Dancing In Heaven: a sister's memoir is touching and inspirational. Annie's story is one that everyone should read. The way she affected her famiy and those around her was astounding.
Christine tells the heartbreaking yet triumphant story of Annie's passing from this life to the next. Interspersed in the events of Annie's decline are stories from childhood and other moments with Annie and how her remarkable smile blessed each person with whom she came into contact. One particular aspect of this book that helped me connect to Christine, Annie and her familiy was the pictures that were posted at the end of each chapter. Getting to see Annie's beautiful smile and the faces of her family made their story even more real to me.
Though there were several moments while reading where my eyes were wet with tears, I came away from this book uplifted. The love that Annie received and gave in her lifetime is truly remarkable. The picture Christine has painted of her parents and their love for Annie and sacrifice on her behalf is so very beautiful.
I'm so glad Christine has shared Annie's story with the world. Read it. It will change your perspective and enrich your life.
* I received a copy of this book for review from the author. It's available now on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com...more
This is a promising start of a new fantasy series. I wish I had connected with it more.
Osric is a leader of the troops at a village called Stanton. The opening of the book has Osric and his men preparing for a big gathering at the palace which includes ambassadors from the different races in this world called Archana. Security is of great importance, and as most people in this world possess magic, magical means are also employed to secure the meeting. Osric is using his Portentist gift (he can discern when something dangerous or momentous is coming) and knows that something isn't right. Unfortunatley he's too late to do anything because a huge explosion happens that destroys most of the palace and traps many of the attendees.
After being rescued, Osric's first desire is to discover the culprit behind the bombing. Time is of the essence because the different attendees are accusing one another of planning the bombing and the escalating tensions will quickly lead to an all out war.
Osric also needs to know why his wand is acting strangely. He was able to do some pretty heavy duty magic while trapped in the bombed out palace and he's really confused as to the reason why. After crossing paths with Gus, a master wand maker, he's still no closer to answers but Gus ends up joining the group that is going to travel across Archana in hopes of catching the palace bomber.
The story is mainly about the trip that Osric and his group takes. Unfortunately a series of events sidetracks them from their goal. Instead they uncover more about Osric's strange magical ablilities and also a huge conspiracy regarding the dragons that the citizens of Archana use for transportation.
I liked Osric's character. He is a good leader and geuninely cares about his troops, his friends and his country. He is kind and wants to help anyone he meets. He's a good friend and a brave champion of worthwhile causes.
I wasn't wild about many of the other characters, however. Some were too abrasive (like Gus) and some quite annoying (like Pebbles) and others weren't developed enough for my liking (Bridget). Additionally, the plot was a bit confusing to me. I wanted to get sucked into this fantasy world from page one. But the "world-building" was seriously lacking. I didn't know too much about the inhabitants of Archana and I kept thinking that the main plot was to find the palace bomber. That was never really solved and instead the focus seemed to be on Osric's wand and magical abilities. I wanted to get caught up in that, but things seemed to jump around too much and I struggled to keep up.
I would be interested to read book 2 as I do like Osric and would like to see how things turn out with him, especially now that he's fully sure of his new abilities. Again, I wish that I had connected more with the story overall but it was good read....more
The book's premise looked very interesting to me. It really did exceed my expectations and I enjoyed delving into the secrets of the Poulous family. The book was written and well researched. I enjoyed learning more about the Greek Orthodox beliefs and practices. The Greek traditions were richly represented, and my mouth watered most times when the author mentioned the delicious Greek food!
The characters were complex yet relatable. I especially enjoyed the depiction of the mother-daughter relationship between Kristina and Elena. Their relationship was particularly dysfunctional. Elena's realization that she acted more like her mother than she realized and how that affected her current relationships was well-written.
There were times when I wanted to throttle Elena and times I wanted to hug her. She was so wrapped up in protecting herself from love that she was missing out on being loved.
The secrets mentioned in the book aren't earth shattering. It's really how they affect each of the characters. They become larger than life and end up changing the way that the whole family relates to one another.
