Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Spy Who Came To Christmas by David Morrell

I adore Christmas books and often spend most of December reading as many as I can get my hands on. They are usually short and often sappy but that's all part of the magic. I will try almost all of them and like the majority of them. I was very anxious to try this story The Spy Who Came To Christmas by David Morrell. It sounded like an interesting story and was written by "the father of the modern action novel". Although I don't usually chose spy stories it sounded like a good combination.

This book plays off the traditional Christmas story of the birth of the baby Jesus and an undercover agent who is protecting an infant they are calling The Child of Peace. Paul Kagan is on the run on Christmas Eve in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is injured and seeking refuge for himself and the baby. The cities annual light displays and holiday celebration draws in many people and allows Paul some temporary cover as he is being pursued by the Russian mafia. But soon he is forced to chose a hiding spot and in doing so he involves an innocent family. A mother and her young son are enduring their own hardships from domesticate abuse when Paul uses their home for shelter. He is reluctant to involve them but has no choice. Now he must enlist their help to keep them all alive.

I did like the suspense throughout the story and enjoyed how the author used the main character to retell the story of Christ's birth with a new twist. He included spies in his version to explain some elements of the Christmas story. I did find some aspects of the original story too convenient and unrealistic. It may have been because the story was only about 230 pages and there may not have been as much time to develop some of the points I had issues with. One example was whenever Paul needed any type of tool, or anything for that matter, it was always right at his fingertips. Need a hammer? It's in the drawer on your left. Need wire? It's in the drawer on the right. Tape? Tin foil? 20 piece socket set? Crock pot? Lawn mower? In the drawers here, here and there. OK, I might have exaggerated a little but only about the tape. Seriously, we can never find a roll of tape in our house no matter how many rolls I buy! Which brings me back to my point. Even under the best of times it's hard to find certain items on demand but these people were under duress and they still didn't have to move to get to anything. That's hardly a major problem but it's the details that were mishandled at times in my opinion.

It was also hard to believe some of the quick personality changes of the characters involved. I don't want to give anything away but there were some instant changes at critical moments that were hard to believe. It felt like it was more about tying up loose ends than staying true to the characters. I'm not familiar with the author's regular work but I have a feeling that in his full length spy novels he has the time to work out details like this in a more realistic fashion.

All and all it was an enjoyable and intense story that kept me turning the pages. I'm glad I tried something different this year. It did have a nice message and some very likable characters. I think I'll read a sappy one now since it's still vacation!

Perfect on Paper wins!

Perfect on Paper
by Maria Murnane has won at Book Bloggers Top 10 of 2008 in the women's literature category! It got the most votes of ANY book!


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sweet Saturday - Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Fudge


(Makes 3 dozen pieces or about 2 pounds)

2 cups (12 oz. package) Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 oz.) Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash salt
1 cup Reese's peanut butter chips

Line 8-inch square pan with foil. In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt; blend well. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter chips, stir just to distribute chips throughout mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan, peel off foil. Cut into squares. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Kreativ Blogger Award

(So sorry that this took me forever to finish!)

Michele at A Reader's Respite (which I love to visit!) has nominated this blog for best quote in the header. What an honor! Thank you Michele, I do love that quote. Now it's on to my selections.

Six values or characteristics that are important to me:
1) A sense of humor. It's better to laugh than to cry!
2)Kind heart. Be kind to everyone and everything. Why not?
3)Be generous. Give of yourself, whether through time, money, hand-me-downs - just give. Someone always needs more than you do.
4)Be a good friend. There's nothing better.
5)Be respectful. Everyone deserves it no matter their age or station in life. To get it you must give it.
6)Love well. We all have someone we love. Love them with all your heart, always.

Six values or characteristics that I find hard to tolerate:
6)Know it all

Best blog to work side by side with is Pudgy Penguin Perusuals. Kaye and I started blogging at the same time and she has been holding my hand all the way here. Thank you Kaye!

Cleverest blog is NW Designs. I saw Cynthia the Nap Warden's work when she redesigned Reading With Monie's blog. She does custom blog design and someday I'm going to hire her to do mine!

One of the first people to be nice to this newbie was J. Kaye at J. Kaye's Book Blog . As busy as she must be she has always been helpful and kind and visits often. She also has an amazing blog.

I'm always finding new places that are very cool but the newest cool place is Jill's/Softdrink's Fizzy Thoughts. I get the impression that it's just fun, fun, fun all the time!

I know you just got tagged for Christmas but you're getting it again Anna and The Girl! Diary of an Eccentric has one of the best blogging duos I've seen. Great job ladies!

Worducopia has such a nice look to it. I love the blue color and the silver pens in the header. It looks great and it is great. I enjoy your posts too Ali!

nominees: you are to go forth and follow these simple guidelines:

Mention the blog that gave it to you.
Comment on her blog to let her know you have posted the award.
Share 6 values that are important to you.
Share 6 things you do not support.
Share the love with six other wonderful blogging friends.

Monday, December 22, 2008

For my birthday boy...

Happy birthday to my oldest son. As I glance at the clock it was 20 years ago today, almost to the minute that he was finally born. I say finally because even though he was almost three weeks early, I had been in labor for 10 days by the time I had him. My doctor decided that he would be fine if he was born at that time so they wouldn't try to prevent it but they weren't going to help things along either. The longer I could last the bigger he would get so we let nature take it's course. For me it felt like a long course. I had no clue what real labor was. It was painful enough for me and I was begging my baby to be born. It felt like forever but all 5 lbs. 10 oz. of his tiny but healthy body finally made it's way into the world and the next 20 years have flown by in the blink of an eye. I know it's a cliche but it's so true. Where does the time go?

His personality has been very much like his birth, stubborn, pushy, resistant to following directions, glorious, determined, on his terms, magnificent, loving, gorgeous, stubborn and stubborn. He was our first child, the first grandchild and one of the three most beautiful, amazing children ever born. (Can you guess how many kids I have?) He is so handsome and charming with his sweet grin. He's gotten away with a lot of things over the years because of that grin. He is an amazing athlete and very bright although school has never been a priority for him and many report cards have reflected that. The first three years of high school were a constant battle over his grades and homework. I have several bald patches on my head that I owe to him. I was constantly tearing my hair out. He was also the typical oldest child and bossed and bullied his younger brothers constantly. (I'm so glad I never did that!)

