The Sunday Salon - Books and Awards

The Sunday

Good afternoon Sunday Saloners. It is a balmy and sunny 78 degrees out, though for some reason it feels so much hotter. I finished my literary anaysis questions for "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad for my Modern Literature class. The next two weeks we'll be reading "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf and analyzing it. Honestly, I have never read anything by Virginia Woolf so looking forward to it.

Just returned from my successful mission in picking up a new patio table umbrella. Now I can enjoy reading outside without getting totally burned. I somehow managed to burn just my knees last week. Not quite sure how that happened. Gottshalks is going out of business and having a 50 to 75% off everything sale, so dropped by there and picked up some new king size sheets and blanket for a wonderful price. Will have to drag hubby back there before they close to pick up some nice shirts. As soon as I returned home, Father and James dragged me into watching the rest of Kung Fu Panda. Cute movie, but the fight sequences between the Pando "Po" and the tiger "Tia Lung" were quite intense. James was practically bouncing off the couch with nervous energy. I can just imagine folks who brought their littles to the theatre to see the movie. A roomful of bouncing, nervous kids. :) Now I have to go back and watch the beginning of the movie since didn't catch it from the beginning.

I just finished reading and rereading "Virgin River" by Robyn Carr.

I forget which blogger reviewed Temptation Ridge and totally captured my attention. I'm going to have start writing these things down. But she suggested I start with Virgin River first and I'm glad I did. I don't know what happened but when read it the first time, I felt like I read it too fast and missed something. So went back and read it again. It's one of those stories that pulls you in and doesn't let you go until the very end. Leaves you with the feeling of wanting more. Now I definitely have to read the rest of the series. Went to my favorite used bookstore but guess what he didn't have any Robyn Carr books at all. Guess that tells you how good they are. No one wants to give them up.

I added several more books to my TBR Pile. A used copy of "The Associate" by John Grisham - Yeah! Been wanting to read it for a while. I picked up "Promise Me" # 8 in the Myron Bolitar Mysteries by Harlan Coben. I seem to working my way backwards in this series since I started with his newest book "Long Lost". Also tagged "The Judas Strain" by James Rollins plus two by Anne Stuart "Ice Blue" and "Black Ice." Haven't read any books by either one yet but have heard good things. Also picked "The Angel" by Carla Neggers while at Savemart.

I managed to finish 3 other books this week. I read "The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholal Flamel" by Michael Scott.

Even though it is a young adult, enjoyed the heck out of this story and will be reading the rest of the series, once I've worked my way through my current pile. Also read "Safe Haven" by Hannah Alexander and "Homicide in Hardcover" by Kate Carlisle. Will be reviewing these as well sometime this week.

I'm still working on two non fiction books "French Bred" and "Living the Charmed Life" by Victoria Moran. I have a tendency to read non fiction at a much slower rate and when I have nothing else to read. Horrible huh! But I'm supposed to be reviewing both these books for the authors, so I'm going to make a concerted effort to finish them this week.

The wonderful sweet and kind Desert Rose of Desert Rose Booklogue bestowed an award on me this week.

"The Literary Blogger Award acknowledges bloggers who energize & inspire reading by going the extra mile. These amazing bloggers make reading fun & enhance the delight of reading!"

Aw! How nice is that. Thank you Desert Rose. I'll be passing it along soon. Also my Homeschool group book reading challenge blog 52 books in 52 weeks received an award this week called the Most Wonderful, Favorite Award.

The award says ""These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."

It is actually quite nice to be recognized by someone who likes reading the blog and isn't part of the group. Interestingly enough, she has never visited or read read My Two Blessings, only 52 books. I've been feeling out of sorts about the challenge blog lately, because it hasn't seen much activity lately. I try to come up with something unique at least once a week, that's book related and educational, while keeping the group advised of where we stand in the challenge. We only have three or four people who actually post their book reviews on the site, besides me. I've done all I can to encourage folks to participate more, but there is only so much you can do. Getting the award made me feel good and realize it isn't the number that counts, but the quality. So will keep plugging away and cheering on the quiet ones who are reading and making the challenge, but don't post about it. And appreciate the ones who do post.

My guys are pacing and waiting for me to finish blogging so we can barbecue so signing off. How a wonderful week!

Work In Progress Wednesday (errr, Friday)

How did it get to be Friday already. It has been one of those hectic weeks with lots of stuff going on, but just don't feel like much has gotten accomplished. I managed to write all of a 1000 words again during the week and have to figure out a better way to schedule my writing time.

My writing time in the morning disappeared due to Wii Mario Kart. Yes, let's blame it on the game and James wanting me to race him every morning. There goes an a hour and then it's time to start lessons. Or clean the bathrooms, do laundry, or help father decide on what color led light to go with for his blinky warning light on his preamp. Have I mentioned the difficulty of writing when your spouse works at home a couple days a week, rather than going into the office. And likes to use you as a sounding board. However today I managed to write more than I did all last week. Yeah! Of course, I've been at it, off and on since 9:00 with several interruptions. We had a brohaha over the Wii because of bad sportsmanship, so the game has been shelved for the next week. But, the muse has been flowing today, so powered through.

I picked up three new writing books and came across a wonderful website that hopefully will help me improve my writing, plus give me some incentive.

Interesting so far!

The Voice of the Muse by Mark David Gerson. I love the cover and it starts with

"Whatever you believe about your talent, your skill, your imagination or your creativity, if it contains one ounce of doubt, let it go. You are a writer -- of power, strength and substance. Repeat that. Aloud if you dare.

I am a writer of power, strength and substance.


I am a writer of power, strength and substance.

One more time:

I am a writer of power, strength and substance.

