Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Old Challenge

When I first started reading again, the first book I read was "A Knight in Shining Armour" by Jude Deveraux. Ever since I have had a soft spot for romance novels even when people criticize them and say they aren't "real" novels. The ones I read I enjoy. So, I'm participating in the Romance Reading Challenge 2012 hosted by The Bookworm. You can find the sign-up post here.  Here are the details of the challenge:

It runs from January 1st, 2012 through December 31st, 2012.

"Romance" isn't limited to steamy Harlequin novels. There is a huge selection of books in this category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance to name a few. As long as the story has romantic love between the two main characters your selection will fit this challenge. The novels do not need to have a happy ending either, there can also be unrequited love.

Choose at least 5 novels to read. You can change your choices at any time. Crossovers between other challenges are fine. I think I'll go with 10 books.

All kinds of books count such as eBooks, Audiobooks...etc.

Go to The Bookworm's blog for suggestions on where to find romance novels and stories.

I have lots of different genres of books that I read. Every once in a while, I just want to take a break and read something fun. Don't you?

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Four Month Challenge -- Part 8 starting January 1st

Love these 4-month Challenges!  This one starts January 1st and goes through April 30th. It is hosted by Book Drunkard. The categories are always interesting and push me to read books I may not have read otherwise. These are the categories for this new challenge:

5 Point Challenges

Read a book by an author who’s first or last name starts with J

Read a book set in ancient Rome

Read a book that is a retelling of a fairy tale

Read a book by an author writing under another name

Read a book you’ve been meaning to read for ages

10 Point Challenges

Read a book by an author who’s first or last name starts with F

Read a book with the word ‘love’ in the title

Read a book with a flower in the title or on the cover

Read a book with a book on the cover

Read a book set in the wild west

20 Point Challenges

Read a book by an author who’s first or last name starts with M

Read a book set in ancient Egypt

Read a book about pirates or that is set on a boat

Read the 100th book on your shelf

Read a book you’ve read before

25 Point Challenges

Read a book by an author who’s first or last name starts with A

Read a Dystopian novel

Read a book by an author with 12 letters in their name (combined)

Read a book about a royal (fiction or non-fiction)

Read a book with an animal in the title or on the cover

I notice that the points add up to 300 as opposed to 250 in previous challenges. As usual, some of the categories are easy and some are not so easy -- an author with 12 letters in his/her first or last name? Hmmm...but that's why they call them "challenges" I guess.

I'm ready to start! Are you? The sign-up post isn't up yet, but I'm sure it will be soon. Ready, set, read!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Christmas Candle by Max Lucado

The Christmas CandleThe Christmas Candle by Max Lucado

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Journey back to a simpler time, to a small English village where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. Except at Christmastime.

When a mysterious angel suddenly appears in a lowly candlemaker's shop, the holy and the human collide in a way that only God could imagine.

Glowing bright with a timeless message, The Christmas Candle will warm your heart with a surprising reminder of God's bountiful love.

This is the kind of book you want to read at Christmastime. It was a typical Christmas story, but it inspired me and gave me hope. Everyone needs a boost in their faith once in a while and this was a story of God's ongoing love for us. The characters were lovable, especially Bea and Edward. I loved how they passed on the Christmas Candle gift.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff

The Christmas DollThe Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lucy and Glory are orphaned sisters with no real place to call home. Only their memories of a beautiful doll named Morning Glory brighten their bleak lives. One day, the girls find an old, battered doll that Glory senses is their beloved Morning Glory. But Morning Glory is no ordinary doll. And how she leads the girls to the most surprising turn of fortune makes for a heartwarming story that brims with love, hope, and the spirit of Christmas.

My daughter told me I should read this book last year when I was doing the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge, but I never got to it. So, I decided to read it this year. It is the story of two orphan girls who escape the workhouse and live on the streets in the city. The elder, Lucy, got a job at a doll's shop when she went in to try to sell a doll she had found in the mud. She happened to be wearing her sister Glory's apron upon which she had stitched a little Morning Glory flower. The shopkeeper noticed the flower and was convinced that Lucy had talent for stitching and could be their Hearts Girl for the Christmas season. I know I have told a bit about the story, but there is so much more to tell. It's a sad, but sweet story about the sisters' love for each other and the hope that kept them alive. I know it is a children's book, but it was such a satisfying read for this Christmas season.

