Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Words Reading Challenge




This challenge was referred to me and looks king of interesting.
Winter Words Reading Challenge

How many books do you want to read this Winter? It's time to start planning.
December 21 is the first day of Winter, and March 19 is the last day of the season...and this is the duration time of the reading challenge I'm hosting.

Here's how this challenge works:
Select your number of books you want to read below, and choose one of the corresponding words (I have set the minimum amount of books at 3).
3. ice, ski
4. snow, sled
5. frost, slick
6. winter, icicle, flurry
7. mittens, snowman
8. slippery, ice skate
9. snowflake

The word you pick above is an acronym & the books that you read during this challenge will have to coordinate with the letters in the acronym.
You can use either of the following ways to select your books:
(1) A word in the title of your books must start with a letter from your chosen word.
or... (2) The author's first or last name has to begin with 1 of the letters in your acronym.

Try to find a fitting book for every letter in your acronym. For example, if you want to read 3 books & pick the word ICE, this could be your book list:

I ::: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - by Laura Numeroff
C ::: The Secret of the Old Clock - by Carolyn Keene
E ::: Eight Cousins - by Louisa May Alcott

{The above are just sample titles, but it should give you an idea of what to do. Remember, you can choose ANY books you want. Maybe it's already one that you had on your reading-soon list, and fits in with this challenge. It's your decision of what you what to read!}

If this sounds like a fun challenge, and you'd like to take part, here's what you need to do in order to be ready.
Using a word from above, get your book list together... scan your bookshelves for matching letters! Feel free to post your book list on your blog (make sure to tell us what your acronym choice is). I will be opening a Mr. Linky for all the participants to sign up on. Meet me back here, anytime after Monday, December 21. More fine details & the sign-up linky will be up at that time. You'll be able to sign your name & link back to your blog.

*~* EDIT *~*
The sign-up linky has now been posted! Click here to go to that page.

This reading challenge begins on the first day of Winter, the 21st of December, and runs to the last day of Winter, March 19, 2010.
If you're busy right now (with Christmas & New Year's festivities upon us) then don't worry, you can join at any time, in January or later on.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: Hearts of Courage





Product Description (Amazon.com):
No greater saga of the Northland was ever recounted than the experiences of the survivors of the Gillam plane crash. The Alaska Fishing News, Ketchikan, Alaska, February 8, 1943 In Hearts of Courage John Tippets has done a wonderful job giving voice to his father in telling his story. Arnold Griese, author of Bush Pilot: Early Alaska Aviator Harold Gillam, Sr., Lucky or Legend? John's thorough research and attention to detail transports us back in time to become part of these miraculous events in the lives of Joseph and Alta Tippets. Jeffrey Johns, Curator, American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum None can match the Gillam crash survivors for sheer heroism in the face of impossible odds. Their courage was inspiring! Ric Gillespie, Executive Director, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR)


Review:
Hearts of Courage is the story of the Gillam airplane crash in Alaska that happened in 1943. The airplane crashed in the middle of the snowy Alaskan mountains. The details of the hardship and hunger the passengers had to go through and their will to survive are absolutely inspiring. Six of the passengers on the plane survived this horrible ordeal.


I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventures in the wilderness. This is an easy read that is very touching and well written.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guest Blog: Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein: The Truth: I'm a Girl, I'm Smart and I Know Everything



Synopsis
THE TRUTH, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) is a delightful, humorous secret diary, written by a girl who is 10-11 years of age. She is wise and yet so innocent. She makes us laugh and cry and know that we are secretly heroines. This easy read for girls, (the mother’s edition has a different introduction, different questions at the end, and some pages that are slightly more sophisticated) has within it a psychological message for girls, that they can and must hold on to the best of themselves as they grow up. Girls love the book and so do their mothers. Girls recognize themselves and finally feel totally understood while their moms remember themselves, feel closer to their daughters and everyone has lots to talk about.

Excerpt


Dear Diary, date: September 20

I am in love. I thought I would fall in love when I was much older, maybe 15 or 16. Not today.

I was sitting in class, reading a social studies chapter, trying to answer an awful question at the end of the chapter, “Which state has the most coal mines,” when the door opened and a new kid walked in.

