Consider it Read

Posted by casey on August 12, 2011 in On My Nightstand

A miracle has occurred in my household.
I read a book.
A book that has nothing to do with toddlers or being pregnant.
A book by one of my favorite authors…
and I finished it.

I am marking such a special occasion by sharing it with you, since this section of the blog has been neglected for quite some time and I am pretty sure you have no interest in the rest of the books I have been reading.  Years ago I discovered Jodi Piccoult (back when My Sister’s Keeper was a new novel) and the way she writes giving you each character’s perspective in organized chapters had me hooked.  I anxiously await for her new books to be revealed and then keep waiting for them to be released in paperback because I can’t be breaking the bank on hard covers.

Jodi Piccoult’s “House Rules” had a little edge on the intrigue factor in addition to the author, because one of the main character’s has Asperger’s.  Asperger’s is a condition on the Autism spectrum, which means that it is a disorder with many similarities to Autism without being full blown autistic.  For example, many autistic children are completely withdrawn while children with Asperget’s are often very high functioning, have extremely high IQs but live in a very literal, black and white world that they do not know how to function socially in.  This is of interest to me because the elementary school I taught at had a high autistic/Asperger’s population and despite the challenges, these were some of my favorite students to work with.

I loved making sure they knew I understood them and that things would bother them (changing their schedule – assemblies, sudden noises – chairs scooting on the floor, overstimulation – too much talking at once, flourescent lights) but earning their trust that I was wanting to help.   I could go on and on and on about these children, their struggles, successes and how they function is completely different yet very interesting…just like the main character in this book.

House Rules by Jodi Piccoult

Jacob is an 18 year old man who was diagnosed with Asperger’s as a young child.  Although he went through many subjects that he was fixated on over the years (dinosaurs for example) the most recent had been crime scenes and forensic science.  He absolutely had to watch Crimebusters on TV every single day at 4:30 – it was part of his routine.  Routine is crucial with individuals who have Asperger’s/Autism.  He loved forensic science so much that he would even set up fake crime scenes in his own home in hopes that his mother would be able to properly solve the crime.  He even occasinally “crashed” real crime scenes to offer help so to speak.

All of this comes into play when Jacob’s social skills tutor,the one true friend he has who helps him learn the social rules of our world, is found murdered.  Wouldn’t a kid who was very attached to her, is unable to display “proper” emotional responses to situations (be sad and crying over her death for example) and profound fascination with the evidence and crime scene seem suspicious to you too?

On the other hand can you imagine how a kid who can’t stand the feeling of buttons on a shirt or the tags would function in a jail cell, with handcuffs, the buzzing of flourescent lights, not his usual food (which is done by colors) etc? Or how about a courtroom where the prosecutor doesn’t understand the sound of crumpled paper sounds like a saw next to his ears and that if someone does crumple paper he absolutely has to fix it and flatten it back out.  Sound of the gavel?  Exaggerations from the strict truth that he follows?

This novel follows Jacob, his single mother, younger brother (who is 16 and has the older brother role) and attorney through their daily life and then daily struggle to prove Jacob’s innocence…or that he didn’t know exactly what he was doing because he can’t read people like everyone else can.  It is a riveting story of a family and community struggle that sheds some light into the life of those with Asperger’s/Autism and how their families strive to help them be high functioning in such a busy, loud, unpredictable world.

Add it to Your Reading List!



It’s Real

Posted by casey on April 18, 2011 in On My Nightstand

I haven’t read a book since our last Read With Me group and I haven’t read a book quickly in well, I’m not sure how long.  However, I recently heard about ” Heaven is For Real” by Todd Burpo.  I picked it up Thursday, started it that afternoon and finished it Friday night.  A day in a half.  You see, I don’t have time to read.   Reading requires alone time and concentration which are two luxuries that I don’t often get.  As soon as I started this amazing true story I just had to finish.  The best part?  I have been smiling ever since.

