Monday, May 4, 2015

My Reading in the First Third of 2015

We have completed four months in 2015. Can you believe it? Before I know it four more months will be gone and my kids will be back in school! I'm 1/3 of the way into the year, but my reading is way behind schedule.  I've read 16 books plus 7 children's books for a total of 23 books.  I was hoping to read 80 books total this year, so that makes me about 3 books behind schedule.

I am hoping I can do a lot of catching up this summer. Since I have been subbing nearly everyday and gone at night for different activities for the kids, my reading time has been greatly limited. There are only so many hours in my day. I do try to squeeze even just one chapter in every day.

My favorite book so far in 2015 is, by far, THE SAME SKY! Check out my review, HERE.

Click the photo to purchase:

My favorite children's book so far this year is
Check out my review, HERE.

Click the photo to purchase:

Of the 23 books I've read, only 3 of them were books I read for my own enjoyment. All of the other ones were read for the purpose of writing a review. I need to do more reading for my own enjoyment, but sometimes the review books are ones that I've been wanting to read anyway. 

Overall, my reading has been enjoyable. I finished everything I started and have mostly enjoyed each book I have read. I didn't give any book less than 3 stars which is still a good book in my ranking. Twelve of them received 5 stars which means I think they are pretty awesome!

Tomorrow I'll be posting about all the books that came my way in April. You won't believe the stack of books that arrived in my mailbox. I truly wish I could just sit on my porch and read every day because the books coming out in May sound phenomenal and I can't wait to dig into them! So be sure to stop by and check out tomorrow's post!

As always, if you choose to purchase a book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your puchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Book Review: Some Luck By Jane Smiley

Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga #1

By: Jane Smiley

Published: October 7, 2014

Publisher: Knopf

Fiction/Historical Fiction

When I heard Jane Smiley had written a new book about an Iowa family covering several generations, I was anxious to read it.  I had read her book A THOUSAND ACRES years ago and remember really loving it.

Rosanna and Walter Langdon live in the small farming community of Denby, Iowa. They love the land and survive by using, eating, and selling what they produce. In 1920, Walter is just 25 and Rosanna is just 20. They are starting out on their own farm with their families close by offering advice and helping on the farm. As they are soon blessed with children, Rosanna and Walter find that each of their children has unique personalities but as they grow into adults, the values and traditions instilled in them by their parents will stay with them no matter where they go.

What I most enjoyed about this novel was the stories of life on the farm. Growing up on an Iowa farm myself, I could relate, even though it was in the 1970's rather than the 20's, 30's and 40's. These are the years my parents grew up and the Langdon's farm and family reminded me of how I expect my dad's life was like growing up. Walter and Rosanna had six children and instilled values of hard work, with even their children as young as five expected to help out on the farm. The stories of cutting the tales off of new lambs, shearing the sheep, and collecting eggs immediately transported me back to my own childhood.

Each chapter is a year in the Langdon's life, jumping from one story to the next oftentimes skipping months in between.  If you are looking for a book with a major plot and climax, this is not the book for you. Rather this is a diary of a family over 33 years. The Langdon's are like most other families in small town Iowa during this time. They suffer loss, they celebrate births, and they find themselves surviving droughts and depression. They find a way to survive, to love each other, and move into the next chapter of their lives.

I wish their had been more depth to the stories, but I found I cared about the characters and the lives they were creating. I didn't love SOME LUCK, but I did appreciate the story Smiley is telling.

SOME LUCK is the first in a trilogy.  EARLY WARNING, the second in the series, became available yesterday. I plan to give it a slot in my to-read list.

Jane Smiley - source

Jane Smiley is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist. Born in Los Angeles, California, Smiley grew up in Webster Groves, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and graduated from John Burroughs School. She obtained a A.B. at Vassar College, then earned a M.F.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. While working towards her doctorate, she also spent a year studying in Iceland as a Fulbright Scholar. From 1981 to 1996, she taught at Iowa State University.  Her best-selling A Thousand Acres, a story based on William Shakespeare's King Lear, received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1992. It was adapted into a film of the same title in 1997. In 1995 she wrote her sole television script produced, for an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. Her novella The Age of Grief was made into the 2002 film The Secret Lives of Dentists.

In 2001, Smiley was elected a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters.
 For more on Jane Smiley, check out her website,

To purchase a copy of SOME LUCK, click the photo below:

To purchase a copy of EARLY WARNING, click the photo below:

I purchased this book on my own and read for my own enjoyment. If you choose to purchase the books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

A Little Monday Inspiration - Family

With what pleasure do we look upon a family,
through the whole of which
reign mutual love and esteem,
where the parents and the children
are companions for one another,
without any other difference than what is made
by respectful affection on the one side,
and kind indulgence on the other...
Adam Smith

One of my favorite pictures of our family from July 2008. Taken in the Smokey Mountains

As our children have turned into a tween and teenagers right before our eyes, this quote has even more meaning for me.  The conversations we are having, the trust that we are building, and the love and laughter that is shared in our home reminds me of what a family is all about.

