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Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Floss!! (Mental that is....)

Today is More Herbs, Less Salt Day.....honest....if you don't believe me then google it....yep...that's what I thought too....

Anyway, in honor of this glorious day, today's quiz, straight from those fine folk at Mental Floss magazine, (one of the worlds coolest mags) is today's quiz.

That's What I Mint!

Knock yourselves out!! I'm feeling purty dern smart, I only missed one this time. Of course it was the booze question. Go figure.

click Here for the Quiz

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Book Giveaway!!! Who doesn't love free books??!

Another great giveaway!!

An Advance Readers Copy of The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. This is a great book, it will be released on September 2. (Somehow I received two copies, so I'm giving one away to a lucky reader!)

Here's my review
The Book of Lies

From Barnes and Noble:

Brad Meltzer--author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Fate--returns with his most thrilling and emotionally powerful novel to date.

In Chapter Four of the Bible, Cain kills Abel. It is the world's most famous murder. But the Bible is silent about one key detail: the weapon Cain used to kill his brother. That weapon is still lost to history.

In 1932, Mitchell Siegel was killed by three gunshots to his chest. While mourning, his son dreamed of a bulletproof man and created the world's greatest hero: Superman. And like Cain's murder weapon, the gun used in this unsolved murder has never been found.

Until now.

Today in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cal Harper comes face-to-face with his family's greatest secret: his long-lost father, who's been shot with a gun that traces back to Mitchell Siegel's 1932 murder. But before Cal can ask a single question, he and his father are attacked by a ruthless killer tattooed with the anicent markings of Cain. And so begins the chase for the world's first murder weapon.

What does Cain, history's greatest villain, have to do with Superman, the world's greatest hero? And what do two murders, committed thousands of years apart, have in common? This is the mystery at the heart of Brad Meltzer's riveting and utterly intriguing new thriller

If you'd like to win this copy, just leave a comment with your email address and you're automatically entered. For two entries, link to the giveaway in your blog and leave me the link.

The contest runs until 12:00am Wednesday, September 3rd.(U.S. and Canada only please)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

She’s baaack…Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful serial killer introduced to us in Chelsea Cain’s first novel; returns in her second, Sweetheart. Gretchen has escaped from prison; Archie Sheridan is still a terrible mess from his first encounter with her and of course, that weird obsessive connection they have still exists.

Sweetheart isn’t quite as gruesome and graphic as Cain’s first novel. There are certain plot devices that work better if we just go with them; Gretchen drives a Jag, with the comment tossed off, that she “had some money set aside”. Hmm…oookay…not sure exactly how a gorgeous serial killer who’s been in prison and just escaped can access funds and go buy a Jag without anyone noticing. But, the author has done a fine job of setting up Gretchen’s ability to manipulate men and get them to do her bidding, so we can assume the same here. Anyway, a woman like Gretchen Lowell would not ever be seen driving a Ford. The plot device at the end, which allowed Archie’s partner and a journalist to locate him, also seemed a little contrived. I was a bit doubtful that a cop would leave such an obscure clue for his partner, and then be so certain that it would be solved. Again, Cain does a tricky two-step around this problem by showing us Archie’s motivation for discovery being delayed. Fancy footwork maybe, but I bought it!

I’m mildly ambivalent about the ending as well. Would I have liked a different ending? Maybe. It might have seemed more logical for the end to be what it was leading to, not what it was. Do I completely understand the ending we’re given? Absolutely. If I had conceived of this terrifically scary, gorgeous, creepy, insane/sane Hannibal Lecter-ish woman, I’d want to keep her around for a few more books as well.

I’m hoping Chelsea Cain is hard at work on book three. I feel like we’re just starting to know her characters and I really want to see where the author is planning on taking them. And maybe someday, a “prequel”?

Sweetheart is available for sale on September 2.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

When Cain murders his brother Abel in the Bible, it becomes histories first homicide. When Mitchell Siegel was murdered in 1932, his grieving teenaged son, Jerry conceived of the world’s first bulletproof superhero. Jerry Siegel and his friend Joe Schuster had created Superman. What do these crimes; committed centuries apart have in common?

