Sunday, February 28, 2010

Possible Futures: Creative Thinking for the Speed of Life

By Jude Treder-Wolff

From the back of the book:

“Jude Treder-Wolff deconstructs the strands of our increasingly fast-paced, technologically-driven and socially fragmented lives. In the face of 21st Century media pressures and consumerism, Possible Futures is a handbook for living with the creativity, consciousness and connectedness we need to succeed in these times.”

Possible Futures is a lesson in living outside the box. It’s about letting go of self-imposed barriers to creativity and success.

Jude Treder-Wolff explains why it’s important to let go of the fear of the unknown in order to try new ideas and accomplish personal goals.

And she does it with quite a flare.

She also quotes some known and respected writers along the way and provides references that could be extremely helpful to someone who would like to read more about this interesting topic.

It’s a good book and one that should be on everyone’s shelf.

However, I had a problem with the editing and-or proofreading. There is an abundance of typos, grammar errors, punctuation mistakes in this book and for someone who is experienced at editing, this presents quite a distraction. It took me a while to stop seeing them so I could concentrate on the important and poignant message Jude was telling the reader.

I would suggest keeping that in mind when you begin reading this book.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

Friday Fill-Ins is hosted by Janet at this link. Hop on over, grab the button and join the fun each week!

And here we go!

1. A cup of tea is the best thing for relaxing.

2. Kids and the smell of baking makes a place feel like home.

3. Everything has its beauty, even the roughest looking person on the street corner.

4. Does anything compare to the taste of strawberries?

5. Art makes me look at the world a little differently.

6. LOL I just noticed I forgot to comb my hair before I left the house.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the annual chamber banquet (ugh!), tomorrow my plans include getting a ton of writing done and Sunday, I want to relax and read!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Michael Jackson Tapes

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

From the book jacket:

“In 2000-2001, Michael Jackson sat down with his close friend and spiritual guide, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, to record what turned out to be the most intimate and revealing conversations of his life. It was Michael’s wish to bare his soul and unburden himself to a public that he knew was deeply suspicious of him.”

I’ve always enjoyed Michael Jackson’s music, even back when he was a member of the Jackson 5. So, I was very interested in reading this book.

Rabbi Boteach discusses a variety of subjects with Michael and he did a good job of bringing to light some questions and answers I’m sure most people would be interested in reading about. Even people who aren’t necessarily a fan would gain some insight into the life of this complex and intriguing personality.

I like the way the book is divided into chapters and categories. It made it easy to follow and if I wanted to go back and check on something I’d read earlier, that was a plus.

Now, I know many reviewers have had differing opinions of this book and I’ve read many of them. I can definitely see why some hate it and others just love it. Personally, I’m in between.

I enjoyed finding out more about what drove Michael to become the icon he did. His life growing up was anything but easy and he did feel an enormous amount of pressure to succeed and become a star.

Yet, that drive also caused him, in my opinion, to become quite self-centered. For example, if someone disagreed with him, he wasn’t at all open to hearing their view. They were wrong and that was that.

He also expected the spotlight to always be on him. Even at an event that was designed to honor someone else, he made sure people took notice that he was there.

However ….

There were several things I disliked about the book. One of the biggest was the redundancy. Rabbi Boteach tended to repeat parts of the conversation whenever he wanted to include something that fit into more than one category or topic. I’m not talking about him simply mentioning it again; he would actually repeat the entire part of the conversation. If I’ve already read it, I don’t need to read it again. I got the words the first time.

I also think there were several matters of interest that I wish had been included, such as Michael’s health issues. I would have rather heard about those than some of the other topics they discussed than the fact that his mother was a saint for the umpteenth time – I got it, already!

The book drug on in several places and I ended up doing some skipping ahead to places that were more appealing to me.

But, all in all, I’m glad I read the book and I’d recommend it to anyone else who has an interest in this legendary performer.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Mail Call

Has everyone been enjoying the Olympics? Some of my favorites are skiing and ice skating. That Bode Miller is really something! Can you imagine what it must be like to fly down that slope as fast as those skiers are traveling? Wow!

In my mailbox this past week, I received several items:

I got two books: Suitcase Full of Dreams by Hoy Kersh and The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser (both for review). I also received some goodies from Janet Quinn. She sent some of her fantasy short stories and I know I'm going to enjoy them.

Do you have some new short stories to read? Why not save them for the Spring Into Short Stories challenge? Click on the button on the sidebar for information about this challenge I'm hosting. It starts March 20 (the first day of spring) and it should be lots of fun.

I also received a copy of The Skull Ring by Scott Nicholson in my email box (pdf) to review. It looks very intriguing!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Keeper of Light and Dust

By Natasha Mostert

From the back of the book:

“Mia Lockhart has a secret. Her mother was a Keeper, as was her grandmother – women who were warriors, healers, and protectors. As Mia practices her craft among the fighters and martial artists of South London, she has no idea that a man who calls himself Dragonfly is watching from the shadows.”