These cuties above have turned into strong-willed, intelligent, and funny young adolescents. I am amazed by their talents, their convictions, and their insights.  I have no idea what the future holds for them, but I do know whatever it is they decide to do, it will bring all of us joy!

Reagan, Patrick and Bennett on Easter 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Breathe, Laugh and Relax

I'm taking a few days off. 
I'm traveling to Denver and taking a few days 
to breathe, 
to laugh, 
and to relax. 

I'll be visiting one of my best friends as well as my niece.

I'm looking forward to sipping coffee in the morning and drinking wine at night.

I'm looking forward to catching up on life and sharing laughter.

I'm looking forward to seeing the mountains out the window and breathing the fresh air.

I'm looking forward to a little break from reality.

And when I return, I'll be refreshed and ready to tackle the next project!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: The Money Trader By Jerry Anderson


By: Jerry Anderson

Published: August 17, 2012

Publisher: Word & Image, LLC


A friend of mine asked if I would read a book written by a friend of his. I was a little skeptical because the topic of "corporate greed" isn't my usual choice in reading. But, I agreed to give it a look. I will admit that I struggled at times, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

Jake Buchanan has hit it big in the world of commodity trading. By getting lucky in the silver market in the 80's he set himself and his wife, Janet, up for a life of luxury. They had multiple homes and cars, took numerous trips, and held lavish parties.  His wife was also establishing herself as a business woman in the medical field, opening clinics all around the Twin Cities. But, Jake's luck soon ran out and he got a bit too big for his britches. Everything around him starts falling apart. His business is crumbling, his wife leaves him and he eventually has to start taking the bus to work, without even a penny in his pocket. When Jake begins to reflect on what's important, while he is at his lowest, he begins to see life in a whole new way.

While thinking how to describe this book to other readers, I would say it is a "Romance Novel for Men".  The book is full of money, corporate greed, big cities, cars and beautiful women. It's written from Jake's perspective offering a look into his thoughts during some of the best and worst days of his life. It's the story of a boy who grew up under the limelight of his father and in the shadow of his brothers. As an adult, he just wanted to make them proud. After losing his mother, he set out to prove to the world that he could make something of himself.  Once he became established in the construction business, he began to teach himself about commodity trading and he found that he could be successful. He earned the trust of his clients and helped many of them become millionaires, even becoming one himself. Until he started to lose money. Then the downward spiral was fast and brutal and even luck couldn't get him out of that mess.

The favorite part of the book for me included Jake's reflection on his childhood, college years and the early part of his marriage to Janet. I loved all the great tidbits about living in the Twin Cities. The only downside of the book was it was heavily detailed and didn't move along as quickly as I would have liked. Even when Jake takes a trip to Europe, I felt like it was more of a travelogue than part of the actual story. But, it does offer great tips for someone wanting to visit those countries.

I found Jake's emotions raw and real. I learned a lot about the business of trading and the highs and lows experienced in minutes, hours, and days on the floor.  Jake eventually has some big decisions to make regarding his career and personal life. I appreciated watching him change over the coarse of the novel, Jake learns the true meaning of success, which most of us know, has nothing to do with money.


Jerry Anderson is a commodity broker and trader, former stockbroker, writer, blogger, and the first time author. THE MONEY TRADER is his first published novel. He lives in Minnesota on Loring Park near downtown Minneapolis and he is still active in the markets. To read an excerpt from the book, click HERE. Visit his website, HERE.

If you would like to purchase a copy of the book on Kindle for just $2.99, click the photo below:

Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book my way. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in anyway for this review. If you choose to purchase a copy of this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Monday, April 20, 2015


The winner of PIPSIE, NATURE DETECTIVE: The Disappearing Caterpillar by Rick DeDonato has been chosen. The winner has been emailed and has 48 hours to respond or I will choose a new winner.

The winner is............................................KRISTINA.

If you weren't chosen and want to purchase the book, click the photo below:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Children's Book Review: If You Were Me and Lived In Hungary By Carole P Roman

A Child's Introduction to Culture Around the World

By: Carole P. Roman


Publisher: CreateSpace

Children's Non-Fiction

I knew very little about the country of Hungary before reading this book. Parents can learn right along with their kids while reading this wonderful series of books by Carole P Roman.

As in all this other books in this series, we learn about Hungary's cities, landmarks, language, sports, and food.  Did you know that Rubik's cube was invented there? I didn't. This landlocked country has a lot of offer and by sharing this book with your child, you are teaching them to appreciate other countries and their unique qualities.

I highly recommend this series for educators and parents and anyone who wants to learn more about this great world we live in.

Carole P Roman
Award winning author Carole P. Roman is a former teacher turned businesswoman. She has successfully run a family business with her husband that employs close to five hundred people. Her most favorite job is being grandmother to her many grandchildren. Roman has two wonderful sons and hit the jackpot in the daughter-in-law department. She currently lives on Long Island with her husband. For more on Carole P. Roman visit her website, HERE.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of IF YOU WERE ME AND LIVED IN...HUNGARY, click the photo below:

On Saturdays I link up with other bloggers in Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. To see other great children's and YA book reviews, click HERE.

Thanks to the author for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews.