reading

The Don’ts of a Book Review

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Last night I was browsing through the Barnes and Nobles book store on my Nook.  I came across some books that sounded interesting and were on sale, so I started reading the customer reviews to read some of the comments.  As I was reading some reviews for one book in particular, I was very disappointed (as were many other readers) that reviewers had included the ending of the book!!  After knowing what happens in the end, it is rather pointless to buy the book.  So, I started to think about what NOT to include in a book review.

The Don’ts of a Book Review:

1.  Recap-  When I read a review, I don’t want to read a revised version of the synopsis. If I’m reading a review, it’s because I have already read the synopsis and am interested in the book.  I don’t want to basically re-read the synopsis in your words.

2.  Spoilers-  Obviously, I don’t want to know the ending. I also don’t want to know what happens in between the pages, such as specific answers to questions the author has included in the synopsis.

3. Rewrite-  It is inappropriate to include what should have done differently with the characters, critique the author’s decisions regarding characters and plots, and add a different ending.

4.  Not Read the Book-  When I went online at the B&N book store, I was surprised at how many reviews were posted by people who hadn’t even read the book!  Yet, these very same people were already rating the book.  If a book hasn’t been read, why would anyone think it is appropriate to rate the book?

5.  Personal History-  Books can bring up personal feelings, especially if the story truly resonated with the reader.  However, the review should not include these personal issues.  

There is an Exception to the Dont’s Listed Above!!

One exception to the “Dont’s” listed above, is a blogger writing a review on her site.  Bloggers may include spoilers (but usually will let their readers know beforehand), and all the other “Dont’s” listed.  However, that very same blogger will post her review on other review sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc) with a condensed version of her original review posted on her blog. 

There are many reasons why a blogger may choose to include one or all of the don’ts listed in a blog review.  Readers can decide to read or not read that particular review.  However, at a review site, the reader is limited to reading the reviews posted and won’t be alerted, especially with spoilers included.  That is the difference! 

Next Friday:  “The Do’s of a Book Review!”

September Book Giveaway

October Book Giveaways

 

Mini-Reviews

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Mini-Review:

The storyline was rather interesting because the story was told in different viewpoints, during the same time, so that the reader never jumped too far in what was happening.  As a result, you are led through this story by different perspectives, and arrive at the truth of what happened without having skipped certain parts of the story.  The story takes place over generations and is so delicately done, that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters and cheered for them at the end.  There were times I just had to put the book down and cry.  It was heartbreaking to know the treatment people with mental illness/disabilities experienced at institutions and the abandonment they experienced from the parents/family who left them there.  It also showed how little education, support, and services was given to families, so that they often felt this was their only option.  Those left in the institutions experienced abuse, mistreatment, and often death as a result of abuse of power.  It was so tragic to read about the other patients and learn about their own journey.  While this book tended to focus on the lives of 3 people, those who helped, aided, and loved them were also included in this story, as I learned what they also went through.  This is a book that is beautifully written and a book I highly suggest for anyone!

Mini-Review:

This was a freebie that I downloaded last week.  The cover and title of the book caught my attention among the many free books I own.  So, I was very surprised at how well written the book was, the development of characters and plot were so real and relevant, and the story just moved very smoothly.  This is one of those books that I really couldn’t put down, so I often carried my Nook around with me to read a few pages.  Normally, I only read my books at night….however, I just couldn’t with this one!!

The events in this book are so heartbreaking and the author created characters that were so real and identifiable, that anyone reading this book can relate.  Whether it directly impacts you or you are the one trying to comfort someone, it is a story that everyone can imagine themselves in.  While there are issues of infertility, being in the public eye as a public servant, and having people watch your every move may not be issues everyone relates with, the feelings and emotions experienced are real.  I loved how everyone found themselves in the midst of a crisis, God uses those instances to bring His children nearer to Him.  No matter how long it takes, God was there for this family.  I highly suggest this book and know many will enjoy the storyline, the spiritual context, and the characters.  There’s lots of humor and at times reminded me a little of “Steel Magnolias”….a favorite movie of mine!!  I also loved how flowers were given to communicate a message.  Having read, “The Language of Flowers”, I just loved how this was incorporated into the storyline.

