Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Color Is Your Wallpaper? by Steven C. Macon

Look around you. See beyond your noses! What color is your wallpaper? Yes, that’s right, what color is your wallpaper? If I was to ask you right now, without looking, could you tell me what color your wallpaper is? What kind of design it has on it? Wait a minute, you say that’s not fair! You might shout back, “Who cares what color my wallpaper is?” That’s precisely the point. Nobody really cares but you. After all, you or your spouse picked it out. You might have remembered what it looked like the day you picked it out. But what about now, one month later, or perhaps ten years later? How well do you see your surroundings?

About the Author:

Steven C. Macon was born in North Carolina, but spent most of his adult life in the sunny state of Florida. While attending college Steven was involved with many of the campus newspapers and magazines. He worked for a short season as a circus clown and puppeteer. There was another period in his life where Steven spent time jumping out of airplanes for fun. He obtained a Master Skydivers rating while a member of the US Parachute Association. Steven also participated in community theater. One of his major accomplishments was backpacking Yosemite. His hobbies include photography and likes to dabble with painting landscapes, still-life’s and various other sundry subjects. Steven and his wife, Debra, now reside in southwestern Virginia with their four cats.

Check out his website HERE.

My Thoughts:

I received this book as a recommendation from my brother-in-law who is a good friend of the author.  I appreciate that and the chance to read something by this author - I am a big fan!

This book screams wisdom and pay attention to the little things!  While I was reading Macon's book, I felt like I was sitting beside an old friend...someone who has been around the block, realized what's important, and then wants to share that wisdom and those life lessons with me.

The whole premise behind the book is look around attention to what you're missing.  While we are so caught up in "life" and our image, our appearance to others, there is a whole world right around us that is so much more important.

Macon is obviously a Christian and he imparts much of that simple knowledge that we can gain from living in faith and living by the bible on us in this book.  It is packed with verses that support his life lessons and it takes you a step further than just reading - it fills you up spiritually and enriches the reading experience by bringing the knowledge right into your lap.

Let me share one of my favorite excerpts from this book:

We can approach our lives like a race track.  We can be so concerned on speed and getting to the finish line that we fail to see the rest of the track along the way.  Let us not be so consumed with the world view of purpose.  But let us be consumed with the God-view of purpose.  Live life one day at a time.  Remember what color your wallpaper is and stop and smell the coffee along the way.  When we are young life seems to go on forever.  When we are older, life seems too short.  We are eternal beings.  We will live forever and this is our proving ground (emphasis mine).  How you view life, how you view others and your surroundings will determine how you live your life.  A steady pace usually wins all races or at least gets you over the finish line.  Measure your time and don't let jobs or circumstances rob you of the small things in life.  You only have one life and regrets will be minimized if you are not in such a hurry to get to the end of it.

This book makes you stop...and think.  And if you're like me, you need that reminder to slow down every now and then because when we get to the end, we want to remember not to wonder.

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

I recently attended a workshop on the amazing 2012 young adult literature that came out - the presenter spend the entire day talking books, what could be better?

One of the novels she presented (which made it on her top 15 of 2012 list) was Chomp by Carl Hiaasen.  She read an excerpt that was hilarious and it quickly rose to the top of my TBR pile.  I settled in on this rainy weekend to read it and boy was it worth it!

About the Novel:

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he's grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle.  His father is the unpredictable one.

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called "Expedition Survival!", Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show's boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna's dad shows up with a gun . . .

It's anyone's guess who will actually survive "Expedition Survival". . . 

About the Author:

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his family. After graduating from the University of Florida, he began writing for the Miami Herald. As a journalist and author, Carl has spend most of his life advocating the protection of the Florida Everglades. He and his family still live southern Florida.

Check out a recent interview with the NY Times HERE.

 My Thoughts:

Plain and simple, this book is adorable!  I understand that Mr. Hiaasen's novels all have similar covers and are really eye catching, especially for kids.  He is one of those young adult authors who really understands who he is writing for and his novels fit the mold of what a young adult novel should be.

The setting really adds and element to this story as well - the Florida Everglades.  I have read that all of his novels are set there so this makes them all the more appealing in my opinion.

He adds in the perfect mixture of suspense, adventure, and humor and it all fits perfectly together!  His witty one-liners are blended in perfectly and throughout the novel I found myself laughing out loud!

I think beyond the plot and humor the characters are what makes this novel.  I know Wahoo is the center of the novel but Mickey captured me from the start!  I loved his spunk, his no-nonsense attitude and his outlook on life.  He is a great role model for not just Wahoo, but Tuna as well.

