Friday, December 30, 2011

The Best Reads of 2011...

It's been a good year for books. I've discovered a new passion for Christian fiction. It's a book you don't have to read under the covers or turn it over so your family doesn't see it. I've discovered some really great authors this year: Tyndall, Rivers, Dacus to name a few.

My top five books for 2011:
(couldn't limit it to only three this year!)

Surrender the Heart Mary Lu Tyndall.
One of my new favorite authors. I'm currently on my fourth book of hers. This book is a fantastic combination of faith, romance, adventure and of course, history! Click here for my review.

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers.
Wow, this is probably one of the most powerful Christian books I have ever read. The Red Tent was one of my top picks last year because of how powerful it was, this book is even more amazing. I cannot wait to continue on in the series but because of how deep and thought provoking it is, I need breaks between the books. Click here for my review.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I was blown away by this book and the facts it contained about a little-known woman who helped find cures for diseases through her cells and all unbeknown to her and her family! I learned so much not only about Mrs. Lacks, but about cancer and about more abhorrent treatment of blacks for medical trials. This is an eye opener in American history. Click here for my review.

Torment by Lauren Kate
My favorite young adult/fantasy read. This is the second book in the Fallen series and the best so far. I read the third book this year as well, but it wasn't as great as this one. I do like sci-fi and fantasy books and this one was the best I've read for 2011. Click here for my review.

Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus
This book was also Christian themed and so good from start to finish. This is the first book in the series and has me excited to continue on and find out what happens next! Click here for my review.

Honorable Mentions:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Night  Night by Elie Wiesel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Utterly horrifying what the Nazis put so many people through. How many people were killed. How many people suffered so horribly. This was the most graphic memoir I've read to date about the Holocaust. It was a short book but the point was very clear.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Red Siren

The Red Siren (Charles Towne Belles, #1)The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not my favorite by Ms. Tyndall. I know this is so shallow, but I couldn't help but judge this book by it's cover. I did not like it at all, it was an utter turn-off. It's not how I would picture the main character in the book at all.

I found the whole she-pirate theme a bit unbelievable. It didn't mesh right. I did like the male heroine, but not her. I'm not sure if I'll continue on in this series because her sisters were no more appealing than she was.

I'm not giving up on Ms. Tyndall, she's a wonderful author and I have loved her other books I have read. Very spiritual and uplifting for sure!

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Crossed (Matched #2)

Crossed (Matched, #2)Crossed by Ally Condie

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It just didn't feel like a great follow up to Matched. Matched was cool and thrilling from start to finish and while it felt similar to other books I've read, it had it's own sci-fi spin. Most of this book lacked depth. It was poetic but not necessarily in a good way. I didn't feel like I understood what the characters looked like or truly felt. It wasn't until the second half of the book that I started to understand the characters and their purpose. Thankfully the second half of the book felt like something was finally happening!

After reading it, I'm left with more questions and I'm excited to see it all come together in the next book.

I wish I could remember more of what happened in Matched because I struggled a bit with all that occured between Xander and Cassia, Cassia and Ky. Did I miss any signs of what Xander really was?

I still feel like I don't fully understand what the Farmers are, who the Society is, who started the Rising? Perhaps I could call the Farmers hippies or maybe even Freemen? I wish I could understand more about the start up of the Society. Who really runs it? How long has it been around? How many Rebels actually are planted in the Society? And who the heck is the Enemy???

I'm really hoping all of these burning questions are answered in the FINAL book of this trilogy. And man-oh-man I sure hope she does end this series as stated with a third book. Nothing ruins a series like adding more books to a trilogy.