View all my reviews

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Third Sentence Thursday

Third Sentence Thursday

First of all -- Merry Christmas to all!  This is the first time I am participating in Third Sentence Thursday, but it sounds easy and fun! Here is all you do:

1.Take the book you are currently reading and post the third sentence.

2.Share your thoughts on the sentence.

3.Go to Proud Book Nerd and post a link to your blog post in the link list. If you don’t have a blog, just leave it in the comments there.

4.Visit one or two of the other blogs to check out their third sentence.

Easy, right? I just started I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (one of my favorite authors!) and here is the third sentence:   

He knows it.

Wow -- not much of a sentence, is it? Markus Zusak writes lots of short sentences, but he is awesome! I've only just begun this book, but my daughter just read it and says it is very funny -- especialy the first part -- and it has a great ending. She also said that it is a great book to read over Christmas break. Markus Zusak's The Book Thief is still my favorite book of all time and I read it several years ago. So, if you are looking for a good book to read over the Christmas holidays, pick up I Am the Messenger!

Read Your Name Challenge 2012

Victoria at Erik is (so not) Dead! is hosting this challenge again. I love challenges like this! The challenge is to read your name in book title first letters, ultimately spelling out your name.

That means:

Using your first name, or blogger name, or your pet's name, or even your favorite literary character's name; whichever you like, choose books with first title letters that spell out your name. Such as my name: Sharen. the first book's title would start with the letter S, then the next book title begins with H, etc. Make sense?


1.Whenever you have finished a book for this challenge and reviewed it: If you have a blog, go to the dedicated blog for Read Your Name Challenge 2012 and leave your review link in the Mr. Linky that will be up. If you do not have a blog, just leave your progress in a comment. :)

2.The challenge runs from Jan. 1st 2012, to Dec. 31st 2012. You may join at any time between Jan 1st and Nov 30th.

3.Last but not least, be sure to sign up using Mister Linky on Read Your Name Challenge 2012! and leave a comment with what name you're going to use and where it came from. :)

Other (minor) Details:

•NAMES ONLY PLEASE! You DO NOT have to use your whole name; just your first name if you want, & initials are okay. No words like: water, book, blue, etc. please, just regular old official NAMES.

•Books read before 1/1/12 do not count. Audio books and eBooks are okay. & Crossovers with other challenges are also okay.

•You could read the books in any order you wish, but then what is the point of READING YOUR NAME out in book title first-letters if you're not going to do it in order?

So, if you want to link up and do this challenge with us, go to Read Your Name Challenge 2012 and sign up! Hmmm...should I use S-H-A-R-E-N or A-L-L-E-L-U-I-A-L-U? I think I'll go with SHAREN, ALLELUIALU has lots of L's and U's. Hope you join us and Good Luck!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Time Travel Reading Challenge 2012 -- Yessss!

Time travel is what started me reading again -- with "Knight in Shining Armor" by Jude Deveraux. That was many years ago but I still love this genre and I want to join this challenge in 2012.
Here are the rules:

•Challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31st, 2012. You can join anytime.

•Books from other challenges count as long as they are about time travel.

•Books can be children's, middle-grade, YA or adult fiction.

•Write a post and link it below including the URL to that sign-up post.

And the levels:

•Surprise Trip: 1 to 3 time travel books.

•Great Adventure: 4 to 6 time travel books.

•Fantastic Journey: 7 to 9 time travel books

•Mind-boggling Voyage: 10 to 12 time travel books
To sign up and to peruse the great list of time travel books and authors who write time travel, hop on over to The Library of Clean Reads. I'm on my way now!
I think I'll try for the Great Adventure (4 to 6 books) and if I'm lucky and I get more than that read, I'll just move up a level. Can't wait to start!

New Cover Reveal for "Sleepers" by Megg Jenson

Introducing the new artwork for Megg Jenson's best-selling novel Sleepers.

To celebrate the re-launch of Sleepers in January 2012, Megg is giving it a new cover with artwork from the incredible PhatPuppy.

Synopsis: An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen, until a spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she's filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. Even her years of secret training in elite hand-to-hand combat and meditation can’t calm the fires raging inside her.Her heart is torn between two boys, the one she’s always loved and the one who always ignored her. But when the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to rumors surrounding the queen’s alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?

