Monday, October 10, 2011

Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson

I am a sucker for free books and Amazon has plenty of them for the Kindle. One of the first ones I downloaded to my Droid was Fools Rush In (Weddings by Bella, Book 1) by Janice Thompson. It is fabulous chick lit and I was completely drawn into the story.

Bella Rossi comes from an Italian family that now lives in Texas. Bella has decided to become a wedding planner, as she has a knack for tailoring special occasions to meet even the unique needs and desires of couples. She crosses paths with D.J. Neeley, a true blue Texan and the miscommunication begins. She thinks that he is a bona fide DJ, not realizing that it is actually his first name. He takes on the challenge and the two find themselves working together on some upcoming weddings. At the same time, they find themselves immeasurably attracted to each other. Ex-boyfriend Tony DeLuca isn't too happy about that, though.

Bella's family also owns a local pizzeria, Parma John's and has a strong opinion on how food should be prepared. Dean Martin is King. Dwayne (D.J.) knows how to fix a mean barbecue. The two cultures tend to collide at the dinner table, yet they learn to appreciate each other. They also come from two different Christian backgrounds. Bella's family is Catholic and Dwayne's family is more Southern Baptist. They quickly learn that even though they do it differently, they are still praising the same God and living Christian lives.

I am a sucker for a good romance, and this story made me warm and tingly with dreams of my own strapping cowboy hero. I love books with Italian characters, as I love the language, and phrases are sprinkled throughout. While the book is Christian fiction, it isn't quite overpowered by religion as other books I have tried. Christianity is like its own character in the book, serving to enhance, rather than detract from the story. General recipes are sprinkled throughout the book to make your mouth water. Also find some homemade beauty remedies.

Fools Rush In can be a little predictable, yet it is a fast read, perfect for a quick read during a lazy summer day. It is also the first book in a series by Janice Thompson. I am interested in reading more about Bella's adventures. As of right now, there are two more books available on Kindle, but not for free. I may actually purchase some ebooks in the near future! Thank goodness for gift cards from Swagbucks!

Learn more about this book or get your own copy by clicking on the picture below:

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

For years my sister has been telling me to read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. She knew of my love for outdoorsy books (most notably Into the Wild) and knew I would just love this one. Alas I kept putting off procuring my own copy.

About a month or so ago, my friend and I were perusing our favorite used bookstores, despite us both being horribly broke. I came across a copy of the book for $2 and couldn't resist. But then I brought it home and just let it sit for a while.

Upstate New York's weather decided to turn back to summer-like temperatures with full sun. A warm sunny day causes the hiking trails to beckon. Now, I am not a hard-core hiker and haven't been camping since one weekend in college. But I do have dreams of doing something more. I decided that a good time to read the book would be in the car on our way to Letchworth State Park over Columbus Day weekend.

I am a very fast reader, particularly if the book is entertaining. I easily devoured 100 pages in our hour-long drive. E would ask me a question or try to point out something along the road and I would completely miss it. I think he felt a little put out that I wasn't paying much attention to him. But Bill Bryson's account of hiking the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz was much more entralling at that moment.

On Sunday I went down to the southern part of Canandaigua Lake, seeking the waterfalls at Onanda Park. I also explored a bunch of other random paths, totally over two hours of hiking. I was exhausted and drove home. I spent the rest of the evening sipping on chai latte reading more of the book. Today, Columbus Day, I had planned to go hiking in Ithaca, but a horrible sinus headache kept me home. Instead, I finished the book. And now I wish I had more of it to read.

Bill Bryson not only shares his own story about his trek along the Appalachian Trail, but also a wealth of history, science, and hiking tips. I really did not appreciate the scope of the AT nor all of the wildlife along it. I also did not realize that conservation efforts are abysmal at best. I am fully aware that forests are deteriorating and endangered species are disappearing. I know the landscape of the United States is constantly evolving. But Bryson brings all of this to startling attention as he weaves anecdotes and facts into his tale.

As he does this, he is not being preachy. He is sharing pertinent information and fun facts that he has accumulated in his research. He is an info junkie, just like me.

A Walk in the Woods is honest. Bryson shares his triumphs and failures, as well as those big decisions that could go either way. I know that I could never pull of such a feat, but I am truly inspired to keep pushing my hiking abilities. Perhaps one day I will do parts of the trail?

Read your own copy of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson by clicking on the picture below.

Another great book about the Appalachian Trail is A Walk for Sunshine by Jeff Alt.

