Archives for July 2015

Book Club Recap: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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I love my neighborhood book club. We have a great time catching up, discussing the books, and just laughing and relaxing.

We read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in May. It definitely wasn’t a favorite. About half our members read it, a third read part of it, some didn’t try it, and some tried it but gave up. We did have some interesting discussions about the book, specifically about different theories and questions that we thought of while reading it. We all, however, were fascinated by the pictures. I think we had the most fun looking through the book, and a sequel that one of our members was reading, at all of the pictures. We all liked that part of the story . . . how the author found the pictures and wrote the story based on those.

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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
written by Ransom Riggs
published by Quirk, 2011

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

See Chrissy’s 3-star review here

About the book – from Goodreads: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

 

 

 

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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Story Time with Sara — Will Be Back Soon

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Have no fear, friends, Story Time with Sara will be back next week!!!

Stay tuned!

 

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Chrissy’s Review: Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison

Down the Rabbit HoleDown the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny
written by Holly Madison
published by Dey Street Books, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did enjoy this read. It was an interesting perspective, and if it is all true, it is a shame that Holly—and any other girlfriends—had to go through all of that.

I admit, The Girls Next Door was a total guilty pleasure show for me. I enjoyed watching what the girlfriends were up to. I always liked Holly on the show. She always seemed more intelligent than she let on and there always seemed to be something else going on behind her outward portrayal. And this book shows that even more. To me, Holly is intelligent and driven. Yes, she made some mistakes, and yes, she did choose to become a girlfriend, but you still feel bad for her. The relationship she was in–if her story is to be believed–seemed abusive and rather scary.

Down the Rabbit Hole was a quick read. It isn’t a out-to-get-you or spill-all-the-secrets book, although it could be seen as that. It was her story of her life. Some parts were repetitive, and that got old after a while. Also, there was a detachment between Holly and the telling of her story. She didn’t seem happy or even emotionally there until she got to the parts after Criss.

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Would I recommend it: If you like these types of memoirs, and you were a fan of The Girls Next Door, then yes, read Down the Rabbit Hole.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
The shocking, never-before-told story of the bizarre world inside the legendary Playboy Mansion—and, finally, the secret truth about the man who holds the key—from one of the few people who truly knows: Hef’s former #1 girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door

A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show for four years—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious Mansion wasn’t a dream at all—and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.

But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.

In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the Mansion, the drugs, the sex, the abuse, the infamous parties, and her real behind-the-scenes life with Bridget, Kendra, and, of course, Mr. Playboy himself.

With great courage, Holly shares the details of her subsequent troubled relationship, landing her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams—and finding the life we deserve.

 

 

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Melissa’s Review: Extraterrestrial First Contact by Stan Schatt

Extraterrestrial First Contact 
written by Stan Schatt
published by CreateSpace, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I did. It’s a quick read (only took me about an hour), and it’s a bit more reality based than most alien shows you’ll find on television. If you know who Georgio Tsoukalos is you’ll enjoy this book. If not, well, Schatt has helpfully included a list of books, articles, and websites (along with his opinion of each) to get you started. It’s clear Schatt’s put some serious thought, time, and effort into this little book, and it’s refreshing to read a book about aliens that doesn’t sound, well, crazy.

 

GOLDEN LINE

“Just because intelligent entities can work cooperatively together to build a spacecraft does not mean they live in a democracy that wants to bring wisdom and light to other races.”

 

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Would I recommend it: I already have—to both my dad and my husband. =)

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
The latest research on past and current day contacts with extraterrestrials as well as discussion on what impact with an alien race would have on everything from our religious and political institutions to our education, science, and arts. Schatt explains current SETI strategy as well as the real danger SETI is ignoring that could bring about the end of humanity, according to warnings by Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. This book examines the various forms aliens could take as well as how differences in their physiology, culture, language, psychology, ethics, and morality could change our world. Schatt draws on the latest works by Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) researchers as well as leading exobiologists and archeologists to explain the difficulties in crafting messages as well as understanding any messages received. The book includes an annotated review of the best materials on the subject.

 

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Melissa’s Review: West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan

West of Sunset

West of Sunset 
written by Stewart O’Nan
published by Viking, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I’m not as obsessed with F. Scott Fitzgerald as everyone else seems to be (read: I haven’t read The Great Gatsby since high school and I have no desire to see the recent movie), so I don’t have much background knowledge about his life. I pretended this was just any other novel about any other man with a crazy wife and a crazy past, and I’ll tell you what: it’s really, really sad. Even the happy parts are sad. I wish I knew enough about Fitzgerald’s life to compare it with what happens in the novel, but since I don’t I’ll just speak generally. The writing is well done and smooth, but often drier than I prefer; I would not have picked this novel if it hadn’t been sent to me as a review request. It’s a lovely, sad little book, but it just wasn’t my favorite.