I'm going to write that out and tape it on my computer. Affirmations are wonderful, when you remember to use them. Also picked up "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" by Lynne Truss.

Discovered the website Writing Forward which has a great exercise called "Sensible Writing Exercise" an exercise to help you write with more sense -the 5 senses.

I'm finding I have a lot of beats in the story...The movement of the characters as they talk, but not totally engaging all five senses. There are some great writers out there who make it seem seamless. It's something I need to work on.

In one scene, Samantha is sitting in the park talking with Benjamin. She is sitting in the sunshine, observing life going on around them. So I sat outside on the patio, closed my eyes and opened up all my senses. I paid close attention to the feel of the sun on my face, the warmth sinking into my skin and bones. The sound of the breeze rustling through the bushes, birds singing, traffic off in the distance, the laughter of the neighbors next door. The smell of peppermint. The tickle of the cat's fur as she brush up against my leg. Now I just have to figure out how to get that all on paper as part of the story without it sounding contrived. I'm hoping the Sensible Writing Exercise will help. I'm going to try it right after I'm done with my homework. :)

If you'd like to see what progress others have made or want to participate in WIP Wednesday, head on over to Kate's.

Sunday Salon - musing about books

The Sunday

Good morning Sunday Saloners from sunny California. Memorial Day weekend usually blasts us with 100 degree weather and today it is a cool 59 degrees. When I got up this morning, I put on shorts and ended up wearing my sweater for most of the morning. I love three day weekends. Plenty of time to catch up on household chores, snooze and of course read.

Yesterday we spent part of the day waiting for the AT&T U-verse installer to show up. The first time they came out, there had been a problem at the home office and they hadn't hooked something up or whatever, so he couldn't do the job. Yesterday, when the installer didn't show up, I called and found out the wonderful people screwed up and didn't put the appointment in their computer. You want to know how I feel about incompetence! If they can't even manage to get that right, what kind of service would we get once everything was hooked up and changed. Part of the reason I canceled our cell phone service through them - poor customer service. I unfortunately shot the messenger, (verbally, not literally) letting her know how I feel about the incompetence of the company and no, I didn't want to reschedule even if you are offering more money off and canceled the whole thing. Grrrr!

So I buried my nose in reading. Surprisingly, since I always say I can't handle reading more that one book at a time, because can't keep them all straight, am reading four different books right now. (Sorry, my internal editor has taken a hike) Finally started reading "French Bred," the laughable chronicles of an average Parisian Boy by Frederic Guarino. He sent the e-book ages ago to read and since I have a hard time reading e-books, ended up printing it out to read. Father laughed and gave me a hard time about printing it out and asked me what I was going to do with it when I was done. Haven't the slightest idea at this point. Any ideas? Enjoying the story so far.

Friday, we went to Borders and added 5 more books to my TBR Pile. I picked up "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maass, which started reading last night. Quite interesting, very enlightening and discovered I've intuitively been doing some of the things he suggests. When started the book wasn't feeling so positive that I could actually write a breakout novel. By the time I got to chapter 5, was feeling more positive, thinking "hey, I can do this. I am doing this." I can already see, this is one book will be reading again and again.

Picked up "Eat, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation" by Lynne Truss as well. I forget which blogger recommended this book, but as soon as read the review, had to have it. Also bought "Boneman's Daughter" by one of my favorite authors - Ted Dekker. "Kill for Me", book # 3 in the Daniel Vartanian series by Karen Rose. I just couldn't wait another month for the paperback to come out. Plus my first George R.R. Martin "A Game of Thrones" which is book 1 in the Song of Fire and Ice series.

Also have my nose in Kate Carlisle's debut novel, a new bibliophile mystery series "Homicide in Hardcover," which just came out in February. She is currently working on book # 2. Enjoying it so far.

And yesterday read "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad for my Modern Fiction class. I had already read the book last year for film and lit class, but this book is the Norton Critical Edition with background and criticism essays which are really, really interesting. So much more detail and better written. The other edition just seemed flat. Maybe it's because I'm reading it again and picking up more detail the 2nd time around.

Oh and I received from Thomas Nelson for the book blogger review program "Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions," a comprehensive introduction to the religions of the world by James A. Beverly. It looks pretty interesting from what I've seen so far and part of the reason I decided to read it, is because Dr. Beverly specializes in world and new religions, charismatic Christianity, Roman Catholic theology and christian ethics. It doesn't look like one of the those that tries to debunk all the religions in favor of one. Will take me a while to read through this one.

In regard to challenges - there is one more month left for the Spring Reading Thing and Once Upon a Time challenge. I've finished 14 out of 25 books for SRT and 7 out of 14 for on my list for OUAT. Will I finish all the books on my lists? We'll see. I've managed to finish 67 books so far this year, so definitely going to surpass the J.Kaye's 100+ challenge.

Thirst for Knowledge by Josephine Wall


Why some things just don't get done.

Do you ever wonder where the time goes. Why you don't accomplish as much as you want.

In the midst of trying to write this morning.

"Hey Mom - listen to this" and he rambles on about Godzilla and nuclear tests and did it really happen. So we look up the 1962 nuclear tests and read all about the starfish prime test and nuclear electromagnetic pulses.

Back to writing.

Meow, meow, meow comes the strident cry of kitten # 3 Gracie as she drags her fake tail toy across the kitchen to my chair. Time out to play.

Back to writing.

Scritch, scritch, scritch comes the scratching of cat claws on the patio door. Look over and kitten # 2 Melvin looks at me imploringly. Open the door and he eats a few bites and wants to go back out again.

Stare at the keyboard and think. "Hey mom! Come race with me!"

