Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed By A Relentless God by Francis Chan

Whenever I blog about Christian books, I feel self-conscious that people will be all like "Oooooh, so this is a CHRISTIAN book blog".  Actually, I have good reason to feel that way because people who have disliked my reviews of other books have emailed me to tell me that the only reason I don't like the book they liked is because I obviously only like Christian books.  Which isn't true, obviously.  BUT, I just feel like I need to clarify.  This is not a CHRISTIAN BOOK BLOG, this is a book blog written by someone who also happens to be a Christian and occasionally reads and reviews Christian books.  Whew, glad to have that off my shoulders.

Now I can tell you about Crazy Love.  I've wanted to read Francis Chan for a while, mostly because of this video.  For a long time I assumed Chan was one of the pastor/authors so concerned with being "relevant" that he had given up the basic tenets of Protestant Christianity in the name of being open-minded.  This does not appeal to me.  I like the basic tenets of Protestant Christianity and I am not afraid to say so.  So when I saw the video I knew Chan and I would get along.  THEN, around Easter, all of his books became available free on Nook so of course I got them all.  And because I'm anal, I obviously have to read them in publication order so I can see how Chan's thoughts on spiritual matters evolve.  This particular book focuses on what God's love means to Christians, which is a pretty broad topic, but also something that is frequently glossed over.

I like Francis Chan.  I actually think I like him a little bit more on video than I do in writing, but that doesn't mean I dislike his writing.  The most important thing to me in Christian non-fiction is that the author is grounded in the Bible.  This doesn't mean I always have to agree with the author, but I want his arguments to come from God's Word and not just from what is popular or what he/she thinks sounds good.  And Francis Chan totally meets that requirement.  He uses context and syntax appropriately and gives verse references so the reader can look on his/her own and not just take his word for it. 

Entertainment Value
I was entertained, although the book wasn't as deep as I had hoped.  I still learned from it and I recommend it as a good read, but it's not deep theology.  It's more of an inspiration.  I also really, really appreciated the challenges Chan gives regarding Americans and wealth and how we use it.  It really convicted me to go above and beyond with my offerings. 

One cool thing about the Nook version of this book is that pretty much every chapter contains hyperlinks to videos and supplemental information on the book's website.  If you're reading it on an e-reader or on a computer, you can access those immediately and get some pictures and video content to go along with the book, which is pretty cool.

I highly recommend giving Francis Chan a try.  If you're curious, at least take a look at the video I linked above and see what you think.  I'm really looking forward to reading his other two books, especially Erasing Hell.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Haul (3)

Have I mentioned on here lately that my husband is amazing?  Cause he is.  I've told you guys before that I struggle with depression and this week has been a rough one.  So to cheer me up, Luke took me book shopping.  We didn't spend much time in the store, but I did pick up two amazing looking books and I also got one for review.

A Bookshelf of Our Own: Works That Changed Women's Lives by Deorah G. Felder
The Case For Books by Robert Darnton

In a marvelous twist of fate, I do NOT already own these books!  During a depression I have a hard time thinking clearly and remembering what I need, etc.  So our bookstore trip involved a lot of aimless wandering and two grabs.  Turns out both are on my TBR list and I haven't bought either before!
And for Review:
Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down, and Changed Who We Are by Katherine Sharpe
This one came from Harper Perennial.

And that's it for me this week!  What did you get?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

My wonderful friend Kennedy at Always, Always Reading recommended this one to me way back in January when I posted about getting on track with exercise and dealing with depression.  It's by John J. Ratey, who is a psychiatrist who specializes in research regarding the effect of exercise on neurochemistry and how exercise changes the physical and neurochemical composition of the brain.  Basically, he is a genius.  A genius who has done his homework.  He covers pretty much every recent study done on the links between the brain and exercise and draws amazing links between the benefits of exercise on a variety of modern ailments like depression, ADD, addiction, stress, and even learning capability, particularly in children.

Ratey is obviously a scientist and his writing reflects that.  This is not your typical pop-science book.  Ratey isn't another Mary Roach or A.J. Jacobs (which, by the way is not a slight - I love both authors).  It is very very detailed scientific information.  That doesn't mean its completely inaccesible, but it isn't a light, easy read.  I felt like I needed to read it with a notepad and highlighter in hand.  There are a lot of neurological and biological processes that are described in depth and in technical language, and Ratey expects his readers to keep up.  Honestly, I really appreciated his coverage of the subject matter because he wrote for a reader who is intelligent.  He didn't dumb things down any more than necessary and he didn't repeat definitions or terms.  He writes for an educated, curious reader who isn't afraid to be challenged.  I like that a lot.  But it did make for a difficult read and required my full attention.  I still feel like I would probably do well to reread it with a notepad in hand.