There he was! I knew as soon as I saw him. He was wearing a cute plaid shirt and he had brown hair and brown eyes. I could imagine kissing his lips.

My heart felt like it turned over in my body. My pulse started to race. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt excited, like I suddenly had a big secret. “Our eyes locked.” I read that in a book that my mom had by her bed. It was true. When I looked into his brown eyes, I felt we had known each other forever. Looking at him made me feel all fluttery inside.

I wanted him to sit near me so badly I could have died. But he sat in the row in front of me, a little to the right. Not too bad. Now I can look at him all day. My best friend, Angela, sits beside him, to his right. I hope she doesn’t fall in love with him too. He’s mine! His name is Paul.





Why I wrote The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything)

I believe that my introduction to this book, which is designed to be read by the girl reading the book and her mom or grandma, or teacher, or guidance counselor, explains why I wrote the book best. Here is what I say:

"When I was ten, and eleven, I knew so many things. I knew a lot of important stuff that my parents and other grown-ups had forgotten. I promised myself that I would find a way to hold on to my knowledge.

Then I grew up and became a teacher and a psychologist. I got married and had children. At work, as a psychologist, I listen to a lot of people’s problems, children and grown-ups. I always try to help them. One of the things I do is to point out to them what is right with them, rather than what is wrong. Another thing I do is to teach them how to have more fun. I also help them to remember their own wisdom and the truths that they already know in their hearts.

One day I decided to find a way to combine what I already knew as a girl with the knowledge I have as a psychologist. I had to find a fun way to do this that would really help girls and mothers recognize that what we know growing up is just as important as what we learn later.

One day, the ‘girl’ just appeared. She knew what to say and how to say it. She did a much better job of sharing THE TRUTH than I ever could have imagined. So I just let her go for it.

Here is her account of THE TRUTH. I hope you enjoy it. Remember your promises to yourself when you grow up and don't forget to listen to your kids someday.

I better get out of the way and let the girl begin……"

I would just add, that since the book has been published, most girls relate to THE TRUTH at a deep level of connection. Most have had a crush, or a problem in school, or been afraid of moving to a new town, or upset if parents did not get along. However, some kids have a whole other 'TRUTH' that is uniquely theirs. And that is great. Even those few kids that don't relate to the girl at all, if they take from the book to be true to themselves, and have the courage to grow up strong and resourceful, then my mission as a women and a psychologist has been successful!


Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein is the originator of The Enchanted Self(R). She has been a positive psychologist in private practice and licensed in the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts since 1981. She is currently in private practice in Long Branch, New Jersey with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein.

She is the author of The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy, Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU! and There Comes A Time In Every Woman's Life for DELIGHT.

Her newest book, The Truth, I'm Ten, I'm Smart and I Know Everything! is another first in positive psychology. Written by a ten year old girl as a diary, Dr. Barbara has been able to imbed lots of positive truths that we all need to remember and live by, regardless of our age.

The girl's edition, titled: The Truth, (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything) debuted February 2008 in bookstores nationwide. You can get your copy now at www.enchantedself.com.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: The Light, The Dark & Ember Between




Title: The Light, The Dark & Ember Between
Author: J.W. Nicklaus
Genre: Short Stories
Publisher: Bedside Books
Pages: 181 pages



About the Book

A collection of short stories, each a splinter’s reflection of the human condition, firmly centered upon our oft tenuous, sometimes tensile bond with Hope, and careening flirtation with Love.

Fifteen stories: From the wispy fog of a love lost at sea, to an orphaned child who delivers a present of her own during a war-torn Christmas. These stories are gentle reminders to each of us of what it is to be human, and certainly of our affinity for the slightest glint of Hope.

Excerpt
From One Washington Diner:The interior lights punched holes in the dead of night, and in the stillness I could hear the buzz of glowing neon from the sign above. I’d hoped there would be the slim chance of some distraction from the empty, laughing darkness that taunted me. Pinching the bridge of my nose between thumb and forefinger, I shuffled through the front door, greeted by the hostess/cashier/night manager, who apparently was thriving on the not-so-delicate thrush of caffeine. Her uniform bore the hallmarks of traditional diner-dom: bobby sox, her skirt hemline right around knee level, and wide, flat lapels on her blouse. She looked me over for all of two seconds before making
her vocal appraisal.