"In a few minutes, dear."

Scritch. I really need to trim all the cats claws, it sounds like finger nails on a chalkboard. Melvin's back at the door with that face. Open the door and he winds around my feet, then plops on his back. "Meow," he cries wiggling for a belly rub. A few minutes of belly rubs and he's back out the door. Only this time, I leave it open. I give up on playing door man.

Great thought and begin to type. "MOM!"

Off to race....

Mini Book Reviews #63 through 67

Time again for some mini book Reviews

On a Pale Horse ( Book one of Incarnations of Immortality) by Piers Anthony. I first read this series back when it was published in 1986. It definitely had stood the test of time and is just as entertaining and interesting as it was then. Zane mistakenly kills the incarnation of Death and must take over his role.

# 64
Visions in White is book 1 in a new series The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. The series is about childhood friends Parker, Emma, Laurel and Mackenzie, The founder of Vows, one of Connecticuts premier wedding planning companies. Book 1 is all about Mackenzie. Vintage Roberts.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians # 1) by Rick Riordan. First time author read of young adult book about Percy who discovers his father is the Greek God Poisedon. Poisedon supposedly stole Zeus's lightning bolt and Percy must go on a mission to return the bolt or the wrath of the Gods will fall upon mankind. Entertaining read for young adults.

Inside Out by John Ramsey Miller. First time author read of suspense thriller and very well done. U.S. Marshall Winter Massey is hired to protect a contract killer (and his wife) who is a federal witness against mob boss Sam Manelli. The bodies pile up and there is a mole in the department. A killer is on the loose, the wife knows something and is on the run and someone is trying to take out Winter. Very thrilling story and well worth the read. Look forward to reading "Side by Side" next.

Thread of Fear by Laura Griffin -- book 3 in the Glass Sister's Series. Romantic suspense novel about Fiona Glass who is a forensic Artist who no longer likes her job. She is the best in the business and in high demand. She becomes involved in Jack Bowman's case and he fights to keep her out of it before she gets hurt. Great ending to series.

Weekly Report #29 5/18 to 5/22

We have 7 more weeks of lessons left and with our 3 weeks on and one week off schedule, we will be done the end of July. We could power through and not take our breaks and be done by the end of June. But I'd end up being a grumpy old mom and hating life in general, so slow and steady we go.

What we accomplished this week:

Explorer Bible Study: Lesson 12, Genesis 15 - Covenant with Abram. We are slowly working our way through Genesis. In Genesis 15 the Lord made his covenant with Abram giving all the land from the river of Egypt to the great River Euphrates to his descendants. The study is still holding James attention. I asked him because it seemed to be getting a bit dry, but he said he likes it, so we'll keep going. He keeps asking when we are going to get to the part where God renames his Abraham. Almost there.

Voyages in English: Started the very last section, # 8 all about sentence diagramming. Made an interesting discovery. Father never learned about diagramming in school, which surprised the heck out of me. I remembered doing all kinds of sentence diagramming way back when. So, Father and James got to learn all about diagramming this week: 8.1 Subjects and Predicates; 8.2 Possessives; 8.3 Adjectives and 8:4 Adverbs.

Spelling Workout: Completed lesson 27

Writing with Ease: Week 12 still continuing to identify the central narrative thread in a passage. The excerpts this week were from John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress. It was interesting reading the passages with James and telling him about the story. What the names represented and explaining the meaning of carrying a burden on your back. Makes me want to read the story again, plus find a children's version to read with James. Also, discovered that Father had never read the story either. Maybe we'll make it into a family read.

Handwriting without Cursive: Completed review and mastery section and started with the Grammar section. James is not having any problem writing words in cursive now and doesn't need examples to show him how. By george, he's got it.

Math: Alternating between subtraction and addition workbooks. Now doing 2 digit subtraction and explained about place value and putting the numbers in the proper columns.

Science: Continuing with Galen read Chapter 9 - Galen goes to Rome and Chapter 10 Galen's medicine. Father and James read all about the first plastics in DK chemistry book and discussed.

History: Read chapter XX in TCOO - Story of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe. We've finally finished with the story of the colony of Virginia and the demise of Jamestown. Next up, the Plymouth company.

Besides the formal lessons, we are working on attitude, good sportmanship and conduct. James seems to think he should win the wii races every time and gets upset when someone else does.

Cub scouts: The advancement ceremony to Webelos was held last week. James hadn't quite finished his bear badge achievements and only has three or four things left to go. Those will all have to be finished up this week before his den master submits the advancement paperwork to webelos. The den leader told us we had time to complete the rest of the achievements during the summer, but the master said differently and said should have been finished by the ceremony. Because of the miscommunication and the fact it wouldn't be fair to James, since he has worked really hard to get the achievements done, she gave us to June 1st to finish.

My education: Reading and analyzing "Heart of Darkness" this week and next week. I read "Heart of Darkness" last year so at least have an advantage. My tasks will be to

1) Do a close literary analysis of one section and chose at least two things to follow: imagery, symbolistm, diction, metaphors, similies, or character development.

2) Chose one example of foreshadowing and describe the effect it has on the reader and characters.

3) Characterization: Choose a character other than Marlow or Kurtz and analyze. Tell how the character is developed and by what means.

4)Take one of the three questions and write a 500 critical essay about it.

That aught to keep me busy for a while. :)

Book Review # 62 - House of Dark Shadows

House of Dark Shadows


Robert Liparulo

Back cover: "When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen year old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films...but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land. But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into--as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house. They soon discover there's something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school. Then the really weird stuff kicks in: They find a hidden hallway with portals leadinng to far-off places--in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen's dream come true...or his worst nightmare."