Another major bonus for me in Ratey's writing is that he cites his sources impeccably.  I know you've all heard me say it before but sources are SO IMPORTANT.  For oh so many reasons.  A well-cited source proves that the author knows what he's talking about and is using credible research.  A well-cited source also enables the reader to find that source (in this case generally studies regarding exercise) and read it for his or herself in its entirety.  Context is fairly important in scientific research and accurate citations provide accurate context for the reader.  Basically all this to say, Ratey is my new BFF in terms of scientific authorship. 

Entertainment Value
I guess how entertained you are by this book is really going to be dictated by your interest in exercise.  Or maybe in your interest in your mental and emotional health.  Because honestly I have absolutely no interest in exercise.  I am not a health and fitness devotee by any means.  But I am a HUGE believer in the power of the mind.  And if Ratey can (and he does) provide accurate, measurable documentation of exercise playing a role in the ability to learn, process, and retain knowledge, well he's won my interest.  Also, there's the whole stress and depression angle that is of particular interest to me. 

This book is a hard read.  Like I mentioned in the writing section, there is a lot of technical language and detailed biological description.  It's not a page turner and Ratey doesn't take the typical pop-science approach of humor and annecdotes.  Not to say that the book is boring, but its focus is on scientific research, not entertainment. 

I can't rave about it enough.  It has really increased my motivation to keep moving and continue exercising if for no reason other than to benefit my mind and my emotions.  I think it's one that will appeal more to those who are already interested in the subject and who enjoy scientific non-fiction, but I don't think it's appeal is limited to those people.  If it's something you want to learn about, I highly recommend giving this a try.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller (plus giveaway)

 Whenever a book describes itself as "gothic", I start to get nervous.  I LOVE gothics (especially Southern Gothics, but this one isn't, so I won't go there right now).  Anyway, I am a huge fan of all gothics, but so many books claim they are gothic and just don't live up to my expectations.  This one, however, had several of my favorite gothic elements, PLUS some plot points that I can never pass up: a prep school setting, a mysterious and potentially sinister secret society, and a good fall/winter setting.  As much as working in a school has ruined my desire to actually be part of academia, I still love all the trappings, so this one was just perfect.  Click here for a detailed summary on the Goodreads page.

There were a few times the writing seriously bordered on pretentious for me.  I liked it and overall I was impressed, but it tried a little too hard to be all gothic-y at times.  It took itself very seriously.  Which I suppose fit into the whole academia theme, but it wasn't in a self-observant, ironic way.  It was in an unintentional way that just came across as trying to hard.  However, that complaint is minor compared to the fact that the author has an original voice, likable characters, and a great plot.  The "trying too hard" complaint is just a nit-pick really.  Overall I can safely vouch that the author has talent.

Entertainment Value
As far as entertainment is concerned, this one was on the mark for me.  I loved the academic setting, I loved the precocious main character (who was just odd enough to be interesting without becoming obnoxious), I loved her teacher (even though I felt old when I realized he's supposed to be my age), and I loved the secret society aspect of the plot.  I read it quickly and I don't think it's a particularly difficult book, but it's also not light.  It is a page-turner and it'll keep your interest.

I recommend it, particularly to those who like a good mystery, secret-society type books, or books with a prep-school setting.

Thanks to TLC for including me in the tour.  Click here for a full list of tour participants.

TLC and the publisher are also providing a giveaway copy to one of my blog readers.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment and be a US or Canadian resident (sorry internationals).  Bonus entry if you're a follower of the blog (please note in your comment).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

It's been quite a while (and I mean like college days) since I've read any actual adult dystopian.  It's sad because I'm a huge fan of the classic adult dystopians, but it's been a while since I've seen any published outside of the thriller sub-genre or YA sub-genre.  What makes this one particularly interesting is that it's actually about a teenage girl dealing with a post-apocalyptic society, and it largely focuses on her transition from child to adult, but it does so in a much more realistic way than most YA dystopians.