On sale now for only 99 cents!

If you want to read a review of Sleepers, here's a link to some you can find on Goodreads: .

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What are your Top 10 Christmas Movies?

My husband came across this article listing the Top Ten Best Christmas Movies of All Time. I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. Here is the article's list:

10. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol - the 1951 adaptation. The author also suggests the musical version - Scrooge. (Okay, I can live with that one.)

9. 1947 telling of Miracle on 34th Street. (Love that one, too.)

8. Gremlins (Whaatt?? Don't get it.)

7. Elf (Okay, I love Elf, too.)

6. The Bishop's Wife (also a favorite of mine)

5. A Christmas Story (I expected this to be on the list, but I never even heard of it until I was in my 30's.)

4. 1941 (Never heard of it. )

3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (You've got to be kidding.)

2. Brazil (Excuse me, what? Is that a Christmas film?)

1. Die Hard (This is just too bizarre. What has this world come to?)

Here's my list -- these are the movies/shows my family watches EVERY year and I also included the animated ones because it wouldn't be Christmas without them:

1. White Christmas (a classic -- I saw it with my Dad at the big movie theatre in our small town when I was 5 and every year since!)

2. Miracle of 34th Street (watch it every year at Thanksgiving)

3. It's a Wonderful Life (a great movie -- can you hear those bells ringing, Clarence?)

4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (my husband had my Dad record this when it was on and we were attending a work Christmas party when we were dating)

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated version is still the best -- at least in our house)

6. Unaccompanied Minors (this is a more recent film, but it was hilarious in the theater and just as hilarious every year we watch it on DVD)

7. The Santa Clause (just watched it again the other night...the first one is the best)

8. A Charlie Brown Christmas (Wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't watch this.)

9. The Bishop's Wife (this is also one I saw when I was young and loved it ever since)

10. An American Christmas Carol (Henry Winkler did this one and, though it is hard to find, it a great rendition of the classic tale.)

How about you? Can you make a list of 10 of your favorite Christmas films? Let's see it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Where Are You Reading Challenge

This sounds like a great challenge! The idea is to read a book that takes place in each of the 50 states of the United States. You set up a map on Google Maps and place a marker where your book takes place. I haven't done it yet, but I'm looking forward to setting up my map as soon as I get done here.

The challenge runs from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012. You determine which state to use from where the main character spends the most time. For example, if your main character is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but the story is about her living and working in New York City, you would use New York as the state. If the book goes from one state to another, you use the state where most of the book takes place. If you read a book that takes place in another country, you can use that, too. Books read from areas outside the 50 states get you bonus points. A drawing will be held for those who read 10 or more books outside of the U.S. using

So, why don't you join us on our tour of the U.S. (and the world) by visiting BookJourney and signing up!

I'll keep you posted and provide a link for my map when I get it going so you can see how cool it is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Loveswept Holiday Hop

Blessed Advent and Happy Holidays to everyone! Romance At Random is celebrating their Loveswept line with a random e-book Giveaway to 25 winners plus an opportunity to win one Grand Prize from Enter here to be included in the FREE random e-book drawing (25 winners will pick up their FREE book from Net Galley) and then stop on by and comment to enter the drawing to be the ''ONE” Grand Prize winner, to win a selection of great books! Good Luck & Happy Holidays to all!

INCREASE your chances to win by visiting all of the participating 'Loveswept - Holiday Hop' sites! Winners will be contacted after 1/10/12.

Friday, December 9, 2011

This Year It Will Be Different by Maeve Binchy

This Year It Will Be DifferentThis Year It Will Be Different by Maeve Binchy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From the New York Times bestselling author of Circle of Friends and The Glass Lake comes This Year It Will Be Different, a stunning new work that brings us the magic and spirit of Christmas in fifteen stories filled with Maeve Binchy's trademark wit, charm, and sheer storytelling genius. Instead of nostalgia, Binchy evokes contemporary life; instead of Christmas homilies, she offers truth; and instead of sugarplums, she brings us the nourishment of holidays that precipitate change, growth, and new beginnings.

