My book blog now has its own home. Please visit me at LYNNE'S BOOK REVIEWS. Of course you're more than welcome to see what's going on in my personal life, but if you want to talk books, that's where I'll be!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book Reviews: Girl Meets God, The Girl with the DragonTattoo, A Year by the Sea / New Member of the Moeller Family!

Girl Meets God

I enjoyed this book by author Lauren Winner. Lauren was raised by a reform Jewish father and a Christian mother, became an Orthodox Jew while in high school and then became a Christian while in college. At times she seemed a bit flippant and casual towards religion, but she was definitely straightforward in her thoughts and beliefs. Basically she liked the familiar rituals and stringent rules about Judaism, but in college she felt a strong tug on her heart from God that Jesus really was the Messiah. She said what she ultimately liked about being a Christian was spending time talking to a God who knew from experience what it was like to go hungry or to miss a best friend.

Even though she seemed a bit wishy-washy with converting from one religion to another, she was certainly fully informed and absorbed in each at the time. In the end she took her knowledge about Judaism and the Old Testament to enhance her Christian faith. She felt that God gave us laws but that He gave us the grace (through Jesus) to live those laws.

A favorite paragraph: (When talking about her relationship with a boyfriend) The only other person I have fallen in love with that way is Jesus, and I hope that goes more smoothly. I hope I remember, when I'm bored with Him , and antsy, and sick of brushing my teeth next to the same god every morning, I hope I remember not to leave Him. I am not so worried that He will leave me. The Bible, after all, is full of stories about God sticking with His bride, no matter how stiff-necked and prideful and unfaithful she may be.

3.5/5


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I finally read it! But after about 70 pages I almost gave up. I thought, here we go...another book that everybody in the world likes but me. Can I just tell you (wait, let me make sure my husband isn't listening) that I cannot stand James Bond movies? The first 70 pages was like reading a James Bond movie script. All this foreign conspiracy/international/government/security blah, blah, blah stuff. I hate books like that. B o r i n g.

On page 71, when they finally brought up the good stuff - the disappearance of Harriet Vangar, I decided to read on. And on. And on. The twists and turns were so much fun. Who done it? You'll have to find out for yourself. And you know what, I guess James Bond isn't so bad. But I like reading the scripts better than seeing the movies. Sorry honey.

Loved it. Can't wait to read the next one in the series: The Girl Who Played with Fire.

4/5


A Year by the Sea


Loved this book by Joan Anderson, who wrote it while going through a difficult time in her relationship with her husband. She decided to move to their cottage by the sea to ponder. For a year. Hmm.... Honey, I need some time to ponder. I'll be back in a year. I don't know how many people do that, but still, she pondered, and she wrote a book. Her writing is beautiful.

I pull my knees to my chest, wrap my arms around my shins, and drink in the sweet, pungent aroma of driftwood as the sun, salt, and sea are burned from it.
The wind creates a fickle flame that darts this way and that like fireflies. I'm
hypnotized by the blaze, seeing the burn of struggle, the dance of aliveness,
and knowing that the fire bears watching. I do not ever want the passion of my new ways to cool. The nourishment I feel can only be maintained if I stay close to
the elements - fire, air, water, earth. If I surround myself with them, I shall
always feel the stirrings of my soul.

I felt completely transported to another place while reading this book, like I took a year off and went to a cottage by the sea. Since I couldn't exactly do that, reading about it was the next best thing.

I love books that transport me, that make me feel like I'm with the author in the place she is describing - both physically and emotionally.

4/5


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Without further ado, I'd like to introduce the newest member of the Moeller family:

Weighing in at a hefty 46 pounds...

The long awaited

Greatly anticipated

The beautiful

The intelligent

The sweet-as-can-be...

Marla



Marla, named after the Marlins, is 1 1/2 and, according to my dad, the only thing she doesn't do is fetch a beer from the refrigerator. My brother Ryan has them working on that.

Marla is what they call a release dog. Through CCI (Canine Companions for Independence) she was raised and trained in prison by inmates. It's been proven that dogs trained in prison have a higher success rate of actually graduating and becoming support dogs than if they live with and are trained by regular "puppy raisers."

Although she is intelligent and well trained, Marla did not pass CCI's extremely high standards required for graduation. But I know she's TOP DOG in the eyes of my dad and Trudy.

Congrats on your new "baby," guys; I can't wait to see her.