But something happened during his senior year. He started to change. Friends had reassured me that it would get better, we would survive the teen years. Although I definitely looked forward to that I didn't want to wish the time away. Their childhoods were already zipping past at warp speed. As he really began to enjoy his last year in high school he also became more mature. He has a nice group of friends and they are close classmates. Graduation was very emotional and bittersweet. We were thrilled he had graduated but so sad to see it happen. And although his college was only two hours away, taking him there was one of the saddest days of my life. Such a huge milestone for all of us. I missed him terribly but I was happy for his new found independence. This was an important time in his life and I would do anything to make it a great one.

So something more happened that first year. He began to appreciate his home and his family. He called home just to say hi. He replied with "I love you too" at the end of our chats. He was more helpful when he was on break. (I said more helpful. He's still a slob!) He even offered to do things without being asked. When he transferred schools and decided to work full time for the summer and fall semester to save up some money he returned home to live. I was thrilled. Especially with his younger brother leaving for college that year. Two sons leaving home one year after the other was going to be agony for me. It's only a ten minute drive to his work and will take even less time to drive to his campus when the next semester starts. He loved having his own place but he will again soon. He will have a lifetime of utility bills and mortgage payments. I was proud that he chose wisely and even more proud when he became a responsible worker. This is his first full time job and he is very dedicated. He's never late and he works hard. He's even saved some money. He calls home before he leaves to see if we need milk or if his youngest brother wants a ride. He calls if he won't be home for dinner. Now, I did say more responsible. He's still a young man and he acts like one. He still argues with his brothers and fights over the remote control. He still leaves his dirty clothes on the floor and his dirty dishes on the coffee table. He takes too long in the bathroom and doesn't notice when the dog dish is empty. But I am grateful for even those issues. Because in the grand scheme of things, they are so small. And I know I will actually miss even those things someday.

Happy birthday to my son, my sweet baby, my little boy, my young man. You and your brothers are my everything. I love you with all my heart.

December 22, 2008

Rocket Man by William Elliott Hazelgrove

Dale Hammer wants to live the American Dream but is a dismal failure. He wants to be a good father and husband but can't really accomplish either. This book is a week of his life. A week when it is all falling apart.

Dale, or pen name D.T. Hammer, is a failed author who earns his living as a mortgage broker. He has moved his family to the suburbs because he was convinced that all of his problems will be solved if they move out of the city.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Once they are relocated he decides that they should move back to the city and everything will be fine, this time. Such is life for Dale. The desire is there but the motivation and the responsibility is not. There is no sympathy for this man because he brings it on himself and has damaged his relationships with his wife, his children and his neighbors. To add to his misery his father, who was not a good father figure himself, has moved in with them. But the weekend brings Rocket Day for his son's scout troop. He is determined to give his son a great experience and himself some redemption.

Dale's struggle are especially timely with our recent economic hardships. When many people define themselves by their careers and their roles in society, who do they become when they lose those parts of their lives? Are we setting our goals based on the expectations of others or are our goals what we really hope to achieve in our life? This story was well written with interesting characters and plenty of conflict with everyone struggling to maintain their own form of normal.

My thanks to Library Thing for a copy of this book.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sweet Saturday - Cookie Bars


1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)
1 (12 ounce) package Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Reese's Peanut Butter Chips

Preheat oven to 350 (325 for glass dish) in 13x9-inch baking pan, melt margarine in oven. Sprinkle crumbs evenly over margarine, pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs. Top with chips, press down firmly. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Garnish as desired. Cut into bars. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

Tip: Melt 1 cup Hershey's Chips with 1 1/2 teaspoons shortening. Drizzle over bars.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Far From You Release Celebration and Giveaway

Lisa Schroeder, author of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, is celebrating the release of her upcoming YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, and hosting a contest with LOTS of great prizes!

For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:

Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews -
Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads -
Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - AND

Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO entries to win a number of prizes.

Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):

~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan
~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott
~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones
~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas
~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield
~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)
~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack
~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch
~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU

For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!

A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD, a Wizarding classic, first came to Muggle readers' attention in the book known as HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. Now, thanks to Hermione Granger's new translation from the ancient runes, we present this stunning edition with an introduction, notes, and illustrations by J.K. Rowling, and extensive commentary by Albus Dumbledore.

This book has 5 stories that are the equivalent to fairy tales for we Muggles (humans). They have the common factor that good usually overcomes bad but in fairy tales magic tends to be the cause of the hero's or heroine's trouble. In Beedle's tales the heroes and heroines can often perform their own magic but it's not always the cure to their problems. But those who triumph are the ones who demonstrate the most common sense, kindness and ingenuity.

With each story is commentary from Professor Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardary, that gives insight into Wizarding history. Footnotes are also added by the author, J.K. Rowling, to explain terms or facts to the Muggle readers. She has also done her own pen and ink illustrations throughout the book. Funds generated from the sale of this book will go to a charity developed by J.K. Rowling in 2005. CHLG (Children's High Level Group) charity was formed to help children left to large residential institutions and prevent it from happening anymore.

Whether you enjoyed the Harry Potter series or not (I loved it) I don't know how anyone wouldn't be impressed with the talent of this author. She has created a whole world in these books in such rich and interesting detail. I am still fascinated by her vivid imagination and so very grateful that she decided to share it with the world. She created these stories as part of Harry's world. She mentioned this book in the series and then later went on to actually write all of the stories and put them together to form the actual book. They read very much like fairy tales and are truly believable as tales passed on from generation to generation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I promised a good friend of mine that I would buy this book for her as soon as it came out. She was still sad from the series ending and I thought this would be just the thing to cheer her up. (Yes, we both have lives, but the books are fun!) I went to my local K-mart since it is now the only source for new books in our small town. Our bookstore closed up years ago and the next closest one is 30 minutes away. There is always the internet but I do try to buy local when I can. Anyway, I knew it would probably cost a bit more than Walmart or B&N but it's only 100 pages so I didn't think it would be be too much more than the $10.00 sale price at other stores. I picked up a book from the display but there wasn't a sign with a price on it. The back of the book had the UPC code and a price of $12.99 stamped on the cover. Even for that price I was still going to buy it. I took my copy to a nearby self scanner on a pole to check the price and it said $6.99! I checked it again. $6.99! I picked up another book and scanned it. Still $6.99! I was thrilled! I'm not cheap but I am frugal and always look for the bargains first. I had been planning to borrow her copy when she was finished because I never buy my books new. I love to read and I just can't afford it. I've always made very good use of my library and used book sales. I decided to splurge and picked up two copies. Hey, it's for charity. I did make sure the price was correct when they were rung up at the register, just in case. Yep, still $6.99! So now my friend has her copy and I have my very own copy. It came to less than $14.00 to make two women in their 40's very happy. Did I mention we live in a small town?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sweet Saturdays - Cake


(This can be made from scratch or combined with a cake mix. This is the faster version.)

