Monday, June 30, 2008

Guest review - Undertow by Sydney Bauer

My friend, Amanda, highly recommended this book to me. It comes out in July in the US. I asked her to write a review of it for everyone. I plan on getting a copy to read! Thanks Amanda!

Undertow by Sydney Bauer is about a black lady being charged with a hate crime against a white girl. She takes her daughter and her friends on a boating trip for her daughters birthday. All of them black, but one. The girls go swimming and encounter trouble. The book is all about why she rescued the girls in the order that she did. The white girl died and she is being charged because she chose to rescue the black girls instead of the white girl. Is it really a hate crime or did she just rescue who she could reach first? This the first in a series of books. The attorney (I can’t remember his name) is going to be the main character she has out in several books. We can buy the books in the US, but they are very expensive right now, because they have to come from Australia. The author sent me an e-mail and said Alibi, the next one, will be out in Spring in the US. It’s such a long wait, but very much worth it. I’m almost tempted to pay the money for the book, just to have it now, it’s that good.

You can go to her website: www.sydneybauer.com and read about each of the books she has out.

Hope you like it as much as I do!! Let me know.

Amanda

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weddings - Ah the memories!

DaveMicheleWeddingAug94I was watching the Today Show's "Race to the Altar" finale yesterday with the actual marriage. It made me tear up - course weddings always do. DaveMicheleWeddingAug94_croppedIt was so neat to see the love in their eyes and their smiles, to think about the excitement of having their wedding on national tv, and to think of the wonderful life ahead for them.

That got me thinking about my wedding and my husband. And the love and life we've had so far. This is a picture we have up in the house of our wedding day. I've put both the full picture and a cropped version. DaveMicheleOct06It's amazing to see how young we looked!!! And that it's been 14 years in August. It doesn't seem like that long ago or that I am that old (hush!) to have been married 14 years. But then I think of all the things we've done in those years, the good (the kids) and the bad (not going to tell ya!), and I realize it has been awhile. But I am looking forward to the next 14 and many more after that. Who knows what it will be like? I am excited to find out!

Summer Reading Extravaganza - Day 3 & 4:Magazines & Activities

I didn't have time to blog yesterday so I am combining yesterday and today's questions for the Summer Reading Extravaganza.

Day 3's question was:We all love books, but how about magazines? Magazines are perfect for the shorter flight or poolside (so your book doesn’t get wet), don’t you think? What are your favorite magazines or what magazines would you recommend for book lovers? Or is there a magazine we should stay away from? Our thoughts are below, but we can’t wait to read yours! I actually do not get any magazine subscriptions anymore. I found that I didn't take the time to read them. I used to love Readers Digest and that's what I'll pick up first at the doctor's office or if I see it at my family's house. My daughter gets Sports Illustrated Kids and enjoys reading it. The kids also get Time for Kids at school and read them whether they have to or not. Makes for some interesting dinner conversations!

Today's question is: Today’s topic is summer reading activities. What we love so much about reading is that it expands our world! If you have any fun traditions or activities that you share with your kids or students that have to do with reading, today is the day to share them.If you don’t have kids, maybe you have a bookclub that does has some fun traditions or you enjoy organizing your books in the summer. Be creative and share with us! In the summer, we join the reading club at the library. It gets the kids excited about reading and some incentives. I work to have them read 30 minutes a day, but usually that only ends up happening about 3-4 times per week. They love it best when the three of us crawl into my bed, with me in the middle, and read. We do this either in the afternoon or right before bed. They get the most reading done then (unless they fall asleep - it's also a good nap inducer!).

What magazines and activities do you do? For more ideas, be sure to check out The Friendly Book Nook for magazines and activities. Also check out the other blogs that are linked to those posts.

Review: The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble

Last night I finished The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble. This book brings together 5 women who don't all know each other. Harriet and Nicole are best friends, moms of younger kids, and in their thirties. Polly and Susan have teenagers, are best friends and in their forties. Clare is twenty-something, childless, and her mom works with Susan. It tells about their lives for a year, real crisis' they deal with, and shares their thoughts at the books they read that year.

The story is written in lots of different voices - all 5 women, a couple of husbands, and Polly's teen daughter. There are headers to help know who is talking, not really chapter titles, but more prompts to help change focus. At the beginning of the book, I kept getting confused, even with the headers, as to who was 'talking', what their story was, and how it related to the other ladies. It wasn't clear at first who knew who within the group. Once I got further into the book, it was very easy to shift between narrators. And I grew to care about the characters. I was rooting for each of them to resolve their current issues, was upset at what I knew would be the consequences of some their actions, and cheering when things worked out well.

