Skip to content

Review: Taking the Lead

November 18, 2014

Taking the Lead

One of my guilty pleasures is watching Dancing with the Stars so I decided to read Taking the Lead: Lessons from a Life In Motion by one of the show’s stars, Derek Hough.   Hough writes a little about his background and shares how he came to be one of the dancers on DWTS.  At the end of each chapter, he shares “Leading Lessons,” bits of wisdom he’s learned from dancing and participating in DWTS.  There are also short pieces called “Reflecting on Derek” at the end of each chapter.  Written by friends, family members, and former partners, they’re very flattering and meant to show what a wonderful guy Hough is.

Taking the Lead was a quick read for me but I didn’t find it particularly revealing.  I thought it was a bit over-the-top at times – I’m sure Hough is a nice guy but this book makes him sound perfect.  The wisdom he shares is important but it’s nothing new or earth shattering.  I’ll admit that I enjoyed Taking the Lead but I’d only recommend it to fans of Hough and Dancing with the Stars.

Review copies provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Mailbox Monday

November 17, 2014

Mailbox Monday November 17

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   We’re in the process of getting used to a new “normal” around here.  After almost 36 years, Carl has retired from the company that hired him out of college – he’s actually taking vacation now and won’t be officially retired until the end of the month, but his last day of work was Thursday.  It feels both great and just a little bit odd – how can we possibly be old enough for retirement?  I found these books in my mailbox last week:







What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Fleabrain Loves Franny

November 14, 2014

Fleabrain Loves Franny

Franny is a young girl with polio who adores Charlotte’s Web.  She is struggling to learn to walk again so is left out of many activities, including school.  Fleabrain, a very brainy flea, befriends her and takes her on adventures she never could have imagined.

I have to admit that I was drawn to Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin because of its adorable cover and catchy title.  I read the synopsis and thought it sounded sweet so I decided to give it a try.  I think Rocklin tried to do too much with the book, though, so it ended up just being okay for me.

I really liked the fact that Rocklin showed the fear surrounding polio in the early 1950s.  I also liked the way she showed what it was like to live with the disease – or, really, any disability, back then.  Franny’s school wasn’t willing to, and didn’t have to, make accommodations for her and she felt isolated because of it.  Historical details were included as well, including the lengths FDR went to to hide his polio, the birth of the March of Dimes, and the discovery of the polio vaccine.

I found Franny’s relationship with Fleabrain to be a little far fetched and felt it distracted from what could have been a great historical fiction book for middle grade readers.  Having said that, I thought Rocklin’s writing was terrific and would happily pick up another one of her books.

The audio version of Fleabrain Loves Franny is narrated by Julie Marcus and she does a wonderful job!  The audio is on 6 CDs and lasts approximately 6 and a half hours.

Listen to an excerpt:


kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site tomorrow.

Review copy provided by Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Review: The Farm

November 13, 2014

The Farm

Daniel gets a phone call from his father telling him that his mother has had a breakdown and is in a mental hospital.  Daniel’s worried and decides he needs to head to Sweden to be with his parents.  Before he can leave, his mother calls, says his father is lying and she’s on her way to London.  Daniel doesn’t know who to believe and is shocked as he slowly unravels the story.

I was pretty excited to read The Farm by Tom Rob Smith after I read it was inspired by actual events in the author’s life.  The book started out strong for me – I quickly became engrossed and was anxious to find out which of Daniel’s parents was telling the truth.   The story lost steam for me about halfway through, though, and I’m not really sure why.  I think it might be because nothing really happens to the narrator, Daniel – most of the book is his mother recounting her story to him – which made me feel distanced from the action.  The ending was a bit of a letdown for me, too.  It may not sound like it, but I did enjoy the book but I didn’t love it the way I thought I would.

The audio version of The Farm is narrated very well by James Langton and Suzanne Toren.  It’s on 8 CDs and lasts approximately 9 and a half hours.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

November 12, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

This has been a slow reading week for me so I didn’t find any words in my books and had to go back to my Word-a-Day calendar.

1. homologate – “The plea bargain between the district attorney and the defense must be homologated by a judge.”

Homologate is a verb that means to sanction or allow; especially: to approve or confirm officially.


2. georgic – “City slicker Brian was still getting used to the georgic lifestyle — particularly getting up at 4:30 each morning to milk the cows.”

Georgic is an adjective that means of or relating to agriculture.


3. paranymph – “The bride and groom, accompanied by their paranymphs, stood before the officiating clergy.”

Paranymph is a noun that means best man or bridesmaid.  I think I would get some odd looks if I used this word at a wedding.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

At the movies: When the Game Stands Tall

November 11, 2014

When the Game Stands Tall

De La Salle High School’s football team had the longest winning streak in the country for any sport at any level, so no player wanted to be on the team that finally lost.  Coach Bob Ladouceur enjoyed the winning streak but always felt the purpose of his team was to mold the players into responsible young men.  When the team faced several tragedies and lost a game, his approach to the game proved to be invaluable.

When I saw the trailer for When the Game Stands Tall I figured it was my kind of movie – I thought it would be a feel good movie and, as an added bonus, football was involved.  For the most part, I was right.

Based on a true story, the movie shows what football (and other team sports) can be for young people.  What it fails to tell you is that De La Salle is an all-male Catholic school.  That means players can be recruited for the team, although it was emphasized they never gave athletic scholarships.  It also meant the movie felt a little preachy at times.

I’ve been to quite a few high school football games through the years and have to say the football scenes in the movie didn’t feel authentic to me – I’ve never seen a high school football team play like that – the play looked too polished and sophisticated to me.  Overall, though, I enjoyed the movie.  I think it’s one to rent.

Mailbox Monday

November 10, 2014

Mailbox Monday November 10

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.    I’m over my cold so things are back to normal around here.  Another week has flown by and, to be honest, I’m not really sure what I accomplished.  I found these books in my mailbox last week:




What did you find in your mailbox last week?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,628 other followers