This is definitely one I would recommend to my students and children, add it to your collection - it will stay checked out!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

For much of her life, Anne Morrow, the shy daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has stood in the shadows of those around her, including her millionaire father and vibrant older sister, who often steals the spotlight. Then Anne, a college senior with hidden literary aspirations, travels to Mexico City to spend Christmas with her family. There she meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh, fresh off his celebrated 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic. Enthralled by Charles’s assurance and fame, Anne is certain the celebrated aviator has scarcely noticed her. But she is wrong.

Charles sees in Anne a kindred spirit, a fellow adventurer, and her world will be changed forever. The two marry in a headline-making wedding. Hounded by adoring crowds and hunted by an insatiable press, Charles shields himself and his new bride from prying eyes, leaving Anne to feel her life falling back into the shadows. In the years that follow, despite her own major achievements—she becomes the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States—Anne is viewed merely as the aviator’s wife. The fairy-tale life she once longed for will bring heartbreak and hardships, ultimately pushing her to reconcile her need for love and her desire for independence, and to embrace, at last, life’s infinite possibilities for change and happiness.

Drawing on the rich history of the twentieth century—from the late twenties to the mid-sixties—and featuring cameos from such notable characters as Joseph Kennedy and Amelia Earhart, The Aviator’s Wife is a vividly imagined novel of a complicated marriage—revealing both its dizzying highs and its devastating lows. With stunning power and grace, Melanie Benjamin provides new insight into what made this remarkable relationship endure.

Check out the tour schedule for this book here:

Praise for the Book:

“Vivid and mesmerizing, The Aviator’s Wife takes us behind the scenes and into the heart of the woman who loved and married Charles Lindbergh.  That was her destiny – a life that took her soaring into the skies and then plunged her to earth, a story of both triumph and pain that will take your breath away.” —Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker

About the Author:

Melanie Benjamin is the author of the nationally bestselling Alice I Have Been and The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb.

Her latest book is the historical fiction, The Aviator’s Wife.

Benjamin lives in Chicago, where she is at work on her next historical novel.

My Thoughts:

What a beautiful book, from the cover straight through to the writing and the back cover.  And what a read!

The relationship between Charles and Anne is beautifully illustrated in this novel and it truly makes this read worth reading.  Good historical fiction places the reader right smack in the middle of the part of history being written about - and you are able to see the events of the time period through a character's eyes and that makes it much more believable and understandable.

Melanie's writing is magical and brings these characters to life in a way that only writers of GOOD historical fiction can do.  Not only did I enjoy following the relationship, I also loved the history woven in throughout.  I learned A LOT, and that is the second goal of this genre.

Great book, amazing author and someone to follow!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Cutest Book Intro I've Read in a Long Time

Mickey Cray had been out of work since a dead iguana fell from a palm tree and hit him on the head.

The iguana, which had died during a hard freeze, was stiff as a board and weighed seven and a half pounds.  Mickey's son had measured the lifeless lizard on a fishing scale, then packed it on ice with the turtle veggies, in the cooler behind the garage.

This was after the ambulance had hauled Mickey off to the hospital, where the doctors said he had a serious concussion and ordered him to take it easy.

And to everyone's surprise, Mickey did take it easy.  That's because the injury had left him with double vision and terrible headaches.  He lost his appetite and dropped nineteen pounds and lay around on the couch all day, watching nature programs on television.

"I'll never be the same," he told his son.

"Knock it off, Pop," said Washoo, Mickey's boy.

Mickey had named him after Wahoo McDaniel, a professional wrestler who'd once played linebacker for the Dolphins.  Mickey's son often wished he'd been called Mickey Jr. or Joe or even Rupert - anything but Wahoo, which was also a species of saltwater fish.

It was a name that was hard to live up to.  People naturally expected somebody called Wahoo to act loud and crazy, but that wasn't Wahoo's style.  Apparently nothing could be done about the name until he was all grown up, at which point he intended to go to the Cutler Ridge courthouse and tell a judge he wanted to be called something normal.

"Pop, you're gonna be okay," Wahoo would tell his father every morning.  "Just hang in there."

Looking up with hound-dog eyes from the couch, Mickey Cray would say, "Whatever happens, I'm glad we ate that bleeping lizard."

On the day his dad had come home from the hospital, Wahoo had defrosted the dead iguana and made a peppercorn stew, which his mom had wisely refused to touch.  Mickey had insisted that eating the critter that had dented his skull would be a spiritual remedy.  "Big medicine," he'd predicted.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Quilt Walk by Sandra Dallas

It is 1863 and Emily Blue Hatchett has been told by her father that, come spring, their family will leave their farm, family and friends in Quincy Illinois and travel the Overland Trail to a new home in Golden, Colorado. Emmy and her mom have mixed feelings about the trip and are saddened by all they must leave behind.

When Emmy s grandmother comes to say goodbye, she gives Emmy a special gift, something to occupy her time along the trail.

The journey by wagon train is long and full of hardships and Emmy s experiences along the way bring the period of westward expansion, as well as issues facing women, to life for young readers.