I enjoyed their conversations about the books read too, especially since I only have read one of the 12 books they picked. The book group meetings were written in dialogue format and I could just see everyone talking over one another, discussing ("arguing"), and learning just as it happens in my book clubs. I look forward to a sequel - if one is planned - to see where they are in a few years.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tennis lessons

Forehand
Our house has been full of summer sports between both kids. My daughter has had volleyball camp (no pictures taken - bad mom!) and is currently at a sleep-away basketball camp (and I am not thinking any more about it...cause if I do, I start to worry about her). My son started tennis lessons yesterday. He's been talking about taking lessons for over a year now. So we signed him up, got all four of us rackets, and have been playing a bit here and there. Well, not really playing because the kids aren't great at returning yet. Hopefully that will improve with this class. The thing is, my boy sure does have an excellent overhand serve. The first day he just threw the ball up and whizzed it over. I was in shock. He loves doing that so once we get him returning, it should be lots of fun to play. Course we also have to teach him what constitutes a point for him - and that it's not because I missed a ball that never actually came on my side!
Concentration

Tuesday Thingers: Non-Shared books


Today's Tuesday Thingers question, hosted by Marie, a.k.a. The Boston Bibliophile, is Do you have any unique books in your library- books only you have on LT? How many? Did you find cataloging information on your unique books, or did you hand-enter them? Do they fall into a particular category or categories, or are they a mix of different things? Have you ever looked at the "You and none other" feature on your statistics page, which shows books owned by only you and one other user? Ever made an LT friend by seeing what you share with only one other user?

I had talked about The Bone Weaver last week. My next 'least shared' book is A Fall Together by Jennifer O'Neill. I have this marked as 2 stars. It's the start of a series of Christian women and I didn't go on to read any more. So apparently I didn't really care for it. However, I am reading about it on Amazon and it sounds good, has received 5 stars from other reviewers there. Hmm...maybe I should try the second in the series and see if I'll like it now.

I don't have any books that are unique to just me on my library. I'm thinking that's cause I mostly get my books from the library and since the library usually only buys books that others have read or want to read. And I don't even have any that I share with just one person. Will be interesting to see if that changes in a year or so as I do more searching online and via blogs for books to read.

Be sure to check out the 'not popular' books in other libraries via the post and comments at The Boston Bibliophile.

Summer Reading Extravaganza - Day 2: Kids books

The Friendly Book Nook
Today's Summer Reading Extravaganza question is about good summer reads for the kids. My daughter, age 11, is currently reading and loving The Calder Game by Blue Balliett. She had read Chasing Vermeer with the same characters in school and was very excited to see this new book in the book store. She says it's about a boy named Calder who, along with a statue of a famous Calder in England, goes missing. And his friends and family who search for him. It's quite the mystery and she's having fun trying to figure it out!

An author my kids and I all love is Kate DiCamillo. We started with the book Because of Winn-Dixie that my daughter read in second grade (before the movie came out). My mother-in-law and I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane out loud to the kids. All four of us loved following that rabbit on his adventures. We have The Tiger Rising on the to be read list!

Another book we've loved (and of course the movie after reading the book) is Holes by Louis Sachar.

For more recommendations for books for the kids, check out the other posts at The Friendly Book Nook. I look forward to seeing what else to share with the kids!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Reading Extravaganza - Day 1: Fun Summer Reads

The Friendly Book Nook Today's question: What’s your favorite beach read or what’s in your beach bag?

As we all know, my book memory leaves alot to be desired. So I went back through my library to see what would trigger as a great beach (or for me in the midwest - vacation) read.


The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney is a great book! It's about three sisters - their grown up lives with flashbacks to their childhood. They grew up in their parents motel, all the while being a singing sensation in their own right. Will make you laugh and cry! I noted this as a top read for me for 2006. Really, any of Monica McInerney's books will make a great beach read!

For the mystery lovers, one of my favorite series is J.D. Robb's (aka Nora Roberts) "In Death" series. I just eat them up when they come out. Detective Eve Dallas and her husband, Roarke, solve many crimes all the while dealing with their own internal issues from childhood. The first one in the series is Naked in Death. But you could read any of them and enjoy it.