Here are the commands she knows:

Bed - lies down on a target

Car - loads into vehicle and does not unload until instructed

Down - lies down

Heel - positions itself on the handler's left and sits facing forward

Here - returns to the handler

Hurry - dog toilets itself

Jump - will place its entire body on top of an object

Kennel - will go inside of crate or dog run area

Lap - places its front legs across handler's lap

Let's Go - moves forward with handler

Name - used to gain the dog's attention

No/Don't - verbal correction

Off - will return all four paws to the ground

OK - is permitted to eat or drink

Quiet - stops barking

Release - is permitted to take a break from the command he was performing

Shake - extends paw towards person's hand

Side - positions itself on the handler's right and sits facing forward

Sit - places rear end on the ground

Speak - barks

Stand - stands on all four feet

Stay - will continue to hold a command position

Visit - lays head on the handler's lap

Wait - will not move forward across a designated threshold

Many of these are basic commands, but our two dogs only know "sit." And I would give anything for them to stop barking if I said "quiet."

Okay, you two, off to prison you go.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What are you reading? / California Trip

This weekly meme is hosted by J. Kaye where we list the books we read last week, what we are currently reading and what we plan to read this week.

Last week:

Girl Meets God

A Year By the Sea

Currently Reading:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Plan to read this week:

Olive Kitteridge

What are you reading?

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We got back from California late last night. Had a great trip but unfortunately I left my good Nikon camera under the airplane seat on the way out there. Krista used her employee status to pull some strings and track down the plane in San Francisco. Thankfully they found the camera and are going to Fed Ex it to me. Larry had his little Kodak camera so I was able to take pictures.

We stayed at a really chic hotel in Beverly Hills called the SLS and did a little shopping on Rodeo Drive.

The USC football game was a lot of fun. Poor Traveler, the white horse that gallops down the sidelines after every touchdown, was exhausted :) Way to go Trojans!

We stopped in Manhattan Beach before going to the airport to have a quick lunch with Ryan before going home. My mom was sick so we didn't get to see her. Krista was flying, but she landed at the same time we were leaving, so she came over to our gate to see us for a few minutes. Gary was in Brentwood and couldn't make it to Manhattan Beach in time for lunch.

It was quite the whirlwind weekend trip.

I've never seen a yellow Rolls Royce before. This was on Rodeo Drive.



Larry shopping on Rodeo Drive






Larry in Jason's room at the house he shares with 5 other guys



Jason's house near his fraternity



Marley hanging out the frat window. She's the official mascot.



Jason and Julie holding Kiera, an 8-week-old Doberman who belongs to a USC girl



Eric and Kiera at the frat


Kiera



Eric and Marley



Marley showing her gigantic paws. She is a Great Dane/lab mix



Front of Jason's frat at USC







Eric and Jason



Traveler - notice the sweat from running after all those touchdowns



Eric and Traveler



One of the restaurants at the SLS hotel where we stayed



Jason and Larry at El Sombrero in Manhattan Beach



Ryan and Me at El Sombrero




Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Books / Swine Flu

BOOKS

No book reviews today. I'm reading Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner, which I got from the library. I like her writing style - very witty, with short sentences - and an interesting topic. The author talks about her conversion to Christianity after being raised Jewish. I'll write a review when I'm finished.

I was notified by the library that Olive Kitteridge is ready to pick up, so that will be coming up somewhere in the reading schedule.

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PERSONAL

Eric has the swine flu. It wasn't confirmed, but the doctor is pretty sure he has it, based on his symptoms, and put him on Tamiflu. He started coughing after his basketball game Monday night and woke up with a bad sore throat, achiness, cough and today also had a fever. The doctor said he can still go to California on Friday if he feels well enough to travel and that Larry and I are probably immune because the virus was around in the 70's. Hopefully he'll get over it quickly.

My dad and Trudy are in St. Martin right now :) I wish I were there with them basking in the sun, sipping pina coladas.

Yesterday was such a pretty day. Larry and I took the Harley out for a long ride, then went to see his dog-niece Lula the English bulldog puppy, who looks and snorts like a little piglet...she is so cute! We rode a little more, then stopped for frozen custard. Peanut butter of course. Mmm, mmm! Perfect, perfect day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Monday! What are you Reading? / Musing Mondays

Today's Musing Mondays question asks What is your policy when it comes to new authors? Do you feel comfortable purchasing a book or do you prefer to borrow new authors from the library? How often do you 'try out' a new author?

