? Check out Reading is Fundamental!

Read-a-Thon Update - Hour 8

I started late and had some work to finish up before really digging in to read, so I haven't gotten a whole lot of reading done yet.

Currently reading: Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers
Pages read so far: 50
Books finished: none yet
What's up next: not sure yet
Total time spent reading: about an hour so far.
Mini-Challenges completed: Hour 3 Challenge, Hour 4 Challenge
Read-a-thon participants visited:
Getting hungry, so am going to take a break for lunch.

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