A great Christian, 'group of real women', series starts with the Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson. A group of twelve, very different both spiritually and culturally, women go to a women's conference in Chicago (some willingly, some not so willingly), are put into a prayer group for the conference and then crisis strikes. This first book shows how they come together as women to help someone they just met. Another one that made me laugh and cry both. I do recommend starting this series in the beginning and reading in order.

One more from my library - Monkeewrench by P.J. Tracy is a good mystery with intrigue and 'people drama' thrown in. Murders are being committed just like in a video game designed by the Monkeewrench company. We meet the team behind the game, the detectives assigned to the case, and some interesting characters.

In my pile of 'to be read' right now are two that I can't wait to get reading.

By Elizabeth Noble, The Reading Group has this teaser on Amazon: ...U.K. bestseller is a frothy page-turner that dissects the relationships, desires and discoveries of five English women, all members of a book club. Over the course of a year, the women read 12 novels (including Atonement, Rebecca and The Alchemist) and, through their playful but intimate discussions (few of which revolve around the books), they bond closely while coping with such matters as a philandering husband, a mother with dementia, a pregnant but unmarried daughter, an infertility crisis, a wedding and a funeral. It's a testament to Noble's characterizations and plotting that the novel is not overwhelming, despite its numerous (perhaps too many) points of view, complicated backstories and interweaving contemporary crises. Light but never flip, this is funny, contemplative and touching reading, and the group's familiar book choices allow readers to feel as if they're part of the gang, too, as they race to the end, eager to find out what happens, why it does and what it all means.

Janet Evanovich is one of my favorite authors! Fearless Fourteen is the latest in the Stephanie Plum series. Stephanie makes me laugh out loud. Every time! She is a bounty hunter that has no idea what she's doing. She hangs with some fun folks, including her very sly grandmother. These books are sort of mysteries as there usually is someone trying to kill Stephanie for something she stumbled into. But they are such a light read with a great cast of characters that even if mysteries aren't your thing, I think you'll love them. The first book in the series is One for the Money.

Thanks to The Friendly Book Nook for sponsoring this fun! Make sure you go to their post on great beach reads and comment on their books and the others linked there. Remember to keep track of the comments you make - the more comments, the more chancs you have to win the great prizes!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Author chat: Anthony Lawrence Gordon

As part of my review of Entropy, I also asked author Tony Gordon a few questions that I would like to share. I have such respect for folks who are out there sharing their passion with others through writing.

Michele: What was your inspiration for writing Entropy?
Tony: I've always been interested in how people struggle, not just to get by, but struggle with making themselves ok with their actions - the whole cognitive dissonance thing. Entropy the novel started coming together in my head after I had read about the idea that we tell the direction of time by the increase of entropy. That idea kind of clicked with the way people try to keep things as they are and resist change.

Michele: Who are your favorite authors?
Tony: Although it may sound trite, Hemingway (his good stuff anyway) is my favorite author. I also really enjoy Raymond Carver. I've currently been reading Christopher Moore, although I'm not generally a reader of his genre of books, I stumbled upon "Dirty Job" and loved it. He makes me laugh out loud.

Michele: Do you have any other fiction works in progress?
Tony: I've just started a new novel - just started putting it on paper and am barely into it, don't even have a working title.

Michele: What else have you been working on?
Tony: I've been working with a public relations firm on promoting my book, and that is starting to ramp up now - in the next few weeks I'll be doing signings and readings in the Stevens Point WI area. Also, I've been working on a putting together a collection of short stories. I also keep up a couple blogs, one for my writing (www.snovella.blogspot.com) and one that has to do with being a waiter (www.tonydine.blogspot.com).


Thanks Tony!

Review: Entropy by Anthony Lawrence Gordon

I received a copy of Entropy directly from author Tony Gordon. The back of the book gives this synopsis:
When it all seems to be falling apart....
Gradually but irresistibly, events in Nick's life have spun out of control and Nick can only hold on and survive. He finds himself trying to understand the ending of past relationships while becoming involved in new ones, and he finds himself falling in love. As everything seems to be falling apart, Nick tries to piece together the pieces, tries to restore order. Halt the entropy.


The teaser sounded good to me. I expected to read about a man's struggle with choices he's made, reactions to things that have happened to him, and his thoughts and actions as he grows or at least moves through the current events in his life. However, that's not what I read. The book focuses on the choices Nick makes, or others makes for him, with a friend from work and his wife. It focuses on drugs and sex, lots of sex that makes him uncomfortable and definitely made me uncomfortable.