The answer to that is complicated, involving a secret society, good hearted homeless outreach worker who is also a disgraced federal agent, a renegade cop, a relentless federal agent, convicted felon, disgraced minister, and comic books. If I had just read that sentence, I’d be thinking, “that sounds too far fetched to be imaginable”. And yet, Brad Meltzer has done just that. Meltzer manages to take the fascinating story of the beginnings of Superman, add mystery, murder and intrigue to form the perfect suspense thriller. Not satisfied with that though, then the author mixes in family, friendship, deceit, love and our own quests for immortality.

I found the end of this book to be absolutely perfect. It is all summed up with three little words, and these words give a power to the story, they make us stop and realize exactly what it takes for us all to be remembered. (I can’t tell you the words…I’d ruin the ending.)

Brad Meltzer is a good author, and he’s done a great thing in this book. I highly recommend it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Floss!

Today is "Be An Angel Day" and in honor of it here's..... this week's Friday Floss Quiz!!

The Angel Quiz

(I'm most certainly NO angel....I only scored a 35%!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

None of the Above, Why 2008 is the Year to Cast the Ultimate Protest Vote by Joseph Farah

“The most successful politicians recognize the state of the nation and play to it. You want a nanny? The politician will be your nanny. You want a daddy? The politician will be your daddy. You want a big brother? The politician will be only too happy to be Big Brother.
America—you don’t need or want any of those things. Instead, you need to get off your fat, pampered butts and take care of yourselves. You need to reject government “help” altogether. Stop turning from tweedle-dee to tweedle-dum and expect anything to change. No presidential candidate is going to save you.
Govern yourself.”

This quote from Joseph Farah’s None of the Above, Why 2008 is the Year to Cast the Ultimate Protest Vote, sums up my own feelings about the direction of our government and the upcoming election. Like many, I’ve been unhappy with the choices offered to us voters in the past. I’ve done the “plug my nose and vote for the lesser of two evils” ballot. In the primary here in California this spring, the field was pretty limited by the time the elections arrived. My original choice was, of course, long gone. For the first time, in over 30 years of voting, I found myself with nobody to support in the primary. However, I had such an aversion to the front runner I found myself voting for a candidate I actively disliked, disapproved of and would have never voted for in the general election. I regretted it as soon as I finished casting the ballot. I’ve always, and I mean always, taken voting very seriously; read up on the candidates, and supported who I felt the best person for the job would be. I promised myself that I’d never vote for someone again, unless I believed they were the best we had to offer.

Farah’s book caught my eye with the title; since that’s just the way I’ve been feeling about the upcoming election. The book addresses the authors’ belief that now is the time for radical and revolutionary thinking. That when we chose “the lesser of two evils”, this means that we are still participating in something “evil”. Farah reminds us that we won’t get the Constitutional government our founding fathers fought for, if we don’t demand it. The Constitution of our country is an amazing document, but we’ve allowed all three branches of government to gut it and render it irrelevant. Patrick Henry said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” This document was to limit the power that government had over our lives, not allow it to be our nanny. We were to be self-governing, and yet we’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced that all our dreams can come true if we put our faith in our leaders. As Farah says, “dependency of government is the opposite of freedom and responsibility. In the long term, it means tyranny and slavery.”

None of the Above makes compelling arguments, which any American can readily understand. The authors love of this country and the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution are obviously of the utmost importance to him. Farah also is a Christian, and his faith is an integral part of his thesis. He uses Biblical reference throughout and refers often to his own beliefs. This type of theologically driven ideology may detract from his thesis in the minds of some readers. It might be easier for a reader who has a different or no religious background to discount the book as a whole, instead of realizing that the ideas contained within the book are relevant to all Americans, religious or not. I don’t necessarily agree with all of Farah’s idea, I find I have a more of a Libertarian perspective on many social issues. However when it comes to protecting the Constitution, I’m with him 100%. We have to stop taking it for granted.