1 pk. (18 1/2 oz.) chocolate cake mix with pudding in the mix
1/2 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 eggs
1 cup mayonaise
1 1/3 cup water
bag chocolate chips

Grease and flour 2 (9") layer cake pans. In large bowl at low speed, beat cake mix and cocoa. Add remaining ingredients, beat until blended. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Pour into pans. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. When cool remove from pans and frost with chocolate frosting. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Schedule

I've even made the elves mad at me! I can't believe December is half over already. I don't have anything finished - in fact barely started for the holidays. I'm not one to be ahead of schedule anyway. I have never in my life had my shopping done in October, November or any other month for that matter. It seems like everything else in life just happens to be happening now too. Ah well, I wish I had another month to prepare but it will work out. My greatest wish in life is certainly not to have one more month of winter! Even though I have less time I'm going to try to do the opposite of my normal reaction to hurry up and instead slow down and enjoy the season. We've cut way back on the material aspect of the holidays, now we need to emphasize the spirit and enjoy our family and friends. Oh it will still be hectic around here but why should our normal routine change?

MySpace Comments

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Giveaway and Interview for Perfect on Paper by Maria Murnane

Pudgy Penguin


is having her first giveaway for
Perfect on Paper

the author's first book!

Hop on over and check out the interview with Maria Murnane and find out how she created this book and how she had to publish it herself. It's a great story and is the perfect winter read. Hurry! This contest ends 12/20.

Emmaline and the Bunny by Katherine Hannigan

This is a lovely children's book about a lonely little girl who wants a bunny. Emmaline lives on Shipshape Street in Neatasapin. Everything there was very tidy. The mayor, a portly man named Orson Oliphant, demanded order and neatness. If anything didn't meet his standards, it was removed. The trees were removed for being leaf litterers, the weeds were whacked and the wild animals were sent away. Emmaline is not a tidy, quiet child. She tries but she likes to play and dig, to sing and dance. She likes to hop, hop, hop and yell "Dinglederrydee!" when she's happy. But this made her unpopular with the other children who were tidy and quiet. This also made her lonely. She desperately wanted a bunny to keep her company. Her parents were worried she would be sent away like the wild animals so they made her a promise. If she could be quiet and tidy for a month she could have her bunny.

The author writes a sweet story about Emmeline's efforts and her heart's desires. She makes good use of alliteration and creative words. The rhyming, sing song verse is reminiscent of a toned down Dr. Seuss. There are approximately 100 pages but the chapters are only one or two pages long. There is at least one soft pastel watercolor in every chapter painted by the author herself. The targeted age is 7-12, grades 2-7 but I thoroughly enjoyed it myself. It's the perfect story to snuggle up and read together this winter.

Thank you to HarperCollins Children's Books for this Advanced Reading Copy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

American Buffalo - In Search of a Lost Icon by Steven Rinella

When I first received this book I was curious to see if a hunting enthusiast would write a story that the average, non-hunter could relate to. I wasn't sure if this topic would be interesting to me but I was pleasantly surprised. Steven Rinella wrote a memoir about a lottery he won in 2005 to hunt wild buffalo in Alaska. Before his trip only 3 hunters has succeeded in killing a buffalo. He became the fourth.

The author's fascination with the majestic animal began when he was a child. While on a hunting trip with his brothers he unearthed part of a buffalo's skull. He's been hooked since and even commented on the frequency of buffalo coming up in conversations. He's developed his own word game of random association of related facts and trivia. I was surprised that there were so many ways to do that. (I live near Buffalo, NY so that's one I can think of.) Steven has gone to great lengths to learn every possible fact there is. As he describes his trip in the Alaskan wilderness he interweaves within his chapters all of those details of the history of the buffalo in North America. From the Native Americans to current times he explains everything about how they have hunted this huge animal and why. Because of their size, over one thousand pounds, hunters have had to be creative over the years. Sometimes weapons were used and sometimes they were able to use the land to their advantage. Indians used the "buffalo jump" to effectively kill many animals by gently herding them across a plain and then creating a stampede to drive them over a precipice, an act much more complicated than I would have imagined.

Although this does not emphasize the brutality of hunting and killing, it is described in detail. Growing up on a farm I'm no stranger to using animals for a food source but I do adore animals and don't even like to squash bugs. The stories of how buffalo were hunted, injuries they sustained and how the body was cut up and used after a killing bothered me. I was impressed though when all parts of the animal were used in as many ways as possible. Everything from the fat used as grease, and hair for stuffing in pillows, to buffalo "chips" used to burn in fires.

Steven Rinella's story telling is enhanced with black and white photos and footnotes. He has a dozen pages for his notes for each chapter and the bibliography. Although some of the information he provides may be more interesting to fellow hunters and nature lovers, it's by no means boring to those of us who aren't. He knows his subject well and is a very effective storyteller.

Thank you to Spiegel & Grau and Shelf Awareness for an ARC of this book.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sweet Saturday - on Sunday (oops!)

Sorry, I was away all day so I didn't get this done on Saturday. I don't know if this is exactly a "sweet" but we like it, my kids practically inhale it and I just sent a loaf back to college with one of my boys. This is the easy version that you can find on the back of a box of "Jiffy" baking mix. Enjoy!