I realize I am more conservative than many and that my Christian beliefs are not shared by all. But I read a lot of books that include drugs and sex either as part of the story or in setting the scenes. The drugs and sex in those books doesn't make me uncomfortable because there's more to the story. There wasn't more to this story than the sex and drugs, in my opinion. I didn't really get any information on why Nick was making the choices he was - no inner voice, not much on his thoughts. There was very little on his past relationships - what happened and why. The characters - main and supporting - are very shallow and stereotypical.

I wanted to like this book and was disappointed that I could not. However my opinion is only that. Be sure to check out Booking Mama's review.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My other kid

Jasmine
I just wanted to share my 'other kid'. Jasmine is 14 years old. We got her a few months before we got married. She loves to catch a frisbee, but only a couple times now. In past years, we could throw the frisbee for over an hour and she'd still be ready to go. She's definitely an 'old lady' now, though, with lots of gray and moving slower. But we still love our oldest kid!

Summer Reading Extravaganza - The Friendly Book Nook

The Friendly Book Nook I am excited! Next week, The Friendly Book Nook is hosting a Summer Reading Extravaganza! Each day we will have a topic about summer reading that we encourage you to post about on your blog! It should be a great chance to get a lot of ideas for books to read over the summer as well as ways to encourage your children to spend some of their time reading.There are also prizes! Through regular participation you will have the chance to win one of the following:

1) Inspirational Fiction Lot: Includes Skizzer by A.J. Kiesling, A Mending at the Edge by Jane Kirkpatrick, In the Dead of Winter by Nancy Mehl, To Trust a Friend by Lynn Bullock, and a special cross bookmark made by Rabuna Fi.

2) A brand new signed copy of Stealing Athena by Karen Essex.

3) A ten dollar Amazon gift card!

If you would like to donate some prizes to add to these, please contact Amy at thefriendlybooknook AT gmail DOT com.

Here’s how to be eligible to win one of these prizes:

For bloggers:
1) Post a message on your blog inviting your readers to join in the Summer Reading Extravaganza. (required)
2) Participate in the Summer Reading Extravaganza. For each day you participate, you will receive an entry!
3) For a bonus entry, write a wrap-up post at the end of the week linking to your favorite posts from the week.
4) Add the button to your sidebar for another bonus entry!

For non-bloggers:
1) Participate by leaving comments on participants blogs. For each comment you will receive an entry.
2) Send an email at the end of the week to thefriendlybooknook AT gmail DOT com with links to the posts you commented on.

This will be fun! Make sure you check out everyone's responses this week!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dominion by Randy Alcorn

This is the second book I've read by Randy Alcorn. The first one, Deadline, was for one of my book clubs. Loved it! My comments on it were:
Very good book! Interesting look/commentary on the newspaper business. Unique take on what heaven is like - but in a good way. Mystery. Deadline focuses on Jake, a newspaper columnist, and how he reacts to the death of his two closest friends.

Dominion uses the same characters as Deadline, but different ones have have the main story line. Summary from Amazon: A shocking murder drags black newspaper columnist Clarence Abernathy into the disorienting world of inner-city gangs and racial conflict. In a desperate hunt for answers to the violence (and to his own struggles with race and faith), Clarence forges an unlikely partnership with redneck detective Ollie Chandler. Despite their differences, Clarence and Ollie soon find themselves sharing the same mission: victory over the forces of darkness vying for dominion. Filled with insight — and with characters so real you’ll never forget them — Dominion is a dramatic story of spiritual searching, racial reconciliation, and hope.

This book really makes me think. About racial differences even today. About how slavery still affects us today. About how I treat others of all races. About heaven. About God as my Master. And God as my friend. And God as my teacher. It is a good kind of thinking - one where I will grow from it. I love it when a fiction book, one that tells the story so well, also has in it the ability to affect change.

Dominion is a good story. The characters are well-developed. The story line is intricate and believable. There are multiple relationships that have to be dealt with - just like real life.

I recommend reading both Dominion and Deadline. Since they focus on different characters within the group, if you can't read Deadline first, it should be okay. But as I'm a serial reader, it would of course be best to read them in order. I'm excited now to read the third book about this group of folks - Deception.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Author chat - The Bone Weaver by Victoria Zackheim

On Tuesday, I briefly mentioned that I had read The Bone Weaver by Victoria Zackheim years ago. But that I didn't really remember it - my book memory being so stellar! LOL

I was so excited later in the day to see an email from Victoria! She sent me a description of Bone Weaver and also answered a few questions that I am going to share here. After reading the description, I do remember the book and that I liked it. But that's as much of a "review" I'm going to be able to give, based on my lovely book memory.