Joseph Farah’s book reminds us that, “The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.” (Albert Einstein)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien

Wesley the Owl, The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl is a heartfelt memoir about a young scientist, Stacey O’Brien and the four-day-old barn owl she adopts and spends almost 20 years with. Wesley teaches Stacey “The Way of the Owl”, which is how Stacey describes his personality. Wesley couldn’t tolerate lies, made sure she kept her promises and loved her unconditionally. The book is part biology text, with fascinating tidbits about owls, their habits and habitats, part humorous essay with stories delineating the differences between poop, sh*t and scat in scientist parlance, but mostly, all heart.

Anyone who has ever loved an animal can tell you that they can communicate with us, something that science hasn’t always agreed with. I loved the interaction between owl and human, and the depth that interaction had. The book doesn’t make you want to rush right out and adopt an owl, thank goodness, since this isn’t exactly legal anymore. But it makes you feel a deeper appreciation of the animals in your own lives. It brought back to me the endings of my much loved pets time with me, and made me dread the future when our sweet little Cookie mutt is old. Yet it also makes us aware of how much our animals enrich our lives. If we chose to share our lives with an animal, we have to understand that, with a few exceptions, we’ll eventually lose them to age and death. But we do it anyway, we love our critters, dogs, cats, lizards, spiders, turtles, fish, snakes, birds, hamsters, rats, mice….all of them. If we can treat our “pets” as what they really are to us, loving companions with complex emotions, we’ll all be better people for it. And if we could all live “The Way of the Owl”, we’d have a better world for it.

This terrific book is available for purchase today, August 19th.

First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

Eric Van Lustbader’s new novel, First Daughter is a philosophical book disguised as a suspense thriller. Jack McClure is an ATF agent, trying to cope with the death of his only child, and the breakup of his marriage. He is dyslexic and his whole life has struggled with the humiliation of keeping this a secret. His dyslexia has allowed his brain to perceive of unique patterns and has given him an ability to see the world in different ways, leading him to become one of the ATF’s top agents. Jack receives a call from an old friend, Edward Carson, asking his help in finding his kidnapped daughter, Allie. The case is complicated by the fact that Carson is the President-elect and due to be inaugurated in just a few weeks time. Even though the novel is ostensibly about the search and recovery of Allie, it deftly incorporates themes of faith and redemption, as well as highlighting the secular constitutional issues of today’s politics.

This is the first time I’ve read a novel by this author, and I’ve been really missing out on something good. The book is fast paced, with a fascinating portrayal of a man who’s lost everything except his career. His whole life, Jack has worked hard and made his career his top priority, and then in an instant, he learned just how skewed his priorities had become. This theme of the book rang true; too often we have to lose what’s the most important to us to notice how valuable it was. I was fascinated by the author’s depiction of Allie’s captivity. The psychological manipulation the kidnapper used on his victim was yet another realistic and well-written aspect of the novel.

Van Lustbader doesn’t shy from asking the “big” questions either. Faith is a large part of this novel. Cogent arguments are made for both the necessity of religious faith and the more pragmatic approach of a moral secularism. Morality itself is often addressed; where one man finds a compelling sense of moral obligation, another will see despicable manipulation. Often the author manages to warn us of political and religious agendas that are in direct opposition to a truly Constitutional form of government, all the while staying well within the boundaries of good story telling.

First Daughter is being released today, August 19th. Pick up a copy, it’s a worthwhile read!


Wow...time has gone whippin' by! I just haven't had any computer time at all, last week was nuts, taking one kid to camp at Big Bear, one to the airport for her vacation, picking up kid from camp, finishing up before school shopping stuff, first day of high school, picking up kid from airport....etc. I don't know why, but I just didn't seem to find the time to blog at all.