The basic premise for this one is that an unknown person or organization released a biological contaminant as an act of terrorism that has infected every woman in the world with MDS (Maternal Death Syndrome).  Even worse, as soon as each baby is born, it is also infected.  MDS causes mothers to die either during pregnancy or immediately after the birth of the baby, which means the human race is slowly headed towards extinction.

If you read the summary and see that this is a book about a teenage girl coming of age in a post-apocalyptic world and expect to read something similar to Divergent or the Hunger Games or any other typical YA dystopia, you're going to be very disappointed.  This is not an action/adventure type book and it's certainly not a romance.  The dystopian setting provides a more intense coming-of-age tale, but the book is really about what it means to grow up and make her own decisions apart from her family.  The true focus of the book is how she discovers who she is and what she wants her life to mean, particularly in this new world. 

That said, I think in this situation it actually elevates the quality of writing in this book.  It's much more literary and introspective in tone, as opposed to having a focus on overthrowing an evil empire or fighting a destructive force.  In this book, Jessie and the rest of the world have very little control over their situation.  Jessie is forced to examine the very small things she can do to make a positive impact on her world, knowing that those things may or may not have any effect at all. 

Entertainment Value
Because the book is so much more about what's happening in Jessie's mind and her own decisions, those who are expecting to be entertained with lots of action or shocking situations won't find that here.  But for me, that didn't make the book less interesting.  I actually liked seeing the more realistic side of post-apocalyptic life: that one person isn't going to solve the problems of a ruined world.  That each person can make decisions that may have a small affect on the world or those around them, but that we don't get a hero who singlehandedly saves the world from disaster. 

I recommend this one, particularly to those who enjoy classic dystopian books (Brave New World or A Canticle for Leibowitz).  I also think those who like a good literary coming of age story will appreciate seeing the transformation in Jessie as she starts to think for herself and develop her own personality.

Thanks to TLC for including me on this tour!  Click here to see a list of all the other tour stops!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Book Haul (2)

Hey there, Reader Friends!  It's been two weeks since my last Book Haul post, and I've got a few books to show you.  My incoming ARCs are, as I intended, slowing down, which is really freeing me up to actually read the book I own.  That said, I can never say no to ALL free books, so here are a few I got for review over the past two weeks:

Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules by Pamela Haag
From TLC Tours and Harper Collins

Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
From TLC Tours and Harper Collins

Niceville by Carsten Stroud
From Alfred A. Knopf and Random House

I also made two purchases for my Nook:

And The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan, which I have finished, but not yet reviewed.

Also, I'm trying something new with the bookcases in the living room.  I've moved my Best American collection to the top of the bookcases, which freed up some bottom shelves for more series books and signed copies.  It doesn't look super cool yet, because I don't have the full set, so obviously I've got some shopping to do in the next few weeks.  But once I fill up the space, how do you think it'll look?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

I'm trying out using a GoodReads summary today guys - I've spent two days agonizing over how to write a non-book-report-ish summary for this and all my attempts have been lame.  From the book's GoodReads page:

Eva never really wanted to be a mother - and certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin's horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

Ok are we all on the same page now?  Here are my thoughts:

The writing was very well done, obviously.  The book is an award winner (Orange Prize in 2005) for good reasons.  My favorite aspect of the writing is the characters.  I found most of the characters in this book intensely dislikable, but still fascinating.  The fact that we're given the story by Eva, a very unreliable narrator, just makes her character, as well as Kevin's all the more interesting.  Eva is a character who is simultaneously dislikable and pitiable.  And the issue of nature versus nurture is a great frame for her character to develop within.  There are several moments in the narration when Eva specifically contradicts her earlier writing, and those were the best moments of the book for me.  I loved trying to figure out what really happened.

Entertainment Value
I'm not going to use the "this book's subject matter is too dark to be called entertaining" lie because I was entertained by this book.  I was caught up in the story and in trying to figure out what was wrong with Kevin and if Eva was the cause of Kevin's evil or the victim.  So for me, it was a very enjoyable read.  It does need to be said that it is a dark read though, and one that I may have felt very different about if I were a mother.  As Kevin grows up, he does some truly terrible things that are difficult to read about.