Here's the description of The Bone Weaver:
Following the death of her lifelong friend, professor Mimi Zilber sets off on a journey to discover how she came to this lonely place in her life, and why she runs from the opportunity to love. The Bone Weaver is a blend of history and fiction created around three generations of women and their struggles to survive pogroms, illness and the violence of shtetl life in nineteenth-century eastern Europe. Taking apart the family tapestry thread by thread, studying these women and their daily lives of uncertainty, tragedy and joy, Mimi learns important lessons about courage and the will to survive. In her discovery of what makes these women remarkable, she also discovers herself.

Michele: What was your inspiration for writing The Bone Weaver?
Victoria: I was grappling with my own issues of isolation, having gone through a divorce, been a single mother, and then finding myself living abroad (in a country where I knew no one and didn't speak the language). Of course, I didn't realize at the time that anything about this novel related to me, so I gave the main character, Mimi, all my angst, and her grandmother, Fredl, all the courage I wanted to possess. As for Mimi's mother, Rivka...well, she's a composite of all the quietly loving, yet not-so-quietly neurotic people I've ever known. I loved her character and wept several times as I was writing her story.

Michele: Who is your favorite author?
Victoria: That's a tough one...asking a writer this question is like asking a mother to choose her favored child. Whose work do I read the week the book's published? Lynn Freed, Caroline Leavitt, Leon Whiteson (I loved his Garden Story), Jane Smiley. I've read Marie Chaix's biography about her father twice...The Laurels of Lake Constance...and loved it both times.

Michele: Do you have other fiction works in progress?
Victoria: Yes, I'm working on a Paris-based novel, but it's been difficult to find the time to write.

Michele: What else have you been working on?
Victoria: I've had two books published in the past year:
- The Other Woman: 21 Wives, Lovers, and Others Talk Openly About Sex, Deception, Love, and Betrayal (anthology, including personal essays of Jane Smiley, Lynn Freed, Connie May Fowler, Caroline Leavitt, Susan Cheever, and 16 other exceptional authors)
- For Keeps: Women Tell the Truth About Their Bodies, Growing Older, and Acceptance (also anthology of 27 funny, moving, important personal essays)
I'm also writing a documentary on Frances Kelsey, the FDA scientist who blocked the distribution of thalidomide in the U.S. in the early 60s.

Thanks Victoria!

Picture restoring

A few days ago I posted about making sure you get your pictures off your camera. It did seem to come out of the blue as I hadn't really said anything about pictures before. In the past year, I've helped out 2-3 friends who have accidentally erased all the pictures on their camera. And the last one had over 900 pictures that I restored for them. It just kills me to think of all those photos lost - all those memories.

I was able to restore them as they hadn't taken any more pictures on that card since it was erased. I used this WONDERFUL product from Sandisk called Rescue Pro. It is not that expensive to buy especially given all that it can do. I love it. It scans the memory card seeing what is still 'visible' even though it's deleted. And then it will restore it and place it somewhere else - I usually choose the computer versus a cd. It's a great software and I highly recommend it. I also recommend then putting them on a cd too so you'll have the pictures in two places. Backup is key!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Thingers - Book Popularity


There's a group that formed from the Early Reviewers discussion board on Library Thing called Tuesday Thingers. It is hosted by Marie, a.k.a. The Boston Bibliophile. Each Tuesday Marie posts a question that everyone then blogs about. I'm joining a few weeks after they formed but I'm sure they won't mind (fingers crossed).

Today's Question: What's the most popular book in your library? Have you read it? What did you think? How many users have it? What's the most popular book you don't have? How does a book's popularity figure into your decisions about what to read?

My library lists only the books that I've read in the last two years, a few series that I added all the books, our book club books, and a few 'to be read' books. The most popular book in my library is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. There are 32,526 other Library Thing members who have this book in their library. This book or at least this series being the most popular appears to be common among alot of the other Tuesday Thingers. It only makes sense as this is one of the most popular books in the last years - it appeals to adults and kids alike. I've read it, but not in the last two years. I loved the series and this book was the start. My kids also have read this first book and are also big Harry fans.

