Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

(or The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English)

By Chloe Rhodes

From the back of the book:

“English is filled with a smorgasbord of foreign words and phrases that have entered our language from many sources – some as far back as the Celts. A Certain ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi,’ which tells the story of how many of these expressions came to be commonly used in English will both amaze and amuse language lovers everywhere.”

As a writer, I love looking at books that explain language and this one is no exception. I was completely taken by this little book. It is chock full of examples of words we hear every day that many probably don’t know what they truly mean or where they came from.

For example, the word “Vampire” means a nocturnal reanimated corpse. According to the author, in folktales vampires were said to revisit loved ones and cause mischief or deaths where they had once lived. The term entered English in the 18th century when vampire superstitions arrived from the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Another is the word “exposé,” which was originally used to describe a verbal or written explanation that “exposed” the reasons behind a decision. It is now used for a report that unveils the truth about an individual or organization.

Each entry includes a sentence of two using the word and some even have funny little caricatures that further describe the word and make you giggle.

I just adore this book and plan to keep it handy. That way, when I come across one of the words or phrases, I can look it up. Maybe I’ll even be able to utilize some of the phrases in my own writing? One never knows!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cain’s Version

By Frank Durham

From the back of the book:

“Lindy Caton, middle-aged, attractive, and recently divorced, accepts a position as Director of the Moulton Foundation in small-town Louisiana to be closer to her aging father. While building her new life, she encounters and assumes care of three elderly, eccentric women living in subsistence. As her relationship with them grows, she discovers the extraordinary secret of their past that sweeps her into the dramatic return of an itinerant son seeking to reconcile with his mother over an ancient act of cruelty.”

I had trouble following this book as it jumped around a lot, but I think it’s supposed to be the story of the Cain in the Bible and how he is still alive and wandering the world. His mother Eve still lives, as well, and she’s one of the three women the main character meets and becomes somewhat a friend with.

I could be way off base here and I may have totally misunderstood the book. If so, I apologize.

On the positive side, Durham is an excellent writer. He has been compared to Garcia Marquez and I definitely could see the connection. His prose follows the style of the classic authors and reminded me of many I read years ago.

“Cain’s Version” was chosen for a Independent Publisher Book Award, so I encourage you to give it a try and see what you get out of it. You may enjoy it more than I did.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

I have been so busy this week. Not only haven't I had time for my own blog, I haven't been able to peruse the other blogs I regularly follow.

This weekend is the city's centennial celebration. That's right. Our town was incorporated 100 years ago this Sunday. We have a huge party planned and I'm involved in that.

We kicked things off last night when the local museum put on a reader theater featuring folks who homesteaded the area 100 years ago. I'm the secretary of the museum board and one of the committee member for the play. Three of us researched, wrote, directed and produced the reader theater. We had so much fun!

Today, we'll be busy putting together a new display for the season opening tomorrow. We've designed a women's display that highlights nine of the original homesteaders in the area. One of them is my husband's grandmother, so this feels very personal to me.

The centennial celebration will take up the rest of the weekend, with lots of activities for young and old. Everyone is looking forward to it.

So, before today begins, I decided to take time out to do the Friday Fill-Ins. we go!

1. Children playing never fails to make me smile.

2. I'm looking forward to a busy, busy weekend of fun and activities.

3. The clock ticking on my wall is what I'm listening to right now.

4. Potato salad must have sweet pickles in it!

5. Part of a bottle of Gatorade was the first thing I ate (drank) today.

6. Today is the start of one busy, busy weekend.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finish the book I've been trying to get done, tomorrow my plans include helping open the museum for the summer season and taking part in the centennial celebration and Sunday, I want to be a part of the rest of the centennial party and then collapse!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Eight Days in Darkness: The True Story of the Abduction, Rape and Rescue of Anita Wooldridge

By Angela Roegner, LCSW, and Anita Wooldridge

From the book jacket:

“On June 25, 1998, Anita Wooldridge was taken from her parents’ home in broad daylight by a convicted rapist. For eight terrifying days, Anita was savagely beaten and raped by her captor, who locked her in a metal storage cabinet for hours at a time.”

This book is definitely not for the squeamish. With graphic detail and brutal honesty, Anita Wooldridge shares her story with the reader. She tells you exactly how it was for her as she spent eight days with a convicted rapist who had been let out of jail early for good behavior and because his elderly mother needed him to help take care of her.

As Anita shares her story, you cheer on the police officers who are doing everything they can to find her, which is no easy task given the fact her captor has taken her to another state.

The story takes us step by step through the eight days and we learn how Anita was able to stay alive while maintaining faith that she would be rescued.

Writing the book was a final step to healing for Anita and she did it with the help of her counselor Angela Roegner. These are obviously Anita’s own words and gives great insight into what she endured.

It’s an excellent book and if you are able to handle this sort of read, I’d highly recommend it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thoreau and the Art of Life

Edited by Roderick MacIver

From the back of the book:

“Thoreau and the Art of Life presents a collection of eloquent passages from the writings of influential nineteenth-century author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Revealing Thoreau’s unedited feelings and illuminating insights, this book reflects his core beliefs and ideas about nature, relationships, creativity, spirituality, aging, simplicity, and wisdom.”