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What’s In a Name?

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I never thought I’d multi-read, but lately I have been.  I am currently reading Sweet Sanctuary on my Nook, The Violets of March in paperback, and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings on my iphone.  This is usually because it allows me to read anywhere, anytime, when I can.  I am loving these books, but The Violets of March has really started out with a bang.  I am finding myself taking my time reading this one because I want to savor each moment with the characters….and this hasn’t happened to me in a long time with a book I’ve read.

Reviews on all 3 books, plus a few others I just finished reading, will be posted within the next couple of weeks.

In The Violets of March, there is a character that theorizes a man will stay married or divorce after so many years based on his first name.  This isn’t the whole premise of the book, but it really got me thinking about names and book titles.  I am a huge name person.  I love learning about the meaning of a name and finding out where it derived from.  I was certainly not one of those moms that picked a name because it was cute or trendy…and definitely not because I just ran out of time and ended up picking a name at the hospital.  No, I searched, processed, imagined by babies being adults with their name, and simply just wanted them to each have their perfect name.  I remember when I was pregnant with my second born that I was adamant about picking a name from a whole different pool of names.  I figured that if a name hadn’t been good enough for my first born, it certainly wasn’t going to be good enough for my second born either.

The same goes with choosing books I haven’t heard of before.  Even though I do receive books to review and see which books have become a best seller, I am still intrigued about finding that special book that is squished between best sellers and suggested book titles.  While I don’t typically judge a book by its cover, I do judge a book by its title.  A book title for me is like the first sentence of a book…it is what draws me in to continue reading it.

I have always been an independent thinker, one that thinks outside the box, doesn’t always go with the mainstream, and certainly doesn’t do anything because it’s popular.  I suppose that is why I am drawn to all kinds of people and love working with a variety of populations.  So, it’s only natural that when I am selecting a book to purchase, it’s not going to be the book that everyone is reading.

If I’m at a bookstore:

How I choose a book is quite dependent on the book title.  It’s what grabs my attention and whispers to me, “Read Me”.  If I like the book title, then I will read the synopsis in the back of the book.  I never read a book based on the reviews included in the book because what book is out there that will have a negative review on its own book???  Never.  Exactly!  It’s just more fluff and I want to know what it’s about.  When I buy an actual book, it isn’t because I am wanting to read it right then.  I usually have a stash of books at home that I will gleam through and see which book I want to read then.  However, purchasing a book is quite different.

If I am purchasing a book on my Nook:

Being a blogger, I also enjoy reading reviews of books that I haven’t heard of and those will usually peak my interest to simply purchase the book on my Nook.  I have to admit though, I have become quite the book collector of purchasing freebies.  It’s quite addicting to download free books and have them in my library to read at a later time.

Reading a Book I’ve purchased:

I am a bit strange when it comes to reading a book I already have purchased.  I view books like clothes, it’s not always the best time to read it and you have to be in the mood for it.  So, I typically have a wide range of books that include mystery, romance (chick-lit), Christian fiction, biographies, and YA.

I read The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent with my book club last year.  It was an excellent read that we all enjoyed discussing.  We were absolutely thrilled to learn that Kathleen Kent had written a prequel to it, titled The Wolves of Andover.  Now, I have to admit, the title just didn’t draw me in and certainly didn’t do justice for the storyline.  However, Kathleen has recently changed the title to The Traitor’s Wife, which is absolutely fitting and is a book I definitely would have gravitated to.  It is the perfect title for a book that I absolutely enjoyed reading and we all enjoyed discussing the book with Kathleen Kent, too!

So, what does the name of book mean to you?  How do you select a book when you are surrounded by books in a library or bookstore?  I’d love to hear from you!

 

National Read a Book Day!