The next most popular books in my library are the other Harry Potter books. The most popular book I've actually read in the last two years (that's not Harry Potter) is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. It is in the library of 5,549 members. I read this book in January and gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I learned some things about the culture in Afghanistan as well as reading a good story. I don't think it was as good as his other book, The Kite Runner, but that may have been expectations and not the book itself. Interestingly, The Kite Runner was published in 2003 and is in 14,563 member libraries. I wonder if in 4 more years whether the number of libraries for A Thousand Splendid Suns will reach that high.

The most popular book that I haven't read based on the Zeitgeist is The Hobbit with 21,347 members. Not sure why I've never read this book. I was going to say that fantasy is not usually my cup of tea but then realized that doesn't mesh with loving the Harry Potter series. Maybe I'll need to rethink reading this book.

A book's popularity does play a role in what I read. It's mostly based off of good reivews - "Oh you need to read this book" - rather than the fact that everyone is buying it. If I am shopping the library or the bookstore, I tend to notice the books that they have more of, but I'm just as likely to pick up a book because of it's color.

Just for fun, I looked at the books in my library that have the least amount of members. Rated 4 stars, The Bone Weaver by Victoria Zackheim is only in 5 members libraries. I read this book with my book club in 2003. Sadly that is too much time for me to remember the book, even after looking at the reviews on Amazon. It also makes me wonder how I rated it when I added it to my library. Hmmm...maybe my memory was better last year than it is this year? I will follow up with my book club buddies and see what they remember about this book.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Those digital pictures on those digital cameras

I love my digital cameras. There are two that we use regularly - my Canon 30D SLR that I absolutely love but generally have heart palpitations when someone other than me is using it. We also have a Sony Powershot that takes great pictures and allows the rest of my family to take pictures. I take a gazillion pictures, have many, many hand-made scrapbooks, have 3 digital scrapbooks, photos all over my house and my relatives....yada yada yada. Digital allows you to take so many and delete the ones that are bad, not worrying about wasting film or time. All this to say - I like digital pictures.

What kills (meaning hurt not laugh) me is when folks keep their pictures on their cameras for a long time. I know folks (family and friends alike) who will keep hundreds of pictures on their camera, deleting one or two at a time to make room for more. This is SO BAD for so many reasons. There are many things that can happen to the camera or the card that will wipe out all the pictures. For example - dropping it into the toilet; getting a virus from the computer; card just going bad; some ding-dong helpful person deleting ALL the pictures rather than just one or two to make space; and many other things that can happen. Do you really want the pictures from the past 6 months (which include Christmas, last day of school, fun events, new babies, family, etc) to be gone forever? Of course not. So, get them off your camera. You can put them on the computer (but remember this can also be an issue so make sure this isn't the only thing you do); print them either as individual photos or in a scrapbook format; put them on cd's; etc.

Whatever you choose to do with your pictures - make sure you share them! Pictures are not taken to be put in a computer, cd, album or scrapbook never to be seen again. Share them! People always like looking at photos!

Favorite author - Laura Lippman

I have that list on the left there of some of my favorite authors. Over time I will be telling you why they are on that list. Starting off with author Laura Lippman.

I first fell in love with her character Tess Monaghan in Baltimore Blues. Tess is a wise-cracking journalist who loses her job and opens a private investigation business. She solves crimes sometimes with her intelligence but just as many times with good luck. She makes me laugh and cry, cringe and cheer. Her family members and friends are just as much fun as she is. In different stories we learn more about each of them. And she is also a dog lover! There are ten stories in the Tess Monaghan series. And you know I recommend reading them in order if possible. Because you'll get to see how Tess grows both personally and professionally while you enjoy solving the crimes right along with her. The latest book is Another Thing to Fall that came out in March. My comment in March (since you know my memory is worthless about specific books) on library thing says "Latest in the series, but would be good as a stand alone too. TV show drama and filming included in the suspense."

Ms. Lippman also has a few stand-alone books that I've enjoyed. These books have rounded out the joy I have reading her books. I recommend checking her out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Yeah me!

I checked my email this morning and I've got two new things coming to me. The first was a copy of the book Entropy from author Tony Gordon. I originally got the book information from J. Kaye and read a review of the book by Booking Mama. The trailer says:
Entropy is the tendency for systems to go from a state of higher organization to a state of lowest organization - i.e., to fall apart. We watch as Nick fights to keep entropy at bay, to hold on to what he knows, even as he begins to realize he can't. Nick gradually comes to understand this process while he watches others resist it. Through Nick, we see how people cope, how people search for comfort and cohesion, and how sometimes our best selves become hidden in all the rubble.

