Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. I'm going to get my desk cleaned up one way or another.

2. My little grandson is full of adventure and daring.

3. Perhaps today you can make it a point to smile at a stranger.

4. I enjoy being around people who have a true adventurer’s spirit.

5. Compassion is one of the most important things in a good relationship.

6. I'm going to clean up this office no matter how difficult.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner out with my husband, tomorrow my plans include a little writing and Sunday, I want to relax!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Review and My First Giveaway: Finding Marco

By Kenneth C. Cancellara

From the book jacket:

“As a young boy running through the mountain valleys of Italy, Mark Gentile dreams of success – the kind of success that happens in a boardroom, far away from the country life. So after graduating from a prestigious Canadian law school, Mark quickly climbs the corporate and legal ladder, eventually becoming CEO of a leading North American auto manufacturer. But after butting heads with company leaders, Mark fears he has compromised his ethics and decides to resign to determine the next stage of his life. With his wife’s blessing, Mark returns to Acerenza, his birthplace in southern Italy.”

This is the story of a man who has everything. A beautiful wife and daughter, the respect of his peers and all the money and success a person could hope for. The one thing he doesn’t have is peace of mind. He lost the little boy in him years ago to the business world he lives in.

Now, it’s time for him to find himself … to find the person he used to be before he climbed the corporate ladder. His solution is to go home, back to the place where he learned about life at the heels of his beloved grandfather.

As he connects with his former life, he learns what he really wants and decides what he will do with the rest of his life.

The decision doesn’t come easy, though. Like an addict with his drug, he has a constant pull that tries to drag him back into the world he wants to leave behind.

I enjoyed reading this book and I liked the author’s style. It was very smooth and flowed well.

Kenneth Cancellara is a lawyer himself, so he was able to bring that world to life. He’s also Italian and was born in the small town the story takes place in. And he lives in Canada.

Everything he writes about he has first-hand experience with, so the story is quite believable. I always find that a plus when I read a book.

This story is one that makes the reader think about their own life, as well, and I believe you will enjoy it, too. 

In fact, I’m so confident you’ll want to read “Finding Marco” that I’m giving away three – yes, three – copies of the book, compliments of Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists.

To enter, leave a comment telling me what you’ve always dreamed of doing with your life and if you feel you’ve come close to that. I’ll draw three names August 10, so you have until then to enter. 

Oh … and be sure to leave your email so I can contact you. The winner will have 48 hours to respond.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday Mail Call

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was pretty uneventful -- and I did that on purpose!

I decided to kick back and not do much this weekend. All I really accomplished was to write my weekly column for the local newspaper.

We all need to take some time for ourselves now and then. For me, it's especially important because I typically have a lot of stress in my life. I deal with it very well, but every once in a while, I decide it's time to take a couple days and vegetate.

That's exactly what I did the last couple days. I'm now ready to face another busy week!

This is the list of the books I received in the mail this past week:

1. Zoo Story by Thomas French
2. Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan
3. The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Lakin
4. The Little Snail Story by Ross Anthony
5. Gerry Tales by Gerry Boylan
6. Getting There by Gerry Boylan
7. Patchwork Bride by Jillian Hart

Saturday, July 24, 2010


By Colin McAdam

From the back of the book:

“Noel thinks he’s been allowed into the inner circle of his elite boarding school when he discovers his senior-year roommate is the handsome and popular Julius, a boy who cares only for the fleeting joys of teenage life: sneaking out to parties, playing pranks with friends, and most of all, spending the night with his girlfriend, Fall. Always an outsider, Noel develops an unhealthy fascination with Julius, but his crush on Fall borders on dangerous obsession as he convinces himself of a profound connection that might not exist.”

This is truly an interesting book. Written basically as a running dialogue, the book explores the coming of age for teenagers and how it can easily turn down the wrong path.

Here we have a group of teens who live at a boarding school for one reason or another. Mostly, it’s because their parents are rich and it’s much easier to send the kids away than to deal with a disruption in their own busy lives. These are children who were never taught how to properly love another person or even how to interact in a way that doesn’t fit in with general society.

So, it’s no wonder they play on each other’s emotions. They also try to outdo each other in some very unhealthy, and often cruel, ways.

However, they do have rules to abide by at the school, including curfews. So, when Julius is punished and has to remain in the building, he sends his already obsessive roommate Noel to deliver messages to his girlfriend Fall. In turn, she sends notes back to him the same way.

