Monday, June 30, 2008

Are You a Snack Connoiseur?

This is a fun quiz all about snack cakes! I got 13 out of 20 correct. That may not sound like a very good score, but some of the selections aren't sold in my area and I had to guess the answers.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Friend's Blog

A good friend and business partner has jumped into the blogging world. Check out his site at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Black and Blue

Anna Quindlen has done it again. She’s written a book that is every bit as great as the others by this author.
“Black and Blue” is the story of a woman who escapes an abusive marriage. She takes off with her young son and begins a new life with a new identity.
Indeed, she has every reason to fear for her life. Her husband is a respected police officer and is quite capable of convincing people to provide him with information if he were to launch and all-out search for her.
Oddly enough, he decides he could care less about her whereabouts, other than to find his son and bring him back.
It’s difficult to decide what to put into this review as it would be very easy to give away key points in the novel. I’ll just say that each event that occurs serves a particular purpose to the overall story.
I was so impressed with this novel that I’ve actually given it five books. Please read it; you won’t be sorry!

The Patron Saint of Liars

Amazing! I’ve given two novels 5 books this month.
I really enjoyed this book by Ann Patchett. It doesn’t surprise me that it made the New York Times Notable Book list.
The story is about a Catholic home for unwed pregnant girls. When Rose finds herself pregnant, she decides not to tell her husband and mother. Instead, she drives from California to Kentucky and shows up at St. Elizabeth’s under the pretense of being single and willing to give up a baby she doesn’t want.
As she watches the other girls struggle with pregnancy, childbirth and going back to their homes as if they never had a baby, she begins to have second thoughts. Although she still doesn’t want to be a mother, she also can’t come to terms with giving the baby up.
“The Patron Saint of Liars” is the story of how Rose resolves her conflicting feelings and the people she affects. Published in 1992, it remains poignant today.
It’s truly a marvelous read.

Killer Year: Stories To Die For

Well-known crime writer Lee Child edited this book of a variety of stories written by some of the newer authors of the genre. The result is a mélange that will take the reader on a journey like no other.
These are crime and mystery stories, which I’m pretty particular about when I read them. I’ve found few writers that do the genre justice, but I did enjoy several of these stories.
One of my favorites is the tale of two young boys who discover a girl hiding in their secret meeting place. She takes them on a rousing adventure and then disappears as mysteriously as she appeared.
Was she real or a figment of their imaginations?
That’s up to the reader to decide, I suppose.
Each story is introduced by a known writer, who gives a little background about the author.
Whether or not you like crime stories, you will want to give this book a try. I’m sure there is a story or two you’ll enjoy.

Dreams of My Russian Summers

Andrei Makine tells the story of a young French boy who grows up spending the summers with his grandmother at her village in Saranza, Russia, which is in the Siberia area of that country.
As he grows up, he learns more and more about his grandmother’s life and it ultimately changes his own perspective of who he himself is.
This book was originally written in French and translated into other languages, including English. The translator found it pertinent to leave in some of the French terms to make the story more interesting to the reader. The result is a novel that tells a charming story while teaching the reader a little bit about the history between the two countries and the people who live there.
It’s not one of the best books I’ve read, but I did enjoy it.

The Bucket List

Wow! I finally got the chance to watch this movie and I was impressed. It is so well done and both my husband and I were almost speechless when we saw it.
The story revolves around two men who are diagnosed with incurable cancers. They are two totally different personalities, yet because they are in the same room, they (reluctantly) end up learning about each other.
When one discovers a secret list the other is making, the real action begins. The list is called a Bucket List and contains all the things he wishes he had done during his life but never did.
Well, they decide maybe they should try to do some of those things. They expand the list to contain both of their ideas, check themselves out of the hospital and off they go to travel the world in search of their dreams.
They have a marvelous time and become the best friends imaginable … until one of them steps too far into the personal life of the other.
I really can’t tell any more about the scenario or it will give away the end of the movie, which is wonderful!
If you haven’t seen “The Bucket List,” take the time to do so. You’ll be glad you did.

White Oleander

It’s been a long time since a book affected me the way this novel by Janet Fitch did. The only word that truly defines it is “compelling.”
This is the story of a young girl who suddenly finds her world turned upside down when her mother goes to prison for murder. She is now thrust into the world of foster care and is placed in a variety of homes. They range from dysfunctional to abusive to loving to ambivalent.
Along the way, she meets some friends who she could easily learn to love, but her mother’s jealous hand somehow reaches out from behind bars to thwart any chance at normalcy she may find.
I would classify this as one of the best books I’ve ever read and I considered giving it five books, but the ending was not at all what I expected. It seemed hurried, as if Fitch wasn’t quite sure how to finish it. It was the one disappointment I had with the novel.
Other than that, it’s one of the few novels I would seriously consider reading again and I hope you will also take the time to try this book.

Superchicks do the Hula!

I had so much fun reading this book!
Robin Jones Gunn tells the story of two lifelong friends who decide to spend their 40th birthdays, which are only a few days apart, together in Hawaii. It’s a trip they had talked about for 20 years and they figured it was about time they did it!
They leave their families at home and take off for the islands to enjoy two weeks of bliss.
It’s a wonderful story of friendship, love and learning. The two women are given the opportunity to renew their faith in God and the beautiful tropical setting helps remind them of His wonderful work with nature.
They also are able to come to terms with the fact they are now middle age. Turning 40 wasn’t something they thought would affect their outlook on life until it actually happened. However, each was glad to spend that particular birthday with a best friend who could understand the mixed feelings she was experiencing.
To top it off, they got to try some exciting new things … such as surfboarding, scuba diving and, of course, doing the hula!
This is truly a great book and I’d highly recommend it to my reading friends.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Between the Lines

I've added a new link to "check out these blogs." It's for the new blog Lynda Coker set up to promote the reviews done by members of Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction.
I just love the design of the new blog. Very stylish!