I don't have a policy as far as new authors; if it looks good or if I've heard good things about the book, I'll read it. Finding new great authors is the BEST! I climbed out from under my rock last week and discovered someone named Jane Austen. Heard of her? Sheesh, I know, it was dark under that rock for all those years :) I also recently found another favorite, Augusten Burroughs, who wrote Running with Scissors, which I loved and ended up recently buying A Wolf at the Table. I've got his others on my TBR list as well. So yeah, definitely I will go out on a limb to try new authors. You never know, you may find a gem. On the other hand, two weeks ago from the library I got Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates, whose books I've never read, and ewww, I couldn't finish it. Too slow. Thankfully I didn't spend $26 on that. It's a gamble, what can I say :) Roll the dice, baby. Boy do we readers live on the edge, or what? LOL

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is hosted by J. Kaye. Feel feel to join us by heading over to her blog.
















Last week I read Open House by Elizabeth Berg



Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen



Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom



Right now I'm reading Stray Affections by Charlene Ann Baumbich



This week I plan to read White Oleander by Janet Fitch



A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson



We are going to California on Friday for Parents Weekend at USC and for the USC game (fun!) so hopefully I'll get lots of reading time in...well, at least on the airplane.

If you want to know my thoughts about the books I've read, you can scroll down my blog and you'll see them.

Hope everyone has a great week of reading!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

SUNDAY SALON

What a beautiful Sunday here in St. Louis. Finally the sun is shining. I'm off to get a massage right now (sore neck), but here's what's going on in my reading world.

I don't know why I bother announcing on my blog what I'm going to read in the coming week because I never end up reading those books. Well, some of them I do, but not all. This week there were 3 different books I started reading and just put them aside because I wasn't in the mood for them. For me, it's all about the mood :) Gotta be in the mood for a certain book. I started A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; too long - 500 pages - and just didn't feel like reading a big book. Then I picked up Running to the Mountain by John Katz. Didn't feel like reading that. Then I got Girl Meets God from the library hold list; didn't feel like starting that since I just read Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom. Stray Affections came in the mail yesterday from Goodreads, and it seemed lighthearted and easy to read, so that's what I started last night.

What about you? Does your mood affect your book choices?


Saturday, October 17, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom / Football - Athlete of the Week

I picked this up at the library, came home and read it that afternoon. Great book. Not surprising considering Albom's others. In this one he talks about faith - his (Jewish), his wife's (Christian), his childhood rabbi's faith and the faith of a pastor with a haunting past criminal life. And yes I cried. I love the way Albom writes; it's so deep and heartfelt. In the book he questions his faith, is inspired by the faith of others, and he makes you think. He really makes you think.

My favorite book of his so far.

5/5

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ALL THINGS PERSONAL

Neat video about a kid in our old neighborhood who goes to Brentwood High School and was named Athlete of the Week last week. Tywan was adopted by the Williams family from Brentwood six years ago. Dan Williams himself was adopted and had noticed Tywan hanging out at the local gym week after week. He befriended him and took him under his wing and ended up adopting Tywan and his brother Dee. April and Dan Williams also have a biological daughter, who has gone to school with Eric since kindergarten. Great family and great story. Tywan is also a very good basketball player.

OH!!! And the adorable blonde kid interviewed in the video? That's my best friend Julie Dee's son, Taylor. I love that kid like he's my own.



This was on last night's news.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice / B-Ball News

Okay, why didn't anyone tell me this was such a good book? LOL. I can't believe I missed out all these years. I am SO not one to follow the reading crowd (I've got Oprah burn scars), but the fact that this is a classic and was on the GoodReads best books of all times list should have been a good indicator :)

I don't need to tell you what it's about since everyone and their mother has read it, but here's what I thought.

Honestly, in the beginning it was hard to figure out who was related to whom, what with all the mention of cousins and uncles and nephews, etc. And then the distinguished, proper English took some getting used to. But once I got in a groove and got the feeling of Austen's writing (I'm an Austen virgin, what can I say), I absolutely felt the passion. That's it. You know what I'm talking about. I will definitely read this again. I know I'll get something different out of it every time I do.

Thanks for all the comments everyone left encouraging me to read this book. You've opened my eyes to a whole new world.

5/5


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ALL THINGS PERSONAL (stuff that only my dad and brothers will care about :)

Eric had a scrimmage last night against another high school. He played well and had 10 points. His team won by 3 in a scrappy, low scoring, foul filled game. E is definitely getting better and going up to the basket with more confidence and strength. He needs to rebound more, but I'm not going to say anything because I'm just the mom and I don't know anything.

The little freshman guard I whined about who transferred to DeSmet last week is really, really good. I think he might be famous one day. I guess I'll let him be on our team :) Just kidding. Last night during the scrimmage before E's game, DeSmet's best varsity player (a center), may have broken his ankle. I don't know how that will affect Eric and the freshman center and whether or not they'll be asked to try out for varsity.