“Let me guess…can’t sleep?” Her voice was disarming, welcoming, like a puppy that jumps in your lap. Managing a frustrated grin I hoarsely replied, “That obvious?”

“Your eyes, your body language—yeah.” I should have had some snappy retort, but my mental haze precluded any such response and subsequently I let slip my small window of opportunity for any suitable comeback.
Instead, I yawned.

“Jeez, my only customer and I’m already boring you,” she blurted out. I thought she smirked, but couldn’t be certain in my unwillingly wakeful state. I glanced around the empty dining room and motioned from left to right. “Looks like you’re swamped. Should I come back later?”

Soft brown curls played upon her left shoulder as she turned her head slightly. “Early a.m. sarcasm—I like it. Sit wherever you like, I’m good at finding people in a crowd.” Even in my sleepless haze, I had to admit she was delightful.

“If you don’t mind, I’ll sit at the counter,” I croaked. “I’ll try not to be a bother.” Her hair gently fluttered as she shook her head. “Works for me. Cop a squat and I’ll be right with ya’.”

My mind was made up—she was indeed delightful, in a common denominator kind of way. Having never exceeded the mathematical scope of algebra during my academic career that suited me just fine.

Review:
The Light, The Dark and Ember Between is a collection of short stories.
Each story in The Light, The Dark, and Ember Between is set up quickly, so that the characters develop to make the stories pop.

J.W. Nicklaus is a wonderful colorful writer – the words make for beautiful musical stories. The stories are funny, serious and some are supernatural (didn’t like this one as well).

I liked most of the stories and will definitely pass this book on to my reading group. These are stories that that can be reread over and over, because the message that is hidden in each one is a gem. I do hope that there are more stories to come from this author.

Review: A Blue And Gray Christmas



Title: A Blue and Gray Christmas
Author: Joan Medlicott


Rating: 4/5
No. of Pages: 336
Published: November 10, 2009


From the inside flap:
In this stunning holiday story, a cache of Civil War-era letters and diaries sweeps the ladies of Covington up into a dramatic and heartwarming historical saga that inspires them to plan an unforgettable Christmas for two families forever changed by war.

When a rusty old tin box is unearthed at the Covington Homestead, longtime housemates Grace, Amelia, and Hannah discover that it contains letters and diaries written by two Civil War soldiers, one Union and one Confederate.

The friends are captivated by the drama revealed. The soldiers were found dying on a nearby battlefi eld by an old woman. She nursed them back to health, hiding them from bounty hunters seeking deserters. At the end of the war the men chose to stay in Covington, caring for their rescuer as she grew frail. But while their lives were rich, they still felt homesick and guilty for never contacting the families they'd left behind.

Christmas is coming, and the letters inspire Amelia with a generous impulse. What if she and her friends were to find the two soldiers' descendants and invite them to Covington to meet? What better holiday gift could there be than the truth about these two heroic men and their dramatic shared fate? With little time left, the ladies spring into action to track down the men's families in Connecticut and the Carolinas, and to make preparations in Covington for their most memorable, most historic Christmas yet.

Mine:
A Blue and Gray Christmas by Joan Medlicott is part of the Covington Series and was the first one I read, I would have to say that it would be well worth it to read more of the series. The characters of Amelia, Grace and Hannah wonderful and developed. A box of letters from the civil war was found on the property, the women read the letters and are touched by the letters.

The authors of the letters are one soldier from the south and one from the north. The two were both injured and were helped by Miss Ella Mae who brought them up as her own. The “Girls” decide it would be a great gift to find the family of the soldiers and invite them for a wonderful Christmas celebration.

This is a delightful tale for Christmas as the geneorsity of spirit is shared by all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winter Reading Challenge 2010





December 1, 2009 - February 28, 2010


The Royal Reviews is hosting the Winter Reading Challenge 2010. They write:

This Challenge is the brain child of Diane from The Book Resort (aka The Moody Countess). Even though it's not Winter here in Australia at the moment, in fact we are sweltering in very high temperatures usually only seen in the height of Summer, it's nice to think 'cold' to help keep us cool.
To complete the challenge, readers must read six books which meet specific criteria as follows:

Read a book not set in the USA or England.

Read a book with “Ice”, "Frost", "Chill", "Cold" "Winter" in the title.

