Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac by Sharma Shields

As always, this review may contain spoilers

Did you know GoodReads has GIVEAWAYS?!?  It's the best kind of giveaway, free books!  Publishers and Authors give away books as an incentive to read a new author or new series or for whatever other reasons people might give other people books.   It's pretty great!  The greatest part?  I have actually been the lucky winner of a few of these giveaways!  I really love free books!

Back in February I scored a copy of The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac by Sharma Shields.  To be honest, I didn't read the description on this book at all, but was excited about the title.  I totally believe in Sasquatch and they live in the area.  My sister has even seen them in the woods behind her house!  But, to my surprise, this isn't actually a guide to finding Sasquatch in your neck of the woods, but, in fact, it's a novel.  Meh, I'll still read it.

This novel starts out bizarre and doesn't let up!  Nine-year-old Eli Roebuck's mother is very excited that a guest is coming over one afternoon.  She dresses herself and Eli in their good clothes and prepares biscuits for her guest.  When the guest arrives, Eli is pretty surprised to see that he is a giant, naked, hairy beast, not really a man at all.  After a short, not-so-well-mannered visit, Eli's mother abandons Eli and his father to join Mr. Krantz in his woodland life.  This rocks Eli's world and effects not only his father and himself, but generations of his own family.

Eli becomes a podiatrist and a cryptozoologist because of his obsession with finding Mr. Krantz.  Through his research foundation, he receives lots of information and leads about Sasquatch.  He even manages to find a metatarsal bone from what he believes is Mr. Krantz.  His obsession and his struggle impacts his wives and daughters in a major way.  Each member of Eli's family battles their own demons over the years and nearly everyone's sanity is questioned at one point or another.  A unicorn, sea monster, baby stealing bird, gypsy curses, enchanted hats and bird-legged shopkeepers are among the elaborate cast of characters featured in this novel.

I really didn't want to like this book.  It was seriously bizarre, but it kept me interested because I HAD to see what the heck was going on.  The book is written from different character's points of view and some chapters felt really mixed up.  There were a few times that I couldn't really tell who's perspective the story was being told from.  Most of the chapters ended without any closure and you had to hope the next chapter or two would fill in the blanks.  I was left with a lot more questions than answers in the end as there were huge chunks of time that were skipped over.  It's highly unlikely that I will read this book again, but I'm going to donate it to my local library for others to enjoy.

If you have read this, I want to hear from you!  Comment!  Maybe we can fill in some of the blanks together!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Challenge Your Shelf Reading Challenge

I really like when a reading list is handed to me and I don't really have to make a decision on what book to read next.  I joined a book club this month for this very reason!  In the book club, we are reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I probably would not have read this book if it hadn't been assigned to me because I wasn't impressed with the movie, but I'm reading it now and not hating it. I'll post a full review when I've finished.

I got an email from Penguin Random House offering up a Summer Reading Challenge.  Somehow I didn't actually see this challenge until the last half of August so summer is nearly over. It is a list that someone else put together for me to choose from and it's not full of YA or witches or vampires or zombies, so I'll try it.  I was especially encouraged when I found that I had already read two of the books on the list over the summer!  The website encourages you to post your challenge progress using #challengeyourshelf, so here is one of my rare attempts to use a hashtag!  Usually I'm not cool enough for hashtags, but this is one I could really get into!  Print the list from their website and get to crossing off the ones you've read.  In the comments, tell me about the ones you have read or are excited to start reading.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

My local librarian, aka Mom, practically insisted that I read this one because she loved it so much.  She was right, it was pretty stinkin' good.  This story follows 13 year old Jenna as she tries to solve a 10 year old mystery.  Jenna's mother, Alice, was an elephant researcher who disappeared after an incident at the elephant sanctuary she and her husband ran.  Jenna enlists the help of Serenity, a psychic and Virgil, a private investigator.  They follow clues Jenna finds while reading Alice's diaries and it takes them on an adventure through time and across two continents to find out what happened on that fateful day when Alice disappeared.

This story has a strong theme of the love found in a mother-daughter relationship.  It was very well written and has some twists and turns right up to the very end that I sure didn't see coming.  Each chapter is written from the point of view of each of the characters.   I actually listened to the audio rather than reading this book and I really enjoyed this.  Each character is a different narrator so it was easier to visualize the story and it was more like a movie.  Now that I say that, this actually might make a pretty good movie!  I say, put this book on your to-read list and then move it pretty close to the top.

