Tag Archive for books

Why We Read

There’s a newish blog out there co-written by a group of busy moms who champion their continued love of books, we still read. And while I haven’t been able to keep up with all their posts or {even recently} my own reading, I love the idea behind managing to find little bits of time to keep up with book reading in between raising kiddos & sharing it online.

Wednesday night, as L & Z sat together sharing their toddler elephant chair each with their own book & then L jumped in my lap while we tried to capture a still photo of Zach stacking up his current favorite books then sitting on them to read on his own, I thought, THIS is why I read. This is why I read to them. This is why they will sometimes see me reading. Raising little readers (lil book nerds!) brings me so much joy.

Snow Day Reading

Reclaim my Heart {author interview}

After tackling the monster sized 11/22/63, I was ready for a happy break into a lighter hearted, quick read. I happily pulled Donna Fasano’s Reclaim my Heart up on my kindle & got lost in the characters.

After spending so much time reading books based in the past recently, it was refreshing to read a novel set in the present. Yet I found it so interesting that Donna juxtaposed busy, hectic Philadelphia city life with rural life in Pennsylvania too. It was the rural setting parts of Reclaim My Heart that I couldn’t put down.

The character of the busy mom who thinks she has it all together Tyne rang true for my current life. And I won’t forget the name of the troubled son in the story; Zach definitely sticks out for me. :)

You can just picture Mr. Lucas Silver Hawk perfectly by Donna’s great character development. He’s the perfect romantic book hero – big, browney, Native American, successful attorney & yet just flawed enough to draw you in.

Reclaim my Heart was a quick read. Perfect for beach reading, a study break, or wanting to pass the time while traveling {or pumping as in my case}.

Since she was so kind in our email conversations, I asked Donna if she didn’t mind doing a short author interview with me. I tried not to ask questions that would give spoilers!

A little background to get us started if you’re new like I was to getting to know her. USA TODAY bestselling author Donna Fasano is a three time winner of the HOLT Medallion, a CataRomance Reviewers Choice Award winner for Best Single Title, a Desert Rose Golden Quill Award finalist, and a Golden Heart finalist. Her books have sold nearly 4 million copies worldwide and have been published in nearly two dozen languages. Her books have made the Kindle Top 100 Paid List numerous times, climbing as high as #9.

I read in the remarks at the end of the novel how you were writing during the death of your parent, stopped, then picked back up again. What made you pick it back up? Did you change any major plot points based on your family situation?

I had to finish Tyne and Lucas’ story because the characters seemed to take on a life of their own. They kept hounding me until I finished the book. My family situation didn’t affect any of the book’s major plot points. I wouldn’t have set it aside at all if I hadn’t been so exhausted and dejected with my dad’s terminal diagnosis. It was a sad time for me and all my family members.

I connected with Reclaim my Heart from page one loving the name of the son – Zachary as that’s my little boy’s name. Deciding on that was hard for us! How do you come up with character names?

I’ve been writing for about 25 years. I’ve learned that, if I spend a little time “chatting with” my characters, they’ll reveal a lot about themselves. If my characters don’t tell me their names, I’ll search through my book of baby names until I find one that fits. A name has to fit the character, if you know what I mean.

I’m not familiar to the Pennsylvania area that served as a great back-drop for Reclaim my Heart. Sounds like a beautiful part of the country. Is that where you’re from? Or how did you decide to choose that setting?

Although I was born in Maryland, I’ve spent plenty of time in Pennsylvania. I’ve always been intrigued by the Lancaster, PA Amish community. I knew I wanted to included an Amish character in the book, so Pennsylvania seemed like the best location for the story setting.

So far, this is the first novel of yours I’ve read. I liked Reclaim my Heart a lot! What of yours would you recommend next?

Well, it depends on how you’re feeling. If you want a light-hearted, funny romance, I would suggest The Merry-Go-Round. If you want a heart-wrenching read, I’d suggest An Accidental Family. If you’re looking for a romance with a little bit of suspense, I’d suggest The Single Daddy Club: Reece (that’s book 3 of The Single Daddy Club). All of my books are character-driven stories. I like to give my characters plenty of flaws and lots of baggage that needs to be worked through as each story progresses.

What are your favorite authors & books? Do you spend so much time writing that you don’t read much or does your love for writing & reading go hand in hand?

I love many big name authors: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathan Kellerman, Harper Lee, Tony Hillerman, Margaret Atwood, too many to name because my reading tastes are so eclectic. However, I also read some authors that readers might not have heard about before: Hugh Howey, MA Comley, Linda Prather, MD McDonald, Beth Orsoff, William LK, Vicki Tyley, and a slew of other authors. I LOVE to read. Each new book is a brand new adventure.

I noticed you offered the book to me in kindle form. What do you think about the rise in digital media/reading? Are you more of a kindle reader or do you still like to physically hold books?

I held off buying an ereader for a long time, thinking I would never get used to holding a device. I love the feel of a paperback book in my hands. But I was selling lots of ebooks, so I decided I’d better buy and ereader. I finally settled on a Kindle, and I have to admit that I love it. I really enjoy being able to carry around hundreds of books wherever I go.

Kids today love gadgets and technology, so if ereaders encourage them to read, I am all for it! I love the fact that I can download an iBook on to my phone. Or download a Nook book, or a Kobo book, onto my laptop. I think the fact that all the online bookstores–Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iBooks–offer free reading apps is just wonderful.

If you have other questions/statements you think my readers would enjoy, feel free to add other thoughts!

I’d love to let your readers know that Reclaim My Heart made the USA Today Bestsellers List, and a week later I was contacted by Montlake Publishers and they’re going to publish the book on 11/12/13. I believe that after that date the book will only be available for Kindle, so if there are readers out there who own a Nook, a Kobo, or an Apple reading device, they should download the book before Nov 1st.

Donna loves to keep in touch with her readers. She has a blog of her own at www.DonnaFasano.com where you can sign up for e-mail updates & be the first to hear about new releases. She’s on Twitter as @DonnaFaz & you can find Donna on facebook at www.Facebook.com/DonnaFasanoAuthor.

I was gifted my copy of Reclaim my Heart in exchange for my review. My opinions noted are my own honest thoughts.

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!