Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Close Ups answer - #7

We had a few busy family days and I've been away from the blogging world. I'm a little behind with the answer here.

Did you guess what this was?

Answer:  a daisy! 

 A point goes to:
bermudaonion, Lenore Webb and Kaye

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Close Ups #7

Here's another close up from one of my photos. Join in by adding your guess in the comments below. Don't be afraid to try! Comments will be hidden until I reveal the answer Sunday. What do you think this is?

Close Up #7

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading and asks you to :
1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3 . Share 2 "teaser" sentences also citing the title of the book and the author and in that way people can have great recommendations if they like the "teaser".
4. Please avoid spoilers!
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"The patch of white hairs, the stubble on my legs, the heels in need of exfoliating...nothing goes unnoticed by my lovely children. At the end of the day, as I read the boys bedtime stories, Evan inevitably focuses on my face. "What's that dot?" he will ask, pointing to the tiniest pore or a  birthmark or a chicken pox scar. One by one, he counts them like he's counting sheep, falling asleep to the comfort of my imperfections."

~page 66
Motherhood Comes Naturally (and other vicious lies) by Jill Smokler

Monday, July 22, 2013

Close Ups #6 - answer

Sorry for the delay. We had a busy weekend and the days got away from me!

Did you guess what this was?

Answer: My hammock!! The Princess and Monkey Boy are sharing a snack in my precious hammock. I don't let just anybody relax here! (Although no one ever asks either)

Thanks for the suggestion stacybuckeye!
"You know I'm hoping one of these is your hammock ;) "

A point goes to:
bermudaonion, Kaye, Allison and stacybuckeye

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Close Ups #6

Here's another close up from one of my photos. Join in by adding your guess in the comments below. Don't be afraid to try! Comments will be hidden until I reveal the answer Sunday. What do you think this is?

Close Up #6

Review: Special Dead by Patrick Freivald

Surviving high school has never been so hard.

Shackled to her desk, Ani Romero has a hard time concentrating on her studies. One of eight zombie survivors of the Prompocalypse, she's back at school, but this time it's no secret. Locked in their room, flamethrower-toting soldiers watching their every move, they're tasked with homework and classes during the week, and macabre experiments on the weekend.

When the courts rule they're not human, only an appeal keeps them alive long enough to discover a cure. College applications and SATs pale under the threat of incineration, and desperation turns them into lab rats... ...but the scientists helping them have ulterior motives, and the promised cure destroys more than the virus.

Wow! I didn't know where this book could go after the ending of the first book but great job! I'm so curious if there could be more. I really liked the direction of the story. It gave a different take on the traditional zombie story. The scientific explanation and legal issues were interesting but not too complicated for the reader. The writing is very well done and I found it hard to believe this was a male author. The protagonist was female and very believable.

I liked the characters and empathized with them. The people that were infected weren't "monsters" or hopeless cases but had a horrible medical condition. The different relationships was also complicated and interesting. Some people were torn between how they felt about those who were infected and how they are told to feel. Obviously there is extreme danger but the undead maintained their personalities, feelings and ambitions. How can they just written off so easily by those who love them? I was very impressed by the relationship between Ani and her mother Sarah. They had a fierce, unconditional love and would do anything to protect each other.  As the leading authority on ZV (Zombie Virus), Sarah has made it her life's work to cure and save her daughter and holds many secrets.  There are authorities happy to exploit them and their very life hangs in the balance.

As in the first book I loved recognizing real places near where I live. It was creepy but exciting! This story also had plenty of action that led to another great cliff-hanger ending. Freivald has a talent for leaving the reader hungry for more. :D (Get it? I HAD to do it!)

Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for an arc ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Release date: 7/12/13
Publisher: JournalStone
Pages: 260 (paperback)
Type: YA

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Keep your friends close 
and your enemies closer. 

Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?
 The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.
Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.
But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

I've been enjoying the dystopian genre for awhile but I wasn't sure what could be different about this story. I was pleasantly surprised. There were many parallels to other YA titles that are popular now (The Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent) but I liked those books and that's what interested me in this one. The idea of young people competing through a variety of tests is a common element but this still had twists that kept it interesting. There was plenty of action and suspense that helped the story flow and made it easy to read.

The characters were diverse although a bit predictable. Some of them appear to be "bad" people but is it their true nature or just their circumstances? Most of them are desperate to succeed, some at any expense, but failure could cost them their life. My feelings about many of the characters shifted throughout the story but I liked their mysterious nature and I'm curious to see what will happen to them throughout the series. 

Cia is the main character, a strong and mature young woman who learns from others but doesn't depend on them for everything. She loves her family and friends, has developed good morals, but everything she's always believed in is suddenly turned upside down. She has quickly learned she must keep an open mind and doubt everything and everyone. Her very life depends on it. Although at times she is almost too perfect she is still very likable. Of course there is potential romance thrown in and huge conflicts they must overcome as well. 

 I enjoyed the writer's style and look forward to the rest of the trilogy. These Testing candidates have the potential to change their world and face enormous obstacles. This won't be an easy fix! 

Independent Study (book 2) coming 1/14
Graduation Day (book 3) coming 6/14
The Testing Trilogy

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Books for Children and NetGalley (ebook) for an arc in exchange for my honest review.