New York Times best-selling and award-winning author Sandra Dallas brings her much-admired storytelling talent to middle-grade readers for the first time. She is the author of eleven adult novels as well as ten nonfiction books. Sandra s novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films. Sandra is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award and two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award.

About the Author:

Award-winning author SANDRA DALLAS was dubbed “a quintessential American voice” by Jane Smiley, in Vogue Magazine. Sandra’s novels with their themes of loyalty, friendship, and human dignity have been translated into a dozen foreign languages and have been optioned for films.

A journalism graduate of the University of Denver, Sandra began her writing career as a reporter with Business Week. A staff member for twenty-five years (and the magazine’s first female bureau chief,) she covered the Rocky Mountain region, writing about everything from penny-stock scandals to hard-rock mining, western energy development to contemporary polygamy. Many of her experiences have been incorporated into her novels.

While a reporter, she began writing the first of ten nonfiction books. They include Sacred Paint, which won the National Cowboy Hall of Fame Western Heritage Wrangler Award, and The Quilt That Walked to Golden, recipient of the Independent Publishers Assn. Benjamin Franklin Award.

Turning to fiction in 1990, Sandra has published eight novels, including Prayers For Sale. Sandra is the recipient of the Women Writing the West Willa Award for New Mercies, and two-time winner of the Western Writers of America Spur Award, for The Chili Queen and Tallgrass. In addition, she was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award, the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Assn. Award, and a four-time finalist for the Women Writing the West Willa Award.

The mother of two daughters—Dana is an attorney in New Orleans and Povy is a photographer in Golden, Colorado—Sandra lives in Denver with her husband, Bob.

My Thoughts:

I thought this was just an adorable story and one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to my younger middle school students without reservation.  I have fallen in love with the book, the story, the characters and this author!

What I liked most about this book was how perceptive Emmy Blue was.  She was such a cute character and I loved that she was so tough on the outside but showed so much vulnerability on the inside.  Her story is endearing and readers will connect immediately with her as a character.

I think the author peppered JUST enough historical detail in this story to make it interesting.  Students studying this time period in history could use this as a great piece of historical fiction to give them a great visual of what life on the trail was like.

The only suggestion I would have is that I really needed to hear what became of the little boy who suffered the snake bit and turned back for home.  A letter, a package, something to let readers know what became of him!  But then again, I am a sucker for a little mystery in a story!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Every Day by David Levithan

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

About the Author:

David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children's book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely have a love/hate relationship with this book.  I was hanging on every word for a while wanting to figure out what would become of "A" and Rhiannon, but this book took me a few places I am not sure I wanted to go.

I love the idea, the concept of waking up as someone different every day.  I think the idea is so unique and creative and kudos to the author for making it truly come alive.  I also think the author's purpose for this novel is to make the reader think about how truly different we each are and how to appreciate those differences.  With "A" waking up each day and experiencing someone totally and completely different he has such a sensitivity to that fact.  I loved it...

What I didn't like was how different he consistently took the the main character.  At times I felt like he put him in certain characters just to make a point instead of intrigue readers.  Every other one was someone who was in a morally compromising situation and I really tired of it after a while.

I have to tell you that while I completely understood why he ended it the way he did I hated the ending.  I love what "A" did for Rhiannon but I didn't like that we didn't find out what became of him...UNLESS, the author is setting "A" up for a sequel.  If that's the case, I can overlook what was an extremely frustrating ending for me!

I loved the writing style and while this is my first experience with this author I look forward to checking out some of his other work to see if it fits my tastes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My Journey as a Combat Medic by Patrick Thibeault

First let me say, I am a BIG supporter of our military and absolutely LOVE supporting and showcasing books that are written by our bravest.  It is an honor to feature Mr. Thibeault and his amazing novel today, please check it out - it is well worth the read!

My Journey as a Combat Medic is a no-holds-barred look at the modern medic in the US Army, allowing us a glimpse at the training as a soldier and as a specialist, as well as deployment and front line duties and the impact of service on civilian life, including an honest look at PTSD, from the author's own personal experience. Rather than a technical manual, My Journey as a Combat Medic is a detailed firsthand account, concluding with a letter to new medics, providing a career's worth of advice and knowledge as they begin their journeys. This book is about the soldiers who bring compassion and humanity to the battlefield.