For Valentine's Day, choose an author whose first or last name begins with “L”.

Choose a book that is not part of a series.

Read a book written in the first-person point-of-view.

Read a book with “Mr”, “Mrs”, “Miss” or “Ms” in the title.

Challenge Guidelines:

Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section on the post about the challenge.
You must read all six books to complete the challenge.
Any book format counts.
You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
Want to join? Visit the post about the challenge.

Romance Challenge 2010




January 1 - December 31, 2010


The Royal Reviews is hosting the Royals Romance Challenge for 2010. They write:
This is the second year we have run the Romance Reading Challenge.


Although this year it will be a little different with more options for those die hard lovers of Romance novels. This challenge includes all sub genres of Romance i.e. paranormal, young adult, historical etc. So this should give you plenty of options.


Challenge Guidelines:
Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section on the post about the challenge.

Any book format counts.

You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.


There are four levels of participation:
Curious – Read 3 Romance Fiction novels.
Fascinated – Read 6 Romance Fiction novels.
Addicted – Read 12 Romance Fiction novels.
Obsessed – Read 20 Romance Fiction novels.


Want to join? Visit the post about the challenge.

Finish That Series Challenge 2010




January 1 - December 31, 2010


The Royal Reviews is hosting the Finish That Series Challenge in 2010.


They write:
This is an opportunity for you to finish all of those series that have been sitting on your book shelf looking at you. I don't know about you but I have quite a few. With this challenge you count series completed, not books read. I have a series with 20 books in it, although I'm not sure I'll include this one, it doesn't matter how many books are in the series or if you've read most of them and only have one or two left to read. The object of this challenge is to finish the series.
Challenge Guidelines:
Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section on the post about the challenge.
Any genre counts.
You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.
There are four levels of participation:
Curious – Finish 2 series.
Fascinated – Finish 3 series.
Addicted – Finish 5 series.
Obsessed – Finish 10 series.
Interested? Visit the post about the challenge to learn more and sign up.
**NOTE: there is a similar challenge being offered at Secret Dreamworld of a Bookaholic here.

2nd Challenge 2010




This challenges was previously hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. When J. Kaye kindly offered to let Royal Reviews take over running this host we were very excited.


The great thing about this challenge is that it's not just for your second in a series books, but the second time you've read an author as well. This encourages you to give authors another try if you haven't liked the book you've read or simply another excuse to read a book by an author you loved.


Challenge Guidelines:

1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.--Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:

-- Curious – Read 3 novels that are 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

-- Fascinated – Read 6 that are 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

-- Addicted – Read 12 novels that are 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

-- Obsessed – Read 20 novels 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

3. Any genre counts.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

6. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to the post about the 2nd Reading Challenge. Include the URL so that other participants can find join in and read your reviews and post.

1st In A Series 2010






This challenges was previously hosted by J. Kaye's Book Blog. When J. Kaye kindly offered to let Royal Reviews take over running this host we jumped at the chance.

As so many of us love reading our series this one gives you the chance to include them in your challenges. As with all our other challenges there are various levels from the Curious to the Obsessed. If you start out at the Curious level and find yourself on the Addicted level then just change you post accordingly.


Challenge Guidelines:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
--Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

2. There are four levels:

-- Curious– Read 3 novels that are first in a series.

-- Fascinated – Read 6 novels that are first in a series.

-- Addicted – Read 12 novels that are first in a series.

-- Obsessed – Read 20 novels that are first in a series.

3. Any genre counts.

4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

6. When you sign up under Mr. Linky, put the direct link to the post about the 1st in a Series Challenge. Include the URL so that other participants can find join in and read your reviews and post.

Audiobook Challenge 2010






January 1 - December 31, 2010


The Royal Reviews is hosting The Audio Book Challenge in 2010. They write:

With most of us having IPods or MP3 players these days listening to audio books has become an easy activity. Personally doing housework, driving the kids to school or sitting waiting for soccer training to finish has never been more enjoyable.
Challenge Guidelines:

Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate. Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section on the post about the challenge.

Audio books only.

You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.
There are four levels of participation:

Curious – Listen to 3 Audio Books.
Fascinated – Listen to 6 Audio Books.
Addicted – Listen to 12 Audio Books.
Obsessed – Listen to 20 Audio Books.