"House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book #1)" is Excellent, excellent, excellent! Thoroughly enjoyed this young adult fantasy novel by Robert Liparulo. From the very beginning of the story which starts 30 years in the past to the very end which ends in a to be continued cliff hanger, made me want to run right out and buy book # 2 "Watcher in the Woods." Unfortunately Borders didn't have it, but I did manage to pick up a few other interesting books - a tale for later. Next stop, Amazon. :)

The prologue pulls you in immediately:

"The walls of the house absorbed the woman's screams, until they felt to her as muffled and pointless as yelling underwater. Still, her lungs kept pushing out cries for help. Her attacker carried her over his shoulder. The stench of his sweat filled her nostrils. He paid no head to her frantic writhing, or the pounding of her fists on his back, or even her fingernails which dug furrows into his flesh. He simply lumbered, as steadily as a freight train, through the corridors of the big house." pg 1 - 2

When the Kings move into the old Victorian house in Pinedale, weird things start happening. Xander and his little brother, David, discover a hidden corridor with many doors that seems to go on forever. And in each room is a different set of items from various periods in history. The boys find out what happens when they put on these items and unlock different doors to adventures that could be the end of them. Highly recommended.

Pages: 304
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Released: May 6, 2008
Genre: Young Adult fantasy/thriller

Other thoughts about House of Dark Shadows:

Bobbi of Bobbi's Book Nook:
Although this is considered a Young Adult book, adults will also enjoy the suspense and mystery this book has to offer. This is the first book I have read of Liparulo's, but it certainly won't be the last. "

Becky of Becky's Book Reviews:
"The book is action-packed. It's well paced. If you like adventures of the spooky sort. Part science fiction. Part adventure. Part mystery. It offers much to readers of almost all ages. (I'd say ten and up if I had to label it at all.)"

Rel of Relz Reviewz:
"The great descriptive writing made me feel scared for the boys and I almost felt like I was in the story. I loved how all the pieces of information fitted in at the end and completed the story (unfortunately, I can’t talk about the surprise at the end)."

Work In Progress Wednesday

I didn't make as much progress this week as I wanted. Distractions abounded and only wrote about 1300 words. Finished one chapter, but I keep wanting to add to it or change it. Slaps hand. Don't edit, just keep going. I think what's been hooking me up is even though this is a major rewrite, keep thinking I should edit along the way. I realize it isn't going to be perfect and will be going through few more edit runs. I should probably treat this as the first draft of new story, even though I'm pulling elements in from the original.

How much information is too much information when characters are meeting for the first time? I'm trying to figure out whether Samantha should remain somewhat of a mystery to Ben or be more forthright. He has some preconceived notions about her and his brother. She really feels like setting him straight on a few things, but how much is too much? Which will move the story forward -- demystifying the role his brother has played in her life, or keeping the mystery and forcing the brothers to have a serious talk.

I'm brainstorming as I write this and thinking that she should tell him just enough to let him know he is wrong, but not give all details so he has to talk to his brother about it. Thank you. Sometimes it just helps to think out loud. My husband does this a lot. He'll start thinking out loud, trying to figure out a electronic doohicky problem using me as a sounding board. This gets quite interesting, especially when it goes over my head. It leads to the conundrum- do I want to ask questions which will lead to (pardon the analogy - its the best I could come up with) an explanation of the theory of golf, rather just telling me to put the ball on the tee. Or just let him talk it out. Genuises - make life interesting. But I digress.

The writing process. I've been reading various blogs this past week and what stuck out this week was Rachelle Gardner's "First Things First - Don't put the cart before the horse" post. One thing she said is

"There are seasons in a writer's life: Seasons for focusing on the art and craft of writing, and seasons for focusing on the business of writing. And seasons where it's appropriate to spend time on both."

Made me think about where I am in the writing process and the most important thing for me to do right now, is concentrate on writing. I'm not anywhere even close to the thinking about getting published. She mentions in her post it is more important to focus on writing and learn the craft, which I wholeheartedly agree with. As she so aptly puts it - I am still a freshman writer. I like that term. Which means I still have a lot to learn.

What have you learned today?

If you'd like to see what progress others have made or want to participate in WIP Wednesday, head on over to Kate's.

Prayers and Good Thoughts Please for Nephew having surgery today!

My nephew is having surgery today at Dallas Children's Hospital to repair a depressed fracture to his skull around 11:30 Texas time.

A couple weeks ago L was out in the field behind his house with one of their dogs. Dakota raced toward him and he put out his leg to stop the dog from leaping on him. The dog tripped him and he rolled down an incline. A horse happened to be coming up the incline. The horse's hoof hit his head. My sister said that's the best explanation she could get out of him. Forward to discovering a depressed skull fracture and the decision to have surgery to fix it. Please keep my nephew, my very nervous sister and brother in law and all involved in your prayers and thoughts today.

Update: Luke just came out of surgery and is in recovery. It went well. There wasn't any damage or tearing to his brain, thank goodness. The surgeon fixed the depressed skull area, pulled it out or whatever you do and reset it. He said areas around the fracture had already started to reknit itself together. He'll be in ICU overnight for observation and if all goes well, he can go home tomorrow. My sister will be staying there with him tonight. He just won't be able to play soccer or other stuff for a couple months. Thank you for all your good thoughts and prayers.

Californians - Don't Forget to Vote!!!

California Special Election

Yes, today is a special day in California in which we are having a statewide special election on all kinds of wonderful propositions to help mismanage the state's money. Initially I thought about taking a pass on voting, then realized if me and all the other no people didn't get our butts out there to vote, and only the yes people voted, then they would pass.

