On My Bookshelf: Collateral by Ellen Hopkins


Collateral Have you ever started a book and struggled?  Not because you didn’t like it but because it was just too much?

I don’t have this happen often but it is happening now with this book.  I am reading Collateral on my nook by Ellen Hopkins.  At first I was confused because it’s written in free-form poetry and I wasn’t expecting that.  I thought that it was the prologue and then the rest of the book would be a regular fiction novel.  After about chapter three (it’s a 600 page book) I looked on Good Reads and realized that this is Hopkins method of writing.  So no big deal, I adjusted my thought process and continued reading.


Well I am now on about page 250 and I just had to put the book down last night.  I have no real connection to American soldiers–I know very few people who have been to Iraq or who are even military or military families.  This story is about a non-military girl who falls in love with a Marine and their relationship.  I know based on the blurbs that she starts up with a non-military person at some point in the book but so far, she’s just met that other person.

I’m not sure what it is that’s hitting me about this book.  My only real background with military is the fact that in Israel, where I lived for four years, everyone is required to serve.  I received an exemption from the military based on the fact that I was injured in a bombing but everyone I know who lives there still did serve and I know that some of them have been through some horrific things during their time.

Perhaps my struggle with this book is how close to terrorism it is.  Although there is no terrorist attack happening in the book, we do hear about Cole, the boyfriend’s, experiences in Iraq.

I’m not sure what it is about this book but it is having a profound effect on me and even though I really want to plow through and finish reading it because it is so well written, I’m having to take a breather from it.

Has that happened to you?  What books have caused you to need some space away?

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap


I was so excited to be a part of my second swap!  It was just as fun as the first!  I was paired with Dawn from Born to Fly.

The rules were to send three books.

1.  A Book You Love

2.  A Book You Haven’t Read

3.  A Book Your Partner Wants

Here’s a look at the books I received:

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap


Books 'n' Bloggers Swap   Books 'n' Bloggers Swap

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.  This was the book that Dawn wanted to read but hasn’t yet.

From the back:

Becky Bloomwood has what most young women only dream of: a flat in London’s trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the seasons’s must-haves.  The only trouble is, she can’t actually afford it–not any of it.  Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn’t pay much at all.  Still, how can she resist that perfect pair of shoes?  Or the divine silk blouse in the window of that ultra-trendy boutique? But lately Becky’s been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank–letters with large red sums she can’t bear to read–and they’re getting ever harder to ignore.  She tries cutting back; she even tries making more money.  But none of her efforts succeeds.  Her only consolation is to buy her self something. . . just a little something. . . Finally a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life–and the lives of those around her–forever.

I’ve been a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella for a long long time and this was a great one!

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap  Books 'n' Bloggers Swap

A book I’ve (Dawn’s) read: The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy.

From the Back:

On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful, young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot.  The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia-and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history.

Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends and rivals in love with the same woman.  But both are obsessed with the Dahlia–driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death.  Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl’s twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches–into a region of total madness.

I have heard of this book/movie but haven’t read it so I’m super excited to read this, probably next month by the pool in Vegas!

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap

A book on my wish list: The Little Bride by Anna Solomon.

From the back:

When sixteen-year-old Minna Losk journeys from Odessa to America as a mail-order bride, she dreams of a young, wealthy husband; a handsome town house; and freedom from physical labor and pogroms.  But her husband, Max, turns out to be twice her age, rigidly Orthodox, and living in a one-room sod hut in South Dakota with his two teenage sons.  The country is desolate, the work treacherous.  Most troubling, Minna finds herself increasingly attracted to her older stepson.  As a brutal winter closes in, the family’s limits are tested, and Minna, drawing on strengths she barely knows she has, is forced to confront her despair, as well as her desire.

I’m not sure where I first read about this book but it sounded fascinating and I’m super excited to read this one.

Thanks, Dawn, for the awesome books!  I’m super excited to have some good summer reading ahead!  To see what I sent Dawn, take a look over on her blog, Born to Fly!


On My Bookshelf: The Alchemist-World Book Night

Hi res WBN logo 2013

I am so excited to be a part of World Book Night for the second year in a row!  World Book Night is an awesome opportunity to get physical books into the hands of people for free!

As much as I love the convenience of my NOOK, I also will always prefer the feel of a solid paper book in my hand.  Last year I was lucky enough to give out the book Little Bee by Chris Cleave-a phenomenally complex and sad book.

This year I am giving out The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I will be honest, I have not read this book in nearly fifteen years but I still remember the feeling I had when I read it.  I read it when I was thirteen and living in Israel.  My best friend at the time was spending the year in Israel with her family and had brought tons of books with them.  I was the lucky recipient of many of these to read.  One of them was The Alchemist.  I devoured the book. I remember vividly the feelings that coursed through me when I read even if I don’t necessarily remember the story (I definitely need to reread the book).  At that time and even now, I have notebooks filled with quotes and sections of books that I love.

