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Archive for Reading

11/22/63

Oh my! Stephen King’s 11/22/63 novel is technically my local book club’s Nov pick. When I saw how big it was, I ditched the library book & borrowed it off my husband’s kindle, & since it’s a doozie, I went ahead & read it in August for Nov while I had a lull in my TBR stack. I’ve debated waiting til after book club to post, but I don’t want to accidentally forget.

I can’t wait to talk about it with my friends. So much happens on 11/22/63 that it’s hard to write a review without giving away any spoilers or too much inside information.

This is the first Stephen King book I ever read. I don’t do suspense books often & can’t even think about watching a scary movie & going to sleep that night. So I didn’t leap at the thought of this one at first.

I recalled the husband obsessing over this book to my annoyance last Christmas. Now I get it. {Sorry J!} 11/22/63 is a page turner & I was left repeating ‘holy shit’ more times than I can count from beginning to end.

All the connections to other King novels I thought were really cool. I like when writers casually link their books as a little gift to loyal readers {my Dad & husband filled me in on a lot of these nuances}.

The premise of 11/22/63 intrigued me: if you could go back in time & change the course of history, would you? Could you?

I don’t/didn’t know much about John Kennedy’s assignnation & the events leading up to it, but Stephen King did his research. I loved that while reading 11/22/63, I was so emotionally into this book. I was completely hooked.

I fell in love with Jake/George’s character. I cheered for fellow tall girl Sadie. I learned to see Lee Harvey Oswald & his family like I’d never known them before.

I’ll be honest & say I didn’t love the ending. But after discussing with a coworker & my family, I agree it had to be that way. {Hope that’s not too spoilerish.}

Everyone from my dad, to my SIL to my younger coworker to myself has loved this book. It’s a bit of a time investment {especially if you’re a slower reader}, but I think it’s definitely worth it. 11/22/63 isn’t a story I’m going to forget anytime soon.

Blog Design for Dummies

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Melissa from Momcomm & adventuroo while hanging out with her at Raleigh bloggers nights multiple times in the last few years. I was an e-supporter while she wrote a book! & then I was thrilled when I got the chance to be one of the first to receive a copy to read & review.

Blog Design for Dummies

I’ve taken my time writing & posting this one as I wanted to let Blog Design for Dummies sink in. I devoured it within a week or two while pumping. I love, love, loved that the entire book is done in full color.

It was an easy read even though some of the content delves into more difficult design ideas. But as a ‘for Dummies’ book, this comes across in a way that makes even more complex design ideas doable for even a dummy like myself!

As you can see, I started just turning down pages I wanted to re-review or put in action on here. I quickly realized I needed to add in post its & highlighting as I started to open it up again at night.

Inside Blog Design for Dummies

And yes, within a week of reading, I was inspired to attempt a blog redesign of my own. I’m still not 100% sure of this blog layout/template & haven’t figure out how to switch up the font for my title headings, but I’ve been too busy with sick littles to dig back into coding. Thanks to Blog Design for Dummies, I was able to easily update pages, create & update navigation bars, add footer info, drop some unnecessary plugins, add some better ones & use HTML to do a few of my own side bar widgets!

Blog Design for Dummies is split into sections & chapters that easily flow for someone who wants to read it cover to cover. But if you’re only interested in certain design ideas, the headings & index make it easy to skip around too.

Melissa’s sections of colors/backgrounds, fonts, & using headings caught me first. & they had me rethinking what I’ve been doing. I highlighted & underlined everything on HTML & CSS coding that I should probably know after blogging for 5 years. And yes, I took the photo & shared the page on why & when to save .PNG vs .jpg {sheepishly admitted I didn’t know this!}.

I loved seeing examples throughout Blog Design for Dummies {link to Dummies site} of great blogs who were incorporating the design idea Melissa was highlighting. I loved it even more when I “knew” the author of that particular site.

Blog Design for Dummies {unaffiliated Amazon link} takes the fabulous information Melissa generously shares on Momcomm & takes it up a 1000 notches. In case you don’t love & respect her blog/marketing/design knowledge before, you will after reading it. Anyone interest in blog design {from newbies to old pros} should check it out. Be sure not to miss the last chapter showing full color photos of fabulous blog designs & explaining what helps make them fabulous!

I was thrilled when Melissa offered to send me a copy of Blog Design for Dummies for purpose of this review. My opinions & bad cell photos shared are all my own. But I am hunting Melissa down for an autograph now! ::Fan girl alert::

Summer Beach Reads

As I was working on our beach trip pack list, I went online & reserved some summer beach reads for myself. Yes, I was maybe a bit over confident that I’d have time to myself to read. But between car rides, marathon nursing sessions, & sneaking away time without babies on the beach, I managed to finish four books in the last two weeks. I shared my thoughts One Thousand White Women Monday.

