Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's in a Name? challenge

OK, so call me crazy, but I'm adding another challenge to my list. This one shouldn't be too difficult and it sounded like so much fun, I just had to join!

The What's in a Name? challenge is being hosted this year by Beth, who some of you know from Beth Fish Reads. She has hosted other challenges in the past, so she's an old hand at this ... another reason why this should be a great challenge.

This is how it works: Read one book in each of the following categories:
  1. A book with a food in the title: Clockwork Orange, Grapes of Wrath, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
  2. A book with a body of water in the title: A River Runs through It, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, The Lake House
  3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: The Murder of King Tut, The Count of Monte Cristo, Lady Susan
  4. A book with a plant in the title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Wind in the Willows, The Name of the Rose
  5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: Out of Africa; London; Between, Georgia
  6. A book with a music term in the title: Song of Solomon, Ragtime, The Piano Teacher
The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

The challenge begins January 1 and runs through December 31, 2010. To sign up, go to What's in a Name?

Review: The Edge of Forever

By Jeff S. Chimenti

From the back of the book:

“After Michael Hanson saves a young woman from a violent encounter with her abusive husband in a small Nevada town, they attempt to find refuge in another city. But, as they flee, the couple doesn’t realize that they’re about to be pulled into a life-threatening adventure in an event that will change the course of human history in less than a week.”

The human race is faced with extinction – from a massive geological event, as well as the potential of a virulent bacteria being released into the population. Only a handful of people knows what is about to take place and they are on the run to try to save themselves and their families before it’s too late.

This really is a unique story and I was quite impressed by the way it played out. The author took the theories of what happened to the dinosaurs and wove a modern-day tale around them.

I would say 90 percent of the science fiction is totally believable; the other 10 percent is acceptable.

“The Edge of Forever” is Jeff Chimenti’s first novel and he did a very fine job of writing it. He brings together several moral issues to make the reader do more than just read. I was forced to think about what he was saying with this book and now, I’m anxious to read the sequel “The Edge of Forever: Brink of Extinction.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Guardian of the Flame

By T.L. Higley

From the back of the book:

“Alexandria, 48 B.C. Sophia has spent nearly twenty years as the keeper of the Lighthouse of Alexandria, alone in her task and in her heart. But when the wealthy capital of Egypt is invaded by Julius Caesar and his Roman legion, Sophia’s peace is shattered and her lighthouse invaded.”

This is a wonderful example of how historical fiction should be written. Not only is a fascinating story line, the reader also learns quite a bit about the period of time in which the book takes place.

T.L. Higley obviously knows of what she writes. She definitely did her research prior to putting pen to paper. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I learned several new facts about Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, the Roman centurions and the relationship between the two countries. I also found out some interesting tidbits about the people belief system and their gods.

This novel is one of a series and anyone who reads it will want to continue with the other books. There is much more to learn about this particular era in the history of the world.

Smooth writing, easy to follow plot and in-depth character personalities … all add up to a super read.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Mail Call

1. Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur

2. Secret Speakers and the Search for Selador’s Gate by KSR Kingworth

3. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

4. Within These Stone Walls by Desiree Lee (included a packet of fun promo items)

5. Just Don’t Fall by Josh Sundquist

6. Cayman Gold by Richard Trout

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Reading Challenge: I'm Done!

Well, I finished my very first challenge ever! I really enjoyed this and I've signed up for two challenges for 2010. I'm going to do my best to complete those, too!

The idea of the Holiday Reading Challenge was to read from 1 to 5 books by December 31, which I did prior to Christmas.

I want to thank Nely over at All About {n} for hosting this challenge. I'll keep my list of books read on my sidebar until after January 1. Then, I'll have to take it down to make room for my new lists.

To finish off and start working on my lists for the 2010 challenges, I offer one last bonus review of a classic tale by Mary Higgins Clark.

Review: Silent Night by Mary Higgins Clark

You can always count on Ms. Clark to bring a wonderful story to the bookshelves!

And you can always count on her to offer at least one new Christmas story each year.

This one was written in 1995, but like all her books, they are timeless. In "Silent Night," a young boy sees a woman steal his mother's wallet while they are looking at the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Inside that wallet is a St. Christopher's medal, which they are taking to his father who is in a New York hospital being treated for leukemia.

He follows the woman back to her apartment, intent on confronting her and getting the medal back. However, her brother is there waiting to confront his sister and force her to give him enough money to flee the country. He just broke out of prison, shooting a guard on the way.