Suddenly, Noel finds himself in love with Fall and works to find a way to convince her to reciprocate those feelings. But Noel has some serious obsessive-compulsive issues and his best intentions turn ugly.

I enjoyed the dialogue, even though there were a few times when I wasn’t completely sure who was talking. Also, I questioned whether or not the author made the teens sound a little more mature than they actually were, especially given their age and their circumstances.

But the story line is excellent and I really got involved in the book. I think most people would enjoy it. Be aware, though, there is some sex scenes that seem somewhat out of character (too mature) for teenagers.

If you’re OK with that, you should give the book a try.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. I feel like going back to bed this morning.

2. It usually doesn't take me long to catch up.

3. Do something for others that will make them happy and you'll be happy.

4. My littlest grandson is completely unique.

5. It's hard to know how much spoiling a grandchild can take.

6. Life in a small town follows suit. (OK, so this answer makes no sense, but it does if you live in a small town! LOL!)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finishing the book I've been reading, tomorrow my plans include starting a new book and Sunday, I want to go on a picnic if the weather is still nice!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Place for Delta

By Melissa Walker

From the book jacket:

“Joseph can hardly believe what he has been asked to do. His Aunt Kate is waiting for him at a research station and needs help taking care of an orphaned polar bear cub only a few months old. He will leave his friends and family and venture to the farthest northern town in the United State: Barrow, Alaska.”

This children’s book was an absolute delight to read. The story takes place in the frozen frontier of Alaska where poachers are determined to kill off the polar bears in a certain area. They are hired to clear that area of any wildlife that would prevent the expansion of the harvesting of natural resources, i.e. oil.

When the research team finds a polar bear cub, they later discover her mother is one of the victims of the hired killers. So, they set out to raise the bear, even though she has a serious health condition – low growth hormones.

Kate is one of the newest additions to the team and she is given the task of working with the cub. But she has other duties that are pressing, so she suggests they fly her nephew in to assist with the little one. After all, it’s summer break and he would be a great asset to the team.

When Joseph arrives, the cub – who has been named Delta – takes to him right away.

Thus begins this treasured story of love, compassion and ecological importance. It’s a book that will teach young people about preserving our wildlife and nature’s heritage to us.

Well written and containing beautiful illustrations, this would be a wonderful addition to anyone’s person library … no matter what your age!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday Mail Call

I hope everyone had a nice summer weekend. The weather was gorgeous here -- low 90s and just a slight breeze. That's not bad for our semi-arid desert where July temps can be in the triple digits.

I managed to finish up some writing this weekend and now, I can start on some new projects. I even got my desktop cleared off so I have plenty of room to work! Yay!

Here's a list of books that showed up in my mailbox this past week:

1. Too Rich & Too Thin by Barbara DeShong
2. Fear No Evil by Robin Caroll
3. Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann
4. Drawn to the Land: The Romance of Farming by Elizabeth J. Cockey and Barton M. Cockey

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saving Max

By Antoinette van Heugten

From the back of the book:

“Lawyer Danielle Parkman is at her wit’s end. Her son Max, a whip-smart teen with high-functioning autism, has always been a handful. But lately he’s shutting down, using drugs and lashing out – violently. Desperate, Danielle brings Max to a top-flight psychiatric facility. But rather than reassurance, Danielle receives an agonizing diagnosis portraying a severely damaged, dangerous boy – one she’s never met. Then Danielle finds Max unconscious and bloodied at the feet of a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death. Worse, Danielle is arrested as an accessory to the heinous crime.”

Right from the first page, I was pulled into this story of intrigue and mystery. The story was interesting and believable and I was very impressed with the author’s writing, especially given the fact this is her first novel.

The story follows a mother and her 17-year-old son, who is accused of murder, as she tries to prove him innocent. There are several twists and turns and even though it wasn’t that difficult to figure out “whodunit,” it’s a super story that was definitely difficult to put down.

In fact, when I got toward the end, I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish the book! Then, when I read the last few lines, I said to myself, “Oh, my gosh!” My mouth dropped open and I was totally in shock.

Wow! What a book!

“Saving Max” will hit the shelves in October, so you’ll want to add this to your list of “to look for” books. It’s an excellent read.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. This is what life does. It lets you have the bad so you can appreciate the good.