Roderick MacIver combines his own artwork with the unique words of Henry David Thoreau to create a beautiful little book anyone would love to look at.

Simple, yet elegant, the reader is taken back to the days when both art and literature were coveted by many people.

At the beginning of the book is a time table of Thoreau’s life. It includes some of the key events that shaped his life and introduces the reader to others he met along the way.

The book also includes some statements by those who were friends with Thoreau.

I also very much enjoyed the watercolors MacIver chose to illustrate the book. They are lovely scenes from nature and truly help bring the reader closer to the thoughts expressed.

The words of Thoreau are taken from his journals. The author chose passages that weren’t necessarily well-known by the everyday reader. For example, one line I enjoyed in particular was “The perception of beauty is a moral test,” which was written by Thoreau in his journal in September 1950. It somewhat sums up this wonderful book.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Mail Call

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day. I didn't get to post my wishes to all my readers yesterday as we were busy out of town.

We made our annual trek to the Ronald McDonald House to fix breakfast for the families there. It's something we truly enjoy.

We love visiting with the folks staying there and watching the kids. They are so amazing! Full of life and ambition for ones so young and fragile. In fact, the staff there said they have had more chemo kids recently than they ever had.

After we were done there, we went to visit my mother, sister and brother-in-law. I hope you all had a nice day, too.

In my mailbox this past week, I received the following:

From Amberkatze's book blog, I won the books Werewolf Smackdown and X-Rated Blood Suckers by Mario Acevedo, along with a Barnes and Noble gift card.

I also received:
1. Jane Austen: Christian Encounters by Peter Leithart
2. Never Let You Go by Erin Healy
3. Slip of the Knife by Denise Mina

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Life O'Reilly

By Brian Cohen

From the back of the book:

“On the outside, Nick O’Reilly has it all: a high-flying legal career, as a partner of an elite Wall Street law firm, and financial security, with an apartment overlooking Central Park. Having grown up in a working-class family, as far back as Nick can remember this was his dream. But at the age of thirty-six, after several years of sacrificing his personal life for professional gain, Nick has started to ponder his future and consider the mark he wants to leave on society both professionally and personally – his legacy.”

Nick O’Reilly works for a law firm that expects its people to put their job first and foremost. Families, friends and a personal life are not important to the senior partners. If you’re going to be successful, sacrifices are expected to be made.

However, that attitude has also given the firm a bad reputation as being cold and impersonal (duh!). To change their image, they decide to designate a certain number of hours to pro bono cases. In other words, each lawyer is expected to do a case for free and work with the local legal aid to do that.

Certain of the senior partners seem to have it in for Nick. One in particular doesn’t like him and is always trying to make him look bad. So, guess which lawyer is the first to be assigned one of these cases?

Nick actually finds himself enjoying working to help others. It gives him an entirely new perspective and he begins looking at his life anew. Is the high-powered position worth it? Or are there more important things in life?

Along with this new attitude, Nick finds himself attracted to the client he’s been assigned to represent – a young woman who has been severely abused by her husband.

The book takes several turns and twists, including an interesting surprise ending. I found the story delightful and I thank Brian Cohen for asking me to review his book. He’s a wonderful writer and I hope to read more of his work in the future.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Mail Call

For a change, the weather report is accurate here in the Columbia Basin. That's not good!

We live in a little pocket where bad weather seems to typically go around us. We usually get the fringes of whatever is happening.

So, when I heard we were supposed to get nasty wind, I wasn't too concerned. Well, it's here. The weather warning said we could get gusts up to 60 miles per hour, with sustainable winds of 20 to 30 mph.

It's blowing like mad out there and it's soooo cold.

I grew up in the Midwest (in Tornado Alley), so heavy winds totally creep me out. Even though I know we don't get tornadoes here, I still get nervous and tense. I spent too many nights hiding in the basement as a child, I guess.

We don't have basements here. What do we need them for? Nothing to hide from, anyway.

Some of the houses have partial basements, but they were designed to be root cellars back in the days when those were necessary.

I'll just have to grit my teeth and face the wind when I head to the newspaper office this afternoon. It's a weekly paper and it gets put together on Mondays. I help with the proofreading and I write a story now and then, as well as a weekly recipe column titled Table Scraps.

For those who haven't read it, I do post it online at my Table Scraps blog. Stop by and check it out!

This past week, I received some wonderful books in my mail box.

1. The Handy Law Answer Book by David L. Hudson Jr.
2. The Crazy School by Cornelia Read
3. Lies of the Heart by Michelle Boyhjian
4. Foxy: My Life in Three Acts by Pam Grier with Andrea Cagan

The following books all came in one box from Kristi at Books and Needlepoint. She drew my name in a drawing she had on her blog. If you get the chance, you should check out her blog. She does great reviews and has some fun giveaways. Here's what she sent me:

5. Comes a Horseman by Robert Liparulo (plus bookmark)
6. A Better View of Paradise by Randy Sue Coburn
7. The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
8. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown
9. Stray Affections by Charlene Ann Baumbich