1 Loaf

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 cups JIFFY Baking Mix
1 cup very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup chopped nuts

preheat oven to 350

Grease 9"x5" loaf pan. Cream sugar and shortening.
Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well mixed.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 55 minutes.
Cool slightly before removing from pan. Get a slice
before your kids eat it all!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Santa Responds

Upon first glance, this small hardcover book has an attractive cartoon Santa on the cover. But on closer inspection you can see that this isn't the Santa we all know. This version has his big belly hanging out of his short sleeved shirt with a tattoo on his bicep peeking out. He's smoking a cigar, drinking scotch and using his laptop. This gives you a good indication of what is to come. This is not a Christmas book written for kids.

Inside are letters that are suppose to be from children. On the left hand of each page is a letter to Santa in kid's hand writing on notebook paper. On the right hand side is a response to each letter. There is a cute Santa and his reindeer logo at the top from Santa Enterprises, North Pole. Santa's answers are for grown ups. Some are funny, some are rude, some are down right obnoxious but that is the intention. I would qualify this as more of a joke book.

Thanks to Running Press and Shelf Awareness for this book.

Unauthorized, unsanitized,
and unbelieveable,
here's the real Santa Claus
(not that creepy guy at the mall!)
(from back cover)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I have a very special family member who has had a recurrence with her illness. Please send some extra prayers her way.
Third time's the charm.

Sweet Saturday: Signups

I'm passing along this great idea! Kaye at Pudgy Penguin Perusals and Katrina at Stone Soup need our recipes. Head on over and sign up. I did!

Get ready for the sweetest holiday ever! Sweet Saturday is coming in December. Each Saturday, I'll be posting a sweet recipe, some simple, some not so simple, but all will be tasty. Pudgy promises!!

The brains behind this idea belong to Katrina at Stone SouP. It seems she really liked my peanut brittle recipe, a little celebratory sweet for her after she got her braces off.

Anyway, if you have a recipe you are sweet enough to share, download the Sweet Saturday logo, and post it with your recipe each Saturday in December( with a link back, please). Post your link in comments, so we can add your blog to the list.
Katrina and I thought this would be a lot of fun. You can post once or all four Saturdays, it's totally up to you. If you do not have a blog and would like to participate, you can leave your recipe in comments section. To read the recipes, go to the Sweet Saturday Sweethearts and click on a bloggers link and that will take you directly to their site. Let the cooking begin!

I Like You By Amy Sedaris

I love this book! It reminds me of every cookbook and craft book I looked at as a kid. Amy Sedaris is the author and a comedian who is quirky, perky and cute. I've seen her on television talk shows and she has an unusual sense of humor that is very apparent in her book. She uses real recipes and craft projects and adds her own twist. Her hospitality advice is very real too. What makes this so funny is that it's straight out of 1968 (approximately, I was only 4 then so my time frame may be a little off). Every last detail has been included in the photos and drawings on each page. There are several pages of a step-by-step pantyhose demonstration performed by Amy herself. How to put them on, how to untwist them as you're putting them on, crafts you can do with all of the pantyhose you snag and ruin while putting them on and recipes for cocktails to drink after the whole unsuccessful process. Remember the styrofoam wig heads? In the book. The grease can, labeled as such, that often sat on the counter or back of the stove and contained leftover grease from cooking to be used for another meal? In there. Rick rack on sewing projects? In there. Macrame plant hangers? In there.

My grandparents had the very same dishes and glassware found on several of the pages. They also had the wallpaper, glass candy dish, teakettle, pie plates and Tupperware containers. They still have the plastic, floral letter holder hanging on their wall. (pg 196 if interested) I remember my mom having some of these poofy hairdos and polyester clothes. Of course she was beautiful but everything else...ick.

I took this book to our family Thanksgiving dinner. We had such a good time going through the different chapters and found new things every time we looked at it. Bravo to the team that helped put this book together. Ebay should be calling you for the collection of goodies you have there.

Special thanks to Booking Mama and Hatchette Books where I won this copy. Photo from Library Thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Spread the word!

“Beer goggles are the lonely girl’s cupid.”

–Waverly Bryson

"Dedicated to any woman who has ever been on a really bad date
or realized halfway through the workday that her skirt is on backwards."

check it out at:

Anything can look perfect...on paper.

When her fiance calls off their wedding at the last minute, Waverly Bryson wonders if her life will ever turn out the way she thought it would...or should. Her high- powered job in sports PR? Not so perfect. Her relationship with her dad? Far from it. Her perfect marriage? Enough said.

Perfect... on Paper is a humorous tale of Waverly's efforts to cobble the pieces of a broken yesterday into a brand new tomorrow. What does the future have in store for her? Will she finally find what she's looking for?

* Her dates? Cringe-inducing at times, definitely entertaining.

* Her friends? Often amused, definitely supportive.

* Her new crush? Possibly intrigued, definitely a catch.

* The results? Hardly perfect, definitely just right.
(from the back cover)


I was thrilled to receive a copy of this book from Maria. She has self-published it and is hoping to pick up a publisher. I haven't had the chance to read it yet (although I skimmed a bit and it looks great!) but I will as soon as I can and give a review. Check out her website to learn more and help spread the word!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

May you
always have much
for which to be thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where Am I Wearing by Kelsey Timmerman

A Global Tour to the Countries,
Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes.

One day, while staring at a pile of clothes on the floor, I noticed the tag of my favorite
T-shirt: Made in Honduras. I read the tag. My mind wandered. A quest was born.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. It's described as:
"A travel journalist's look into the countries, factories, and people that make our clothes."
Would it be a reference book? A journal? I was quite pleasantly surprised. Kelsey Timmerman is a freelance journalist and traveler. After developing an interest in globalization and the history of the garment industry he wanted to know where his clothing came from and who made it. He decided to find out and began a journey to different parts of the world. He was a consumer on a quest to bridge the gap between producer and consumer. Along the way he discovers and explains how communism, consumerism and globalization affect us all.