I recommend the book to those who aren't easily disturbed and who enjoy psychological intrigue in a book.  Also to those who enjoy unreliable narrators and ambiguity in literature.  It's not an easy or fast read but it's rewarding.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Confession: It took me awhile to find a cover for this one that I wasn't ashamed to post.  I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to fantasy, although I'm not sure why, since so far I've only had good experiences (A Song of Ice and Fire and The Kingkiller Chronicles).  I just really really really hate the look of fantasy covers.  So I was very reluctant to start this one and even more reluctant to post about it on my blog.  Luke read and loved these though, so they were on my Nook.  And I got to feeling nostalgic for Kvothe and Daenerys and the other characters I was reading about this time last year.  So I decided to give them a try and was, of course, captivated again.

I'm doing my review a little bit differently today.  I don't feel like I can really analyze the writing without giving away some small spoilers, so I'm going to give my review for entertainment value and my overall recommendation and THEN my writing review, so you can stop before you get to the spoilers if you don't want to read them.  But I'm not going to white them out this time so stop after my overall recommendation if you don't want to see them. 

Entertainment Value
Addictive.  I do most of my reading at night before bed because during the day I feel obligated to get things accomplished.  However, I spent about three hours straight on Sunday reading because I just couldn't put this one down.  The characters are charming and intriguing and I was kept guessing about their motives, which is always a positive.  There are lots of twists and turns and many I didn't see coming - also a plus.  The middle of the book is a bit slow.  I think it makes sense within the context of the story, and it was a better decision on the author's part than just skipping that time period or rushing the story, but I have to admit it did drag for a short while.  The rest of the book totally made up for that though.

I highly recommend giving this one a try, despite the heinous fantasy-stereotype covers.  Seriously, those nearly did the book in for me.  But I'm so glad I got past it.  There are some writing issues, that I'll address below, but they certainly didn't make the book unenjoyable.  And from what I've heard, Sanderson's writing continues to improve throughout this series.  One big plus for me was that Luke has read the series.  It's so much fun when we can connect on a book and discuss theories and writing and what will happen next.  This one is also fairly clean for what I've come to expect in fantasy - no graphic sex and nowhere near the gore in the Song of Ice and Fire books, so if you're usually turned off by that, this might be a good one to try.

Writing - SPOILERS
Ok, so as much as I enjoyed this book, there were some problematic writing moments. 

  • I didn't like the villain.  The Lord Ruler was a cartoon-ish bad guy to me.  He makes stupid egotistical mistakes that I just didn't find believable from a centuries old, supposedly immortal deity.    For example: Why did he put the logbook that reveals his true identity (and one weakness) on a pedestal in his castle?  Why would you do that?  If you are an evil genius, I think you'd probably not try to advertise the key to your own destruction.  Luke assures me this will make more sense later in the series, but for now I'm choosing to believe that the Lord Ruler was not really the bad guy, just a selfish, prideful man who was being used by a greater power.  That said, I was just disappointed in general with him as a villain.  He didn't scare me.  The Inquisitors made much more threatening and menacing enemies - the Lord Ruler was just like the cartoon villain in the background to me.  I want to be terrifed by a fantasy villain. 
  • I also was put off by how some of the backstory is revealed.  I think there are worse ways to present backstory, but Sanderson uses some of my least favorite fantasy world tropes to display his backstory.  Examples: We get a good deal of information from the logbook as the characters read it.  That one especially bothers me.  I HATE when things are explained by a character reading them in a book.  Also the master teaching the pupil whose lessons we just so happen to overhear so we see how the magic works or hear the history of the world.  I don't like those.  And there's a LOT of that in this book.
  • The main character, Vin, is shown throughout the entire first half of the book to be a girl raised in the slums, a thief, who trusts no one.  She has survived so long by not trusting anyone and by using her Special Snowflake magic (lot of people have this kind of magic, but Vin is a Special Snowflake with extra magic).  Like, it is pounded into the reader's head that Vin's main characteristic is her lack of trust.  But once she meets her love interest she is spilling secrets left and right almost immediately.  Major secrets that could cost her her life and the lives of her friends.  It just didn't ring true to me because we spent the first half of the book hearing all about how untrusting she is - how that is the only way she survived.  And then within a day or two of meeting this man, she's an open book.  It didn't add up.
So, that may seem like a lot and, truthfully, I wasn't just hugely impressed by the writing.  However, I think the book was successful as a whole because it was so very entertaining.  If it's any indication, I picked up the second book pretty much immediately after putting down the first.  I've heard from several reliable sources that the writing improves, so I'm anxious to see if that holds true, but, moment of truth: when I'm reading fantasy, I'm generally in it for the entertainment value, not the stellar writing.  Of course there are exception (Patrick Rofuss!) but mostly I'm looking to be swept up in the story - and this one delivers.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Review: In The Bag by Kate Klise

In The Bag is the perfect summer book.  It follows a mother/daughter and father/son who are travelling in Europe and have an unlikely bag mix up that results in a flurry of emails, missed connections, and cute/quirky misunderstandings.  It's short and light and the perfect beach read. 