And for my own recollection... Cassia is in the Outer provinces and meets Indie at the work camp. Cassia sneaks onto an air ship to go to the villages to try to find Ky but ends up a decoy. When she gets there she realizes this is the same camp that Ky was at. She learns that he has escaped with two others. With Indie and another boy who knows the direction they went, they escape at night toward the Carvings. The boy goes his own way and dies. Ky is with Vick and Eli. Vick was the unofficial leader at the camp/village, but he died when someone? dropped poison into the river he was fishing at. Vick was a citizen who Contracted with an Anomaly and was reclassified and was made work as a decoy. Ky and Eli (who is the youngest and Ky feels protective of him) start to head out but then they see Cassia in the distance. They are reunited. Cassia learns that Ky wants nothing to do with the Rising. He wants to be a Farmer. He saw that his father was part of the rising and saw that it only kills people. Indie figures out that Ky has other reasons for not wanting to join the Rising. She figures out that Xander is also part of the rising and if Cassia were to figure out that her original match, and life long best friend were part of the Rising, that Cassia might realize she is meant to be with Xander after all, and not Ky. Cassia does not know this but knows that there is some secret about Xander but that he will have to be the one to tell her. Cassia and Indie are dead set on joining the Rising when it comes time to decide to rebel or join the Farmers. Eli, and the Farmer they came across, Hunter, head to join the escaped Farmers while Cassia and Indie head towards the Rising. Ky is torn but realizes he needs to be with Cassia. He would do anything for her. Cassia and Indie make it to the Rising first. Cassia is basically made to go back to the Society as a spy for the Rising. Ky is to be a pilot for an air ship in Camas. They do not get to say goodbye but both know where the other is. Ky is excited about Camas, though sad that he is apart from Cassia again, because it's where he believes the girl Vick loved, Laney, lives. He hopes to meet Laney? I'm not sure where Indie was sent, but Ky thinks that Indie will somehow bail on the Rising too. Hopefully the next book can resolve so many of the questions I have! I am truly excited for it.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

A departure from books for...CRAFTS!

I took some time away from reading (ha ha) to make some little crafty post-it holders for my kids' teachers. Really easy and cheap to make. I bought 95 cent 5 x 7 plastic frames from Walmart. I already had scrap book paper, buttons and ribbon. I threw them all together, stuck some post-it notes on the front (with the help of a little double stick tape) and BAM! A pretty crafty present!

I'm so not crafty so I'm pretty impressed with myself. But I have to give all the credit for the idea to I LOVE THIS SITE!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Heaven is for Real

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and BackHeaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book very quickly but with that being said, it still felt long. It's an amazing and inspiring story but the way it was told was drawn out. I'm not sure who the story was more about, Colton or his parents. Perhaps both? Obviously this was written by his dad (with the help of a "real" author) from what he heard and understood from Colton and his experience in Heaven.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical about whether to believe if this was a farce or not, but by the end, I was convinced that Colton absolutely did have a supernatural experience. The fact that had me convinced was Colton saying every picture he'd seen of Jesus wasn't quite right until his father found a picture a little girl had drawn after she said she met Jesus. When Colton saw that picture, he said, "that's right". That was goose bump inducing. And it's an absolutely amazing picture.

I also have read the children's illustrated version; my six year old daughter thought it was great. I'd give that version a 4, but since that version is not listed on Goodreads, I can't rate it separately!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ransomes Honor (The Ransome Trilogy #1)

Ransome's Honor (The Ransome Trilogy, #1)Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It was simple and easy to read but really a beautiful clean story that kept my attention from start to end. Although this book is Christian, it's not overly Christian; meaning while there is some faith and prayer, it didn't seem to be the basis of the book by any means.

This is another book that has me excited to read the other books in the Ransome series.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Superflex Takes on Glassman and the Team of Unthinkables (Social Thinking)

Superflex Takes on Glassman and the Team of Unthinkables (Social Thinking)Superflex Takes on Glassman and the Team of Unthinkables by Stephanie Madrigal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My daughter shows signs of ADHD so this book was recommended to us. She struggles with having big reactions to small problems; she is a perfectionist to boot. This book uses cartoon characters called "The Unthinkables", to point out which one of these characters might get into your head and might cause the child to have that big reaction. For instance when my daughter is stuck on an issue and can't get over it, it means she has "Rock Brain" in her head. Superflex helps recognize that Rock Brain is in her head and shows her how she can overcome getting stuck on a problem.

There is a tornado looking character called "Twistermeister". He puts lots of words and ideas into the child's head so they talk about random things that make them blurt out. My daughter is big on interrupting so pointing out that there is a tornado of words in her head that want to come out helps her see that she can learn to control those spinning words and stop from blurting out.

There are many characters that might help children with attention issues and how to move past them. The thing I liked best about this is teaching my daughter that small problems don't need big reactions. A small problem only needs a small reaction. My daughter is six so this helps her understand her issues in an easy manner.

This is a work in progress but I figure I will use all the tools I can to help my daughter succeed in having good behavior at school.

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Lily and the Major (Orphan Train #1)

Lily and the Major (Orphan Train, #1)Lily and the Major by Linda Lael Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a doggone pesky stubborn woman. I can't usually stand when the main character is so stubborn yet so "weak" but this book still got to me and I liked it.

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