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Happy National Read a Book Day!!  While I read every night, it’s always fun to have a day devote to recognizing the importance of reading.  We all know the benefits to reading and how important it is to start early.  So, I reflected on my childhood favorites, as well as some of my children’s favorite books, too!  Even though I do not typically review children books, my love for reading began when I was a child.  I thought I’d share a few really great books that I grew up loving and they are books my children grew up reading as well.

 

 

I remember reading this book as a child, and later buying this book for our oldest son.    We purchased the whole Dr. Seuss collection and my husband would read to my stomach, so that he could hear (while I was pregnant).  Phillip grew up on Dr. Seuss and loved the books!

This book was my younger sons, favorite book!  We’d read it to him and build up the anticipation of “who is that monster at the end of the book?”.  Sesame street books were his favorite and he loved every one of them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of my daughter’s favorite books! While I didn’t have a book like this growing up, my daughter loves touching the honey bees and counting with me.  It’s a book that she loves reading over and over again with me :)

 

 

 

 

As a child, this is a book that I read over and over again.  It was a simple book, but with a powerful image.  I always felt so sad at the end, wondering why the little boy couldn’t appreciate what he had.  It’s a book that is my all time favorite!

Judy Blume books were my saving grace growing up!  I absolutely loved every book she wrote and while everyone was reading, Beverly Cleary books, I was reading these thought provoking books that seemed to speak to me each time I opened the books.  While I also love Beverly Cleary books, my life was so stressful and full of turmoil that I couldn’t resonate with the innocence Ramona had and the intact family she came from.  However, as an adult, I have come to appreciate Beverly’s books as my sons loved hearing all her books on audio.  When we’d go on trips or simply be driving around, we nixed the videos and played audio books instead.  It was so entertaining for us and I have many fond memories of our trips when my children were young.  However, as a child from a broken and abusive home, I connected so much with Judy Blume, and this book is one of my absolute favorites!

 

Long before 90210 was the craze for all teenage girls, Sweet Valley High had already made its mark in the literary world!  If you were a girl and loved romance, most likely you were also reading your Sweet Valley High books, too!  I remember saving my money and buying every book!  Francine Pascal couldn’t write quick enough for me!! I loved her books and was absolutely excited when Francine Pascal released a book, titled Sweet Valley High Confidential recently!!

So, what are some of your favorite childhood books?  I’d love to hear from you!  Again, it doesn’t matter what genre of reading your prefer, doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or not, making time to read is what is most imporant :)

My Very First Blog Award!!

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Yesterday, I received an email from Samantha Leighanne from Leighanne’s Lit.  She gave me, along with some other bloggers, the Liebster Blog Award.  Any award makes my day…especially since I am a new blogger and love to know that there are readers out there who enjoy reading my posts.  However, being the researcher that I am, I decided to find out who created this award and what is it exactly for.

This is the information I found:

1.  Rumor has it that someone in Germany, possibly someone named Liebster, created an award for new bloggers to show appreciation and thanks for their blog.

3.  Liebster means “beloved” in German and Spanish.

2.  You can only receive the award from another blogger, who has also received the award. 

3.  Awards are to be passed forward to other bloggers, 3-5 blog sites, with followers of 300 or less.

4.  Once you give the award to a fellow blogger, you are to contact the blogger and let them know.

5.  Copy and paste the award on your blog.

So, I’d like to thank Leighanne for this wonderful honor!

In no specific order, I am awarding the Liebster Blog Award to the following bloggers:

1.  Julie at Booking Mama:  Julie introduced me to one of my all time favorite books: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.  Julie is a busy momma, like me, and has the same love of books I do in the same genre!  So, I truly enjoy reading her book reviews.  AND…while I have not won a book yet from her blog, she gives some great book giveaways, too!