"Goldeneyes" excerpt

Here's a little teaser from the book "Goldeneyes" by Delia Latham. For more information, check out my book reviews and her blog (the link is on the right-hand side of this page!).

"Meet Hank O'Hare, Juliana. He's the owner and resident rapscallion here at Hole-in-the-Wall. Hard to look at and not the most mannerly sort, but the man can cook like nobody's business."

Hank's steel gray eyes softened as he rounded the counter, offering his hand to Juliana. "Pleased to meet'cha, miss."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Indiana Jones

I’ve always been a fan of the Indiana Jones movies. When I found out a new one was filmed, I waited impatiently for it to premiere.
I counted down the weeks. I kept my eye on the advertisements for the area theaters.
Lo and behold, there it was! Listed to be shown at the local showhouse.
My husband and I went on the second night it was being shown. The seats were crowded, but we still got a good spot in the center near the front. We bought our popcorn and sodas and I sat through the previews of coming attractions in anticipation.
I wasn’t disappointed.
No matter what anyone says, Harrison Ford can still do Indiana Jones!
I’m not really sure why I enjoy the Indiana Jones films so much. After all, they are kind of unbelievable. Yet, the producers manage to pull it off so well that it becomes such fun.
I seriously doubt if there will be another one of these films. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull pretty much ended the adventures, as far as I can tell. Anything else would probably be too much of a stretch.
But they did an excellent job at making this movie. If you get the chance to see it, don’t pass up the opportunity. You’ll be glad you went.

My Sister’s Keeper

Jodi Picoult is one of my preferred authors. I first read one of her books only within the last year and I finished it with the thought, “Why haven’t I read her before?” She truly is a wonderful writer.
“My Sister’s Keeper” is no exception. In fact, it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read and enough for me to rate it at five books.
It’s the story of a young girl who realizes the only reason she exists is to save her older sister’s life.
Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood leukemia as a toddler. Anna was conceived in order to provide transplants – blood transfusions, bone marrow, organs – for Kate. By age 13, Anna had undergone countless surgeries to keep her sister alive.
When it becomes necessary for Kate to have a kidney transplant, Anna rebels. She researches the dangers that could result and hires an attorney to sue her parents for medical independence. It’s not that she doesn’t want to help her sister. After all, she does love her dearly. She just wants some say-so about her own life.
This touching and eye-opening story truly causes one to think about the consequences a family of a mortally ill child must face. It is so well written that the reader will feel they know the people involved intimately.
At times, the book will make you angry. It will also make you cry and laugh. It gives an entirely new perspective to the issue of stem cell research, in vitro fertilization and medicine itself.
“My Sister’s Keeper” was a Mother’s Day present from my own daughter. She spent hours digging through stacks at the bookstore to come up with this gift and I can’t thank her enough for it.
I’ve read thousands of books and this moves to the top of my list of favorites.


I admit I’ve never been a big fan of John Grisham’s books about lawyers and trials, but I do enjoy his novels that feature other plots. “Bleachers” is one of them.
It’s the story about a small town where everyone supports the high school football team after it becomes one of the best in the state. It’s where you’ll find nearly every person on Friday nights – sitting in the bleachers rooting for the boys.
Yet, behind the scenes is the story of a coach who borders on abusive toward the kids. He expects the best from his team and will do anything to get that. Granted, it meant they were champions because (or in spite) of his attitude, but it also meant events transpired that were often kept secret from parents and friends.
“Bleachers” truly is one of Grisham’s best books. There are several reasons why I liked it.
One, I love football. In fact, the doctor who delivered me and my younger sister was Vince Lombardi’s brother, so we kind of have a stake in the sport.
Secondly, I currently live in a small town that supports all the school sports teams, although not at such a grand scale. The book gave me a new perspective on that.
Third, in a small town, people do tend to overlook the transgressions of those they admire. Whether that person is a government official, a police officer or a coach/teacher, they simply do not want to hear that person isn’t what they believe.I’m not sure if someone who doesn’t enjoy or understand football would enjoy “Bleachers,” but I hope they give it a try nonetheless. It is a good book.

Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692

Although many of the early settlers to the New World were attempting to escape religious persecution in Europe, they still brought some of the same thoughts with them. Among those beliefs were the ideas of witchcraft and using its powers to “get even” with those who crossed them. Those ideas culminated in the witch hunts and trials in Salem, Massachusetts.
Yet, that wasn’t the only place they occurred. Other towns held similar trials, albeit not on the scale of those in Salem.
One such place was Stamford, Connecticut, as related in this book by Richard Godbeer.
Godbeer studied actual documents and trial transcripts to learn the dynamics behind the witch hunts and relates those findings to the reader.
“Escaping Salem” is a fascinating book. In it, the reader learns that much of what was previously believed about the witch hunts is highly exaggerated. It wasn’t a mass execution as the judges were very careful not to take the accusations lightly. In fact, they did everything they could to sway the jury to find the plaintiffs innocent of the charges.
This author combines narrative and historical writing to relate the events to the reader. It’s very well written and the reader will come away with a clear sense of what actually transpired.
The book “Escaping Salem” is one of a series published by Oxford University Press titled “New Narratives in American History.” The series looks at certain events in the history of our country and presents them to the reader in a way that makes them easy to read and understandable.As a social scientist, history plays a big part in my interests and so I found this book quite informative. It was the first book I’ve read in the series and I plan to see what other topics are available.