He begins his journey in Honduras to discover who made his T-shirt. Answers do not come easy and he is not allowed access to the clothing factory. He can only gather bits of information from workers and he returns home with feelings of failure. Haunted by worker's faces and still seeking answers he leaves for Bangladesh to see who made his underwear. As he made progress he continued on to Cambodia to find out who made his pants (Levi's), China for his flip flops and finally his shorts that were made in the U.S.A. Many places offered their workers very little money and harsh working conditions. Since the unemployment rate is often high they have little choice but to work there. He spends time in each place and also learns about the people and their cultures. He is invited into homes and eats meals with them. These people are no longer faceless workers. He even compares the success of Wal-Mart in China to the U.S. The company must learn the distinct differences in the culture and adapt to succeed. While the Chinese have great interest in our Western ways and the store plays our rock and roll music and stocks such toys as Barbie dolls (only the Caucasian version, strangely no Asian Barbies are sold there.) they also provide live fish and eels in the food section and have little parking since few people drive there. Kelsey finishes his tour in the United States in a small town that makes sportswear. I was very surprised to learn that he chose the site of a former Champion factory in Perry, NY. It's near Buffalo in the Eastern part of the state and less than two hours from where I live! I have been to the town, I have been to the store. That's a strange coincidence when you live in as small an area as I do.

This really was an interesting book. I didn't think I would care about this topic or understand it but the author did a great job explaining it. He made the issues personal. He also provided detailed steps how we all can find out where we are wearing. The readers will have a hard time looking at their clothing the same way.

Kelsey Timmerman is a freelance journalist who has articles on several publications and who maintains a travel blog called

I would like to thank John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and Shelf Awareness for this book.

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland

Any Given Doomsday (The Phoenix Chronicles)
Liz Phoenix is an ex-cop turned bartender. She has physic abilities that she has never embraced and feels guilty that she wasn't able to save her partner's life. She took herself off the police force and now works in a cop bar as a form of self punishment. When Ruthie, her devoted foster mother, dies in her arms she passes on a secret and special powers that carry great responsibility. Liz is overwhelmed and unsure of what she should do next. She wants the killer caught and she turns to her foster brother and former flame Jimmy. But he possesses secrets of his own and the police are looking for him for the murder of Ruthie. He reveals to Liz that there are demons on earth that are here to destroy mankind. It is there job to destroy them first. Liz has new abilities, the aid of Jimmy and the guidance of Ruthie to carry out their mission. As they journey on to New Mexico and then Manhattan in search for allies and monsters they cross paths with another man from her past, Sawyer. He is also endowed with powers that make him a necessary player in their quest. With two men in the picture now, of course the formula is set for sexual tension and frustration. Together they approach the final battle between good and evil but not all is resolved. This is the first book in a series.

I have always enjoyed the paranormal and similar genres. This story has such an interesting premise and gets my attention from the beginning. As the story progresses it felt like the middle of the book was fragmenting and drifting off but it pulled back together for the end. I do look forward to the next book and hope that it will be a successful series.

My thanks to Shelfari for an ARC of this book.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bookworm Award - Meme

Luanne at A Bookworm's World has given me my first award! Thank you!

Here are the rules:
Open the closest book to you—not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment—to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence as well as the next two to five sentences. Pass this on to five blogging friends.

I just read Stone Creek by Victoria Lustbader, so it's the closest to me right now.

"Ah Milstein, not Margolies. You're married" "Divorced. Some time ago." He smiled with blatant pleasure at the clarification. She blushed. "I should fire Chuck for not introducing us before this." "Please don't. I'm sure he was just protecting me since I have no husband to do that for me," she teased.

If you've been tagged before, sorry, and just ignore me if you’re not into this kind of thing. Just know that I have enjoyed your blog. I hereby tag:

Kaye at Pudgy Peguin Perusals
Mo at Un-Mainstream Mom Reads
JK at TeacherDad's Book Reviews
Lady at The Old Lady Next Door
Monie at Reading With Monie

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stone Creek by Victoria Lustbader

Stone CreekThis is a touching yet sad love story. Danny was only married to the love of his life for six years when she died and left him alone with their young son Caleb. His grief is so overwhelming he can barely take care of himself but he has a little boy depending on him. He forces himself to go through the motions in his workshop where he is an artist and a master carpenter. He dreads the contact he has with his in-laws who never thought he was good enough for their daughter and now don't think he's good enough for their grandson. Since he is a good father he maintains a relationship so his son will still have his grandparents in his life but it's a struggle.

Lily is married to Paul who loves his wife but is married to his work and ambitions first. His days and most of his nights belong to Wall Street. Lily had been content but is now lonely and longs for a child although she reluctantly agreed to go without. There have been changes in their marriage but it's easier to ignore them than to acknowledge them. One summer day she decides to go early to their summer home outside of the city to prepare for a holiday and guests.

It is during this time that Danny and Lily first meet and the attraction is undeniable. They are strangers that never speak but they each notice the other. In a short time they meet again and are formally introduced and feel a kinship. They develop a friendship and desire more but she is older and married and that is all that is feasible. Except the need to help rid Caleb of his sadness draws her closer. Lily is desperate to be a mother and that's exactly what this boy needs. Now there is a delicate balance. Decisions must be made and paths will be chosen. They are all wounded and find happiness together. Now that they have lifted some of their pain they can not go back to the lives they were living.

I expected this book to be good but I thought it may be a typical story of sad and lonely people who come together and live happily ever after. It was so much more than that. There were characters that I wanted to hate but it wasn't that simple when their motives were revealed. I was anxious to read more and discover the secrets of their pasts but I also hated to turn the last page. I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from this author.

My thanks to Harper and Shelfari for providing me with this book.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Creepers by Joanne Dahme

Creepers"The first thing I noticed was the ivy, not the sun-bleached tombstones with their off white color, which jutted from the cemetery grounds like old white bones. The ivy veins were everywhere - creeping in all directions across the grass and the winding gravel paths to rest on the long-ago-collapsed mounds settled beneath the shadows of the tombstones."
(book cover)

What first drew my attention to this book was the striking cover. In several shades of green, it's covered in embossed ivy leaves and the statue of young woman. The inside of the book is just as attractive with the pages edged in soft green and each chapter beginning with an interesting article or letter from the past.

Courtney tells how she and her parents move to a new home one summer in Murmur, Massachusetts. The first thing they noticed when they saw their large stone house built in the 1700's was the English ivy that clung to it. A bit creepy since it was also next to a very old Puritan cemetery. Courtney soon meets a man and his daughter who give historical tours in the cemetery. They supply many details about the surrounding area and the history behind the traditions and the carvings of the tombstones. The duo is also able to tell her about her house and how it was built on the foundation of the original which burned during a tragic fire. Now the house is suppose to be haunted with a family that needs to be reunited. Although she finds the story hard to believe she is constantly finding more indications that there may be some truth to it all and she knows the ivy is connected. Somehow. The man and his daughter have become her friends and they are on a quest to right the wrongs of the past. But that's no easy feat and what should be done?