The first two days of high school were very intimidating for the youngest munchkin. Bodie wasn't digging on it much, very scary teachers, huge campus, gigantic student population. She's still stressing a bit, but seems to be settling in well. I think the biggest change for her is the cheerleader thing. She has to stay after school 3-4 days a week and won't get home until 5-ish. she's always been one of those, "Get my homework done right away" types, so its killing her to have to do homework when I'm cooking dinner. Nobody likes change though, she'll adapt well, I'm sure.

Cheerleading....hmm...I think maybe I'm an old stick in the mud but I just can't get myself psyched up about the newest fundraiser. My not yet 14 year old Freshman is supposed to sell tickets to a bus trip, the bus leaves at 6 AM on a Saturday, returns at midnight. On the bus will be Jello shooters, $10 Bingo cards, etc. and its destination is Stateline, NV for a day of gambling. I know that she can only sell to people over 21, but I'm just a tad uncomfortable with my 13 year old selling tickets for Jello shooters and transportation to casinos. This totally makes me look like a stiff collared Puritan, and I'm really not. Vegas and gambling isn't really my thing, but I don't care if others go, I don't see the fall of civilization in it or anything like that. I just don't feel right about having 13 year old shilling for it. Am I over-reacting? Probably! But that's just how it goes!!

I did manage get reading done last week, now if I can just get the reviews written! I just finished a couple of very good books, so watch for those reviews soon!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Creepers by Joanne Dahme

Creepers by Joanne Dahme opens with 13 year old Courtney O’Brien moving with her parents into an 18th century house next door to a Puritan cemetery. The house and yard have been inundated by persistent ivy, that grows and creeps everywhere. Even though her father constantly removes it, the ivy seems to have a purpose and intent of its own. Billed as a young adult novel, the book features not only the creepy and creeping ivy, it also has the required mysterious neighbors, scary noises in the basement and ghostly visitors who carve ivy into the basement walls. Learning of the history of the cemetery and the secrets contained within her new home, Courtney attempts to break the centuries old spell cast upon her new enigmatic neighbors.

I’m not much of a reader of young adult novels, but I received this Advanced Reader copy from the publisher and thought I’d give it a quick read. The heroine is likable, with the required fortitude to occasionally skirt parental rules that all characters in teen fiction must have. The story itself contains just enough of a creepiness factor to keep the story moving along, but not so much that it would freak out a younger reader. The setting of the story is so appealing, that I wished more than once that I could find a house like that, cemetery and all. That said though, I’m not sure it’s a book for the young adult audience its trying to reach. The characters were a bit too simplified; their dialogue and emotions a bit too bland even for younger teens. The plot was also pretty elementary and not all that suspense filled.

I would recommend this book for kids 10 to 12 years old, especially the kids who like the idea of a ghost story, but would get bad dreams if they read a really scary one. You know the ones I’m talking about, the kids that see a scary ad for a horror movie on TV and wake you up at 2AM because they had a bad dream based on the ad!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday Winner!!

Okay--so its Thursday, lets not split hairs here!

My daughter, (we call her Bodie) drew the name out of our little pink bucket yesterday morning, but at the time the 'net was down, so we couldn't get it posted. The winner of Say Goodbye, by Lisa Gardner is....*drumroll....

entry #2, Gwendolyn!!


Ok--I'll stop now...

Congratulations, Gwendolyn!!

I've got another great book to giveaway, but I probably won't get it posted until tomorrow. The week is nuts!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday Thingers (Hey it's still Tuesday here in California!)

What’s your favorite bookstore? Is it an online store or a bricks-and-mortar store? How often do you go book shopping? Is your favorite bookstore (or bookstores) listed as a favorite in LT? Do you attend events at local bookstores? Do you use LT to find events?

I'm a bit slow getting around to this today. Life has intruded and I just didn't have much blog time today!!

