Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Fill-Ins we go!

1. I need to get my desk cleaned off.

2. We never realized how lucky we were.

3. A great deal of fun is to be had between a book cover.

4. I'd love an old-fashioned ice tea in a big tall glass.

5. It was announced that another satellite will fall next month.

6. I have an unreasonable fear of steak knives.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to finishing the book I've been trying to get read for almost two weeks, tomorrow my plans include starting a new book (finally) and Sunday, I want to read, read, read!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Scam Phone Calls

This post is off-topic (not about books), but I wanted to call everyone's attention to this issue.

This morning, we received a call from someone looking for my son. The man said there was a lawsuit filed against him and he had papers to serve. He gave me a toll-free number for my son to call. When I asked who the number belonged to, he said it was for a law firm in California but wouldn't tell me which one.

I googled the number and found others have received calls asking to contact this same number. The reasons are always different, although I did find one comment from a young man who was given the same story I was.

A few months ago, we received a similar call from someone looking for my husband's son. The caller said he was named in an assault lawsuit and when I googled the number he was supposed to call back to, I came across a huge list of complaints.

These people are good at what they do. They know a lot about who they are calling, including personal information.

But don't be fooled!

If you or someone you know receives a call that is in any way suspicious, please do the same and google the phone number you are given. It can save a lot of worry and stress.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Malice, Quite Close

By Brandi Lynn Ryder

From the book jacket:

When Tristan Mourault—expatriate aesthete and heir to a world-renowned collection of Impressionist masterpieces—catches sight of young Karen Miller during a trip to San Francisco, he knows he must have her. Convincing himself that she deserves more than the frayed, middlebrow life she was born into, he sets in motion a campaign of flattery, enchantment, and romance that sweeps Karen off her feet. First, he stages her disappearance. Then, her transformation. Karen, the ordinary fifteen-year-old girl, becomes Gisèle—Tristan’s daughter by day, his lover by night, and the crowning achievement of his lifelong quest for beauty and perfection.

Just my opinion:

This book could only be described as eerie. It’s outright spine-chilling, with its sinister and disturbing theme. Not for the weak at heart, this book is very vivid as it takes the reader in a different kind of world where the rich are capable of getting exactly what they desire, regardless of the consequences to others. Absolutely fascinating, the story delves into the minds of the mentally disturbed, as well as the frightening effects of sexual perversions.

The story revolves around adult Tristan Mourault, who has a serious attraction for teen Karen Miller, who is sexually abused by her father. Tristan is attracted to Karen and begins stalking her, learning about her family life and her desperate need to escape. He then works his way into her heart, earning her trust and convincing her to come with him to the other side of the country. He stages her death so the authorities won’t look for her.

However, her younger sister is never convinced that she died and works with the local police force to continue investigating her disappearance.

If you enjoy thrillers, In Malice, Quite Close is definitely a book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Some favorite passages from the book:

She was at that transcendent age: old enough to sense her power and too innocent to use it.

Obsession, you see, requires neither audacity nor courage, but only servitude.

This is how she was. Bright as a diamond that catches your eye in a window full of other jewels.

Things come to a meaningful end in books, but in life things are just things. Disconnected things. And everyone pretends to have control.

Love is life’s greatest hoax, my sweet. There is no love between men and women, because there is no understanding. There is only delusion.

All stories must come to a finite end. That is their beauty.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Book Week: September 24 to October 1

Each year, the American Library Association hosts a Banned Book Week event to bring attention to censorship of some of the works by highly acclaimed authors that has been challenged by the public. People, especially parents, claim these works are detrimental to young children and should be taken from the shelves of local libraries.

Here is what the ALA has to say regarding the freedom to read. I’ve shortened it somewhat so if you want to read the statement in its entirety, you can do that on the ALA website.

This freedom, not only to choose what we read, but also to select from a full array of possibilities, is firmly rooted in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Although we enjoy an increasing quantity and availability of information and reading material, we must remain vigilant to ensure that access to this material is preserved; would-be censors who continue to threaten the freedom to read come from all quarters and all political persuasions. Even if well intentioned, censors try to limit the freedom of others to choose what they read, see, or hear.

Most (objections) occur in schools and school libraries. Challenges are typically motivated by the desire to protect children.

Individuals may restrict what they read themselves or their children read, but they must not call on governmental or public agencies to prevent others from reading or seeing that material, the ALA said. The challenges are not brought by people merely expressing a point of view; rather, they represent requests to remove materials from schools or libraries, thus restricting access to them by others. Even when the eventual outcome allows the book to stay on the library shelves and even when the person is a lone protester, the censorship attempt is real. Someone has tried to restrict another person’s ability to choose.