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Would I recommend it: If you’re into Fitzgerald, you’ll probably enjoy it.

 

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
In 1937, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a troubled, uncertain man whose literary success was long over. In poor health, with his wife consigned to a mental asylum and his finances in ruins, he struggled to make a new start as a screenwriter in Hollywood. By December 1940, he would be dead of a heart attack.

Those last three years of Fitzgerald’s life, often obscured by the legend of his earlier Jazz Age glamour, are the focus of Stewart O’Nan’s gorgeously and gracefully written novel. With flashbacks to key moments from Fitzgerald’s past, the story follows him as he arrives on the MGM lot, falls in love with brassy gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, begins work on The Last Tycoon, and tries to maintain a semblance of family life with the absent Zelda and daughter, Scottie.

Fitzgerald’s orbit of literary fame and the Golden Age of Hollywood is brought vividly to life through the novel’s romantic cast of characters, from Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway to Humphrey Bogart. A sympathetic and deeply personal portrait of a flawed man who never gave up in the end, even as his every wish and hope seemed thwarted, West of Sunset confirms O’Nan as “possibly our best working novelist” (Salon).

 

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Boost It Tuesday! – July 21, 2015

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Have you noticed that despite ALL of your Facebook “Likes” you are only “reaching” a very small portion of those followers? Does that bother you? It bothers us, and we want to boost each other up. Link up with Every Free ChanceCandace’s Book Blog, & If These Books Could Talk for  Boost It Tuesday!

 

What is Boost It Tuesday, you ask? Well, we want to help each other out. We are a great community of bloggers and authors, and we should be supporting each other. Share your Facebook address below, then visit the Facebook pages, like 3-5 posts, share or comment on 1 or 2 posts. That’s it. You don’t have to “like” the page if you don’t want to, just “like” some posts. Let’s help expand each other’s page reach. Who knows! You may find a new blog or author to follow along the away. Please be aware that any non-Facebook links will be deleted.

 

Here are some tips for Boosting. A big thanks to Kate at If These Books Could Talk for the image!

Boost It Poster

 

As an added bonus, Candace, Kate, and I will be hosting a giveaway each week just to say thanks for the boost!

 

For this week’s giveaway, head over to the Candace’s Book Blog Facebook page and answer the question in the Boost It post!

 

Remember: Like, comment, and share!  Let’s all give each other a boost!


 if these books could talk
 

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Gina’s Review: Robin’s Reward by June McCrary Jacobs

Robin's Reward (Bonita Creek Trilogy, #1)

Robin’s Reward
written by June McCrary Jacobs
published by June McCrary Jacobs, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
The story sounded promising and I love a good romance, but this one fell flat. There’s no real chemistry between the main characters, Robin and Jeff. I honestly think Robin is too insecure to be in a relationship, especially seeing how she reacts to certain situations. She acts more like a teenager than a woman in her midtwenties.

The writing is also a distraction. Robin “blushed” or “flushed red” more times than I could count, not to mention there were a lot of fluttering hearts going around. I kept picturing a cartoon with hearts beating out of the characters’ chests and cupid flying around shooting arrows everywhere. I feel like emotions could have been conveyed with better word choices–to make it more sophisticated than fluffy.

There were also a lot of scenes that I simply didn’t need in this book. I got tired of reading after awhile and started skimming details on flower arrangements and beading on a dress. A few sentences would have done the job.

 

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Would I recommend it: No, it just doesn’t give me that loving feeling.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Bonita Creek’s librarian Robin Bennett is heartbroken after being abandoned by her husband, Thomas. The mysterious and handsome Jeff Clarke arrives unexpectedly and touches Robin’s life with his wit and warmth. Then, without warning, Jeff’s harsh words and abrasive actions scare her off, and Robin’s hope of finding true love withers again.
Just when it seems Robin and Jeff might have a future, Susan Stinson, whose cruel taunting has plagued Robin since they met as young teens, decides Jeff should be hers, not Robin’s. Susan’s anger and jealousy escalate dangerously. Her vindictiveness threatens the foundation of Jeff and Robin’s young relationship.

Robin’s journey through the peaks and valleys of her life meanders along the twists and turns of new challenges. Is a relationship which began with both parties harboring secrets destined to survive? Can they move past their troubles and the obstacles in their path to find love and happiness together? When their pasts rear their ugly heads, Jeff and Robin must use their faith to remain strong and true. But will it be enough for them to embrace a life of love, trials, and blessings . . . together?

 

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Chrissy’s Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
written by Ransom Riggs
published by Quirk, 2011

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
It was okay. It was odd and peculiar; that’s for sure.

It took me about 100 – 130 pages to get into the story. I would have DNF’d it had it not been my book club’s pick. With that said, though, the last 100 pages had me glued to my Nook . . . not because it was so phenomenal or great or anything like that, but because I wanted to see how it ended. (And that’s the reason I’m giving this book 3 stars instead of a lower rating.)

