Thursday, January 31, 2013

Free Ebooks!

A little over a year ago, I realized that I could download the Kindle app to my smartphone and read books. It began when I joined a group and authors started posting that their books were free on Kindle that certain day. I was a little discouraged since I didn't have a Kindle and caught a comment someone left about downloading the app. Yes, the screen is pretty small but the words are normal sized--you just have to flip the pages quite frequently. 

So, over the past year, I have collected quite a few books for my Kindle and a large majority of them have been free. I realize that I will never have enough time to read them all but I like to know that I have a vast selection at my fingertips and I am NEVER bored! I always look at 5 star reviews and 1 star reviews to see if it's a book I would be interested in.

Here are some freebies that I've gotten over the past little while. I got them when they were free but they might not still be free, so if you're interested in accessing any of these, make sure the Kindle price is $0 (unless it's not still free and you wish to pay for it).


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Giveaway: Benotripia

I love to go to Costco! I usually avoid it on Saturday afternoons but because of our schedule last week, that was the only chance we had to go. As we approached the book section, I noticed a big poster for a book signing. I decided I was going to avoid it because I find that when I talk to an author, I end up buying their book whether I'm interested in reading it or not. I know authors pour their hearts and souls into books and I don't have the heart to tell some of them that their book just doesn't interest me. 

I saw a man who I assumed was the author so I figured I just had to avoid him. However, as I got closer, I noticed a young girl at the table signing books. I picked one up and turned to look for my husband and 8-year-old daughter. They were talking to the man I had seen earlier and he was handing my daughter a bookmark. They soon joined me and the author, McKenzie Wagner, asked my daughter if she wanted to know what the book was about. My daughter nodded to her with wide eyes and was fascinated. I got a signed copy for my daughter and picked up an extra signed copy to give away. 

McKenzie Wagner is now 12 but was 11 when she wrote this book. The man that was around her was her father and her mother was sitting beside her getting email addresses and making sure everyone was taken care of. I talked to her father for a few minutes. She started reading at the age of 4 and started writing when she was 7. This is a three book series. She wrote this first book in a month and the second one, which will come out in September, in a week and a half. 

My daughter has been wanting to write a book since she was 5 or 6 and she has started a few but hasn't finished one yet. Meeting McKenzie motivated her to get going again and she came home Saturday night and started back up. What was even more amazing to me, though, was my 11-year-old son, who thinks that reading is a chore, said, "Well, I better start writing my book." I did a double take and asked him if he was now interested in writing something and he said yes! I asked him if seeing McKenzie motivated him and he said that it had. Has the enthusiasm worn off some by now? Yes, but he is still interested in writing something and I never thought that would happen!

Now for the book. From the back cover: Two islands stand amid swirling seas of mist and oceans that stretch as far as the eye can see.

Eleven-year-old Roseabelle lives on the tropical island of Benotripia with her mother, Danette, the island's leader. When Danette suddenly disappears, Roseabelle, with her friends Astro and Jessicana, embark on a perilous journey to the evil neighboring island of Darvonia to save her mother and if possible, Benotripia.

This wildly imaginative tale will transport you to a fantastical kingdom that will have you discovering more adventure and intrigue with every page.   

I was hoping to have read this by now so that I could give my review on it as well but I haven't yet had the chance. I have started, though, and have to say that I find it impressive for an 11-year-old to have written. My daughter is almost finished with it and loves it!

Oh, the other really cool part: Standing in the checkout line at Costco and seeing lots of kids already starting to read her book!
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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Goodreads description for this book is:  " I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My Opinion: I read this three years ago and it's still one of the first books I recommend to others. Here's my take on it at the time: I didn't think I would be interested in a post WWII novel, but I loved this book from the first page!! I loved that it was written in letter style. The characters and their stories were real to me. They were quirky and witty and amazing. Their stories made me laugh and cry. I wanted it to keep going and going so I took my time finishing it so I could savor the ending. This is a book I will definitely read again and again!   

I really love the quotes about books. I think that's what helped me relate to so many of the characters. Here are some of my favorites: 

"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive--all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment." (pp. 11-12)

"I would like to write a book, but I am having trouble thinking of a subject I could live happily with for several years." (p. 31)
"We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another." (p. 51) 

I do have some friends that didn't care for this book so not everyone will love it, but I certainly did!

My Rating: 5 Stars



Monday, January 28, 2013


OK, so I thought I scheduled this to go out early this morning and now realize my rookie mistake so I apologize. I've had a crazy busy day and just got around to checking so here's my post today:

I'm planning my first book giveaway this week! I had a fun experience at Costco on Saturday and will tell you more about it later. It will also involve giving away a book. Please make sure you follow me and sign up to receive my email so you won't miss out! I also now have a Facebook page and Twitter account. You can sign up to follow me here: 


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Reluctant Bachelorette

I have lots of sisters (6 to be exact!) and we all love reading to varying degrees. One of my sisters, Alisa Hancock, writes great reviews and I'll share some of hers from time to time. Today is one of those days. We both read this book, The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Renee Anderson and this is Alisa's review:

I loved this book! If you are looking for a fun, clean, romantic book, then this is definitely for you!

So many farmers in the town of Shelter Springs, Colorado are not making it financially. Many people have had to leave their farms, and many more are in danger of losing their farms (including Jessa's beloved aunt and uncle). Jessa and Taycee are best friends who love their town and will do (almost) anything to save it!