Description of My Journey As a Combat Medic:
Publisher: Osprey Publishing, July 24, 2012
Category: Military Medic, Memoir
Tour Dates: January, 2013
Available in: PDF, Kindle , 176 pages

Praise for My Journey as a Combat Medic:
"Outstanding!   This book is an easy read and is not your typical war book. The author does an incredible job of showing the reader just how he was able to bring a sense of decency and respect and compassion to the battle zone. I highly recommend this book!"- Cafeguy, Reviewer

" I knew I would enjoy this book from the very first page when Author Patrick Thibeault described jumping off an airplane as a paratrooper.  Then reading about him being a medic, training, traveling all over the world! It's inspiring. It's short, to the point, with stories of experience and emotion rather than historical facts and war strategies. Thibeault writes what he saw, felt, heard. He manages to add light touches of humor during not so humorous circumstances. It's very personal. I couldn't put his book down, finishing in just a couple hours. It's a beautifully written book about a modern day hero."- Cher, Reviewer

" Patrick Thibeault, a retired US Army Sergeant, offers a candid and, for the most part, positive description of his 20 years as a combat medic. With common sense and compassion, he did his best to heal the injured - ally and enemy alike. In retirement now, he endures a constant struggle with PTSD but has found some positive therapy in his pets - a dog and 2 cats. This book is a good read."- Maria, Reviewer

About Patrick Thibeault:

Patrick Thibeault was raised as an Army brat. He lived in Germany, Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Fayetteville, North Carolina and his father was stationed in Seoul, South Korea where he attended Seoul American High School and graduated in 1989. During his time in Korea, Patrick watched several of the Olympic games in person as they were in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. He grew to respect and understand the different cultures he encountered.

Upon graduation from high school, Patrick enlisted in the Army becoming a paratrooper medic. The first unit that he was assigned to was the elite 3rd Battalion / 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). Patrick deployed to Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm back in 1990. During his tenure with the 160th, Patrick had the opportunity to grow both as a soldier and as a medic. He attended SERE school (Survival training), went to Army enlisted flight medic school at Fort Rucker, and attended Primary Leadership training at Fort Stewart, Georgia among other types of military training. He deployed both stateside and overseas with the 160th and even spent some time on the USS. Theodore Roosevelt. During his time with the 160th, he was on both on enlisted crewmember flight status and parachute status.
He then joined the Kentucky Army National Guard. Patrick deployed twice to Ecuador during his time with the Kentucky Army National Guard. He continued to grow in the medical field and nursing field and started nursing school at Eastern Kentucky University. Patrick's first job as a nurse was as a registered nurse in Indianapolis,Indiana. Patrick transferred to the Indiana Army National Guard where in 2000, his entire brigade travelled to Fort Polk, Louisiana to participate in the combat simulations at the Joint Readiness Training Center or JRTC.

He graduated with his bachelor's degree in nursing in May 2003 from Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2004, he deployed with his unit, the 76th Infantry Brigade in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His unit was part of Task Force Phoenix. This task force trained the conventional Afghanistan Army and had soldiers embedded into these Afghanistan units both during training and combat operations. Patrick worked briefly as a liaison for Task Force Phoenix at Bagram Airbase before going back out into the deserts of Afghanistan to serve as a medic.

Patrick started on his master's degree to become a Family Nurse Practitioner upon returning from combat in 2005. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in December, 2008. Patrick then transferred to the 138th Field Artillery Brigade, part of the Kentucky Army National Guard, where he remained till he retired in January, 2011. Patrick currently works part time in a medical intensive care unit part time as a registered nurse and works full time in a urgent and primary care clinic as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Hobbies include Corvettes,writting poetry, working out, Star Trek, and reading medical books. He is married to his wife Connie. They have a dog named Rocco and two cats named Savannah and Georgia. He named his cats after the beautiful city of Savannah and the other cat after the state of Georgia when he was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, in Savannah,Georgia.

His awards and decorations include the Combat Medical Badge, 2nd award from both Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. The Meritorious Service Medical from Afghanistan, the Air Medal from Desert Storm. Patrick also has earned the Expert Field Medical Badge, parachute wings, and the enlisted crewmember aviation wings.

Currently Patrick is working on a book of combat medic poetry, a book about working as a nurse and a nurse practitioner from the perspective of a man and a fictional book about a time travelling medical provider who gets stuck in the past while trying to learn medicine and nursing and working on his website at

My Thoughts:

Like I mentioned above, I am a huge supporter of our military - patriotism was instilled in me at a very young age and there is no job more important in my book.  I am honored to feature this book and author today on the blog, his book is amazing and well worth the read!

What I loved most about this book was the look I got as a reader at just what goes into this heroic job.  The author is dynamic in his decsriptions of what the warzone is like and how essential a combat medic's role is to those there.  I loved that he showed how such a raw and real role can be transformed in the approach - how despite such difficult circumstances, a combat medic can still bring a human touch to what he is dealing with.  That is the true human spirit at its finest.

To me, part of the healing process when you have been in such a place dealing with war front and center is to process those experiences by putting pen to paper.  I am thankful that Mr. Thibeault did just that and it is a great example of what our bravest go through to protect us.

Thanks for the look inside Patrick, I enjoyed every single minute.