IMG_20130707_145908Mary Kay Andrew’s Spring Fever was first. Spring Fever reminded me immediately of the other Mary Kay Andrews’ books I’ve loved. Her writing voice is exclusively her own. I was half way through when I realized the title doesn’t fit the book IMO. I’m not sure what I would’ve called it, but Spring Fever doesn’t exactly match.

The characters in this novel are southern charmers & I’m not saying this because they’re set in a {fictional I believe} NC town not far from where I live. The soda referenced so frequently throughout Spring Fever {Quixie} does remind me so much of Cheerwine which fellow NC’ers will know as a delicious cherry soda you probably grew up drinking.

Spring Fever tells the story of two friends & the brother/ex-husband they have in common. It weaves together friendship, family, employment & the history & love they all share with lots of laughs, drama & a lil romance thrown in for fun.

IMG_20130707_150043I’ve been excited about reading The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner since I discovered & finished Swim {her short story prequel about the same characters}.

I really enjoyed this novel. The characters were fun & funny. I wanted to be friends with the main character, a struggling writer-turned TV show runner in LA, & her fabulous grandma.

Like other books by Jennifer, this was a great, light read. While it might be ‘chick lit’ & doesn’t have a super heavy subject, it was still good & kept me engaged until the very end. Actually after the end too as I was left hoping we’d get more of the story!

where we belongIn full disclosure, I read Emily Giffin’s Where We Belong exclusively once we were back from the beach. But I’m including it here because I group Emily with the other authors as perfect beach read novelists.

I laughed when I realized Where We Belong also featured a main character, Marian, who was a NYC based TV writer. That took a bit to keep Marian’s character straight from my last read.

But pretty quickly, I became engrossed with this story. The author chooses the write in two voices Marian & Kirby, the now 18 year old who Marian gave up for adoption at birth. I loved that we got both the adult & teenaged perspectives of all the action. I was cheering & wishing well for them both.

I loved the emphasis placed on fathers in Where We Belong. And I admit I was a bit swoony over Conrad.

While I told my mom I might not recommend these for a weighty book club discussion, they are perfect for deliciously light, fun summer reading. Anytime I’m looking for something I know I’ll enjoy without my brain exploding, these authors {& yes, these books} are good picks!

One Thousand White Women

One Thousand White WomenOne Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus was July’s book club pick. I’d never heard of it until Jackie mentioned it back when we were choosing book a couple months ago.

The novel {a first work of fiction by the author} is set in the late 1800s/early 1900s first in the north east then out west in mostly Nebraska territory.

Based on the actual event of the Cheyenne Native American chef asking to trade 1000 white women for 1000 horses {in hopes of their children bridging the cultures}, the story takes off as fiction from there. It reads as the diary of May Dodd, a fallen-from-grace lady from a wealthy, proper family chosen to be part of the first group of white women delivered to the Native American tribe.

As you can guess, the story is pretty wild. One Thousand White Women tells the story of these ‘Brides for Indians’ {the author does a good job creating & painting for us readers vivid characters} traveling cross country, seeing Native Americans for the first time & attempting to assimilate into their lifestyles & families.

My book club’s {& my} complaint is that the book reads like an event list. This happens, then this & this & this… We’d have loved more depth on certain subjects. And we wondered if a man writing from a women’s perspective caused that issue.

Without giving a spoiler but knowing {a bit of Native American} history, you can guess that the story doesn’t end especially well for these characters. But overall I still enjoyed the book. It’s one that will remain memorable & I think would work well for a variety of book clubs to read & review.

Code Name Verity

Jamie from book club recommended Code Name Verity to us. I sadly hadn’t quite finished it for book club last Wednesday night. My follow book nerds kindly didn’t spoil it for me & I will do my best to act on turn.

Code Name Verity is of the young adult genre {I’m turning into a bit of a #YAbooknerd right now}. But the subject matter & story aren’t of the cheesy YA variety. This historical fiction novel takes place mostly in the 1940s following two English/Scottish girls during WWII.

Their roles in the war & it being from a British perspective were new ones for me. I loved hearing a war story from a strong female perspective {actually two perspectives}. I loved the friendships. And I loved that the author really tried to be as authentic as possible & she even describes just how so in the afterward.

My book club has read a good deal of WWII novels. Code Name Verity is now up there as one of my favorites. {I say one of because the memoir Unbroken will be hard if not impossibly so

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to top.} I’m actually looking forward to re-reading this {& I never reread} to search out & understand more of the beginning & also discover foreshadowing I know I overlooked. Code Name Verity was really good. It was another quick read that I had a hard time putting down. I actually am thinking about the characters days later & missing reading their story. That’s a sign of a well written & enjoyed book.

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