Although this is written for young adults it is an interesting story for any age. The mysteries involved are not as detailed or as resolved as many adults may like though. It does have a simple flavor as more traditional ghost stories often do.

My thanks to Running Press Teens for providing me with an autographed copy of this book.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Books, books, books...

A room without books is like a body without soul.
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds,
but into my own. I learned who I was and who I
wanted to be, what I might aspire to, and what I
might dare to dream.
-Anna Quinland

Never judge a book by it's movie.
- J. W. Eagan

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games

Once I'm on my feet, I realize escape might not be simple.
Panic begins to set in. I can't stay here.
Flight is essential.
But I can't let my fear show.

Winning means fame and fortune.
Losing means certain death.
The Hunger Games have begun...
(from back cover)

It's hard to remember that this story takes place in the future. North America is no longer. The nation of Panem has been built upon it's ruins. 12 districts surround a prosperous Capital that controls everything. At one time there had been 13 districts but an attempt to overthrow the Capital resulted in punishments and total obliteration of District 13. Fear and cruelty keep the people in line and at the mercy of the Capital. Each district is assigned an industry, 3 is factories, 4 is fishing, 11 is agriculture, 12 is coal mining, etc. The people aren't allowed to have access to any of these things, not even the ones they do. It's all for the Capital and any other use is punishable by death.

Katniss Everdeen is 16 and lives with her mother and little sister Pru in District 12. Her loving father was killed in a mining accident, her mother has never recovered from the loss and the family is barely surviving. To keep them alive Kat has learned to hunt, a skill she developed from her father when he taught her how to make and use a bow and arrows. No one is allowed to enter the nearby woods, another punishable offense, but Kat must to find food. She has also found a companion in the woods. Gale is a young man who is also trying to feed his family. They merge their abilities to bring home more game. Her mother and sister have a talent for finding herbs and plants to treat illnesses and injuries. They help others who need medical treatment and are compensated with whatever that person can provide. Kat has also learned to trade on the black market to receive other food and necessities.

In order to remind the districts about the past rebellion and to keep them from repeating it in the future, every year they host The Hunger Games. This is a fight to the death with only one winner - the last person to survive. The whole event is televised with huge celebrations. The winner not only walks away with their life but they also receive a home and food for their family and will bring honor and more food rations to the whole district. Each district is forced to provide a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18. In Kat's they are chosen by lottery. When her 12 year-old sister is chosen, she races forward to take her place. Kat and a boy named Peeta will represent District 12 and are swept away to the Capital after quick goodbyes to family and friends.

After reading how harsh life in the districts is it comes as a shock at how prosperous the Capital is. Kat's life was similar to pioneer days with their primitive shelter and meager supplies. The only reminder of the real time period is when a broken down TV is mentioned. When the tributes, the boy and girl who represent each district, arrive at the city it becomes obvious that this is a story from the future. The people here have every luxury available to them and the technology is far advanced. The tributes are allowed several days to train and be evaluated. They get to eat from luscious banquets, wear beautiful clothing designed especially for them and enjoys all the luxuries now available to them. But it is bittersweet. They know this is all part of the game and they know their families are still starving and they don't have much chance of surviving.

As the game starts I am surprised and amazed by how complex the set up is and how clever the tributes are. Although after a lifetime of struggle they would have to be clever and tough. Kat is faced with many decisions she must make by herself. Although they are provided with council when training they must play on their own. Politics complicate it all as everything that happens must not ever reflect poorly on the Capital. Anything or anyone that is a threat to their image or reputation is easily removed. This story is action packed with adventure, suspense and even romance. Throughout it all is the message of hope but also the effects of war. It is deeply disturbing at times but it also delivers heroes. This is the ultimate game of Survivor and you don't get voted off the island. You get sent home in a coffin.

This is the first in a series.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Diary of a Radical Mermaid by Deborah Smith

Diary of a Radical Mermaid This is a book that I won recently at Goodreads (thank you Goodreads!). It's the second book in the Water Lilies series by Deborah Smith. I prefer to start a series from the beginning but after reading reviews of the first book, Alice at Heart, I knew the books were connected but told different stories with different main characters. As with the first book this is about the Bonavendier clan and their extended family, a society of mer-people living off the coast of Georgia on Sainte's Point Island. Although the mer-people don't have the tails often associated with mermaids they do have beautiful webbed feet, extremely fast growing hair, can hold their breath for unusually long periods of time, have physic abilities that include some mind control over "Landers" (those of us who are not mer-people) among other abilities.

Juna Lee Poinfax is the Radical Mermaid aptly named as she has good intentions but is very impulsive and tends to put her webbed foot in her mouth. After another social blunder Juna is sent to the coast to serve some mer-person community service. While there she decides to tell her story in diary format. An online mermaid blog. Her great-aunt Lilith decides to use her services to gently convince a distant relative that she too is a mermaid. Being the radical she is, she kidnaps her relative Molly Revere and takes her to Sainte Point's. What started as a simple task is soon complicated. Mer-man Rhymer McEvers is also on the island where he has brought his nieces who he is convinced are in danger from their father. Upon meeting Molly an instant attraction is formed. As this magical story develops there is adventure, romance, mystery and murder all served up with a dose of humor.

I enjoyed this mermaid version of chick lit and it was exactly what I needed at a very busy time. In the back of the book is a whole section of facts and fable, history and science by, Juna Lee Poinfax, webmistress. I appreciated the help and I'm looking forward to reading more from this series, starting with #1.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Autumn in New York

Oh the colors...