In "A Typical Irish Christmas," a grieving New York widower heads for a holiday in Ireland and finds an unexpected destination not just for himself, but for a father and daughter at odds. The title story "This Year It Will Be Different" also delves into the emotions of a person at mid-life--a woman with a complacent husband and grown children who are entering a season that can forever alter her life, and theirs. In "Pulling Together," a teacher not yet out of her twenties sees her affair with a married man at a turning point as Christmas Eve approaches--and she may be off on a new direction with some unusual friends. And in the delightful tale "The Hard Core," the four most recalcitrant residents of a nursing home are left alone at Christmas with the owner's daughter in charge: the result is sure to be disaster--or the kind of life-affirming renewal that only the spirit of the season can bring.

This book was a collection of great stories about Christmas celebrations. Many of them involved men, women or families from Ireland, Britain or Australia. There were stories for everyone from all walks of life and in all sorts of situations. My favorite was the one about the Irish schoolteacher who was supposed to get married but her fiance left her. Many years later, her students kept asking her what she was doing for Christmas and finally she told them she was going to America -- to New York City. They asked her to make a wish on the Statue of Liberty for them and she agreed. She found $200 in the back of her passport that she put there in anticipation of her honeymoon. She went to New York City and used the $200 to take a tour of the city. On that tour, she went to the Statue of Liberty and made a wish that the students would get their performance hall built. While she was on that particular trip, she met a man and they became good friends. The man had lost his very good friend, Stephan, within the last year. He told him he would build him an auditorium, but he couldn't do it in New York because he and Stephan were gay and his family objected. So, he and the schoolteacher decided to build Stephan's auditorium in Ireland for her students. They both got their wishes. There are lots of other stories like this one in this wonderful book. Great for reading by the fire on a cold December night.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Joys

As I was cleaning the other day (yes, I was doing that!), I came across this book:

432 things to do...Wow! I've decided to list 10 of them to get you started enjoying this time leading up to Christmas.

1. Be the first to wish everyone you meet a Merry Christmas.
2. Buy a pair of red flannel pajamas that you only wear on Christmas Eve.
3. Take the family to see a small-town Christmas parade.
4. Don't count calories from December 15th through January 2nd.
5. Never select a Christmas tree after dark.
6. Mend a broken relationship with a friend or relative during the holidays.
7. Take a basket of Christmas goodies to a notoriously grumpy neighbor.
8. Be nice to sales personnel. They're often wearier than you are.
9. Don't schedule yourself too tightly during the holidays. Before making an appointment, ask yourself, "Can this wait until after Christmas?"
10. Take a holiday family photograph each year in the same spot, such as by a favorite tree in your yard. In years to come, you'll have a wonderful record of the growth of your family, as well as the growth of the tree.

So, get started! Christmas is a season. Sometimes the things we do leading up to it are just as memorable (sometimes more memorable) than the actual day.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Quiet Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott

The Quiet Little Woman: Tilly's Christmas, Rosa's Tale : Three Enchanting Christmas StoriesThe Quiet Little Woman: Tilly's Christmas, Rosa's Tale : Three Enchanting Christmas Stories by Louisa May Alcott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Everything about The Quiet Little Woman: A Christmas Story by Louisa May Alcott is heartwarming, starting with the extraordinary tale of its origin. Alcott wrote the story for three girls who emulated Little Women's March sisters by founding their own literary publication, but the magazine was lost for many years; this story is now being published in book form for the first time. The Quiet Little Woman tells the story of Patty, a young girl living hopelessly in an orphanage, who is rescued at Christmas time by a kindly woman named Aunt Jane. Also collected in this small, beautiful (and not coincidentally, Christmas stocking-size) volume are two of Alcott's other holiday stories; one of them, "Rosa's Tale," is a really lovely fable about a horse who speaks at midnight on Christmas Eve.

This book is a collection of three precious little Christmas stories by Louisa May Alcott. Louisa wrote them for five girls who began as fans but ended up dear friends of hers. The stories are perfect for the Christmas season and tell of awakening to the plight of others and being generous in order to ease their troubles. My favorite was "Tilly's Christmas" and told of a little girl who found an injured bird on the path and took it home to take care of. Her friends didn't think she should be she said her mother told her that she should look after her neighbors. Her care was rewarded by a Christmas Eve visitor who had heard the girls' conversation and was inspired to lighten Tilly and her mother's burden. All three stories made me feel warm and happy at the end. Just right for a chilly December night.

View all my reviews