Of course, the newspapers pundits are doing their best to talk people out of voting. The polls had barely opened, when a little after 7:00 a.m, our delightful Sacramento Bee says online:

"Voter apathy toward today's special election is being reflected at mostly empty polling places and also at Sacramento County election headquarters."

Aarrggg! They must really think we are stupid. Both conservatives and liberals alike all think these propositions are bad for the state. Let's take the revenues from the state lottery which was originally designed to all go to the schools for educational purposes, take it away from them and use it to balance the state budget. And Let's set up a 'rainy day' fund to only be used in times of economic downturn and other purposes. Meanwhile we have our legislators sitting pretty in the capital, wasting money and everyone's time as they argue and whine, poor pitiful me --- I need more money to study dog poop or why the sky is blue.

Don't Forget to Vote!

Edited to Add - Results are in and the people have spoken

All the 'rob peter to pay paul' measures were defeated.

1F passed which prevents the legislators from giving themselves pay raises during deficit years.

Book Review # 61 - Re-Deal: A Time-Travel Thriller


A Time Travel Thriller


Richard Turner

Back cover: "Buckle up for time travel, karate, and gambling in this action-adventure thriller. Matt McCain, a young man trying to overcome personal loss and family misfortune, and his amigo Juan, a Mexican orphan turned evangelist, are pitted against the Cyphers, a family that utilizes evil for every gain. The presence of Miss Guided, the angel who doesn't always get it right, changes them all. With more twists than a switchback trail, Re-Deal is a time traveling race against evil and misfortune. An 1882 poker showdown promises to change history forever, and Matt McCain aims to be the winner. But first he must match skills with the greatest cheaters of the Old West--from Doc Holliday to S.W. Erdnase. The players, the power, and the present all hinge on the journey back to 1882, a trip through time that Re-Deals history in a startling conclusion."

"Re-Deal: A Time Travel Thriller" is unique and interesting, very well written and amusing as well. With the help of an angel who calls herself Miss Guided, Matt and Juan travel through time in order right wrongs caused by some evil men that caused his great grandfather to lose everything. It is a battle of good and evil and a race through time with lots of tongue in cheek humor, smooth karate moves, drama, and poker. Lots of poker against world famous poker players who are very adept at cheating. One unique thing about our hero - he was blinded in a vicious attack by the bad guys and can only see out of the corners of his eyes. Life is the pits for Matt until Miss Guided's timely intervention in which he learns to protect himself, gain confidence and utilize all his senses in battling the bad guys. He uses all those senses to go against the bad guys in a battle of wits and poker. Highly recommended.

I received Re-Deal courtesy of Lillie Ammann and enjoyed every single minute of it. She had an interesting interview with angel, Miss Guided and you can find it here. Thanks Lillie for sending me the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Pages: 376
Publisher: Showdown Creations
Released: March 7, 2009
Genre: Mix of action, adventure, fantasy and time travel.

Other thoughts about the book:

Brooke from The Bluestocking Guide:
"It turns out that Richard’s eye sight is 4 times worse than what is considered legally blind. I thought this gave Matt’s character an added layer of realism. So if you are looking for a fun read, definitely pick this book up."

Monday musings and mailbox treats

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about early reading….Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Was it from a particular person, or person(s)? Do you remember any books that you read, or were read to you, as a young child? (question courtesy of Diane

My family taught me to read at an early age. One of my earliest memories is first grade and getting a gold star for reading the most books in the class. I remember, and I don't know the reason why, staying inside while all the other kids were at first recess and reading. Once I learned to read, I couldn't get enough of it. Reading opened all new doorways to many different people, places and things.

The picture above was taken in 1970. Me in pajamas and white shoes. It was Easter time and I was showing them off. I loved Easter because it meant getting to buy new white shoes. Chris was about 3 1/2 at the time and I adored my brother. Obviously Dr. Seuss was a big favorite in our household. Other than that I can't remember any of the titles or authors of books I read. I just loved reading period. I could tell you all about the shows we watched: The Flintstones, the Jetsons, Alvin and the Chipmunks. Why those stick in my mind more so than the books I don't know. Now it is the exact opposite.

I don't have any of my old books from my childhood, but we have a couple original Dr. Seuss's saved by Father's mother.

In the past couple days I received some great books.

I received an offer to read and review "Chasing Demons": book two in the Mistress of Beasts Saga by R.L. Geerdes.

I accepted the offer and figured since I hadn't read book one. would go out and buy it - "Wizard's Secrets" and read it before hand. I happen to mention this in the email and received a big surprise along with Chasing Demons. Mrs. Geerdes sent me "Wizard's Secrets" as well. How nice is that!

I also received "20 Boy Summer" by Sarah Ockler which is being released in June.

I'm looking forward to reading them.

Do you remember any of your childhood favorites?

Book Review # 60 - Enemies and Allies

Enemies and Allies

(The Dark Knight meets The Man of Steel)


Kevin J. Anderson

Front Flap: "Sputnik silently circles in the skies above the fabled cities of the United States as danger lurks in the Earth's darkest corners. In Gotham, the shadowy vigilante known as the Batman haunts Gotham's streets...and the police are just as afraid of this Dark Knight as the city's criminals are.

In Metropolis, the notorious Lex Luthor is leveraging international tensions to build LuthorCor into a military industrial empire, competing against his business rival Wayne Industries, which is run by Gotham's enigmatic millionaire, Bruce Wayne. Luthor's activities have raised the interest of Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane, who is beginning to realize that Luthor may stop at nothing to achieve success.

At the same time, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are investigating the rumored crash of a flying saucer. Clark is desperate to know if there may be other lost interplanetary visitors on Earth secretly living amongh them--visitors like himself. When Batman's and Superman's paths cross, their lives change, and history will never be the same.