The author does an excellent job of capturing both adult and teen voices.  The book is divided into sections narrated by each main character.  In the adult-narrated sections, we see the angst and moodiness of teenagers through an adult's eyes.  In the teen-narrated sections, we get a great glimpse into how teens see their parents.  I was really impressed with the author's ability to capture both age ranges effectively. 

Entertainment Value
I read it in one sitting if that tells you anything.  It's funny and cute (if somewhat predictable) in a great summer romantic comedy way.  I'd definitely go see it if it were turned into a movie. 

I definitely recommend it, especially as a vacation/beach/summer-type read.  It's cute and light and interesting enough to keep your attention through a flight or in a crowd by the pool.  One word of caution: the teenagers in it may inadvertently make you feel old.  At one point Webb gives a description of "old guy" music and uses Elliot Smith as an example.  My jaw seriously dropped.  I never thought I'd hear someone I listened to in college described as "old guy" music.  It hasn't been that long!!!!!!

Thanks to TLC for including me on the tour!  Click here for a list of other tour stops.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Books and the Significant Other, Part II

I wrote a very long time ago about books and your significant other and how the two intersect.  Tonight, as I was reading The Lover's Diary by David Levithan, I knew I'd have to do another when I came across this quote:

"'I want my books to have their own shelves,' you said, and I knew it would be ok to live together."

From that second on, I knew I'd love the book.  I'll post a review soon, but what I want to talk about in this post is whether or not you have or would in the future combine bookcases with a significant other.  You guys know I'm married and that I'm totally devoted to Lucas.  But.  I can't imagine a universe in which we would share bookcases.

I'd go so far as to say I'm ok with sharing everything, with the exception of my books.  I even allow Luke to claim partial ownership of my Sly, which I think is very generous, seeing as I've spent more of my life with Sly than with Luke.  But I'd never, ever think to say "our" books, even after we've been married for a million years. 

Even worse is the thought of combining bookshelves.  My books and his, together?  No.  Luke reads a lot and I totally support his choice of literature, but to go so far as to shelve them with my own?  Madness.  I seriously feel like our house would break down into anarchy and chaos if we didn't separate our books.  Luke's are proudly displayed on a shelf in his office, where no one ever goes.  Mine are proudly displayed...everywhere else.

I realize that this makes me sound like an evil person.  I sound selfish and like I love my books more than my husband, which is not true at all.  I definitely love Luke more than books.  I'd rather get rid of my books than Luke, obviously.  But I may also rather get rid of my books than combine them and declare joint ownership.  And Luke totally gets it, which is why we're in love.  We can share everything else, including deodorant, which I think is a pretty gross couple-y thing to share but we've all been desperate at times, right?  And he is totally welcome to borrow my books anytime he wants, without asking.  As long as he reshelves them on my shelves and not his.

What about you?  Have you taken the plunge and combined bookshelves with your significant other?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I'm not going to bother with a recap of this one because it's the second in a series.  If you haven't read Divergent yet, you should.  And if you're not sure what Insurgent is about, click here to read a summary.  But if you're into YA at all or into book blogging at all, I'm sure you've all seen a bazillion summaries and review of this already. 

I told myself I wasn't going to read this one because I knew it would just make me pouty over the fact that I'll have to wait another year until the next book comes out.  But, on Tuesday morning I woke up at 5:00 and realized I just don't have that kind of self control.  So I downloaded it to my Nook and finished it by that evening.  It was totally worth it, but I am seriously moping over the wait for the final installment now.

However, I do have to say that, as successful as it was, I'm glad the marketing campaign for this is finally over.  I got really really really sick of it being on every single blog ever.  And the constant begging for links to a publisher's page that wasn't even good.  And the fact that it suddenly was every bloggers avatar in hopes of getting an ARC (have I mentioned how annoyed I am with ARCs lately?).  So yeah.  Most annoying marketing campaign ever, but it didn't stop me from buying the book, so I guess they win.