Bill Bryson has written other books, as well. No, I have not yet read them, but they are definitely on my list. Happy trails!

Friday, June 10, 2011

BFF - A New Blogging Group

Ahhhhh....I love to write and I love inspiration. I just came across a new blogging group tonight called BFF - Blogging for Fun. Stay tuned for more possible posts based on their topics each week, as well. :-D

Lost and Found Book Treasures

My father passed away last week, so we have been busy cleaning out the house. Daddy loved to read and had tons of books. It is a legacy passed down for several generations. My great-grandmother belonged to book clubs and often purchased hardcovers. In the tradition of the day, she removed the covers and would paste the book summary in the front cover. She also signed every book to ensure they would always come back to her.

Dad loved to read his grandmother's books. He found many of them to be intriguing and better written than most contemporary novels. His goal was to read through the shelf full that he had already gotten, and to eventually get more of them from his aunt's house. Alas, he didn't live long enough to do so.

I would love to keep all of her books, to keep the legacy alive. But there just isn't the time nor the space for me to do so. Instead, I have been picking out favorite authors and familiar books, or checking the summaries for something that truly grabs me.

Tonight there was one bookshelf that I had not yet closely perused. I thought it was all my mother's books, as it was in her room. Suddenly my eye was caught by the words "du Maurier." Daphne du Maurier is one of my all-time favorite authors. I first read Rebecca in the 8th grade and have reread it numerous times since. My father and also loved to watch the movie.

I have read some of her other books, mostly through paperbacks that I have picked up at garage sales and used bookstores. Today's find was The Glass-Blowers. When we were at my great-aunt's house the night before my father died, I had found another du Maurier on her bookshelf. As I lovingly held it in my hands to just look at it, she told me to go ahead and take it to keep.

There is something truly magical about being the fourth generation to hold a book in your hands and to love it. I may have lost my family, with both Grandma and Dad dying within nine months, but I have found a new legacy to help hold onto their memories.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Expectations in Reading

I love to read. I learned how to read at a very young age. (Okay, two years old....) Since then my nose has been stuck in a book. And I prefer a physical book in my hands so that I can enjoy the multisensory experience of reading. However, I do love my free ebooks that I can download to the Kindle on my Droid. I am able to whip out my phone, which is always in my pocket, and sneak in a few pages while waiting in line at Target or sitting in a hospital waiting room.

I like to read just about anything. I enjoy light, breezy, cheesy reads as well as the heavier darker stuff. Each type of story can fulfill a different need and a different mood. I just have a few expectations from all of these books.

**Use good spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Am I perfect with these skills? No. And I am okay with a few errors on occasion. But if your story is full of them, I will be too distracted.

**Have a well-developed plot and characters. Shallow stories and characters are no fun to read.

**Engage me. Tell me a good story straight from the heart. Don't give me a bunch of filler or try too hard to be edgy. It will show and I will quit reading. I want to be transported into the characters' world and leave mine behind for a while.

See? I don't ask for much! I don't need a constant Vonnegut!

I will continue to share what I think of certain stories and how they meet my expectations.

GBE 2 Challenge

I don't know how frequently it will fit in, but there is a weekly blogging challenge that I joined. On Sundays, a topic is posted in the Group Blogging Experience group on Facebook. We are supposed to blog on that topic, if we can find a way to make it fit in. I realized that I was able to fit the first topic in all of my blogs, and yes, I am behind by a day. But that is okay. I am still going to do it, anyway. :-)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z to A in May: Blogging Challenge with a Twist

What? Another challenge? But you never finished this one!

No, I didn't. My father had to have brain surgery and has been in the ICU for over 2 weeks now. My extra writing time has been sucked up by trips to the hospital, conversations with the doctors, and updating family and friends. I've also been dealing with things with my mother who has Alzheimer's.

April has been a long, difficult month. But I vow to finish the blog posts for the original challenge and THEN I will think about working on this one. If not, please be assured that I will continue to update with books I have read and enjoyed, as well as a few that I didn't.

Join the May challenge!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

E is for Encyclopedia

When I was a kid, I wanted to try to read the entire encyclopedia series, so that I could learn a little bit about everything. Granted, our set of encyclopedias was by Funk & Wagnells, and we picked up each volume at the grocery store over half a year. Instead of reading my way from A to Z, I would pick topics to "study" over the summers. Yes, I was one of those nerdy kids who could never get enough of learning. I am also a Montessori kid, so I know how to study on my own.