Have you read this?  What did you think? 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure

I just finished Candace Cameron Bure's most recent book and I think you should be reading it too!  Candace is a devout Christian who strives to be a light for God in this world, all while working in Hollywood.  You know that has to be a tough goal!  I have serious struggles with being a good example for Christ and I don't live in a media spotlight!

In this book, she talks about her time on Dancing with the Stars and compares it to her Christian walk.  Some of the struggles she is faced with in this journey included inappropriate dance moves, revealing costumes and public opinion.  She is confronted with criticism from secular media and also Christians who didn't think she was doing the right thing.  The continuing theme of the book is that she has to get past what other people think of her and her actions and focus on what God has called her to do.  Proverbs 29:25 says 'The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in the Lord is protected'.  Candace talks about the Bible teaching that God will provide a way for you do to what he has called you to do just like He provided a way for her to go all the way to the finale of DWTS even though she had no dance background.  She admits that the had major struggles in this time, but that it was all worth it to have such a wonderful experience.  She boasts about her weaknesses and gives all the glory to God because she couldn't have done any of it without Him.

I read Candace's first book, Reshaping it All:  Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness,  recently and you can read about it here.  I liked Dancing through Live even more than the first book.  I felt like this book flowed better and that she has grown as a writer.  She has written another book called Balancing it All:  My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose.  I have not read this one, but I have it downloaded to my Kindle and it should be moving closer to the top of my to-read list.  I'm sure I will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed the two I've already read.  

P.S. Search YouTube for her dances and tell me what you think.  It looks like she had a lot of fun! And you can follow Candace's blog here.

Is God doing big things in your life?  Are you listening to His calling?

What are you reading?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Warning:  this review may contain spoilers

Let me start today's review with this:  I live in a bubble.  When I stumbled across this book in an email from one of the sites my local library uses for digital media, I just thought it sounded cool.  I didn't know it had been made into a movie.  I didn't know that Oprah read it for her book club.  I didn't know anything about this book.  About half way through, I said something about it to someone and they told me it was a movie and I should watch it after I read the book!  Like I said, I live in a bubble.

With all that said, I went into this book with no expectations because I didn't know anything about it.  I gotta say, I liked the book. Sex, drugs and language are things I can deal with, if you can't, don't read this book.  This is the true story of a woman who hiked hundreds of miles across the Pacific Crest Trail.  For those of you who also live in a bubble, this is a scenic trail that stretches from the Mexican/American border to the Canadian/American border across the western coast.  Thousands of people hike this trail every year, most are just on day hikes, a few hike large portions and then there are the real bad-asses who hike from border to border, but I imagine there are fewer of those.

Cheryl has been through a lot in her life.  Then, in her twenties, her mother died and that really rocked her world.  Cheryl didn't deal well with it and drug herself down a spiral that was very dangerous for her.  To clear her head and help her get her act together, she decides to hike from Mojave, CA north.  After she meets several interesting people, sees lots of beautiful things and faces many struggles along the way, she ends up at the Bridge of the Gods in Oregon.

I thought the book was pretty well written.  I felt like I was right there, watching the movie of this book in my head the whole time I was reading!  Then I watched the actual movie and I was disappointed.  I like Reese Witherspoon and  I think she did a great job portraying Cheryl Strayed.  My girl crush on Reese may have been one of the reasons I even finished the movie.  I know they have to cut things out of the story to fit the allotted time for a movie, but they cut out huge, important chunks of this story.  I think that if I hadn't read the book first, I probably wouldn't have finished the movie.  There were times when it dragged along and they could have put more of the people Cheryl met along the way.  Instead there were long periods where Reese Witherspoon was hiking alone to the music in her head.  Obviously the hiking is important, that's the bulk of the story, but I think they could have squeezed in a few more of the details from the book.  If you haven't read the book or watched the movie, I say read the book, but you can pass on the movie.

Have you loved a book and not loved the movie?

Which ones?

Monday, August 3, 2015

People I want to Punch in the Throat by Jen Mann

Audiobooks and bloggers are a couple of my favorite things right now so this book was perfect!  This book is a hysterical view of suburban middle class that we are all thinking but don't often say.  There are stories of over the top birthday parties, mommy wars, exclusive book clubs and more exclusive play groups all told by snarky mom, Jen Mann.  Jen is a blogger and work-at-home mom who isn't one of the Dolce mom's with their perfect outfits and prodigy children.  Her house gets messy, she wears yoga pants, her kids act like kids and she cusses a lot; right up my ally!  This book might not be for the faint of heart as there are several f-bombs and the like, but the writer is super funny and I think it's worth a read (or listen, like I did).  Be prepared to laugh out loud!

Does language in books keep you from finishing them?