A few weeks ago I realized that we had lost most of our leaves from the trees in our yard. Already! As you can see in the view from my front porch, most of them were now ground cover. We live in rural western NY state and have over 50 acres of land. I often like to take two of our dogs, the Golden Retriever and the Labrador Retriever, for walks on the hill. I decided that day to grab my camera and take some photos before it was too late for 2008. I'm so glad I did because that was the last week of leaves for our area. Although there are plenty of places that still have their beautiful colors, everything here has turned a drab and bare brown. We've even had a bit of snow! These photos aren't anything fancy, this camera isn't the best or most current model out there, but I love to take pictures and these are already special. Nature and my home. What could be better? I suppose I'll have to trudge out into the snow with my camera in the coming months to remind myself that the winter is just as beautiful. Although is it much colder. Maybe there will just be a few shots from the front porch again. Until summer.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

This is a memoir of Amy Dickinson's life and her extended family of strong women. Amy's husband decided to leave early in their marriage. Alone with a young baby she had to rearrange her life. She left their home in London and returned to her childhood home in Freeville, a small town of less than 500 people in rural upstate NY. She surrounded herself with her family which happened to largely consist of other single women. "Divorce runs through my clan like an aggressive chromosome" states Amy in the earliest chapters. Her father left her own family of her mother and her three siblings when she was a young girl. Fortunately she wasn't witness to her parents fighting. Since her father abandoned them there could be no fighting. He walked away from his family and a dairy farm loaded with debts. After they lost everything except the house to the bank and auctions, her mother found a job as a typist at the age of 42. She spent over 20 years of her life working the farm and caring for her family and now she was forced to find a career to support her children.

Amy also chose not to expose her own daughter to an ugly relationship between her parents. After attempts at counseling failed they met with a mediator to finalize arrangements and avoid the lawyers. They had both been raised by divorced parents and they were well aware of the things they didn't want their own child to experience. If they couldn't have a happy marriage they could at least have a good divorce. And although it was against her every instinct Amy decided to make the choice to forgive her husband. She needed to let him go instead of trying to keep him. Now as a single parent, she returns with her daughter to Freeville to stay at her sister's home and decide how to rebuild her life. She uses the time to grieve for her marriage, bond with her family and consider her options. Eventually she chooses to return to Washington D.C. where she had lived and worked before her marriage. As Amy begins her new life Freeville remains close to her heart. Eventually she and Emily decide to buy an old, run down house of their own there so they will always have a place to stay when they return "home".

Amy continues her story and tells of the years spent raising Emily the best way she knew how to, adding humor as she reveals her mistakes and triumphs. She learns and she goes on, always with the support of her daughter and her family. She also tells of her success as a writer and later as an advice columnist where she has been able to share her wisdom in "Ask Amy", a daily writing with over 22 million people. She was chosen by the Chicago Tribune to replace the late Ann Landers. Her story is inspirational, as are the other women in her family. They do what needs to be done in order to survive and raise their children but they also endure with grace and dignity. In honoring her family it makes the reader recall the mighty queens in their own life. This was a book I enjoyed very much. While it was a light, easy read it was also an honest portrayal of their past. I would love to hear more about these amazing women in Freeville.

I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book from Barnes & Noble. It will be released in February, 2009.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Home Girl - Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block

I was fortunate enough to win a copy of Home Girl last week from Up For Grabs. It sounds so good and I'm anxious to read it. Until that time here's a teaser for us all from the publisher.

Raising a Kid Safely in the 'Hood

By Judith Matloff,
Author of Home Girl -- Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block

My stomach sank the moment we arrived home from the hospital with our newborn baby. There in front of the house loitered the narcotics gang that ruled our street in Harlem.

First to step forth was the head of the drug crew. He offered stiff congratulations as he peered at our precious bundle. Then the one I feared most -- a malodorous crack addict named Salami -- let out a menacing yelp. "Oooh, he's so pretty. Just like the Gerber baby! Watch out someone doesn't steal him!"

As I began to hyperventilate, my levelheaded husband fixed his eyes ahead and advised me to get a grip on my mounting hysteria. "It's going to be okay," John insisted firmly. "Trust me."

I didn't believe him at the time. But John was right.

Raising a child in this inner city presented challenges, to be sure. At that time, seven years ago, this area was one of the worst anywhere in the U.S. for narcotics trading. On a given day, 60 drug dealers stood outside our front door hawking cocaine. My husband and I moved here because we couldn't afford anything else. We were childless when we bought our brownstone and didn't ponder what it would be like bringing up a kid next door to a crack house. Now we had to confront our predicament. But with some creativity and open minds, we have managed to bring up our son, Anton, safely in the 'hood.

First off, much is a matter of perception. What we anxious parents tend to forget is that little ones don't have a clue what's going on. Toddlers don't realize that the guy passed out on the playground slide has overdosed. The kids simply notice that someone is taking a noon nap. For example, consider the time a hostile cocaine peddler spray-painted a threat as I wheeled Anton by in the stroller. I was scared, but not my toddler. All Anton fixated on was the paint color, which happened to be one of his favorites.

"Orange!" Anton gurgled happily.

Later in the week, the little guy wasn't the least shaken when the police came round to probe the threat. As the lieutenant and I discussed the potential danger -- which turned out to be nil -- Anton beamed at the glint of the officer's handcuffs. The child apparently thought they were shiny toys. I doubt he even noticed the gun.

Of course, we'd rather that Anton not be exposed to crime and we keep an eagle eye on whoever hangs around the block. So do the grannies that closely watch proceedings on the pavement. Thanks to these matriarchs who use the sidewalk as an extension of their living rooms, our street is one of the last in New York City where kids can play outside safely. The ladies leap from their lawn chairs if any child runs into the road or talks to a stranger. I feel perfectly confident leaving Anton to sit without me on the front steps. No one is going to touch him with the mamas around.

Cops provide further vigilance. Areas like this with a bad rep tend to deploy a lot of officers on the beat, and ours are a particularly friendly bunch. Like firemen, these guys understand what makes little boys tick and Anton has enjoyed many a personal tour of police trucks. He can probably turn on a cop radio with his eyes closed and knows how to book a perp. While these may not be necessary life skills, they sure are fun for a second-grader.

This is not to say I don't have my worries. From the earliest age possible, I made Anton memorize our telephone number and 911. He's also picked up Spanish, the lingua franca in this Dominican neighborhood. The boy knows to scream bloody murder in two languages in case of trouble.

Not that there would be much opportunity, I suspect. Maybe we're lucky, but our local dealers tend to be family-oriented guys who don't use drugs themselves and discourage petty crime. Most do this line of work because it's an easy way to make money to send back home to Mama. Moreover, these fellows tend not to be violent towards the average citizen. Narcotics salesmen like these make as much as a corporate lawyer and are not going to want police pursuing muggers on their turf. Street justice is important here, too. I once saw five men pursue a purse-snatcher. They tackled him and held him down until the cops arrive. The same would go for anyone who hurt a little kid.