The following is a very small piece of the list of books that have been challenged in the past few years. I’ve read these books myself. Take a look and pay particular attention to how many of them added to our understanding of different events in the history of our country and the world, as well as day-to-day issues. You can see the rest of the books on the ALA website.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: Officials at the Culpepper County, Virginia, public schools decided to stop assigning a version of Anne Frank’s diary due to the complaint that the book includes sexual material and homosexual themes.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson: Teachers in the Richland, Washington, high schools said the book deals with prejudice against Japanese-Americans in the Pacific Northwest during and after World War II.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: A parent in Brampton, Ontario, objected to language used in the novel, including the word “nigger.”

Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary: A parent complained when a child came across the term “oral sex.” Officials at the Menifee, California, Union School District formed a committee to consider a permanent ban of the dictionary.

Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen: The New Rochelle, New York, Board of Education replaced all copies of this memoir after school officials tore pages from the book deemed “inappropriate” due to sexual content and strong language.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens): This book was retained by the Manchester, Connecticut, School District following a requirement that the teachers attend seminars on how to deal with issues of race before teaching the book in their classrooms.

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy: Parents in Kanawha County, West Virginia, complained about the book’s scenes of violence, sexual assault, child rage, suicide and more.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: A complaint was filed in Greencastle-Antrim, Pennsylvania, because of “racial slurs” and profanity throughout the novel.

Other books on the list I’ve read include several novels by Stephen King, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Separate Peace by John Knowles (one of my favorite books of all time), The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and more.

What can you do to help? You can get involved with groups that are committed to preserving the right to read, such as the Freedom to Read Foundation ( and The National Coalition Against Censorship (

You can also get involved on a local level. One way I do that is I am a member of the local library board and I take that position very seriously. However, you don’t need to go to participate in ways that require a huge commitment of time and emotion. Volunteer for an hour or two each week at your neighborhood library. Attend and participate in public hearings where you can express your support the right to read. Join Friends of the Libraries and parent-teacher organizations to become an advocate for community education groups. Write letters to public officials and the local newspaper(s).

And … participate in Banned Books Week!

To help draw attention to the issue of censoring books, 259 blogs are participating in a Banned Books Week hop. I’ve visited some of the blogs and have found some great giveaways. The hop is being hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. Stop by her blog and see the list.

I realize this post is rather long, but this is a very important issue to me. As a journalist, freelance writer and avid reader, it saddens me whenever I hear of another book being added to the list. I hope you’ll take the time to read more about this topic.

Friday, September 23, 2011

1. When I walk around my neighborhood I see the leaves beginning to change colors for fall.

2. Meatloaf is my favorite thing to cook.

3. Life is what you make it.

4. My hubby makes me feel all warm and fuzzy

5. Zucchini is my favorite Autumn vegetable.

6. Raisin bread is better when it is toasted and covered with peanut butter.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching a little TV, tomorrow my plans include catching up on a few things and Sunday, I want to read, read, read!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Mistress’s Revenge

By Tamar Cohen

From the back of the book:

When her five-year affair with the sexy television personality Clive Gooding brutally ends on a dime—his dime—Sally Islip is devastated. But with Sally, Clive has made one fundamental mistake: he has chosen someone who has less to lose than he has, and Sally will have her revenge—no matter what the cost to the people around them.
The cat-and-mouse tale that follows is told through the journals Sally’s therapist has told her to keep. Sally, who mental state is gradually unraveling, stalks Clive online and off, keeping his on an agonizing knife-edge of fear of exposure. In return, he mobilizes his underworld contacts against her.

Just my opinion:

This book could have been subtitled “Follow Me to the Depths of Hell.” Sally, the main character, is so absolutely torn apart when Clive, the man she has had an affair with for five years, breaks up with her. She literally loses her mind … she stops eating, she stops relating to her children and best friend, she even stops working. And she begins stalking Clive via the Internet and communicating with his family.

Indeed, suddenly, everything in her heart and mind revolves around Clive and his family. She goes to great lengths to ingratiate herself into their lives, becoming friends with not only his wife but his daughter, who she really doesn’t care for, as well.

It’s an enormously intense read that will keep you on the edge of your seat and up all night waiting to see what will happen next.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Contest Craze Mini Challenge: Scariest Word

This mini challenge is being hosted by Benji at The Non Reluctant Reader. Stop by and visit her blog if you get the chance ... it's lots of fun!

For this challenge, I had to look in the 13th chapter of the current book I'm reading and find the scariest word. Then, I looked through Google Images to find an appropriate picture to match that word. I know the picture I picked isn't scary, but I really like it!

Grey Pine by T. Lloyd Winetsky

My word: Ghostly

My Image:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Contest Craze Mini Challenge: Lucky Number 7

Jessi at The Elliot Review and Cindy at Princess Bookie's Contest Craze are hosting a Lucky Number 7 mini challenge from now until September 25. The idea is to pick up a book you are reading, turn to the seventh page and find the seventh word. Then look that word up on Google Images and find a picture that you like (or can tolerate, anyway). For more information and complete rules, check out The Elliot Review or Princess Bookie.

Grey Pine by T. Lloyd Winetsky

7th Word on 7th Page



This young lady must really enjoy the fresh scent of pine, baby!