This weeks question is pretty simple for me. Even though I live in a city of over 175,000 people, we have very few bookstores. We have a Barnes and Noble, Borders, a Christian bookstore, a used bookstore, a cookbook store, (oddly specific...) and a couple of mom and pop stores. The small shops here seem to cater to a specific genre, or in the case of the used bookstore, I have a hard time finding something I'm either interested in or haven't already read. Most of my book purchases are from Amazon, some from B and N online. I've always had good luck with both. I don't really get to any events, I'm lucky if I can find the time to read everything I want, I don't spend my free time going to events. Maybe when life gets calmer and I get less occupied with other stuff!!

Contest reminder!!

Just a quick reminder! My giveaway for Lisa Gardner's Say Goodbye ends tomorrow August 13th!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper

The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper is an ambiguous novel. The novel opens with Patrick Rush, a widowed father and successful novelist going to a drive-in movie with his eight year old son. When his son disappears, we learn of Patrick’s past, when he was still an aspiring author and joined a writer’s workshop called the Kensington Circle. After a woman goes missing in his neighborhood, he and the other attendees believe there is a connection between a story being written by one of the would-be authors and these crimes. Patrick struggles with his roles as widower, father, failing journalist and would be author. He must examine the darker workings of his own mind and his past in order to understand who has taken his son and why.

I really had a hard time getting into this novel. However, I don’t think it was the books fault, I think the failing was all mine. It is very well written, the narrative flows very well, the story is paced so to not give away anything and really keep the reader guessing. I think the problem was that I just couldn’t connect at all with the main character. I really didn’t like him very much. In fact I didn’t actually like anyone in the book, with the exception of Sam, Patrick’s son. I had a bit of trouble with Sam, I found him immensely likable, but way too precocious for a kid his age. I do understand that a boy raised from infancy by a single man, a reader, may just be that well spoken. I think I was supposed to like and empathize with Patrick and I just couldn’t. Its hard to feel involved in a novel like this when there is a disconnect of sorts between the character and the reader.

I would like to find fault with the ending of the novel, it is quite ambiguous and could be taken two ways. But I actually thought that was the best part. It appeals to the Pollyanna nature of readers such as myself, we can assume a happy Hollywood ending, and yet it would also appeal to readers who prefer darker and more realistic endings.

I think I just wasn’t in the mood for this type of novel. This might have been a perfect read for a dreary stormy week, when after a long, cold, wet day, I could have curled up by the fireplace and read for hours. I can see how this book could have the ability to almost cast a spell over the reader at such times. Unfortunately, I was reading in the bright, hot and sunny dog days of summer, with lots of distractions. The atmosphere and mood just wasn’t right, and my enjoyment of the novel suffered because of it.

The Killing Circle will be released on Sept. 16, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Floss!

Here's another installment of Friday Floss, a fun quiz from that wonderful magazine, Mental Floss...

Who has time to watch tv anymore, and who would want to watch tv? Reality programming: blechhh, game shows: double blechh. Remember those "good old days" when we were younger and actually watched sitcoms?

The 1980s represented the Golden Age of Sitcoms. All the major networks complied an impressive alignment of programs in an effort to attract the attention of viewers nationwide. Take our quiz and find out how well you responded to the relentless advertising machine driven by sitcom-saturated network television in the '80s.

Sitcom Potpourri (80's edition)

Good Luck! (I got 85%, I guess I watched more tv in the 80's than I thought I did!!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Book Giveaway!!! Who doesn't love free books??!

Another great giveaway!!

An Advance Readers Edition of Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner.

Here's my review
Say Goodbye

From Amazon:

Lisa Gardner, the New York Times bestselling author of Hide and Gone, draws us into the venomous mind games of her most terrifying killer yet.

Come into my parlor . . .

For Kimberly Quincy, FBI Special Agent, it all starts with a pregnant hooker. The story Delilah Rose tells Kimberly about her johns is too horrifying to be true—but prostitutes are disappearing, one by one, with no explanation, and no one but Kimberly seems to care.

Said the spider to the fly .......