The Reviews

“You will be moved by the honest, simple, childlike accounts of a little boy who has been to heaven.  It is compelling and convincing.  It’s a book you should read.  If you’re ready to go to heaven, this book will inspire you.  If you’re not ready to go to heaven, allow a little child to lead you. – Don Piper, Speaker & Author

“A beautifully written glimpse into heaven that will encourage those who doubt and thrill those who believe.” – Ron Hall, Author


“What had I learned?  I was reminded yet again that I could be real with God… “You might as well tell God what you think,” I said. “He already knows it anyway.”

“In my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus with Colton on his lap, brushing past all the seminary degrees, knocking down theological treatises stacked high as skyscrapers, and boiling down fancy words like propitiation and soteriology to something a child could understand. “I had to die on the cross so that people on earth could come see my Dad.” (what Jesus told Colton) Colton’s answer to my question was the simplest and sweetest declaration to the gospel I had ever heard.  I thought about the difference between grown-up and childlike faith.”

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

This isn’t a tale, it is truth told through the eyes, heart and memory of a four year old.  Colton’s dad Todd writes the book with background and what led to his son’s trip to heaven and back but the journey itself is all Colton and all his words.  Details, images and memories that came out from Colton over a couple of years formed to something that can bring you true comfort and excitement about what is awaiting for you and what your loved ones who have passed already have with Jesus in their heart.  You will find so much joy in these 162 pages that I encourage you to go out and pick up a copy or download one right now.  Why?  Because Heaven is For Real.


Read With Me II – Week Six

Posted by casey on November 15, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me, Uncategorized

Can you believe it?  So much has happened in five little chapters that blew the lid right off of the book, and the family.  I’ll ask again, can you believe it????  What a turn of events that I certainly didn’t see coming and I don’t think Blomkvist did either when he took this assignment.  Now I know why everyone raves about this book as they get to the end and want everyone they know to read it too!

Discussion Questions – Chapters 20 through 25

1. Did you agree with the additional murders that Lisbeth found being added to Harriet’s list, or did you think she wsa stretching it?

2. What did you make of the murders in connection to Leviticus and the specific verses?  Do you think there was consistency in reasons for the murders or that they were strictly being matched up to those verses?

3. Why do you think Blomkvist doesn’t mind that Lisbeth hacks into his things and takes what she pleases?  How would you react?

4.Do you think that you would have been able to survive being shot at like Blomkvist, why or why not?

5. If you had a photographic memory would you be shy/upset when people found out like Lisbeth? Why or why not?

6. Your reaction to learning who the murderer(s) was/is?  Be honest, did you predict it?

7. Why do you think Lisbeth wouldn’t go to cops? What would you have done?

Next Reading Assignment-  26 – Epilogue

The Final Stretch!!!

Don’t Know What I am Talking About?  Grab your copy, catch up with Week One , Week Two , Week Three, Week Four,  Week Five and Read With Us!


Read With Me II – Week Five

Posted by casey on November 9, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

I officially can’t put the darn book down.  All day I look forward to the quiet moments when I will be able to pick it up again and find out what Blomkvist and Lisbeth are up to!  The build up throughout this book to get to this point, where they finally seem to be onto something or at least making discoveries is painstaking.  Now I find myself trying to come up with different theories as I read too, but there are just too many possibilities it seems.

Discussion Topics – Chapters 16 – 19

1.  Any predictions as to who or what Harriet saw at the Children’s Day parade?

2.Do you think Blomkvist got it right when he thinks he has determined that Cecilia was in Harriet’s window?  Why do you think she would have been there?

3. Reaction/Response to the Bible verse connection.

4. Why do you think Lisbeth responded differently towards Mikael (accepting/trusting) compared to most people (distant, no communication etc.)?

5.What do you think Lisbeth will bring to the “investigation” that Blomkvist needs, or might miss himself?

Next Reading Assignment: Chapters 20 – 25
I debated about this, but there is so much to cover that dividing the end into two last segments will be best!  You won’t want to put it down if you haven’t become like that already, so this will be a one week assignment and then the discussion questions will be posted!

Don’t Know What I am Talking About?  Grab your copy, catch up with Week One , Week Two , Week Three, Week Four and Read With Us!