2.  Michelle at Life in Review: I enjoy reading Michelle’s blog posts.  While I am Christian, I have to admit that before last summer, I just didn’t read Christian fiction.  I would go to bookstores and scan them, deciding to buy a Bible or study book instead.  However, there have been some great break-authors and their writing has been incredible!  To my amazement and delight, Christian fiction covers topics that are real life situations, aren’t drowned with “you will burn in hell” statements, and are not cheesy whatsoever!  It has been nice to read a fellow blogger’s reviews on Christian fiction books :)

P.S.  Thanks, Francine Rivers for “redeeming” the Christian fiction industry and introducing me to a genre that I quite actually enjoy!!

3.  Laurel Rain-Snow at Accidental Moments:  I first started reading Laurel’s blog when I joined The Sunday Salon.  While I have never met her, she just has this laid-back personality on her blog.  When I read her posts, I feel that it is she and I sipping coffee as she tells me about her day. She also has the same taste in books that I do!

4.  Debbie Ashley Nance at Readerbuzz:  I have had the pleasure of meeting Debbie at one of my book club meets.  She is as friendly and charming in person as she is on her blog.  I love that she is a librarian and blogs about all kinds of books.  She also weaves into her blog personal life tidbits, which is always great to read!

5.  Karen’s Sister at Coming East:  I just recently started following this blog and enjoy reading these posts!  She is witty, has some hilarious post titles, and writes about the mundane in a funny and interesting way.

Please take some time to read their blogs, too! I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

How To Get Out of A Book Slump

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Have you ever found yourself actually bored from books?  I have and am slowing emerging out of this slump I’ve been in for the past few weeks.  After starting a book and reading through the first chapter, I’d find myself just not engaged in the storyline.  I’d then start another book, and the same thing would happen.  I just couldn’t seem to find anything remotely interesting.  Free books, review books, recommended books, even audible books, and still nothing.  No spark, no joy, just pure boredom.

What was going on???  So after I have spent time analyzing this situation, I have to come to realize that possible reasons.

Reason #1:  Not enough down time between books-  I do need some time to grieve my characters and let the ending stew a bit in mind.  Yes, I do miss the characters (not just the ones that die), but I generally get to liking a character then the story ends.  So, I need time to just miss them and simply process the storyline before moving on to another book.  It’s kinda like seeing an amazing movie and then seeing another movie back to back.  The second movie doesn’t stand a chance because I am still thinking about what happened in the first one, I am tired, need a bathroom break, and maybe some more popcorn.  Regardless,I do just need to pause for a moment.

Reason #2:  Same subject, different story- Have you noticed that there are times when you will gravitate towards books and realize there is a theme?  I have.  I went from reading Historical fiction, chick-lit, sister stories, and suicide books.  Okay, I am not suicidal.  However, I did read The Paris Wife about Ernest Hemingway and his first wife.  In it, it includes Ernest’s suicide.  So, then I read a blog and saw another memoir about suicide and decided to read it.  So, without realizing it, I was reading books with a certain theme to it.  I have also found that I need a break from the same kind of books and this includes those that are not necessarily sad.

Reason #3:  Feeling pressured-  Since starting a blog, I have felt the pressure to keep my blog up to date with book reviews.  I am not getting paid for any of it, this is not a volunteer or full-time position for me, but I still feel responsible to readers, authors, and publishers.  So, there have been times when I just feel overwhelmed with not only reading a book, but also writing about it, too.  I also hate to admit, but if I receive a book for review and it is not something I can even manage to read a little bit, I just don’t read it.  I am not a paid reviewer and realize this isn’t probably the best way to handle this, however I just can’t muster the attention skills I need to read a seriously burnt cupcake or cupcake without the icing.

Ways To Survive a Book Slump:

1.  Simply take a break from reading or hearing novels-  If you have to read, read a magazine, do a crossword puzzle, read your Bible, and journal write.

2.  Read from a genre you typically don’t select from-  If you don’t normally read crime novels, try it.   Perhaps you only read mystery novels, try a chick-lit novel or memoir.

3.  Return to the classics!-  Why not?  Going back to the great literary writers as Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, and Jane Austen are just a few of my favorites!

4.  Do the opposite-  If you have a reader, then read a hardback/paperback novel.  If you normally read from hardback/paperback novels, then try an audible book.  Be creative.