"Enemies and Allies" by Kevin J. Anderson is a fun read about two superheroes - Batman and Superman. Neither one trusts each other which makes it interesting since they both are trying to protect the people of the world. In Gotham, the Dark Knight tries to stay in the shadows and under the radar of the police. Meanwhile in Metropolis Superman operates by day and delivers the bad guys right to the police. He is considered the hero while Batman is considered a dangerous vigilante. The two must learn to trust each other when Lex Luthor threatens the world by engineering a nuclear threat in the guise of aliens, so he can come in and save the day.

Even though "Enemies and Allies" is written for adults, the book is excellent for any age level. It doesn't have any objectionable language or material that you would need to shield your child from and it is easy to read. The story reminded me of the comic book superhero stories, just without the pictures.

Thank you to Bostick Communications and Pam and Wendy of William Morrow for supplying me with a review copy of "Enemies and Allies." It is very much appreciated. And thank you to Kevin Anderson for writing such an entertaining and engaging story.

Pages: 336
Publisher: William Morrow
Released: May 5, 2009
Genre: Superhero fantasy

Other thoughts about the book:

Liviania of In Bed With Books:
"It is fun to go back to a world where Kryptonite is rare, instead of available on every street corner, in every corner you want. (I'm looking at you Smallville.) And, as I said before, the Cold War will always be a good time for these two to strut their stuff. There's detection, action, corporate struggles, and the American Way."

Warren Kelly - Blog Critics:
"But Anderson creates a believable story that comic book fans will enjoy, but that is also accessible by people who don't read comics at all. In fact, there is some danger that Enemies & Allies will become a gateway drug that introduces people to the world of comic books -- or reintroduces those who left comics behind years ago. An outstanding plot, excellent characterization (including some great cameos that comics fans will appreciate), and a gripping pace all make this book a must read."

R.J. Carter - The Trades:
"While this is mostly a Superman story with Batman thrown in (there's not a whole lot of Gotham City involvement regarding any gallery of rogues or supporting Batman characters other than Alfred), it's still a wholly enjoyable adventure, uncluttered, straightforward, and with more than enough time dedicated to each character to satisfy the fan contingent. I'm already hoping that William Morrow and Harper Collins extend Anderson's contract to further develop this vision of the characters and expand the DC Universe into this fictional new frontier."

The Sunday Salon -- Lady, your mind is showing!

The Sunday

Welcome Sunday Saloners! I managed to read several interesting books this week including "Enemies and Allies" by Kevin Anderson, "Re-Deal, a Time Travel Adventure" by Richard Turner, "Lightning Thief" by Rick Riordan, "Visions in White" by Nora Roberts and revisited "On a Pale Horse" by Piers Anthony. Father has been busy this week working on his mic preamp project in the evenings, which generally frees me up to read or write, whichever strikes my fancy. Creative, interesting, entertaining reads which I thoroughly enjoyed and will be reviewing some time this week.

Thinking of the creative minds of these authors reminded me of my grandmother. She taught creative thinking classes for many years before retiring back in 1981. Over the years she wrote a book about these lectures and her ideas on creative thinking, but never had it published. A year before she passed away, my father decided to surprise her for her 98th birthday and have her book published. He had my brother proof and edit it, then published it through IUniverse. On her birthday, she was presented with the book and several copies to autograph for all of us. She was absolutely delighted.

The book "Lady, Your Mind is Showing," a lecture on creative thinking is absolutely timeless
My grandmother also loved to write poetry and paint. The pictures of the painting on the cover are all hers. Each of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren received one of her paintings when she passed away. The right hand bottom painting on the cover of the book of the boat anchored in the bay at sunset found a home on my bedroom wall.

When I read the book I realized I had been using these ideas all my life. Her ideas, her way of thinking had been passed on to my father who in turn had passed them on to his children. I picked up the book yesterday and found a part that I had underlined

"What we think about, we become. Remember, creative thinking is the ability to bring into being new and different ideas through the process of thought. We should recognize the potential in new ideas and be prepared for changes, because there cannot be progress without change. A deliberate physical change eventually will bring about a mental change. Chester Bernard once observed: "To try and fail is at least to learn; to fail to try is to suffer the loss of what might have been."

Nana always talked about digging into our diamond minds.

"Several years ago, the lyrics to a popular Broadway song charmed its audiences into believing that "Diamonds are a girl's best friend." You may or may not agree with this notion. Diamonds reign as priceless gems in any age with some cultures using diamonds for currency. But I like to think of those diamonds as ideas. And if this is true, you are sitting in the very center of a diamond mine that can be worked to become a diamond mind. You have the richest treasure between your two ears that you can possible imagine. Few people realize this. The person who wishes she had a computer at her disposal doesn't recognize what she has in her own head. A diamond mine, or a diamond mind, AND a computer!" pg 18

I was raised to be a positive thinker. To think creatively, analyze everything, not let habits and conformity get in the way, not create excuses and reasons why you can't do something. Reading back over the book now, something that stood out was this.

"Your imaginative or creative power can help unlock the door to the subconscious, to tap its resources; its stored knowledge. It is a sad fact that we do not make enough of this wondrous power. Through research, it has been found that even though everyone is born with imagination, by the time a child enters the fourth grade or is about nine years old, he/she has usually stopped exercising this gift to the fullest. Often, this power to dream, to visualize, to imagine is crushed by the people around us...."