Imagine my delight upon finding out that someone actually did make it all the way through the alphabet. A. J. Jacobs not only read all of his encyclopedias, but he did so with Britannica, AND he wrote a memoir about it.

My sister has read the book, and she recommended it to me. I do own a copy, because I found it on the 3 for 2 table at Borders. I am ashamed to say that I haven't yet finished it. But it is on my reading list for this summer and I can't wait to finish it!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

D is for Dexter

If you know me at all, you know that I am a huge fan of the Showtime series Dexter. I watch it regularly during the season, watch repeats during the off season, and I own every DVD out there. I watched the entire first season when I was home sick with the stomach flu, just before the second season started. I was ecstatic to then find out that it had been based on a book series by Jeff Lindsay.

I stumbled upon the paperbacks when I was perusing my local Borders store. At that point, only the first two were available. I bought them both and easily devoured them within a few days. The Showtime series very closely parallels these two books, Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter. There are a few major differences, which I will not share with you, should you decide to read them.

Starting with the third book, Dexter in the Dark, the TV series and the book series take a massive departure from each other. Usually I get annoyed when TV and movies take their own path along a story's trajectory and differ so much from the book series. But with Dexter, it somehow makes it more fun for me. It is as if the two Dexters are in parallel universes. Each one has its own intrigue and dark side. I love to compare and contrast the two.

The third book, Dexter in the Dark is probably my least favorite. It reminds me more of a Stephen King story as it focuses on the monster known as the Dark Passenger. I love Stephen King, but that style just didn't work in this series.

The fourth book, Dexter By Design, is probably my favorite. I have the fifth book, Dexter is Delicious, but I haven't yet read it. I think I have made it through the first chapter. It's not that it isn't interesting; I just haven't had a chance to read it.

So, if you are feeling the need to feed your Dexter fetish, check out these books!

Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Capote

A few years ago when all of the movies were coming out about Truman Capote, I finally gave in and read In Cold Blood. It's not that I didn't want to read it; I just hadn't yet gotten to it. There was extra buzz about the movies here, because Phillip Seymour Hoffman grew up just outside of Rochester. (Personally, I almost preferred Infamous, as the character was more believable.)

It was a little long to get into, yet intriguing at the same time. It was the first time that anyone had tried to write a true crime story. Better yet, the author developed sympathy for the bad guys. This part really comes to light in the biographical movies about Truman Capote.

I like to read classic novels and try to imagine what it would have been like reading them for the first time, back when they were originally published. In a time of crime being broadcast all over every form of media, it is difficult for us to imagine the shock value this book had.

It also had a lasting impact. One of my favorite authors is Jon Krakauer, You may know him from Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. He has also looked into other famous murders and wrongful deaths, and writes about them in a captivating way. Perhaps without Capote, he would not have been able to do so.

Capote was also famous for penning the story that propelled Audrey Hepburn to iconic status. His story Breakfast at Tiffany's was later turned into the classic movie, giving us the image we all know and love.

Sometime you should also check out the original In Cold Blood movie.....

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Bronte

Ah, the Bronte sisters. Timeless classics. I first read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte in 8th grade and I enjoyed it. In 1996, I saw the theatrical interpretation of the book, starring William Hurt, Charlotte Gainesbourg, and Anna Paquin. I fell in love with the story and reread the book. I bought the movie on DVD and reread the book a few more times.

A couple of years ago. PBS did their own version of Jane Eyre as a mini-series. This version, being much longer, was able to incorporate even more of the book. I thought it was excellent, and eventually procured my own copy.

I still love reading the book, and have downloaded a free version to my Kindle. It is going to keep me company one of these days when I have to wait a while somewhere, or in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.

I heard there is a new theatrical version coming out. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I mean, why do we have to keep redoing stuff? I guess it is to get the "younguns" interested again? I just hope it is worth it.

I have a couple other Charlotte Bronte works. Once at an antique store, I picked up a copy of The Professor that also included several of Charlotte's poems. I started the story and enjoyed it. I just haven't yet gotten around to finishing it. I also enjoyed the poetry, even though I don't often read poetry, unless I am in the mood. I also recently picked up a copy of Vilette.

As for Emily Bronte, she is famous for Wuthering Heights. I think I need to read it again. I remember watching the Laurence Olivier movie version of the book, and thought it was okay. Several years ago, at the urging of a good friend, I finally read the book. I didn't like it. But I can't remember now if I didn't like it because of the story, the writing, or if the characters just made me mad. I will have to give it another shot.