In any case, neighborhood is steadily improving as gentrification seeps up from nicer neighborhoods. The drug gangs have largely moved on and only a few guys loiter around the corner these days. Hopefully the pushers will all disappear before Anton enters impulsive adolescence.

Even if they're still around, we've developed an unlikely ally in childrearing. It turns out that Salami the scary addict actually has the kid's welfare at stake. He routinely sweeps up broken glass outside our house so that Anton doesn't cut himself while playing.

"I don't want the Gerber Baby to hurt himself," Salami explained one day. "Gotta look after these kids."

Judith Matloff

Author Bio
Judith Matloff is the author of Home Girl -- Building a Dream House on a Lawless Block (Random House.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Authors I have met, kind of... part II

I got to meet another author online in a club recently who was so accommodating. Garth Stein, who wrote The Art of Racing In The Rain, participated with us for a month. This book was a special project for him and was very near and dear to his heart. Of course all writing is a special project to a writer but this was one of those books that was just begging him to be written. He was already involved with another draft but this one would not leave him alone. He had taken an idea from a documentary about Mongolia that revealed their truth: when a dog is finished living his lifetimes as a dog, his next reincarnation will be as a man. Stein took this idea and ran with it. What made this truly his own was combining this theme with his love of car racing. An unusual pairing? I certainly thought so. Effective? I definitely thought so.

Enzo, a Labrador/Terrier mix is the narrator and best friend of his owner Denny Swift. This book begins near the end of Enzo's life. He is old and in poor health but he is content knowing that he will be returning in his next life as a man, his greatest dream. He considers himself to have a nearly human soul already after a lifetime of educating himself and paying attention to all of life's lessons. He also shares Denny's passion as a race car driver, listening to all of the stories, watching racing videos and documentaries. As a puppy, the best friends shared bachelorhood days but soon they add to their family when Denny marries and has a child. They live a charmed life until tragedy strikes their tight knit clan. This is the beginning of an unraveling that they don't know how to recover from. It almost appears that nothing may ever go right for them again. They cling to hope and remind themselves and the reader, That which you manifest is before you. Using lessons and techniques learned especially in racing they apply them to life and decide to create their own destiny. Enzo vows to set this family back on course and sets a plan in motion.

I loved the book and I loved the club. And to make it even better, Garth's wife Drella had been reading the posts and decided to join us. She is also a very creative artist so we got a two-for-one special! Actually we only picked her brain the first few days about life with an author before she politely asked us to just consider her as only another club member. The Steins posted comments and answers to our questions every single day. When Garth was away for a weekend of racing himself, he phoned in his race results and special hellos to Drella who then passed them all on to us. He earned himself many fans when he wrote this book but he earned himself even more when he went over and above with his club participation. He and his book get both thumbs up from me (thumbs play an important role in this story) and I look forward to what he will be writing next. Having an interest in dogs and/or racing may make you appreciate this story more but you definitely don't need them to enjoy it. Be prepared to laugh and cry and to learn a few lessons as well.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Amazing Library

I've seen this article a few times now and I am still drooling. In 2002, now 52 year-old Jay Walker added a library onto his New England home. As a very successful Internet entrepreneur and founder of Walker Digital he has a fascination for the human imagination. His library reflects that in every way. At 3,600 square feet with three levels, the word massive does not do it justice. Not only does he have an incredible collections of books he has an incredible collection of everything. An original Sputnik 1 satellite, a hand-painted celestial atlas from 1660, the original hand of "Thing" from The Adam's Family TV show, an original copy of the first illustrated history book from 1493...just the photos are amazing. I can't even imagine what it would be like to visit there. Please take a look here and see for yourself. I dare you not to drool.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Authors I have met, kind of...

I've been in online book clubs for a few years now and have really enjoyed them. Hopefully you have a great conversation about a great book but neither one of those are guaranteed. It's always interesting no matter what happens even if only for a short time. My favorite clubs are when the author joins us for the entire length of the club, usually a month. I've been lucky enough to meet some amazing authors this way. Some of them, I'm embarrassed to say, I've never heard of until I started to participate in the club that featured their book. But there always has to be a first time! I find it so fascinating to ask questions and post comments and have the author respond to me personally every time. I am able to chat with them every day for a whole month. I can't always wrap my brain around the fact that it's the author of the book in my very hands. OK, I don't get out much but everyone must get star struck sometimes. Authors are my celebrities.

The most recent author I "met" was Annie Barrows one of the authors of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. I wasn't sure if I would like this story since it was about the Nazi occupation during WWII of the island of Guernsey in the English Channel. I don't usually care much for historical fiction (or nonfiction for that matter) but I must be maturing because I really enjoyed this one along with some others I've read lately. Juliet Ashton is an author in the story who begins a pen pal relationship with the residents of the island and it develops into a friendship. She decides to visit them and find out more about their history and their lives. The characters are a fantastic mix of every small town's inhabitants. The nosy neighbor, the know-it-all, the leader, the loyal friend, the hermit, every character serves a purpose here. The story is written in epistolary form with many different people writing back and forth. What made this book unusual was that Ms. Barrows' aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer, was the author and it took her several years to write this. She became ill and asked her niece, who is an author of childrens books, to help with the editing. Unfortunately, Ms. Shaffer never recovered from her illness and died knowing it had sold but before it was published.

Ms. Barrows shared the story of this unusual coauthor situation and what it meant to her aunt to write this story. We were also lucky enough to have readers join us who had been to the island of Geurnsey and could tell all of us about their experiences. Some other readers from our club also decided to go there after our discussions together. I wanted to go there myself! Ms. Barrows promised to give us an update after her excursion and tell us what the residents thought of the book. We are all hoping she gets the same response as the main character during her own visit. Ms. Barrows was very friendly and accommodating to all of us and I would be happy to spend another month with her.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Working on it...

I still don't know what I'm doing but I'm determined to figure this out yet! That way, even if I don't have anything important to say, I'll look good saying it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Under Construction!

This my brand new blog. The first one I've ever done. Let's see if I can get anything accomplished here.