As a member of the Evidence Response Team, dead hookers aren’t exactly Kimberly’s specialty. The young agent is five months pregnant—she has other things to worry about than an alleged lunatic who uses spiders to do his dirty work. But Kimberly’s own mother and sister were victims of a serial killer. And now, without any bodies and with precious few clues, it’s all too clear that a serial killer has found the key to the perfect murder . . . or Kimberly is chasing a crime that never happened.

Kimberly’s caught in a web more lethal than any spider’s, and the more she fights for answers, the more tightly she’s trapped. What she doesn’t know is that she’s close—too close—to a psychopath who makes women’s nightmares come alive, and if he has his twisted way, it won’t be long before it’s time for Kimberly to .....

If you'd like to win this copy, just leave a comment with your email address and you're automatically entered. For two entries, link to the giveaway in your blog and leave me the link.

The contest runs until August 13th, and I'll send the book out by August 15th. (U.S. and Canada only please)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tuesday Thingers (Meme...what's a meme???)

Today's Tuesday Thingers question was instructional for me. Marie at Boston Bibliophile asks "What other weekly memes or round robins do you participate in? Is this the only one? Why Tuesday Thingers and not some other weekly Tuesday meme? Or do you do more than one?"

So far pretty much only Tuesday Thingers. I'm still new at the blogging and until a couple of weeks ago had never heard of memes. I'll admit that until today, I didn't know it was called a meme! And that there were lots of other ones! (Painfully new noob here) I've started something last week "Friday Floss", but I didn't realize that bloggers got so much of their nifty links from other sources. All this time I thought I had to come up with one on my own. The Daily Meme is soooo much simpler! Nevertheless, I'm going to keep up doing Friday Floss, and if anyone would like to join me, feel free to grab the link, (but I'd appreciate it if you'd link to me also!) I did Tuesday Thingers simply because I found out about it Library Thing. But I've enjoyed reading everyone else's.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Geography of Love: A Memoir by Glenda Burgess

The Geography of Love is a beautiful, moving, uplifting, and heartbreaking memoir. Glenda Burgess has given us a remembrance of her marriage, and her husband that carries such a core of truth that it is difficult to put it down.

After a successful career with the State Department, Glenda has decided to return to the United States and start fresh. She meets a man, Ken, 13 years her senior who has already been widowed twice, his first wife died in a car accident, and his second wife was murdered in her bedroom while their toddler slept in the next room. His daughter has grown up emotionally scarred and her relationship with Ken is shaky and turbulent. With Ken’s past and problems, most women would head for the hills, but Glenda had a sure belief that this could be good. Even though Ken had given up on the very idea of love, he too, managed one more leap of faith and together they built a life, a love and a wonderful family. Their faith and love would be tested in sad and painful ways, and yet, the love and devotion always manages to shine through.

This is a very sad book in many ways; it can bring you to tears at the most unexpected places. And yet it also can give you a deep sense of peace, a profound desire to have this kind of marriage, and a deep sense of gratitude if you already do. This was an ordinary happy family, and it’s easy to see yourselves in the pages. Seeing how a couple can gain such strength from their relationship shows us that, perhaps we can all respond to the worst adversity possible with grace and dignity. Ken’s compassion, consideration and kindness throughout the darkest of his days stand as an example to us all. The author’s courage in reliving these times shows us yet another place to explore in the geography of our own lives.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday Floss!

Here's a fun quiz to take from my all time favorite magazine, Mental Floss.

Probably the most often heard word in pop music after the word love, the word baby (or the variations on the baby theme: oh baby, ew baby, baby baby) is as ubiquitous today as it was in old time blues, R&B, and all that jazz. Below are 10 of my favorites. Can you match them with the bands and artists who sang them?

Name That Baby! A Musical Quiz

Good Luck! (I got 8 out of 10, but I was lucky because I completely guessed on 5!!)

We have a winner!

The winner of my first book giveaway is Ruth from
Bookish Ruth
Thanks everyone for entering! Check back often, I've got a stack o' books that are just itching to find new homes!!

Great Giveaways!!

Sorry--no time for contests until my danged kitchen is done...arrgh!!