And, of course, there is Anne Bronte, the lesser-known Bronte sister. She wrote a lot of poetry and a couple of novels. They were Agnes Gray and Tenant of Wildfell Hall.. I picked up a used copy of her poems several years ago. I have read through many of them. Again, I have to be in the mood for poetry, but she was also quite talented. I have not yet tried her novel, but I will look for it.

So, yes, Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books and stories. Call it ironic that I now live in Rochester. I highly recommend it, but please feel free to check out any of the books below.

You can also check out some of these DVD versions of these classic books.

A is for Andrews

Did you ever read V.C. Andrews? I started with them when I was either 9 or 10 years old. My cousin, who is 16 years older, had given all of her books to my mother, so that I could enjoy them as I got older. My smart parents decided to put those books away until I got older. Yet, I still managed to get my hands on Flowers in the Attic. I was completely enthralled in the book and read it over and over again. I particularly remember sitting on Saturday, reading the entire book in one day. Then, I found out there was more to the story, so I continued reading the series. I was confused by Garden of Shadows coming out last in the series, especially as it was the prequel to Flowers in the Attic. But, I didn't care.

Next, I read the Heaven Leigh Casteel series. One of my favorites was the stand-alone My Sweet Audrina. I also enjoyed the Cutler series about Dawn and tried the Landry series. The Logan series was my final series.

Alas, V.C. Andrews died before she could complete all of the ideas that she had created. The family wanted to maintain her legacy, so they chose to work with carefully selected authors to bring those ideas to life. Unfortunately, I could tell the difference, and I soon stopped reading. They were all too formulaic and predictable. The new authors lacked some of the magic that V.C. Andrews had.

I still have those books, collecting dust in my attic library. I keep meaning to reread some of them. Perhaps this challenge is the inspiration I need to do so.....

Here is the list of the books I enjoyed reading when I was younger.

A to Z Challenge

There is this fantastic challenge for the month of April, known as the A to Z challenge. The concept is, each day in April, except for Sundays, one letter of the alphabet is assigned to the day. Your job is to blog about a topic that begins with that letter. For some of my sites, this is going to be really easy. For others, such as this one, not so much.

The challenge technically began yesterday. So, I am already a day behind, and scrambling to come up with ideas. I think I will be doing the same as I am doing over at Andi's Kids Books, and will just try to think of different books, series, authors, and/or characters that begin with each letter. I will talk about them, as opposed to doing a traditional review. And, I am going to include Amazon Associates widgets, to help you with your shopping. You will benefit from getting great deals on your Amazon purchases. I will benefit by you purchasing through my links, with a few pennies here and there.

So, thanks in advance for your support. Happy reading!

My other blogs entered into the challenge:

Andi's Kids Books

Montessori Writer

Montessori Writer's Thoughts

Andi's Gardening Experiments

How to Laugh at Alzheimer's

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Everyone always raves about Dracula, especially in light of the recent obsession with vampires. (Twilight, True Blood). I remember enjoying it when I read it back in 8th grade for school. I keep meaning to reread it, but just haven't gotten there, yet.

So, when I got a Kindle on my Droid X that I got for Christmas, I started searching out free books. I decided that I was going to make my way through as many of the free classics as I could. Dracula was actually the first book I downloaded on the Nook app. (Yes, I am using both Kindle and Nook on my phone.)

Pardon the pun, but I was immediately sucked in. I read it while waiting for my dinner to cook, while waiting in line at Target, at lunch at work. I even found Jonathan's account of being held captive to be somewhat scary, and I don't scare easily.

I also found it intriguing that the word "vampire" doesn't appear for at least the first quarter of the book, if not halfway through? It was almost surreal to me to know that I was reading about Count Dracula being a vampire, because I already knew from common knowledge. But the characters didn't know. And how amazing would that have been to have read that book when it came out, not knowing anything about it? Vampires are such a part of pop culture, that some of the suspense was taken away from me.

Another thing I missed was all of the eroticism that is supposed to be in the book. I keep hearing how erotic it is. Really? Am I missing something? Was the Kindle edition somehow edited to take all of that out? Because I just didn't see it. Or maybe it's because I really don't care for vampires in general. If someone would like to enlighten me, I would appreciate it!

So, all in all, I did enjoy this book much more now than I did 20 years ago. Eventually, I may try to check out the movie.I agree that it is quality literature that everyone should read. And, I don't think it is too racy for young adults. Check it out and enjoy it.