Whatever the reason for a book slump, trying something different is always a great way to meet new authors.  For those of you like me, reading is very important.   It has helped me with my insomnia and so each night I read.  Whether it be a few pages or a few chapters, reading has been my sleeping aid.

Currently, I am reading a  paperback novel and on my Nook, I am reading Persuasion by Jane Austen.  Sounds rather fitting, doesn’t it?

 

Happy Reading everyone!

From Kindle back to Nook!

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After having my Sony Reader for many years (long before we’d ever heard of Nooks, Kindles, or Kobo), I purchased my first Nook.

My Sony Reader (the 2nd one I purchased)

I was drawn to that particular reader because I loved the option to check-out books from my local library and have the capability to also hear audible books.  So, with my Nook, I decided to dress it up.  I bought a pretty leather carrier for it, protective screen, and night light.

My older Nook

But, I kept hearing about the Kindle!! Being part of  a book club, I get the wonderful advantage to preview readers and see what they look like.  While I love the easiness of buying books (Amazon carries a lot of books!), the highlighting features (which just seem easier than Nook), and the keyboard, I found myself gravitating to my Nook.  I think for those who have been Sony readers, buying a Nook is the most natural transition because we are used to using www.overdrive.com for library books and like the swipe feature to turn pages.

However, I have been noticing the Nook Color lately!! After talking with my husband, I decided to return my Kindle (as I had it for less than 1 month), and purchased my Nook Color!!

My Color Nook in a waterproof sealed cover

I wasn’t sure at first because the Nook Color is pricey and I’ve heard it doesn’t hold a charge for very long.  However, with my Kindle, the battery didn’t last 3 days without charging it, so I was used to not having a long battery charge.  Let me say….I LOVE my Color Nook!!!  It does hold a charge for quite a long time, I do not need a night light, I can change the background to 2 different shades besides white, and it’s beautiful!!  I had the option of buying an i-pad, but I didn’t go with it.  The reason being, I really just use my Nook for reading and listening to books.  I am also a bed-time reader, so I needed something that could I read lying down.

I bought two covers, one is a green/black cover that I haven’t yet received via mail.  The waterproof one I bought from Amazon is a TrendyDigital waterproof cover.  I absolutely love it!! No, I do not get a glare when I am reading it and if I get something splashed on it should I take it outside by my swimming pool or at my kitchen table (where I also like to read while I am cooking).  Hmmmmm….perhaps that is why I tend to burn food quite often ;)

I have 3 screens that I can switch between.  This one has all the books on the screen that are for my daughter.

This screen is where I can quickly access the books I am currently reading. Notice, I also have my internet icon above it all so that when I want to take a break from reading, I can open my email and surf the web.

Also, I have purchased some toddler books for my daughter for free or .99 cents.  Having a waterproof cover on it, she can read with me and her sticky fingers won’t interfere with my reader.  Yes, that happened!!  I was reading to hear and she was pointing to the animals, while eating an orange.  Guess what??  Orange juice was smeared on the reader!  I was so relieved and it just made it that much more of a great buy for me.

So, what am I going to do with my Nook in the pink cover?  My father-in-law loves to read, so I am giving that to him.  He was excited and can’t wait to start using it.  I plan on giving him another reader cover, of course!  However, there were some books that I wanted to buy for him that I could not buy on his Nook through Barnes and Nobles.  Yes, that is one downside to the Nook vs. the Kindle.  So, I went and bought him some books at Half-Priced Books, too.  He will have plenty of reading to do, that is for sure!!

Before offering my Nook to my father-in-law, I had offered it to my sons.  Both of them are teenagers and surprisingly, they both agree that having an actual book in their hands just feels better than having a reader.  So, after much discussion, I gave in and took them also to the bookstore, where they not only got excited about books, but bought quite a few they plan on reading this summer!

The books my sons chose to read this summer :)

Now that my father-in-law will be reading from his Nook, which book titles do you think I should add to his reader?  He loves Christian, History, and Mystery (but not too gorey).  Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!