Again, I just hope Eric makes the team...any team.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

This week's Booking Through Thursday question asks:

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all?


And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

I rarely get rid of books. In fact, I still have a few books from when I was young that I treasure because they were gifts and have notes written from the givers, some of whom have since passed away.

Two years ago when I married and moved, I went through my books and those that no longer pertained to my life (How-to-find-a-man books, What to Expect When You're Expecting, etc.), and took them to Goodwill. Mostly, though, my husband-to-be groaned about the boxes and boxes of books he was inheriting.

I occasionally loan my books to friends but most of the time they are not returned. I don't know why it matters; the books just sit on my shelf anyway. I guess I like how they look there. My own little (though ever expanding) collection. Just for me. I suppose if I had a like minded book friend who shared my passion, I would be more than happy to trade and share.

And I never, ever see my books as WEEDS! Gasp!

Totally off the subject, but I love this. The Russian version of "he's lost his marbles"?...."His roof slid off."

I just think that is so funny.

Have a great day, everyone :)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: OPEN HOUSE

What a fun, crazy book. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to be amused by the antics of a recently separated woman ("Sam") with an 11-year-old son, who takes on a roommate to help pay the mortgage. The subsequent revolving roommates are absolute characters who add immensely to the drama. Sam's preteen son's indifferent, sometimes nasty attitude is right on (I would know). I loved the other characters in the book as well. Sam's long-distance friend, Rita, is blunt and honest and over-the-top but at least you know where she stands; and her new friend "King" is likable and sweet (the way they meet is quite interesting). What a great friend he turns out to be. King not only hooks Sam up with a temporary job agency but babysits for her as well. The story follows Sam as she struggles with her sadness and low self-esteem after her husband leaves her, how she handles her intrusive mother and grudgingly accepted blind dates, and how she "finds" and finally loves herself. The ending will surprise you. Really. It will.

Elizabeth Berg's writing is similar to Jennifer Weiner, whom I adore. She's witty, funny and surprisingly - very surprisingly at points - straightforward. Throughout the book I giggled like a school girl, grinned like a circus clown or laughed out loud. Can't wait to read her other books.

5/5

Monday, October 12, 2009

What Are You Reading?

J. Kaye over at J. Kaye's Book Blog hosts It's Monday! What are You Reading?

I didn't participate last Monday so I wanted to mention that the week before I read:

Memoirs of a Geisha - I don't know why, but I thought it was just okay. I think after reading Snowflower and the Secret Fan, which to me was fascinating, I thought this book was simply fair. I know, I know, you all loved it. What can I say? I did enjoy it and learned a lot about geishas but only gave it a 3/5.

Last week I was supposed to read Pride and Prejudice but had to return it to the library before I got a chance. From what everyone says about how good this is, perhaps I should think about buying a copy for myself. I'm reluctant now, though, with my penchance for not loving the books that everyone else does. Hmm..

Last week I did read:

Heart of the Game: Life, Death and Mercy in Minor League America by S.L. Price. - Amazing book about a minor league player turned coach who was killed instantly by a foul ball hit by one of his own players. I love sports and I love stories of forgiveness and mercy. Besides the family of the coach/victim (Mike Coolbaugh), the author tells the effects of the tragic event on the pitcher, batter, and umpires involved. I read it in two sittings and gave it a 5/5.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf - I enjoyed this book. It's about two families whose little girls, who are friends, go missing. I was captivated by the strange father of one of the girls, as well as the rocky relationship he had with his wife. Interesting, suprising ending. I gave it a 4/5.

I WAS reading...for 145 pages in fact!...Joyce Carol Oates' book Little Bird of Heaven and no matter how determined I was (I am not one to give up easily), I just could not get into it. It's supposed to be about the murder of a woman who was involved with a family man. But I didn't find out even a hint of what it was about until about the 100th page. It was slow. JCO's writing style is strange. The sentences were hard to follow. I had to re-read sentences in order to understand them. It was exhausting. I gave up. 0/5.

Now I am reading:

Open House by Elizabeth Berg - I'm only 15 pages in and am really enjoying it. That's what I'm talkin' about. The author is witty and funny. Reminds me of Jennifer Weiner. Maybe how much you enjoy a book is determined by the mood you're in at the moment. Maybe this is what I need right now.



This week, after I finish Open House, I plan to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and maybe White Oleander or The Dogs of Babel. Depends on the mood I'm in :)

How about you? What are you reading? (When my brother replies to this, he says, "Bills.")

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