I copied two sections of the book into my quote book and spent most of the evening last night looking through all the quote books that I have here with me but couldn’t for the life of me figure out where that particular quote book is.  I guess I am going to have to reread the book and find the sections that spoke so powerfully to me as a thirteen year old girl.

I have multiple copies of the book that I am looking forward to giving out today.  I will be at work and then going to my teaching job on Long Island in the afternoon so definitely many opportunities to interact with and share the magic of reading with some fantastic people!

I would highly encourage getting involved with World Book Night in future years!!

On My Bookshelf: Wherever I Wind Up

wherever_i_wind_up I’ve always been a peripheral baseball fan.  I grew up in         Portland, Oregon where the only professional sports team was basketball.  On the other hand, family lore is that my dad’s parents, huge Brooklyn Dodger fans, lasted one season after the Dodgers moved to California before packing up my dad and uncle and heading west.  Whether this is true or not, doesn’t matter as it’s become such a part of the family legend.

So if I have to say a favorite team, I’m going to have to say the Dodgers.  But since moving to New York, I’ve developed an appreciation for the Mets and the fact that my uncle is a huge Mets fan, it’s rubbed off on me.

About a year ago, I was listening to Fresh Air on NPR and there was an interview with R.A. Dickey.  Being that I am living in New York, I had heard about him but really didn’t know much about him.  Well the interview was out because he was in the process of writing a book.  During the summer I started going to some Mets games with my roommate and became hooked.  So, for my birthday, my roommate bought the the Dickey biography.

R.A. Dickey has a fascinating life.  He was raised in a divorced family in Tennessee and was sexually abused twice as a child-once by a man and once by a teenage female babysitter of his.  Although he’s had some horrible life experiences, he has also overcome these experiences, whether through his faith or through his passion for baseball.  He actually met his wife as a kid, when he became friends with her brother.  They were a very well off family in the private school that he was lucky enough to attend and it was pretty clear to him that they were meant to be.

His career into baseball was by no means an easy one.  He had been drafted straight from college to play for the Texas Rangers but when he had a physical for them, it became apparent that he was missing a muscle in his wrist (ironically, earlier this year I had wrist surgery and they found an extra muscle so a friend of mine teased that it was R.A. Dickey’s missing muscle).  As a result of that, the offer was rescinded.  He ended up playing AAA ball for a long time and even spent time playing in South America.  He was not successful and kept volleying between teams and was not happy nor was his marriage good.  He ended up having a near death experience of his own making and started turning his life around.

It was around this time that he also began learning how to be a knuckleballer.  Prior to this, he had been a traditional pitcher but when it came down to either he was going to need to leave baseball or learn something new to keep him in the game, he started learning.  He currently is the only knuckleballer in the major leagues and hopes to stay there until someone replaces him.

He has also become an advocate for children who have been sexually abused and actually climbed Mount Everest, against the wishes of the Mets in order to raise awareness.  This book was an amazing read and the entire story is an unbelievable story.  R.A. Dickey is a true hero in my mind.

Probably my biggest disappointment now is that I never got to see R.A. Dickey pitch.  Every time I went he had just pitched the night before.  Now he’s being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays so unless I see him against a team I’m watching, I won’t get the chance.

On My Bookshelf: The Promise of Stardust

The_Promise_of_StardustReading is one of my passions-ever since I was a little girl, I always escaped into the world of fiction.  Since it is such an important part of my life and because I started blogging about books, I decided I would bring over my book review from my first blog over a little at a time.

I received this book from Librarything.com’s early reviewers.  Over the years, I’ve actually received some very good books through this.  The only thing you have to do after receiving the book is to post a review on their site and anywhere else you may write reviews.  They require that the reviews be a certain length but don’t look at content necessarily.

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley is a phenomenal novel, and echoing many of the other reviewers, amazing that this is Ms. Sibley’s first novel.  The novel tells the story of a couple who has known each other their entire lives–families are completely intertwined–who are desperate to have a child. Sadly, Elle, the wife, has an accident and is declared brain dead.  Her husband, a surgeon, then discovers that she is pregnant.  The novel then tells the struggle Matt goes through, against his own mother, Elle’s former boyfriend, and society to keep Elle alive long enough to deliver the baby.

One of things that was interesting to me in this novel was the choice of professions that characters in the novel had and how that played in the choices that they made.  Elle was an astronaut and had created a living will when she went into space (which is where the interplay of her ex-boyfriend comes in-he was the one she had given her living will to), Matt is a neurosurgeon who is unable to save his wife from her brain injury.  Matt’s mother is a neo-natal nurse who is pushing for Elle to be taken off machines because of Elle’s own mother’s struggle with, and ultimate death, from cancer.  His mother was also given a copy of a living will from when Elle’s mother died.

This book was extremely well written, full of twists and multiple times I had to put the book down as I was on the subway and didn’t want to cry!