The second thing in my email is that I purchased this cute purse from my friend Lisa at Polka Dot Creations. Lisa is so talented! I have been buying different things from her over the years - earrings, ornaments, etc. She makes beautiful jewelry! She has starting sewing different things and this purse is her newest creation. I can't wait to get it!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman

A perfect life is what she has. At least that's how Sophie views her life at the beginning of The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman. She's on top of her career, one step away from the top of her company. She's got lots of friends - unfortunately she's too busy with work to see them much but she knows they are there. But then a social worker shows up at her office - her best friend growing up, the one she hasn't talked to in 3 years even though she always meant to, has been dead for 6 months. And they just found her will that says Sophie should be given custody of the two girls. She agrees, out of guilt, on a temporary basis, until their father can be found. The story tells of how Sophie handles the change in her life, a 3 year old wildly creative fairy, a 6 year old tightly wound girl and their father.

This book almost immediately reminded me of a movie. Not that I've seen this movie. Maybe it would just be a good movie. It was a cute story - about finding yourself when you didn't really know you were lost. It would make a good book club book as there are lots of different aspects of the characters that are flawed and bear discussion. I found it very believable and interesting throughout. Good chick lit!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another contest - This one at She is Too Fond of Books

I don't really want to tell you about this one because I want to win! LOL Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books is giving away an advanced copy of Michael Connolly's newest book, The Brass Verdict. I am a huge fan of Michael Connolly. I read almost all his books in about 6 months time last year. Very intriguing, hard to put down, great characters.

All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment here saying why you want to get the copy. But, really, just go read her other posts and ignore the giveway. 'Cause it's all about me!!!

Whew! I think I am all caught up!

To Be Read Pile Man, I did too much reading on vacation! Too many books to post about.

Not really but it did seem to take a bunch of time to get caught up. Of course, I had to also get caught up on all my blog reading. And adding new books to my 'to be read' list. Speaking of which, this picture is my current pile. Yikes! And even more Yikes is that there are more books waiting for me right now at the library!

But it's also summer time and I need to play with the kidlets, preferably at the pool! Oh, yeah, and then there's work, dishes, laundry, taking a shower (LOL), yada yada. I think I am going to take an hour to work on the house stuff and then either work work or plunge into a new book. Any bets on which one I do?

All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison

The first in what I expect to be a good suspense series, All the Pretty Girls introduces two protagonists - Taylor Jackson, a detective lieutenant in Nashville and John Baldwin, her FBI profiler boyfriend. The story intertwines a serial killer spree and hunt that Baldwin focuses on primarily with the many different situations that Taylor finds herself investigating. The two have only been dating a few months but they have been intense, having started with an investigation that almost killed Taylor and that she is still recovering from.

The main characters are quite believable and real. The lesser characters not as much but still good for the story. I didn't know for sure who 'did it' until near the end and there were enough twists to keep me guessing when I got to thinking I did know.

This book was recommended by J. Kaye. Check out her review. And I'll be on the lookout for the next in the series, 14, due out this fall!

Book giveaway at Laura Williams' Musings

I found this great book giveaway at Laura Williams' Musings. She has reviewed Fatal Deduction by Gayle Roper. Sounds like a great book. Click here to go and register. You just have to leave a comment on her post to be entered. Very easy. And explore the rest of her blog as she has other contests and great reviews!

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

I found the latest book, Bridge of Sighs by award-winning author Richard Russo to be quite delightful. It is the story of Lou C. "Lucy" Lynch, his family and friends growing up in a little town in New York. There are three narrators in the story - all related to each other. It's what I would call a 'slice of life' book in that it tells alot about the characters, their lives, and the impacts of their decisions.

The book is quite lengthy and the author likes to use alot of words. There were a few too many words in the first part of the book so it was a little slow to start. However once I got past the beginning, I was hooked and couldn't put it down. Either the amount of words got better or the story got so good I didn't notice. The characters were very real - I looked forward to see how each one reacted to the other.

Stay by Nicola Griffith

I don't remember who recommended this book to me. If it was someone out there, please let me know and I'll be sure to note it here.

Stay by Nicola Griffith is the first book I've read from this author. After I read it, I found out it was the second in a series. Ack!