The writing is quality.  Roth is one of the best YA authors you're going to find, in my opinion, and there are a lot of good ones.  If I weren't sick to death of hearing people compare Divergent and The Hunger Games (which are clearly not the same thing although they share a genre), I'd say Roth is on par with my buddy Suzanne Collins.  There are a few mistakes in the book, I have to admit, but Roth addressed them on her blog.  I think her openness about making mistakes and her willingness to be transparent about her writing makes her even more cool.  Those mistakes aside, the characters are well-developed and believable, I loved the plot, and I was so into the story that I didn't even notice the few holes that are sprinkled around.

I'm not claiming that this is a work of literary genius, because there are some clear issues, but I am saying that I think Roth is completely successful in writing for her audience.  I think it definitely accomplishes what the author was attempting to accomplish and I think it appeals to a pretty wide audience.

Entertainment Value
Well I read the whole thing in one day, so that should probably tell you something about how entertaining I found it.  I was also pleased that I could pick up where Divergent left off without having to reread it.  And I loved that Roth didn't do that annoying recap that lots of authors feel compelled to put into the first 50 pages of all series books.  It's a fast read and highly entertaining - once the action starts it rarely lets up, and of course you've got the romance aspect to keep things juicy for people like me who crave some kissing scenes.

Highly recommend it.  If you read Divergent and loved it, you'll also love Insurgent.  What are you waiting for?  Go read!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What I Read In April

I'll take care of my bookish info first and then update you guys on what's going on with me, Luke, and all our little sons.

In April I read:

Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet
The Night She Disappeared
The Scorpio Races
The Child Who
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
Beautiful Disaster
The Song Remains the Same 

I have been incredibly lazy this month on keeping up with my stats, so you're not getting any of those this month.  BUT, I do have some fun pictures to share!

Chiefer says "hello" to all my Reader Friends.  He just keeps growing.  You can see in this picture, the baby's tongue is bigger than my hand.  But he is such a gentle giant.  He and I are still walking regulary, although not every day like we were.  We have encountered some problems during the day with neighbors letting their dogs outside unrestrained. 

Chief always walks on a 2 ft leash to help me control him and to give neighbors a sense of security, knowing that he's being kept close to me.  It doesn't give anyone security though, when smaller dogs approach him.  A neighbor's very small dog (under 5 lbs I'd guess) ran up to Chief and bit him while on a walk this month.  Thankfully, Chief is a big baby and his response was to run away. 

It scares me because he could unintentionally do some serious danger to a smaller dog.  And while I wouldn't hold him responsible for reacting poorly to being attacked, in the case of big black dog vs. cute little fluffy dog, I think Chief would shoulder the majority of the blame, regardless of the fact that he is leashed and not aggressive.  So our walks have been limited to days when I can get out of bed early enough to avoid neighbors who are letting their dogs out to play for the morning.  Please leash or fence your pets, people!

Luke and I FINALLY had the giant shrubbery that I'm allergic to torn out of our front yard.  And we planted a ton of flowers, which are now dying because I have a black thumb.  But we tried!  That's worth something!  AND I put in solar lights, so our sidewalk isn't so dark when I take the trash out (hahahahaha - as if that happens!)

Dexter helped us with our planting by attacking and destroying any wayward plastic planters.

And, finally, I participated in World Book Night by giving out 20 copies of A Prayer for Owen Meany to students and faculty at my school.  It was an amazing experience.  One of the highlights was giving the book to a teacher who told me she can't afford to buy books for herself and got teary when I told her she could have one. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: The Song Remains the Same by Allison Winn Scotch

This is one of several amnesia books I've read recently.  It's about a woman named Nell who is one of two survivors of a plane crash.  In the crash she loses her memory and can only rely on what she is told by her husband, sister, and mother.  However, she soon begins to suspect that she is not being told the whole story by any of them. 

Nothing exceptional in either direction.  I feel like I say this a lot about books lately.  It's not that there's something wrong with the writing or that I have any specific criticisms, but it also wasn't anything to write home about.  It was standard fare.

Entertainment Value
Again, I feel like I should have more to say one way or the other on this one, but I just can't come up with anything.  It was average chick lit.  I think there were times when it dragged, for sure, but never enough to make me wish I wasn't reading it.  But it also never picked up to the point that I was anxious to get back to it at night. 

I think if you're a fan of chick lit it's worth checking out, but I wouldn't go into it expecting anything deep or particularly intriguing.  I've read better.

Thanks a million to TLC, as always for including me on the tour!