Remarks such as "You're old enough to know better, That's a silly story. You're letting your imagination run away with you or why not try being sensible for a change?" have the ability to crush the imagination. I've discovered this to be true with both my son and Father. One word and the light goes out of their eyes and makes them doubt. They are crushed. Which is pretty much why I support their ideas, their projects unconditionally - encouraging them to think creatively, applauding ideas, and being positive.

Which leads me back to books, book reviews and writing. Friday I mentioned getting a thank you note from James Lepore. Can you imagine if all the reviews for "A World I Never Made" had been negative? The life of a writer would have been crushed, a dream killed. I guess that is why I have such a hard time writing a negative review. I'm the eternal optimist who always looks at the glass half full.

Ronald Reagan loved to tell this story.

The joke concerns twin boys of five or six. Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities -- one was a total pessimist, the other a total optimist -- their parents took them to a psychiatrist.

First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. "What's the matter?" the psychiatrist asked, baffled. "Don't you want to play with any of the toys?" "Yes," the little boy bawled, "but if I did I'd only break them."

Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his out look, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. "What do you think you're doing?" the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. "With all this manure," the little boy replied, beaming, "there must be a pony in here somewhere!"

I'm thinking that most writers have to be eternal optimists. Creating, digging deep down in that diamond mind, brainstorming, all the while seeing that glass half full.

What about you. Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?

Weekly Report # 28 - 5/11 to 5/15

Another week down and only 8 more to go. We are in the midst of a mini heat wave and temps should cool back down for a little bit. Just a precursor of what the summer is going to be like.

Explorer Bible Study: Lesson 11 Genesis 13-14 Abram and Lot separate. Abram decides to separate from Lot and Lot of course chooses the best land. The 5 kings from the Valley of Siddim and the four kings from the East join in battle.

Voyages in English: Finished up Section 7 in which James learned about direct quotations and where to place quote marks. Next week on to diagramming. That should be interesting.

Spelling Workout: Lesson 26 /oi/ and /ou/ sounds James is getting better at distinguishing between the sounds and the spellings. Got 18 out of 20 words correct.

Writing with Ease: Week 11 identifying central details in a description. The excerpts were from the original 101 dalmations. James has only heard the disney version so interesting to read excerpts from the original. I realized I hadn't read the original version myself, so will have to get it. Did excellent job of narration.

"Cruella de Vil arrived while the puppies were playing. She tried to take Lucky, but he nipped her ear which tasted like pepper."

Handwriting without Tears: Cruising right along doing two pages a day and finished pages 16 through 23.

Math: Working on both Addition and Subtraction. Father and James did a bonus lesson about Exponents and Ratios. How two things compare to each other. Taking James favorite subject - Godzilla and using ratio to draw Godzilla to scale. Ready to start having James memorize math fact tables from living memory. Will work that in next week.

Science: Father and James read two more chapters in Galen about Alexandria and Galen and the Gladiators. In Chemistry they read about organic synthesis and discussed. All just exposure right now and James is soaking it in.

History: In TCOO read Chapter XX Bacon's Rebellion. Poor Bacon. The two faced governor gives Bacon a commission to hunt down the indians and as soon as he is out in the field, withdraws the commission and sends his troops to arrest him. Bacon finally takes matters in his own hands and marchs against the governor and ends up burning down Jamestown. He dies before he finds out he was in the right. The king finally gets wind of the governor's collusion and pulls him back to England.

I introduced James to Francis of Assissi and we read Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts by Margaret Hodges.

James advanced to Webelos this week. The meeting was held at the park down the street and James den got to bring up the flags and salute the colors. James did great especially since it was a late minute thing and several people were giving him directions on what to do.

James and Jesse with Alexander (red cap) helping

Look at that happy face

How do you get 6 boys to pay attention all at the same time? Answer you don't

Don't put the slide on upside down, mom!

Look at me - DAD!

James has just about completed everything for his bear badge. We've been zooming through it all since we only had three months. Now he'll have a full year to work on his webelos stuff.

James has been playing Zoombinis Mountain Rescue this week. Last year he couldn't do it all and just watched while I did all the work. Now he is having a blast doing it all on his own.

Amazon explains it best: "Zoombinis are little blue guys and gals that inhabit a kingdom reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, and ingeniously teach math principles using puzzles instead of numbers. In Zoombinis Mountain Rescue a group of Zoombinis gets trapped in a cave, and it's up to players to organize a search party that can withstand the logical travails of a journey through this perilous and quirky terrain. There are nine "obstacles" along the rescue route. Players cross a bridge of turtles by sorting Zoombini search party members by nose color, hairstyle, or other characteristics. Deducing (again, based on features) which Zoombini can snowboard down what path furthers the mission, as well. The search party is held up briefly in a cafeteria where it must use logic to wait on Norfs who drop oblique hints about what they want, or don't want, to order. Each game will stretch your child's ability to use forethought and analysis to assess a situation. Even the easiest of the three levels is designed to be challenging, so be prepared to help out along this creative and strenuous path."

So far he hasn't needed any help. What a difference a year makes.

Too Hot to Handle Book Giveaway Winners

I had 27 wonderful ladies interested in Robin Kaye's "Too Hot to Handle." I plugged all your names into the list randomizer at, hit the randomizer 27 times and the winner is:

and since so many were interested, I decided to give away the other copy as well. The randomizer picked:

Margot of Joyfully Retired

Congratulations and Happy Reading!

Life in the fast lane and bookish news

Happy Friday!

I'm working on my homework today and this weekend. For the the first module of the course have 3 questions to work on and discuss with my online Modern Fiction class, plus a reflective essay to complete.

1) Discussing the cross fertilization of Art and Literature - Choose one piece of Dada, impressionist or surrealist and explain how the art relates to some of the literary themes, components and concerns in modernism. Since impressionism is my favorite, will be going with that style.