This book centers on Aud (rhymes with shroud) Torvington and her grief after her partner gets killed. At first I was confused as to what was going on (probably wouldn't have been if I had read the first one FIRST) but quickly got hooked into the book. Aud is rebuilding the cabin in North Carolina that her grandfather left her and has been in solitude for months. A good friend comes to the cabin asking for her help which she isn't inclined to do. But the memory of her partner pushes her to stay connected to her friends and she embarks on a unique journey. The book is not a mystery but is more of a thriller as you see the world from Aud's very hurt perspective. By the end of the book I had grown to love her flaws as well as her actions.

I believe Aud is a bodyguard who kills when needed but am not completely sure because it was just alluded to in this book. I definitely recommend this book if you like murder mysteries/thrillers but recommend you read the first one The Blue Place first. I plan on getting that into the pile to read.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sudoku Puzzle Murder: A Puzzle Lady Mystery by Parnell Hall

The Sudoku Puzzle Murder by Parnell Hall is the latest in his Puzzle Lady series. I very much enjoy the series and this one was no exception.

Cora, the Puzzle Lady, is the face of a daily crossword puzzle. However, she can't construct or complete a crossword to save her life. Her neice is the brains. Noone knows that Cora isn't able to do the puzzles except for her family. The one thing Cora is really good at is solving murders. And these murders always seem to have something to do with puzzles - either involving her initially or after she sticks her nose in. This particular story starts with a sudoku puzzle exhibition in which Cora wows the crowd. Turns out she's actually really good at Sudoku.

These stories are light mysteries that are fun to read. I usually chuckle at Cora's antics. I am anal and have to read series in order. And with this series, I think it would be best (course I would...that's how I think! LOL) The first one is A Clue for the Puzzle Lady. Enjoy!

Monday, June 9, 2008

No One You Know by Michelle Redmond

I had read her first book The Year of Fog last year and rated it 4 stars. So I was very excited to get an advance copy of her next book, No One you Know, from the Early Reviewers at Library Thing. I brought it with me on vacation and it was the first book I read.

The story centers on Ellie and her sister, Lila. Or, rather, Ellie’s life before and after her sister’s death. 20 years after her sister’s murder, Ellie is looking back at her sister’s life, finally facing who might have killed Lila and working through her own personal issues.

I was not fond of this book. Ellie’s sister, Lila, was a mathematician and was working to prove a famous theory. A lot of the language in the book was very ‘mathy’, meaning only a small group of folks have every heard of these terms and theories before. I am not fond of reading detailed descriptive information in any book as my book club can attest. I am more of a ‘just give me the plot information’ and not all the flowery descriptions of the location or the people. So all this information about the high level math, the theories and proofs, was too much for me.

The characters were believable and likable. I liked the plot and the fact that Ellie had to reconsider the 'truths' of her life. The story had lots of potential

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person, especially with math and technical items. But I felt dumb reading this book when she talked math. And it was too much for me to get over and enjoy the rest of the book.

Capon Springs, WV

Silly hiding girl I am back! We started out the trip at my in-laws house for the weekend. I took some time to take some pictures of two of my neices and their family. You can see that the older one was enjoying not having her picture taken. She's quite ornery! But still is a cutie! All this did was make me laugh - exactly her plan!

We left their house on Sunday and went to Capon Springs, WV. The resort there is wonderful! It was so peaceful, quiet and relaxing. They have plenty of activities for us to do - golf, tennis, ping pong and many others. The people who run it - all are family, so nice, and fun to talk with. And the folks who go there all have been going for years, usually the same week so that they know others going each year.

Capon Springs Pool Temp Their pool is spring fed so it was a bit chilly! But we were in it a number of times - me too! I was able to get my torso and legs used to the water after getting hot and jumping in three times (the first time I just did deep breathing from the deep end to the steps and got right out!). My arms never did get used to the cold but the kids had a blast in the water.

And the food! Oh, my! They fed us three meals that were quite delicious. Lots of food, all homemade, so good. Even my very picky kids loved the food!

He likes ice cream! Indiana Monica

Me and the kids hiking We hiked a couple of days - even a 3.5 mile 'gentle sloping' hike (if that's gentle, decided not to do the 'occasionally steep' one!). I finished 3 books and started a fourth. We played plenty of board and card games and did a large puzzle. We enjoyed each others company overall. I highly recommend taking your family and going!