2. Take time to appreciate the moment?

3. Upon reflection life can be quite pleasant.

4. I've been writing for quite a long time.

5. Later, you wake up and the dream goes on.

6. Sail away to the far and boundless sea.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing, tomorrow my plans include a little writing and reading and Sunday, I want to get out and enjoy the summer weather!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Christian Encounters: Jane Austen

By Peter Leithart

From the back of the book:

“Jane Austen is now what she never was in life, and what she would have been horrified to become – a literary celebrity. Austen’s novels achieved a timelessness that makes them perennially appealing. This biography captures the various sides of Austen’s character and places her Christian faith in a more balanced light and with less distortion than has been achieved previously. It is a delightful journey through a life spent making up stories that touched the lives of millions.”

Dr. Peter Leithart is a professor of theology and literature and has authored several books. That makes this biography all the more special, in my opinion, as he is able to combine two topics he is very knowledgeable about and create a book that is not only informative but readable, as well.

This biography begins with an explanation of the time in which Jane Austen lived. Dr. Leithart thoroughly explains what the feelings of the day were when it came to women and men and their places in society.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was the typical rebel. She was determined not to get caught up in the norms. She never married and she produced books that were very different than those read then. Yet, she loved children and was a favorite aunt to her nieces and nephews and she was very modest about her ability to write.

She was also quite humorous, both in her writing and in her life. In fact, Leithart said she would be writing for Saturday Night Live if she lived today.

I loved that comparison! And as I read some of the excerpts from her writing Leithart included in this book, I could really see where he is right. She had such a unique sense of humor – very satirical and downright funny!

Austen is credited with the beginning of the modern novel and today, her books are more widely read than ever. Anyone who is a fan should read this biography as it truly provides an honest insight into this marvelous author.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Mail Call

I feel like I was pretty much neglecting my blog for a couple weeks, but it couldn't be helped. We were gone camping for a week, so I had tons of work to catch up on when we got back.

It seems writers are on some kind of different plane than the 9 to 5 workers. We particularly have a set schedule per se. We work as the assignments dictate or the inspiration propels us.

So, when we decide to take time off, we work like crazy people to make up for it. No one can step in to take our place while we are gone. The work just has to wait for our return.

I did take the laptop with me, but I never booted it up. It's been so long since I had any time to myself, I was enjoying the break. So, the extra work to catch up was totally worth it and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

For the past week, though, I have been posting regularly some book reviews and I have lots more ready to go. I'm also planning a giveaway soon, so keep your eyes out for that.

This is the first Monday Mail Call since June 21, so I have quite a list of new books that arrived in my mailbox the past three weeks. Here they are:

1. Garner on Language and Writing by Bryan A. Garner
2. Red November by W. Craig Reed
3. The Price of Revenge by Dennis Vaughn
4. Gogo’s Dream: Swaziland Discovered by Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
5. The Infinite Adventures of Rodney Appleseed in Nothing Happens by Ross Anthony
6. Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes
7. The Big Ten of Grammar by William B. Bradshaw, PhD
8. The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith  

Some of the books are for review, while others I won in drawings -- always fun! I enter lots of giveaways and I've won some great prizes. But every once in a while, one comes along that just flat out excites me. So, there I am ... diligently filling out the form to make sure everything is correct ... all the while thinking I don't have the slightest chance of winning because it's something I really, REALLY want to win.
Imagine my surprise when I opened a package and found the CD "Carole King and James Taylor: Live at the Troubadour!" I didn't even know I won. They never notified me; they just sent it to my address I provided (a good reason to double check your entry information before hitting the "enter" or "send" button).

Just another reason why I will continue to enter those sweepstakes, contests and giveaways! I love surprises!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Signspotting III: Lost and Loster in Translation

Compiled by Doug Lansky

From the back of the book:

“Looking for a quick bite to eat at the Stomach Clinic Restaurant in Kenya? Care to sample Farturas in Spain? Planning a stay at the Death Valley Health Center? Worried about going the ‘wong way’ on a road in New Zealand? These and other comically enriching rewards of travel are yours to enjoy in this all-new collection of road signs featuring daft translations, death-defying stick figures, and delicious double entendres. As many signspotters have pointed out, you can’t find these little cultural nuggets – in a way, they have to find you.”