Jessa has a plan to save the city... Shelter's Bachelorette - an online version of The Bachelorette where the viewers pay to vote for which bachelors make the next round. The money they collect from the voters would be used to save the farmers.

Taycee didn't know when she was agreeing to Jessa's vague favor, that she was agreeing to be The Bachelorette. And now there are 20 guys flying into Shelter Springs to meet her... As if that isn't enough, Luke - the guy that got away 10 years ago - has just moved back to Shelter Springs and has been added as the 21st bachelor!

When Luke left for college 10 years ago, Taycee was his best friend's 14-year-old sister... So he felt no need to stay in touch with her. Taycee, on the other hand, was in love with him and felt abandoned by him when he left without ever looking back.

So the course to true love definitely isn't a direct route (especially with 20 other guys in the picture), but the twists and turns are a lot of fun -- I can't wait to read this book again!

I hope there is a sequel to this with Jake and Jessa's story! ;)

Alisa's Rating: 5 stars
I think if you're a fan of The Bachelor and/or The Bachelorette, you'll enjoy this book! It was a quick, fun, clean read which made me laugh out loud a few times!  I will definitely read this one again.

My Rating: 4.5 stars 


Rating Books

Rating books has always been difficult for me. I used to give lots of 5 stars because I like lots of books! Then we had a discussion about it in my book club when most of us got on Goodreads. One member reminded us of what the stars actually mean:

5 -- it was amazing
4 -- really liked it
3 -- liked it
2 -- it was ok
1 -- didn't like it

Well, that changed how I rated  books. I became more stingy with my 5 star ratings. I read lots of books. How do I give a "fluff" book 5 stars when it wasn't life changing or amazingly written? How do you give the same amount of stars to such different genres? 

So, this is my criteria. Sorry, authors, but the highest a fun read is going to get from me is 4 stars. A well written book that I can't stop reading or life changing book gets 5 stars (sometimes the life changing ones take longer to get through because there's more to digest). If I start a book that's an easy read and it takes me a while to get through and I'm interested to read the ending but not anxious to get through it, I'll give it 3 stars. I knock off stars for excessive swearing and sex, although I try not to even read those books. 

I wish there were half star ratings and I'll give them on here because I can. I'll keep my Goodreads stars and the stars on here the same (unless I add half a star).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chasing the Falconers

I've mentioned before that I love to read with my children. A while ago, one of my sisters gave this series of books to us (On the Run by Gordon Korman) and we finally got around to starting it. Chasing the Falconers is the first book in the series.

Aiden and Meg Falconer live at Sunnydale Farm, a juvenile corrections center. They're good kids, though, so why are they there? Their parents were tried and convicted as traitors so are serving prison time and none of the relatives wanted to take the kids in because it was too embarrassing for them.

As Aiden relives what happened to bring them to this point, he remembers Agent Frank Lindenauer, or Uncle Frank to them. He recruited his parents to help in the global war on terror. The Falconer's developed profiles for US operatives to identify terrorist sleeper cells throughout the world. But somehow the profiles got into the hands of the terrorists and the Dept. of Homeland Security accused the Falconer's of aiding the enemies of their country. The trial went all wrong and Frank Lindenauer disappeared off the face of the earth so didn't testify on behalf of their parents. The kids were put in foster homes, but it didn't work out so their last name was changed to Eagleson and they were shipped off to Sunnydale Farm.

One night, they are able to escape and they take off on their own to find Uncle Frank. Aiden realizes there's a clue in Vermont and with just the clothes on their backs, and no food or money, they run from Sunnydale Farm (in Nebraska).

There are quite a few twists and turns and it got harder to put down as we got more involved in the story. We're glad we have the entire series so we could immediately start on book 2 when we finished book 1. It's a short read (154 pages) and took us a couple of weeks reading 1-2 chapters/day.

My rating: 4 stars

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Forgotten Garden

One of my favorite books last year was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. Here's my Goodreads review on it:

WOW!! This is my new book that I am recommending to everyone! I couldn't read this book fast enough yet never wanted it to end.

From the Amazon book description: A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book -- a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.

There are lots of characters and flashbacks and a dysfunctional family. I thought I had it figured out, to find out I was way off, only in the end, to realize I did have it right after all, but felt differently about the characters when more back story was revealed. Storytelling at its finest!

OK, I need to edit this to share my rating. This is a definite 5 star for me! 


The Why

I've decided to start a blog for my book reviews. Actually, I feel that I currently don't review books very well. I usually just give them stars on Goodreads and don't indicate why I like a book or why I don't. I guess I've been lazy that way. I decided to start a blog because that will force me to dig a little deeper and explain why I like particular books (or why I don't). I guess I feel the need to give you fair warning to not expect too much out of these first reviews and my plan is to get better at it as I go. 

I joined a book club three years ago to help me read books I wouldn't normally read. And it worked. When I'm at book club, I say a lot but I still don't type it out later. I'm sure I'll go back and write reviews for some of those books because we've read some good ones. 

I don't read a book a day or anything but I try to read between 5-8 every month. I read with my kids so I'll include some of those books as well. I also listen to books so I can accomplish other things, like cooking and cleaning (yes, those pesky jobs that get in the way of reading). 

I used to feel that printed books were the only way to go. Then, about a year ago, I downloaded the Kindle app to my smartphone and realized that I like ebooks, too. I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and absolutely love it! So, those are my formats for reading: printed books, ebooks and audiobooks. I love each of them for different reasons. Well, here we go!