Speaking of the ending, I was disappointed. It wasn’t satisfying. In fact, ****SPOILER ALERT**** it ends in a cliffhanger. That was a bummer. And I don’t think I’ll read any more books in this series. And while we are still in the ***SPOILER ALERT*** portion of my review, the whole plot device of Golan being all those different people was just too much. How did he become Jacob’s psychologist? And are Jacob’s parents really that moronic??? So many things just didn’t work for me. ****SPOILER  ALERT OVER****

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an interesting story, and it had so much potential. The pictures were the most interesting part for me. However, the story as a whole just fell short for me. It didn’t live up to the hype.

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Would I recommend it: I don’t think I would go out of my way to recommend it, but if someone asked me about it specifically, then I would probably recommend it if it seems to fit the person.

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About the book – from Goodreads: 
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

 

 

efchappy

Gina’s Review: An Embarrassment of Mangoes by Ann Vanderhoof

An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude

An Embarrassment of Mangoes 
written by Ann Vanderhoof
published by Broadway Books, 2005

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I really adored this book. I think the stories are more personal than in other travel memoirs, which made my reading enjoyable. Ann Vanderhoof didn’t just give me a pretty picture of a certain island or of sailing. She gave me the local’s view. They didn’t have perfect sailing weather and I loved hearing about what happened next. What I really LOVED learning about was the food. It was hard to read this book so late at night because all I wanted to do was make the recipes that Vanderhoof includes at the end of every chapter. So a note to those that like to eat—don’t read this on an empty stomach!

GOLDEN LINE

Any or all of the recipes in this book.

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Would I recommend it: YES!

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About the book – from Goodreads: An Embarrassment of Mangoes is a delicious chronicle of leaving the type-A lifestyle behind — and discovering the seductive secrets of life in the Caribbean.

Who hasn’t fantasized about chucking the job, saying goodbye to the rat race, and escaping to some exotic destination in search of sun, sand, and a different way of life? Canadians Ann Vanderhoof and her husband, Steve did just that.

In the mid 1990s, they were driven, forty-something professionals who were desperate for a break from their deadline-dominated, career-defined lives. So they quit their jobs, rented out their house, moved onto a 42-foot sailboat called Receta (“recipe,” in Spanish), and set sail for the Caribbean on a two-year voyage of culinary and cultural discovery.

In lavish detail that will have you packing your swimsuit and dashing for the airport, Vanderhoof describes the sun-drenched landscapes, enchanting characters and mouthwatering tastes that season their new lifestyle. Come along for the ride and be seduced by Caribbean rhythms as she and Steve sip rum with their island neighbors, hike lush rain forests, pull their supper out of the sea, and adapt to life on “island time.”

Exchanging business clothes for bare feet, they drop anchor in 16 countries — 47 individual islands — where they explore secluded beaches and shop lively local markets. Along the way, Ann records the delectable dishes they encounter — from cracked conch in the Bahamas to curried lobster in Grenada, from Dominican papaya salsa to classic West Indian rum punch — and incorporates these enticing recipes into the text so that readers can participate in the adventure.

Almost as good as making the journey itself, An Embarrassment of Mangoes is an intimate account that conjures all the irresistible beauty and bounty from the Bahamas to Trinidad — and just may compel you to make a rash decision that will land you in paradise.

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Gina’s Review: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

A Walk in the Woods 
written by Bill Bryson
published by Anchor, 2006

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
This is not a book I would have chosen for myself normally. I don’t see myself as a backpacker or the type of person who loves to camp. In fact, my grandmother would tell you that I was often eaten alive by mosquitoes most camping trips and spent most of my time reading. I am a woman who loves showers, and my idea of outdoor time is the beach. However, I saw the preview for the film, which stars Robert Redford. I love me some Robbie and thought it was time to broaden my horizons. Besides, I already read Wild, so why not see a male’s perspective on hiking?

This book is FUNNY. There were a lot of times I laughed out loud. I loved Bryson’s travel companion Katz. The things he says are just so random and hilarious! Bryson’s trip isn’t so much about self-discovery as appreciating the land, and there’s a lot of the book that shares the history of the Appalachian Trail. At times, reading the history sections felt tedious, but other times I appreciated it. One of my favorite sections of the book talks about bear attacks. It’s fascinating, and yes, it’s fun.

I have both appreciation and respect for anyone who attempts to hike the trail. I simply couldn’t do it.

 

GOLDEN LINES

“Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn’t happen often, but – and here is the absolutely salient point – once would be enough.”

 

“Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.”

 

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Would I recommend it: Definitely. I think it’s a good read for anyone who is curious about the trail and enjoys a funny story.

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About the book – from Goodreads: Soon to be a major motion picture starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.

The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

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