I’m really not much of a fantasy reader, but I very much enjoyed reading this book about a “modern-day vampire.” This man doesn’t bite his victims; he actually drains their energy and that helps keep him young.

However, the victims end up dying and no one can figure out why their hearts stopped for what seems like no reason. The main character’s boyfriend suspects there is a connection between the unusual deaths of several fighters over a five-year period. He sets out to find that connection, all the while not realizing the perpetrator is right under his nose.

Natasha Mostert takes the ancient beliefs of the martial arts and combines them with fantasy to create a book that I found difficult to put down. And even though it is a fiction novel, there were enough facts that I was able to learn a little about those beliefs, which I found very interesting.

I liked the characters, especially Mia, so that was a plus, too. This is a great read by an excellent writer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. Johnny Weir is quite flamboyant.
2. I wish I had the time to go to the 2010 Olympics.
3. And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was just too much for the little ladybug, so she spread her wings and flew away.
4. Leave me a comment or two if you get an urge.
5. Having sweet dreams can be very refreshing.
6. What does it take to convince others not to bug you when you're working?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to doing a little reading, tomorrow my plans include finishing a ton of writing and Sunday, I want to take a little drive!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A New Award

My good friend Maryann Miller from It's Not All Gravy passed this wonderful "Picasso Award" on to me. I've been blogging for two years and in that time, I've met many nice people out there in the blogosphere. Maryann has always been one of my favorites and I hope to someday meet her in person!

Part of receiving this award to is tell you seven true things about myself. So, here goes:

1. I grew up in Akron, Ohio, and moved to Washington state in 1975.

2. I have been reading my entire life and I really don't remember actually "learning" to read. It's just something I always enjoyed. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was reading at college level and was in a special class for advanced readers.

3. I spent several years as a member of the Akron Majorettes and Drum Corps when I was a teenager. I also competed in individual baton twirling competitions and still have a box full of trophies.

4. I have a bachelor's degree in social sciences, which I earned after my divorce from my kids' father. I arranged my college class schedule around their school times so I could still be home when they left for school in the mornings and got home in the afternoons.

5. I've worked for several newspapers, including in the position of editor, and won numerous awards for writing and photography. These days, I prefer to stick with freelance writing so I can set my own schedule and not have to answer calls in the middle of the night. I still do a lot of writing for the local paper, but it's on my own terms and time.

6. I am involved in several community organizations. I'm the conservation chair for the area Audubon Society, the secretary and archivist for the community museum and I help with the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival, serving as a spokesperson.

7. I love to take weekend trips with my wonderful husband. With a house constantly full of kids and grandkids (who I adore), it's nice to get away for some time to ourselves. I live in the desert, so trips are typically to the mountains or the ocean. It's great to have all those different worlds within driving distance!

Well, there you go. That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about me!

Now, I'm going to pass this award on to a few of my other friends:

1. Suko at Suko's Notebook
2. Amanda at A Patchwork of Books
3. Sia at Thoughts Over Coffee
4. Katy at A Few More Pages
5. Lisa at Online Publicist

Thanks, Maryann, for this sweet award!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Join the "Spring into Short Stories" Challenge

I’ve come up with a new challenge for spring and I’m hoping many of you will choose to participate.

This is the “Spring into Short Stories” challenge. The goal is to read some of those short stories many of us have gathering wool on our shelves or downloaded on our computers, such as the many I personally have saved.

The stories can be included within an anthology or stand alone.

Here are the rules:

1. The story must be less than 50 pages.

2. The story can be any genre.

That’s pretty simple, isn’t it? So, as you can see, there isn’t a lot of work to this challenge.

Anyone who wishes to participate must sign up by March 19 to be eligible for the prize drawing. However, you can join in at any time during the challenge.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Become a follower of the challenge blog (click on the link to find the blog site).

2. Add a comment to the sign-up post letting me know you’re participating.

Once you begin reading your stories, do a short review on your own blog, then add a comment and link at the end of the post for the appropriate week.

As an added bonus, I’m going to put together a prize package for this challenge. I’ll draw a name from all the entries at the end of the challenge, which runs from March 20 (the first day of spring) until July 20 (the last day of spring).

Enlightened Soups

By Camilla V. Saulsbury

From the book jacket:

“If one food conjures up comfort, it’s homemade soup. A dose of serenity sipped from a spoon, soup is as comforting as home itself. It is easy to make, naturally low in fat, rich with nutrients, convenient, and economical. From most perspectives, it is a super-food.”

I absolutely love soup! I could eat it for just about any meal, except breakfast – but that’s another story.