Want to join? Visit the post about the challenge.

Romance Reading Challenge 2010





January 1 - December 31, 2010



Naida of The Bookworm is hosting the Romance Reading Challenge again in 2010. Here's what she says:



I'm happy to say that my Romance Reading Challenge is going into it's third year! Wow! Thank you all who have joined and read and posted thier reviews. That's amazing to me, that I started a challenge and other bloggers joined up and participated, it's really great. I hope you will sign up again this year. So, without further ado, here's the rules:


1. "Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.


2. Choose at least 5 novels to read. You can change your choices at any time. Crossovers between other challenges are fine.

3. Read them at your own pace in 2010 then post the link to your review(s).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge 2010




January 1 - December 31, 2010



Yvonne and Book Dragon are hosting the Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge again in 2010.



Here's what they say:



Rules:

All of the books must be from the Harlequin family of imprints

Read one book for each requirement


Requirements:

1) Read 1 book with a weather condition in the title (i.e. storm, rain, snow)

2) Read 1 book with a person's name in the title (i.e. Mary, John)

3) Read 1 book with a title in the title (i.e. King, Prince, Princess, Sheik)

4) Read 1 book with a color in the title (i.e. red, blue, white)

5) Read 1 book by an author whose last name begins with the letter "R"

6) Read 1 book with an element in the title (earth, wind, fire, air, spirit)

Other information:
1) Please join the challenge by commenting with a link to your post (I'll start a participant blog roll)

2) A list is not necessary and may be changed at any time

3) Books can be in any format - paper, audio, ebook

4) Books may be used for other challenges

5) Go to eHarlequin for book information, anything you can purchase there counts for the challenge.

To Join, go to Harlequin/Silhouette Romance Reading Challenge

YA Through the Decades 2010





January 1 - December 31, 2010


Whitney of Youth Services Corner is hosting the YA through the Decades Challenge.
Here's what she says:


I only started reading YA literature a few years ago and tend to read current books. With the recent release of the Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick, which looks back at teen lit from decades past, I’ve been itching to read some older YA books. So, why not start a reading challenge?


There’s some debate about when YA lit first started. In Michael Cart’s “Naming Names” column from March 15, 2009’s Booklist, he lists The Outsiders (1967), Catcher in the Rye (1951), Seventeenth Summer (1942), Sue Barton Student Nurse (1936) and even Little Women (1868) as contenders for the first book for teen readers. For the purposes of this challenge, though, I’m defining early YA pretty broadly, in that the book should feature a teen point of view and be accessible to young people, even if it wasn’t published for teens.


Rules:
1. Books should be considered YA or, for older books, should feature a teenaged main character or point of view. Let’s say from roughly ages 12-18.
2. Read at least one book from each decade: 1930s or earlier; 1940s; 1950s; 1960s; 1970s; 1980s; 1990s; 2000s. Re-reads are fine. Check the main challenge page for book ideas for each time period.
3. Sign up either by commenting or signing the Linky at the bottom of the page. You can use the graphic on your blog to promote the challenge if you wish. You can start this challenge at any time during the year.


Optional
Post your reading list on your blog!To join, go to YA through the Decades Challenge

Friday, December 11, 2009

2009 Virtual Advent Tour Day 11




I've had fun reading others articles and have had to look back on my own family traditons.

It's been great have nephews (8 & 7) now to rekindle the Christmas traditions.

We have gone to a different Christmas display each year for 2 years and then find a new one to go to. We first went to Christmas in the Park in downtown San Jose - where different organizations decorate trees and then there are decorations that are put up. The decorations have been around for years and and are wonderful to watch, since they are move and the kids would watch facinated.

Next we've gone to the Fantasy of Lights that takes place at Vasona Park in Los Gatos. This is great since you can do this in any weather, since you drive through the park and the lights in your car. The entire park is decorated with lights and lighted arbors that you drive under. The greatest lights are of the dinosaurs.

This year we will be going to Gilroy Gardens to there decorated gardens. Going next weekend since its suppose to be pouring down this weekend.

I've also gotten an ornament every year for each one of them that might be their favorite animal (penguins) or characters (Lightning McQueen). They each get a different snow globe each year.

Most of our traditions now are about the kids.