The author uses a series of flashbacks to describe events that happened to the characters as they related to Yannis. I enjoyed the historical times explored during these flashbacks and wished I could have spent more time there.
Once the reader is aware of Kristina's secret especially I did feel like the plot began to lag as Kristina repeatedly shut down and refused to talk to Elena about Yannis. The first few times were understandable, but the longer it went on the less patient I was with Kristina and the process of revealing the secret to Elena.
However, the relational redemption that Kristina and Elena experienced more than made up for the slight plot lag in my opinion.
I absolutely love Auggie’s story! He is such a sweet 10 year old, I just want to give him a huge hug. And I don’t know why, but I also thought about The Scoot from Gae Polisner’s The Pull of Gravity when I was reading about him. This book tells the story of Auggie and his family. He has a severe facial deformity. It’s something that happened in utero and only happens to one in a million people. He’s had over 20 surgeries in his short life to improve his appearance. But as he says in the book – “Whatever you think I look like, I promise it’s much worse”. Despite this, his parents encourage him to start 5th grade at a local private school. (He’s only ever been home-schooled up until that point). He has a big sister (who’s completely normal-looking) named Via who will be starting a new high school.
The book is a chronicle of his year at Beecher Prep. What is most interesting is that although the book begins with Auggie as the narrator, each of the other main characters (besides the mom and dad) get their own section to narrate. It was so awesome to hear the same events being retold through the other characters voices, and I think R.J. Palacio did a fantastic job with that. It was exactly what the book needed so it didn’t devolve into something ordinary.
Of course, Auggie is going to experience some hardships going to this new school. We all know how 5th graders are, and you can imagine the struggles that a 5th grader who looks normal would have at school. Auggie, though, has to deal with The Plague game (if kids accidentally touch Auggie, they have 30 seconds to wash their hands or they’ll get “The Plague”) and being called “zombie boy” among other things. There are bright spots for sure. He does make some friends, and he’s a really smart kid who excels academically. But there are some heartbreaking moments.
I really love Auggie’s family. His parents are so great. Even other kids think that Auggie’s parents are great. I also enjoyed reading about Via’s point of view regarding her brother. As you can imagine, she doesn’t get nearly as much attention as Auggie so that definitely plays a part in her relationship with her parents.
I laughed. I cried. I cheered. I really loved this book! My book club had a great discussion about it and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the book. I’ll definitely be recommending this book to everyone....more
It’s the end of May, school is almost out and you’re dying for summer vacation. This book needs to be at the top of your list of summer reads!
First I must say that what impressed me most about this book is the author’s ability to get me to cross genres. I am not a chick lit fan. I’ve tried to read many books in that genre – actually was able to finish a few, but never really left the book satisfied. But when I picked up “Someone Else’s Fairytale” I was hooked from page one.
Chloe Winters has a chance meeting with big star Jason Vanderholt when she and her friends are extras in a movie being shot at their college the University of New Mexico. While her friends are star struck, Chloe is indifferent, even though Jason makes a point to talk to her. Chloe has much more important things on her mind, like finishing college and getting into grad school, so she is surprised when Jason tracks her down and wants to be friends. She reluctantly agrees and makes it clear up front that friendship is all she’s interested in. But Chloe didn’t count on her feelings for Jason changing the longer she knows him. She thinks she knows what she wants but meeting Jason opens her eyes to a new world of possibilities. The relationship that follows is sweet and romantic.
At first glance I wondered if the plot seemed a bit cliché, but Emily made it work because her characters had depth. Chloe and Jason both surprised me. I wondered if Chloe could really come across as uninterested in this big movie star. She did because she truly was just that…uninterested. Plus the back story of a tragedy that happened to her when she was young really rounded out her character and gave her a strength that I admired and respected. When she does realize her feelings for Jason, her reactions, insecurities and fears are well-written and believable. I found myself liking her more and more as the book progressed.