If you get the chance, stop by Jessi and Cindy's blogs and take part in the fun Sunday challenge! Then, comment on my post so I can see what sort of fun ideas you came up with!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Foolish Heart

By Susan May Warren

From the back of the book:

Unknown to her tiny town of Deep Haven, Isadora Presley spends her nights as Miss Foolish Heart, the star host of a syndicated talk radio show. Millions tune in to hear her advice on dating and falling in love, unaware that she’s never really done either. … Caleb Knight served a tour of duty in Iraq and paid a steep price. The last thing he wants is pity, so he hides his disability and moved to Deep Haven to land his dream job as the high school football coach. When his beautiful neighbor catches his eye, in a moment of desperation, he seeks advice from My Foolish Heart, … Before he knows it, Caleb finds himself drawn to the host—and more confused than ever. Is his perfect love the woman on the radio … or the one next door?

Just my opinion:

My goodness! What a fun and wonderful story! I really enjoyed so much about this book … from the setting to the characters to the storyline itself. I found myself rooting for these two people who were so handicapped emotionally because of their “disabilities” (she is agoraphobic and he is missing part of his leg) that they locked themselves into their own worlds.

It will take something or someone special to break down the walls they have built to protect their feelings. As the story progresses, it becomes obvious they will need to help each other, as well as themselves, in order to find happiness and love. But to do that, they also have to learn to trust.

I had such a great time reading this book that I hated for it to end. Susan May Warren is a wonderful writer and has a knack for putting the reader right in the pages. In fact, I have another book by her (Heiress) that I’m looking forward to starting soon. I can’t wait!

Some favorite passages from the book:

Outside the second-story window of her home studio, the night crackled open with a white flash of light and revealed the scrawny arms of her Japanese plum, cowering under a late summer gale.

She could almost trick herself into believing she knew what she was doing. Trick herself into believing that she lived a different life, one beyond the four walls and garden of her home.

"It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up” (Vince Lombardi).

Love isn’t a football game, you know.

There’s nothing more irresistible to a woman than a man who’s in love with her.

We see our own limits much more than others do.

Perhaps that what love was—foolish. After all, God loved most foolishly. He came into the dark world to rescue people who might never love Him back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dancing in the Shadows of Love

By Judy Croome

From the back of the book:

After a decade in prison for a murder she did not commit, Lulu begins a new life at the Court of St Jerome in the Old Sea City. An albino, abandoned as a young child at a Holding Camp for unwanted children, she has always been ostracized, for her difference to others makes her an easy victim of prejudice. … Against a backdrop of never-ending war, the women of the court fight their personal demons: hatred, ambition and greed. As Lulu shares their victories and their losses, she learns to trust again, perhaps even to love.

Just my opinion:

This book is nothing but fascinating. Told in the voices of the main women characters, it takes the reader to a world many are not privy to. It’s a place where prejudice abounds and a person is avoided just because he or she is different than others.

Full of brutal honesty, the story is not an easy one to read. It makes readers face their own fears and bigotries, while at the same time, coming to terms with the opinions of those who refuse to honestly look inside themselves for the truth.

On the other hand, it’s also a story of hope and coming to terms with what could be perceived as one’s own differences from the norm of mainstream society.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ivan! A Pound Dog’s View on Life, Love, and Leashes

By Tim McHugh

From the back of the book:

With wry wit, deep insight, and vivid anecdotes, Tim McHugh gives voice to the family pet and delves into the place where the canine and human hearts become one. In his own voice, Ivan, a mixed-breed dog-philosopher with an extreme underbite and various other deformities, chronicles his life story with keen observations about his adopted family and the people he loves, covering the life events that touch us all.

Just my opinion:

This book was completely different from what I expected. Written in the first person by the main character – Ivan – it is a story I think most people will enjoy.

Ivan was born to a stray. Shortly after his birth, the father attacked the litter … taking Ivan first. As he brutally ravaged him, the mother dog became enraged and saved Ivan’s life. The dogs were later found and transferred to the pound where Ivan was adopted by a very loving family of humans.

The story tells how he was able to fit in and become a very important part of the family group. It’s entertaining, yet not cheesy – something I often find in books about animals who talk and interact almost like their human counterparts.

I very much enjoyed this story and I think you will, too.

Some favorite passages from the book:

Never underestimate the power of a mother.

Tolstoy insisted that everything a person says and believes must agree with human reason lest we be led astray.

I learned that you can win the fight, but victory often has a bitter price.

If people wait around to ask for permission to try things they’ve never done, nobody would ever do anything worthwhile.

Fasting may encourage long-term enlightenment, but I’d trade enlightenment for a good meal any day.

Every rational creature knows that there is a delicate balance of life that is meant to be honored and maintained by those with the ability to reason, but most often this is not the case.

I wish others could know how good a dog’s life could feel.

We are born to love whether we know it or not, and the level of our happiness is found in our service to others.

Being smart doesn’t mean you’ll be happy, but being good at least gives you a chance.