Read With Me II – Week Four

Posted by casey on October 26, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me, Uncategorized

I can finally say that I am fully intrigued and wishing I had the time to spend entire days reading outside in the fall weather to find out; what happened to Harriet, Lisbeth’s back story, and what the heck they have on Wennerstrom.  Sure there are the pages where I really want to skim instead of digest each and every word, and yes I still think I need the Vanger family chronicle myself to keep everyone straight, but man does Lisbeth immediately suck you in when she is on the page!

Discussion Topics – Chapters 12 – 15

1. Were you surprised to learn of Lisbeth’s guardianship circumstances and how long she had been under these terms? (Chapter 12)

2. Why do you think Lisbeth has in the past and continues to refuse any “normal interaction” when it comes to examining her and the terms of her mental capabilities?  Do you believe that she is or is not actually capable of handling her own life and finances?

3.  Why would Cecilia Vanger describe her “relationship” and behavior with Blomkist as reckless? (pg 255) Do you believe she has any other motivation in pursuing Blomkvist other than being lonely?

4. What was your reaction/feeling while reading Lisbeth’s revenge on Bjurman?  Where do you think it will go from there?

5. “If you’re a member of the Vanger family, you learn early to speak your mind.” (pg 234).  Do you have any similar situations or mottos regarding your family?

6. What do you make of Cecila Vanger’s uncertainty towards Mikael in the end of Chapter 15?

Next Assignment: : Chapters 16 through 19


Read With Me II – Week Three

Posted by casey on October 10, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

I could offer up my list of “reasons” also known as excuses why I forgot to post this two Fridays ago, and then two days ago but I will spare you.  It seems as though Read With Me II has become an every other Friday occurrence instead of weekly! I will tell you this though, I am reading and intrigued and only wish I could sit and do nothing but read this straight through to the end.  Alas, it isn’t to be, so I will keep getting after it chapter at a time.  Many of you I am sure have gone and read ahead since I haven’t put up the new assignment or discussion questions, but please still leave your input!

Discussion Topics: Chapters 5 Through 11

Remember, you can leave your responses by posting in the comments section or you can e-mail them to me at lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com!

1. In Chapter Five we began to learn the details of Blomkvist’s assignment with Vanger.  What was your first impression of the detailed manner in which Vanger recalled that day and has investigated it?

2. Do you think that Erika Berger didn’t want Blomkvist to go to Hedeby Island because of personal or professional attachment? Why?

3. If you were leaving your “big city life” to spend a year on Hedeby Island, what is one thing you would pack to bring with you to help you survive so to speak?  What would you have to leave at home that you would miss most?

4. Thus far, what do you believe to be the most challenging part of sorting through this investigation/Blomkvist’s job of solving the mystery is?

5. Reaction to learning of Lisbeth’s “guardian” and not having the rights to control her own money?

Next Week’s Assignment?
 – Chapters 12 – 15

Don’t Know What I am Talking About?  Grab your copy, catch up with Week One , Week Two and Read With Us!


Read With Me II – Week Two

Posted by casey on September 24, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

Oopsy! So, if you read this post from this week, you saw that I didn’t realize until Wednesday that I had forgotten to actually “Publish” last week’s Read With Me post.  Instead of screwing the schedule up even more by posting it mid-week I thought I would just keep it until this Friday and get us back on track.

So, two weeks ago I left us with the assignment of beginning The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson and reading through Chapter 4.  I knew everyone said it started off slow, but it wasn’t until I heard “get through the first thirty pages” as I was on page 24 that I really felt encouraged.  Sure enough, as soon as I was introduced to Lisbeth I was hooked. (Yes…I already wanted to know exactly what scandal Mikael was involved with too.)

Without further adieu, our discussion questions –

Discussion Topics: Chapters 1 Through 4

Remember, you can leave your responses by posting in the comments section or you can e-mail them to me at lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com!

1. What do you already know of or think of on golden parachute schemes?  If you don’t know anything at all, do a little “Google” research and get back to us!

2. What did you find most intriguing about Lisbeth and her description when we were introduced to her beginning on page 36 through Chapter 2?

