Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

Do you have plans for tonight? We will stay home and pass out treats for little ghosts and goblins that appear on our doorstep, while my son and his wife takes our grandson out in his Yoda costume.

Our neighborhood is usually pretty quiet on Halloween. Not many houses on our street are lit up. Most people are off to parties or taking their kids trick-or-treating. So, because we’re just about the only house on the block with a light on, ghouls think it’s kind of a waste of time.

That means we enjoy even more the ones who do show up!

Here’s a little trivia about this spooky holiday: Why are bats one of the symbols of Halloween?

In ancient times, people gathered around giant bonfires to ward off evil spirits. Small flying insects were attracted to the warmth and bright lights these fires created … the same insects that were natural food for bats.

The people would see the bats flickering in and out of the light from the fire and they became part of the Halloween lore. This connection grew stronger with the discovery of the vampire bat in the 17th century and tales circulated throughout Europe of bats that drank blood.

It soon became a natural association – a creature that drinks the blood of its prey in the dark of night!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Edited by Fiorella Congedo

From the book jacket:

This lovely book showcases the delicate copper engravings of birds created by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Compte de Buffon (1707-88), for his masterpiece work Histoire naturelle, générale et particuliére. The glorious birds captured within are original reproductions of Leclerc’s art, which depicts the vibrant hues of the birds’ feathers, the varying length of their wings, and their wide-eyed expressions as they stand perched, always alert for symbols of danger or other forms of life that might serve as their next meal.

Just my opinion:

If I could say I’m in love with a book, this would be the one. When I first opened the pages, I was instantly enthralled by the wonderful pictures.

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Compte de Buffon, was one of the most respected naturalists of his time. He created a very large series of copper engravings of the birds he came to appreciate and respect. Taking those same extraordinary pieces of art, Fiorella Congedo has compiled them into a book that is nothing less than fascinating. Anyone who recognizes the value of nature and-or art will enjoy gleaning the pages of this wonderful book.

Bonus: A DVD in included with the book that contains all the pictures on it – to be used by readers at their discretion!

As a nature lover, this book is one I will treasure for years to come. It will sit alongside my copy of Audubon’s book with those superb images of birds in their natural habitats.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pump Up Your Book blog tour: A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

Welcome to another Pump Up Your Book blog tour. This one features a wonderful new holiday book by Kathi Macias.

From the back of the book:

During Isabella Alcantata’s seventh month of pregnancy, her parents and siblings are murdered in gang- and drug-related violence—in a home targeted by mistake. Isabella knows the same thing could easily happen to her and her husband, Francisco. When her grandfather offers to hire a “coyote” to bring them across the border to America, she agrees.

Living on one of the smaller spreads along the Arizona border, Miriam Nelson becomes furious with God and turns from her faith when her border patrol agent husband, David, is killed in a skirmish with drug smugglers. Her mother and young son do their best to woo her back from anger and bitterness.

Isabella and Miriam—one driven by fear and a promise, the other by bitterness and revenge—must make their journeys along different pathways to the same destination on Christmas Eve. Forced to face their personal demons, Isabella and Miriam soon discover a common yearning to bind them together in a most miraculous way.

About the author:

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs.

She is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats and writers’ conferences and won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association).

Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, Calif., with her husband Al. For more information about her, stop by her website.

Just my opinion:

A Christmas Journey Home is a modern-day tale of the Nativity story told in the New Testament. Here is a young Mexican woman who enters the U.S. illegally with her husband. Through a grueling set of circumstances when they first arrive, her husband is killed by camp raiders and she must continue on alone.

On the other side of the story is another young woman whose husband is killed by drug smugglers while he is on duty as a border patrol agent. Left with a small son to care for, bitterness and hatred become her mantra. She now hates illegal immigrants more than anything and she is quickly burying herself in her own, secluded world.

When fate brings these two women together, they must find a way to trust and care for each other … and to communicate. It’s a touching story and a great read for the upcoming holiday season.