Have you ever been driving down a road and, suddenly, out of nowhere, you see a sign that makes you do a double-take? Well, this is what Doug Lanksy gets to do all the time … he gets to travel and look for just those types of signs. Can you imagine actually making a living at this? He’s one lucky guy!

Some of the signs he’s spotted and added to this latest addition of his Signspotting series are so hilarious!

There’s the one he found in England of a pile of logs behind a fence with a sign that reads, “These are protected trees.” Or how about the sign at a Massachusetts school that lets parents know report cards will be out Nov. 21, followed by a bonfire on Nov. 22?

Too funny!

Doug is always on the lookout for more signs and has a website where folks can send in pictures of signs they find. In fact, I have one I’ll be sending in soon.

Great book and a great way to just take a few minutes break during the day. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Never Let You Go

By Erin Healy

From the back of the book:

“It’s been seven years since disaster struck her family. Lexi Solomon has held it all together since then – just barely. But now Lexi is losing it. The husband who deserted her is back in town, wanting to see their daughter Molly. Her sister’s shameless murderer is up for parole. An unsavory old friend is demanding payment for debts that Lexi knows nothing about and can’t begin to meet. And something else is going on – something Lexi feels but can’t explain. A dangerous shift is taking place between this reality and the next. Forces beyond her imagination are vying for control.”

When I first began reading this book, I didn’t particularly care for the story as it was a bit convoluted. But I had enough confidence in Erin Healy’s ability to stick with it and was pleased this book turned out so well.

The first time I read any of Healy’s work was when I read the book “Burn,” which she co-authored with Ted Dekker (see my review here). I wasn’t that impressed with it, but I did enjoy the writing itself.

That’s why I jumped at the chance to read “Never Let You Go,” Healy’s first book as a solo author.

The story revolves around some interesting spiritual events – with good and evil forces fighting for control of the main character’s life and loved ones. Granted, that’s not really an accurate description of what’s happening, but it’s very difficult to explain without giving the story away. Suffice it to say, Healy weaves some interesting concepts into a story that keeps you wondering until the end if Lexi will survive her face-off with the demon that has entered her space.

This is a story that makes you think about your own beliefs, even though it’s definitely based on fantasy. It’s an excellent thriller novel and I’m glad I read this one.

If this is a new genre to you, “Never Let You Go” is an excellent choice to begin with. Check it out!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. Layers of sunlight through the window.

2. Reading can provide insight.

3. I'd be willing to bet summer will be short.

4. The train whistle scares the dog.

5. I'm fond of relaxing in a shady spot with a good book.

6. I've been working way too much!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relax, tomorrow my plans include a little writing and Sunday, I want to do absolutely nothing!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Handy Law Answer Book

By David L. Hudson Jr.

From the back of the book:

“Every day we encounter the rules of law – from the time we decide to get married or perhaps divorced, to making purchases with our credit cards or dealing with bankruptcy. Who couldn’t use a legal primer that answers hundreds of questions related to the history and practice of law in the United States? Let ‘The Handy Law Answer Book’ help you navigate the system.”

Have you ever wondered what they were talking about when you watched a trial on TV or read about one in the paper? This book gives simple, straightforward answers to your many legal questions.

It begins with a history of our legal system. You’ll learn about constitutional law, the Bill of Rights and the court system. You’ll also learn about lawyers and lawsuits, criminal procedures and more.

This book is written in layman’s terms so you’ll understand what you’ve wondered about all these years. The author writes honestly about the legal system and truly answers questions many people ask.

For example, in the section on employment law, you’ll learn whether or not an employer can force you to take a drug test or polygraph test. You’ll find out that, yes, your employer can read your work email on your work computer and that, yes, employers must provide time for lunch and breaks if you work a full day.

You’ll also learn about family law, personal injury law and more.

As a journalist, I had to learn a lot of what is found in this book, so I was somewhat familiar with these laws prior to reading the book. I like the fact that now I know more than I did before and that’s always a good thing. Learning is a lifelong process and we should all become familiar with our rights and responsibilities as good citizens. This book can definitely help us do that.

So, next time you have what you think is a simple legal question, see if you can find the answer in this book before trying to track down an expensive attorney. Then, if you need more assistance, pay that legal expert $200 or more an hour. But if this book can help you, for $21.95, you’ve saved a boatload of money!

Well written, informative and helpful. This is a book I definitely recommend.