Jason was definitely a lot nicer than I ever imagined a Hollywood star to be. However, he wasn’t perfect. He had made mistakes and his past was a hurdle that he and Chloe had to get over. He was very real, and his pursuit of Chloe was equal parts sweet and funny. His gestures didn’t always get him the desired outcome, but I loved watching them work on their relationship throughout the course of the book. Chloe’s friends and Jason’s family rounded out the cast of characters, and I loved how both Chloe and Jason leaned on them for support.
This book really surprised me in a good way. I enjoyed it much more than I would have imagined and I can’t recommend it highly enough!...more
First of all – what about that cover? The cover is just gorgeous! Even my kids kept commenting about the “beautiful eyes inside the butterfly”!
This story relies heavily on Greek mythology and if you’re anything like me and know nothing about it, don’t fret. There’s a great prologue that not only gives a pertinent overview for the purposes of the story, but it also piqued my interest in Greek mythology. Not sure why I didn’t study it more in high school/college but it definitely looks interesting.
I really enjoyed the book. It is fast-paced and interesting. Evangeline is a great character. I’ve made it clear in the past that sometimes teen characters can get really annoying for me. I thought Evangeline had the perfect blend of teenage realism with enough maturity to be able to handle her difficult circumstances. She rises to each challenge she’s presented with even though it’s all so very difficult for her to believe. Her life quickly becomes chaos, and I liked the strength that her character displayed.
There are a lot of characters in this book. It felt like we were introduced to new people almost every other chapter. While this definitely kept the pace of the book fast, I was disappointed that some characters didn’t get as much backstory and attention. A couple of the big reveals about the characters didn’t seem as real to me because I hadn’t had time to explore them and get to know them better. That being said, this book is the first in the trilogy so I know that several characters will get more in-depth exploration in books 2 and 3.
The twists and turns of the book kept me interested and yet the plot stayed true to its basis in the mythological story of Pandora. I really enjoyed it and am excited to read book 2 – The Key to Tartarus....more
I really loved his book! What a smart, funny and totally fun read! This is my first Eileen Cook novel and I’m sure it won’t be my last.
Erin works at a radio station, dreaming of the day she’ll get her own show. She ends up substituting at the last minute on a popular men’s radio show and ends up having great chemistry with the show’s personality, Colin. They decide to make the show He Said, She Said and see where it goes. Erin is less than thrilled but sees this as a good opportunity to further her career. And also along the lines of furthering her career, she signs up for Positive Partners, a mentor program that her station manager is wild about and through which she is paired with Diana. She’s a 16 year old girl with a deadbeat mom, no father in the picture and the very strong belief that Princess Diana has come back from the dead to be her secret mentor. That said, Diana doesn’t really want anything to do with Erin. However, circumstances continue to pull them together. Diana ends up being very witty and gives quite sage advice despite her age, and Erin ends up enjoying their friendship against her better judgment. No topic is off limits for Diana, from Erin’s work life, including the made up relationship with Colin for the sake of ratings on their radio show, and Erin’s real boyfriend who happens to be a married executive with the parent company for the radio station.
Erin gets herself into some real messes! But I love how Eileen handles them. Erin has to take responsibility for her actions, and people in her life like Diana, her best friend and producer Avita and even her own mother help her do just that.
Another thing I loved was how they handled her dating a married guy. He was the quintessential cheating husband– always promising to leave his wife, just needs to find the right time. You wonder how someone as intelligent as Erin could fall for this, but Eileen does a great job of showing Erin’s insecurities and coming to the end of herself when she realizes what a huge mistake she’s made. Likewise her friends don’t pull any punches with her. Her best friend, who is married, never once lets her forget that Jonathon is married, that it’s a terrible relationship and she’ll never support it. This causes problems between them, but I was practically cheering Avita on in the background. Too often infidelity in our culture is explained away by claiming someone’s right to be happy. I was glad to see that people in this novel chose to stay true to their morals instead of equivocating. And I was glad to see Erin eventually make the right choices.
And Colin….loved him! He was a great character and ended up having much more depth than I would have ever thought. This is a wonderfully fun and witty read. Grab it to take on your next vacation for sure!...more