3. If you were having a report written up about you by Lisbeth, what is one detail you would hope she would include, and one you wish she would leave out?

4. Would you have gone to meet Frode and Vanger? Why or why not.

5. Overall basic reaction to Mikael’s meeting with Vanger and the real job he is hiring him for.

Next Week’s Assignment?
 – Chapters Five Through 11

Don’t Know What I am Talking About?  Grab your copy, catch up with Week One and Read With Us!


Read With Me II – Geography

Posted by casey on September 15, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

I know what you are thinking….this isn’t as light of a read as “The Art of Racing in the Rain” was!  Okay, we all heard it was a bit slow to start right?  Julia warned us that there were a lot of places she hadn’t heard of or words she wasn’t familiar with.  Don’t give up!  If I can’t give up and put it back on the shelf, neither can you.   Especially since you voted for it.  After struggling through the first chapter, that is right, struggling I decided it was because I needed a map.

So I am in the process of finding us a better, detailed map with the towns in Sweden shown that we need.  Bear with me.

But until then…use good ol’ Wikipedia if you need to get you to some online resources so you can get through it!

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – According to Wikipedia

We can do this, we can do this, we can do this!  Don’t you already want to know who is sending the mysterious flowers though? (If that doesn’t show that I get sucked into any mystery crime show in the first 30 seconds when they show the crime and then have to sit and watch the next hour I don’t know what does.)


Happy Reading!


Read With Me II – Week One

Posted by casey on September 10, 2010 in On My Nightstand, Read With Me

Saddle up, it is time to start!  It is about time we all get in the loop of all the chatter out there about this novel so I think we are starting this bad boy at just the right time. :)   Each Friday I will post discussion topics based on what we read  in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” from the previous week as well as the new reading assignment for the following week.   Phew, that is a mouthful!  Since we haven’t read yet, this week’s discussion topics will be slightly different a a bit background oriented to get us going.

Don’t know what I am talking about? Read about our “Read-Along” and join us!

Reading Assignment : Week One
Prologue through Chapter 4

Discussion Topics:

Respond to the below topics by either answering in the comments section, or emailing lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com Either is fine, so go with your comfort!  Next Friday new discussion topics will be posted that will cover Chapters One Through Four, this week we are going for background!

1. What have you heard so far about this book? Any worries you have?
2.Do you have any tattos, if so what? If not, what would you get if you HAD to get one?
3. This book is being made into a movie.  Share with us one movie that you think lived up to your love of its form in book!

Don’t worry, you can jump in with us at any time.  So go grab your copy, catch up and read with us!

Remember, our Promotions Contest ends next Friday!


Read With Me II Promotions Contest!

Posted by casey on September 7, 2010 in Contests & Giveaways, On My Nightstand, Read With Me

We are steadily growing our Read With Me group for our second book together, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson.  Our first reading assignment will be posted this coming Friday, but just like last time I thought we would take a little time to work and promote our group!  We have a nice group growing, a bit larger than last time by both comments and emails, so let’s get some more opinions thrown in our discussion mix. :)  By helping to promote our Read With Me II group (in multiple ways) you will be entered to win a Barnes and Noble  giftcard a whopping four ways. (remember there is another gift card on the line at the end of our group discussion over our novel) . 

1. Change your facebook status to

Read With Me and Get Rewarded

2. Tweet about our reading group with a link to the site.  When you comment to tell me you did this, leave me your twitter username!

3. If you have a blog, make a quick post about our group with a link back to it. 

4. Send an email out to your friends that might be interested and BCC lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com so I can see that you did it!

Remember, you don’t have to be reading with us to promote it and be eligible for this gift card (but I sure wish you would).  Once you have advertised us well, come back and comment and tell me what you did.  Leave me your twitter name and your blog site if you chose those options as well!  If you promote us one way, you will be entered one time, four ways = four times!  Don’t forget you are always more than welcome to email lifeofthekazmanns@gmail.com if that makes you more comfortable than commenting!

Contest Ends Friday, September 17th at Noon

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