This cookbook offers some wonderful recipes, all easy to make and with ingredients you can actually find at your local grocery store.

In the introduction, Camilla talks about some of the ingredients to stock your pantry, as well as some of the different types of soups.

To top it off, there are several indexes that divide the recipes into such lists as how long they take to prepare, vegetarian and low-calorie.

The only thing missing is … pictures for all (or even) most of the recipes. I like recipes that include what the dish is supposed to look like after you’ve prepared it. That oversight is why I only gave this 3 books.

However, I did enjoy looking through the offerings and I will definitely be using this book often.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday Mail Call

Happy Presidents Day, everyone! Can you believe it ... two holidays in a row!?

1. Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale
2. Mania by Craig Larsen
3. Her Desert Dream by Liz Fielding

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day ...

... to all my readers. Every year, I like to give my friends a special cyber gift basket and this year is no exception. So, to all of you, have a wonderful day!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. Pickles just don't work for me on hamburgers.

2. I typically work at home.

3. The snow is gone from our neck of the woods for the season.

4. I love to spend time in nature.

5. It's early afternoon; that means I have to do a phone interview.

6. Honesty is hard to find.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting caught up on a few things, tomorrow my plans include finishing up some writing and Sunday, I want to relax and enjoy the day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Admit One: My Life in Film

By Emmett James

From the book jacket:

“While reflecting fondly on the films that are most memorable to me, I am struck by one pertinent truth (thanks to the 20/20 hindsight of adulthood). That fact is this: A film itself, though unalterable once the physical reel is printed and unleashed, changes continually in the reel of our memory.”

This was a really fun book to read. The author takes us through his life as a movie fan and connects certain anecdotes with some of his favorite movies.

As a young boy, he spent every weekend at the theater, often with his family, and he learned to appreciate the intricacies of films. As he grew up and was able to go on his own (or with a friend), the theater became a regular hangout. It was a place to fantasize about life in general, to take a girl and to run into friends.

By the time he was a teen, he knew he wanted to become an actor. Indeed, he took acting lessons and then, it was off to America – Hollywood in particular – to make a name for himself.

Emmett was in the movie “Titanic” and next time I watch it, I will definitely be looking for him. He was also in several other films and today he works off and on in what he says is “the oldest running soap opera,” although he doesn’t say which one.

He has also produced, taught and directed film, stage and television productions.

I enjoyed his writing. It was very interesting to read, although I thought he got off topic every now and then, taking the story away from the film he was using as an example.

It’s a good book and I think most people would also like it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Blog Tour: 18 Billion

By Jack Gresham

From the back of the book:

“In Washington, D.C., a cell of Afghan terrorists – armed with a nuclear weapon – conspire to rob the Federal Reserve Bank of New York of eighteen billion dollars. They plan to fund and curry favor with Mohammed of Babylon, an international negotiator and proponent of peaceful jihad who is rumored to be the Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of Islam.”

This book has an intriguing and interesting premise and the author definitely did his homework when he researched the possibilities of what could and couldn’t happen. Jack Gresham did keep me reading to find out what was going to happen next.

Would the government be able to meet the terrorists’ demands or would Washington, D.C., disappear off the face of the earth when the nuclear bomb detonates? Would the agents sent to find and destroy the cell be successful or would the terrorists continue to expand their reign of destruction?

Enter Mohammed. He was raised to be the savior of the Islam world. He led a somewhat sheltered life as he was trained for his role.

He grew up away from his family, never even knowing he had a mother until he reached the age where he would move into the world in his prophesied role.

Yet, he somehow learned compassion and believes jihad can only be attained through peaceful measures. So, he sets out to ensure no one dies and the stolen money is somehow returned to its rightful owners without offending his followers.

“18 Billion” really was an interesting and intriguing read. It is a story that will make you wonder if such a scenario could actually occur.

For that reason alone, “18 billion” is a book more people should read.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Mail Call

I didn't get the chance to see the end of yesterday's Super Bowl game. In fact, I got very busy and hadn't even heard who won until I went online this morning.

I was quite surprised. When I left the game behind, the Colts were ahead. I saw the score this morning and thought, "Well, either the Saints made a great comeback or the Colt's game fell apart."

Either way, congrats to the guys from New Orleans!

I received three books in my mailbox this past week -- two cookbooks and thriller.

1. Enlightened Soups by Camilla V. Saulsbury
2. Enlightened Chocolate by Camilla V. Saulsbury
3. Sleep No More by Susan Crandall

Could those two genres be any farther apart?! Sort of like two football teams vying for the title. Hah!

Anyway, I've already posted a review for one of the cookbooks. The thriller was a contest win, so it will go to the "to be read" pile, although it will stay on top where I can read it as soon as I get the chance! After all, it is a Susan Crandall book! Yay!