The brother kidnaps the boy, threatening to kill him if his sister calls the police. She knows if she doesn't do something, he will kill the boy anyway. So she notifies the authorities and the hunt is on.

I just loved this story. I know any book by Mary Higgins Clark will give me a chance to lay back, relax and enjoy the read.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: Thirsty

by Kristin Bair O’Keeffe

From the book jacket:

“It is 1883, and all of Klara Bozic’s girlish dreams have come crashing down as she arrives in Thirsty, a gritty steel town carved into the slopes above the Monongahela River just outside of Pittsburgh. She has made a heartbreaking discovery. Her new husband, Drago, is as abusive as the father she left behind in Croatia.”

This book brought to life some of the studies I’ve done on the dynamics of abusive relationships, how it affects family and friends and how what impact it has on the children in such a marriage.

Kristin Bair O’Keeffe obviously did her research on this issue, as well as on immigrants and their differing set of beliefs they bring from their home countries.

I did enjoy reading this book, although it did – at times – make me angry at some of the characters. But, then, we live in a different era where some behaviors just aren’t tolerated anymore.

The key is to remember this book takes place at the turn of the 20th century and family structure, as well as the laws, was different then. Spousal abuse may not have been practiced by the majority, but it was often ignored. Your best friends would simply pick you up and dust you off, rarely calling the police or pushing you to leave.

As the main character began finding her own place within the society where she lived, she did begin to exert a little of her own rights as a person, but the book fell short of truly allowing her to stand up to her abuser. I think part of the problem was the length. Many times, I will read a book and think it should have been shorter. The opposite is true in this case … it should have been longer.

“Thirsty” is a good first novel by this author. I’m anxious to see what she accomplishes in the future.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Seasons Greetings!

Here's wishing you and yours
a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Where's Santa?

Do you know where he is?
Follow his route around the world
at the official NORAD Santa Tracker!

Tomorrow is Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my readers.
Please click on this link for a
special holiday card from me to you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just 2 days until Christmas

I admit I'm not really into shopping. In fact, I hate it!
But Christmas is a little different. Although I still wish I could avoid it, I do find more reasons to think positive thoughts while out fighting through the crowds.
The most important reason is my grandchildren. I did the majority of my shopping online this year, but I just can't seem to bring myself to purchase toys for my babies online or out of a catalog. I really need to look at them before buying for a number of reasons ... I want to see what they actually do, I want to make sure they are constructed well, I want to check for any small parts ... to name a few!
Yesterday, I made the dreaded trip out to find a few last minute items and to buy what I needed for Christmas dinner. This year, it will be just me and hubby, so I wanted some special things.
After returning home, I thought -- Wow! I'm done with shopping and I won't have to face the Christmas Eve rush.
Famous last words!
Apparently, no one thought about items for the stocking. So today, I'll have to force myself back out into the crowds and the cold weather to do that.
How about you? Is your shopping done? If so, congratulations (I'm envious)! I'd like to know the secret on how to remember to have everything purchased at least a week before Christmas. Is there a trick to that?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Only 3 days until Christmas

Are you ready?

Defenders of the Scroll

By Shiraz

From the book jacket:

“Far away in the realm of Mythos, an evil entity has broken free of its prison to darken the land. However, entrusted with her father’s magic scroll – the only hope for the realm – young princess Dara summons six heroes from different times and places to defend her: a hardened Roman legionnaire, a swift Japanese samurai, a mighty African warrior, a fiery Amazon archer, a spirited Shaolin monk, and a guitar-playing high school student named Alex.”

Most of my readers know already that I don’t typically read this type of book. That, in itself, probably makes for a more unbiased review in some respects.

I did find myself engrossed in this tale as the group of unusual personalities find themselves on the run from evil, while at the same time, trying to find a way to save the kingdom and rescue the king who is imprisoned by those evil forces.

The majority of the book was fairly believable, but there were a few parts that didn’t quite jive with the rest of the story.

I would suspect this tale would enthrall young readers who are interested in fantasy video games, as the story follows that type of scenario. And I did want very much for these people to succeed.

However (and this could be considered a spoiler, although I’m not sure if it fits into that), I was surprised to reach the end of the book only to find the story continues into a separate novel. I wish there had been some warning of that, but nowhere did I see an indication this was a series.

I gave this 3 books because of the tight, precise writing and I was able to see where the audience it’s intended for would enjoy it.