Release date: 6/4/13
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Pages: 336 (hardcover)
Type: YA dystopian

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday (started at The Printed Page and now a traveling meme) is at Book Obsessed this month and is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
I haven't done this in several weeks. I've been cutting back a bit but still had some good stuff come in that I wanted to share. I can't wait to head out to my hammock to enjoy them all. I hope you've had some great summer reading arrive at your house as well!
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
For review from NetGalley (ebook)
Rotters by Daniel Kraus
From Sync (audiobook)
The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
Free from Sync (audiobook)
Flesh and Bone by Jefferson Bass
Free from Barnes & Noble Free Friday (ebook)
Unremembered by Jessica Brody
For review from Macmillan Fierce Reads (hardcover)
*This is a follow up to the first set I received last year and there were other goodies as well so stay tuned!
Monument 14: Sky on Fire (book 2) by Emmy Laybourne
For review from Fierce Reads (hardcover)
Of Triton (book 2) by Anna Banks
For review from Fierce Reads (hardcover)
Siege and Storm (book 2) by Leigh Bardugo
For review from Fierce Reads (hardcover)

Close Ups #5 - answer

Did you guess what this was?

Answer:  A dog's nose (My son's dog Jack. A girl, by the way, but he insisted on that name!)
I never know how much to show for a clue so I crop and recrop photos then test them on Hubby. Some seem too obvious to me and others seem too hard but I try to mix it up. You guys do an incredible job with these and I'm glad you guess even when you're not sure!

A point goes to: no one  :(
(I try to be very lenient with the points even if it's only partially correct but this one must have been too hard. Sorry!)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Snapshot

 Saturday Snapshot (originally hosted by At Home with Books) is now hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. To participate in this meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.
 I've been working for weeks on a photo book for my niece who just graduated high school. It was such a fun project but it took so much time. Now I can get back to my reading and posting reviews that just need a few finishing touches. I have a few other goodies coming up too.

We always have time for the grandkiddos, of course, and last weekend they were here playing in the yard, swimming in their little pool and helping Grandpa with his haircut. Great time for photos!

Monkey Boy & The Princess help Grandpa
When The Princess was told she missed a spot she said "Are you trying to get rid of ALL your hair??"
Monkey Boy was on the clean up crew and yes, he is naked!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Close Ups - #5

Here's another close up from one of my photos. Join in by adding your guess in the comments below. Don't be afraid to try! Comments will be hidden until I reveal the answer Sunday. What do you think this is?

Close Up #5

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: I'll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde

Perfect for fans of Marisa de los Santos and Allison Winn Scotch, Samantha Wilde’s new novel is a funny and heartfelt look at friendship, marriage, and the dynamics of modern motherhood.

Nora and Annie have been best friends since kindergarten. Nora, a shy English teacher at a quaint New England boarding school, longs to have a baby. Annie, an outspoken stay-at-home mother of two, longs for one day of peace and quiet (not to mention more money and some free time). Despite their very different lives, nothing can come between them—until Cynthia Cypress arrives on campus.
Cynthia has it all: brains, beauty, impeccable style, and a gorgeous husband (who happens to be Nora’s ex). When Cynthia eagerly befriends Nora, Annie’s oldest friendship is tested. Now, each woman must wrestle the green-eyed demon of envy and, in the process, confront imperfect, mixed-up family histories they don’t want to repeat. Amid the hilarious and harried straits of friendship, marriage, and parenthood, the women may discover that the greenest grass is right beneath their feet.

This was an interesting take on two women's complicated lives. Nora and Annie have been life-long friends with a relationship they seem to take for granted. When another women threatens their friendship, loyalties are tested. Nora and Annie must confront their true feelings and take responsibility for their actions.

The overall story was enjoyable and an easy read. The characters made some unusual and interesting life choices but they became quite annoying and whiny. That did lend well though to the theme and the complexity of friendships, especially among women. Jealousy and envy were huge stumbling blocks for Nora and Annie which was understandable. What was frustrating was that these characters didn't talk to each other about their problems. They could have saved so much time and energy if they had been honest with each other. Of course real life isn't that simple and that would have led to a much shorter book.

I did like the writing and sense of humor even when I didn't like the characters and their often dumb decisions. I look forward to trying future books from this author.

Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Release date: 2/26/13
Publisher: Bantam/Random House
Pages: 416 (paperback)
Type: Contemporary fiction, Chick Lit

Monday, July 8, 2013

Close Ups #4 - answer

It was a hectic, hot, humid, long holiday weekend and we didn't really celebrate but we got to spend time with family so I was happy. I hope you had a good weekend as well. I'm a bit behind on blogging and reviews but am getting back on track (kind of). First I need to give you an answer because it's almost time for the next one!

Did you guess what this was?

Answer: a caterpillar on our crushed stone road

A point goes to:
bermudaonion, Kaye, Allison and Jenn Jenn and Jenni

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Close Ups #4 (a little late!)

Here's another close up from one of my photos. Join in by adding your guess in the comments below. Comments will be hidden until I reveal the answer Sunday. What do you think this is?

Close Up #4

Happy Independence Day!

Hope you're all enjoying a long, happy and safe holiday weekend. We have rain and more rain here so the house is very crowded when we're all stuck inside. It's nice to have everyone home though and I will take it (almost) any way I can get it.

Happy 4th of July and thank you to all those who do so much to make our country great!