For more information about this blog tour, visit the Pump UpYour Book website. Look for this book at your favorite bookstore or visit Amazon for details.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pump Up Your Book blog tour: The Pub Across the Pond by Mary Carter

From the back of the book:

Carlene Rivers is many things. Dutiful, reliable, kind. Lucky? Not so much. At thirty, she’s living a stifling existence in Cleveland, Ohio. Then one day, Carlene buys a raffle ticket. The prize: a pub on the west coast of Ireland. Carlene is stunned when she wins. Everyone else is stunned when she actually goes.

About the author:

Mary Carter is a freelance writer and novelist. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which is part of the Rochester Institute of Technology. The Pub Across the Pond is her fifth novel. You can learn more about her books at

Just my opinion:

When Carlene Rivers wins an Irish pub in a raffle, she sees it as the opportunity to finally get out from under her dead-end life. Caring for her father since her mother’s death has been stressful, to say the least, and she’s ready to strike out on her own. Who would have thought she’d fall head over heels in love with the quaint little pub, the odd ball clientele she inherited … or the previous owner?

I absolutely adored this book. It was such a fun read and I kept rooting for Carlene throughout the entire novel. I’m not sure if I agree with her choice of men, but I have to admit, he does sound fascinating.

I don’t want to tell you too much about the book because I don’t want to give anything away. I really think you should read this for yourself.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I’m very impressed. Her characters are well-developed and she takes you right into the pages with her descriptions of the setting. I’ve never had a huge desire to travel to Europe, but after reading The Pub Across the Pond, Ireland does indeed sound enchanting.

For more information about this blog tour, visit the Pump UpYour Book website. You can purchase the book at your favorite bookseller. It is available at Amazon by clicking here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Salvation City

By Sigrid Nunez

From the back of the book:

In the wake of a flue pandemic that has ravaged much of the U.S., orphaned thirteen-year-old Cole Vining is taken into the home of an evangelical pastor and his young wife. In isolated Salvation City, the small southern Indiana town where they live, Cole feels sheltered and deeply loved, yet still an outsider. His new world is starkly different from the secular one in which he was raised, and he must struggle to understand as everything he has ever known is now challenged.

Just my opinion:

Coming of age novels are always quite interesting to me and I especially enjoy looking at how the author approaches this issue. Salvation City presents a new twist to the topic as we watch a boy grow into a young man in the wake of a flu pandemic that killed his parents.

Cole is a character you easily learn to like and sympathize with. He is raised in a rather lenient household with progressive parents who care very deeply for him, although they have some difficultly showing their love at times. After their deaths, he is sent to an orphanage where the other children can often be quite cruel. He is finally adopted by a preacher and his wife, who come to love him very much and are willing to show and tell him that.

As he goes through puberty and learns to adapt to his new surroundings, his story gets more and more complex.

This is a fascinating tale that looks at how different the world could be following an epidemic of radical proportions. The author does an excellent job of portraying the changing world and the effect it has on those who survive.

It’s a great read and one I didn’t want to put down. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book and I hope you get a chance to read it.

Some favorite passages from the book:

The best way to remember people after they’ve passed it so remember the good about them.

We’re all going to die, that’s for certain. And the thing for folks to do is stop wasting their energy being all headless and fearful like a herd of spooked cattle.

When it came to spreading infection, they were informed, they themselves—school kids—were the biggest culprits.

It’s not like every other bad thing stopped happening to make room for the flu. People are still getting cancer and having heart attacks and strokes and road accidents. The idea that we could handle any kind of surge on top of that—whoever’s fantasy that was, it was never going to happen.

Nothing sadder than a bunch of Christians trying to prove they’re every bit as hip as the lost.

Sometimes when things turn out this way, survival can feel like betrayal.

Outside the light was pale. The sky looked low and as fragile as eggshell, as if a rock hurled hard enough could smash it.