2) Discuss one cultural or historical influence (ie art, history, psychology, science or technology) on the development of literary modernism you find interesting.

3) Chose one major modern writer (such as Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Beckett, Yeats, Kafka to name a few) and provide a one paragraph biography and a list of their most important contributions to the genre.

And write a reflective essay for the professor specifically addressing why chose this course, what expectations are and what are your strengths and weaknesses as a student.

That aught to keep me busy for a while, don't you think. And yes, I had all last week and this week to work on it, but for some crazy reason just didn't get around to it until now. I always do this the first couple weeks of a new class. It takes a bit of time to get back into it and work it in the swing of things. So while I'm working on that, I'll leave you with an interesting email I received this morning.

I recently reviewed James LePore's debut novel "A World I Never Made" and he wrote this letter to his editor to share with all who took the time to review his book.

"I am sure that I am not the first to recognize that writing is a solitary, and isolating, affair. There is the writer, his or her imagination, and the computer, with occasional forays onto the internet, also via the computer, to do research. Since I had written two previous novels, neither of which had gotten published, I often asked myself, as I was writing the third--which turned out to be A World I Never Made--why was I still writing?

There are things I like about isolation and the mysterious process of creating fiction, but--and this is something I have only learned very recently--process is only one half of the equation. The other half is the realization that once a book is published it will actually be read.

I will be grateful always for your willingness to read A World I Never Made a first novel by an unknown writer with no credentials except the fact that he made the effort and a few people believed in him. The positive things you said were a thrill to read, and have begun to make me think--tentatively--that I really am a writer."

Jim LePore
South Salem
May 1, 2009

How awesome is that! Think about how you can make a difference in the life of a new author. Instead of picking up one of your old stock favorites, pick up one of those debut novels you keep passing up.

What new authors have you discovered lately?

Work In Progress Wednesday

Yes, I know this is Thursday. Yesterday was a hectic day filled with lessons, shopping for James new Webelos uniform and other things. James Pack is moving up the Webelos on Friday and they are holding the function in the park. Of course, our weather just turned and it's expected to be over 100. The joy of living in the Valley. However last night, Father was involved in working on his microphone preamp which freed up my evening. Instead of reading my new Nora Roberts book (major temptation), I wrote...and wrote...and wrote, then typed...and typed...and typed.

It's interesting. I compared my first draft of FOTS with Winter's Illusion and with what I'm doing now and see a big difference in my writing. The first draft has lots of backflashes, long paragraphs and not a lot of white space. Will probably end up rewriting 95% of it. Not a bad thing, because I'm enjoying the journey at the moment. Giving Samantha her voice and letting her tell the story. I may end up changing the title because it's turning into her being more deeply intune with her spiritual side and the spiritual nature of the world that I originally planned and not really floating on the surface.

I have to get ready for work, but have a question.

Have you ever started writing a story and discovered at some point, that the title doesn't match with what you've written. Have you ever started without a title or changed the title?

Thank you to Kate of The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me for hosting Work In Progress Wednesdays. It is helping to keep me accountable. If you would like to participate, post your wip entry and leave a comment on Kate's blog.

Post to Ponder - It's Never Too Late

Reach for it - the sky is the limit

Robert Lopatin thought it was too late. As a boy, he had dreamed of becoming a doctor. But when he went to college, he gave up the idea. Instead, he went into the family business of manufacturing women's clothing. He stayed there for twenty-seven years! Then he and his father sold their business. If he wished, he could retire.

But then, at a friend's wedding, he sat next to a young man who had just finished medical school. Chatting with the new doctor made him think about his boyhood dream. And at age fifty-one, Robert Lopatin decided to become a doctor.

Today he is fifty-five. He graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and is currently serving his residency at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York. And he's loving it--even the one hundred hour workweeks and the graveyard shifts.

"I feel like I died and was born again," he says.

You may have a dream in your heart that you think is too old to pursue. Another person may have told you that it's too late to do what you desire. But it's not. Writer Joseph Conrad published his first novel at age forty. Robert Lopatin will be in his late fifties when he begins to practice medicine as a full fledged doctor. Artist Grandma Moses started painting when she was seventy-five years old--and she still had a twenty-six year career. Pursue your dream, no matter how far fetched it may seem.

Excerpt from Success: One day at a time - John C. Maxwell

True story! Moral of the story - don't ever let anyone, including yourself tell you that you are too old, too young, not capable, not good enough, not worthy. Reach for the sky, baby. Reach for the sky.

Concisus libri recenseo

So many books, so many words, so much time

Time for some mini reviews because I read too many books, too fast and have too little time to give them all the justice of a long review.


Alice Kimberly's (aka Cleo Coyle ) Haunted Bookshop Mystery is wonderfully wacky and humorous and well worth the read. The bookstore ghosts helps the new owner solve a murder. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.


L.L. Foster's (aka Lori Foster) first book in the Servant series introduces Garbrielle Cody, God's demon slayer and totally innocent when comes to men, has her hands full when Detective Luthor Cross becomes suspicious.

Book # 2 in the series and Gabrielle, God's warrior has fled to a different part of the city and been given a new task. Detective Cross is bound and determine to find out who and what she is. Lori is one of my favorite authors and she doesn't disappoint.


First Time author read and my curiosity has been satisfied. Written in first person point of view, which generally isn't my cup of tea if not well done.


Cindy Gerard's Black op series - Book # 2 follows Sam Lang and Abbie Hughes. One of my favorite authors and all her books are well written. Romantic suspense at it's best.


# 3 in Black Op series follows Johnny Reed and Crystal Debrowski as Crystal is targeted by a very ruthless white slavery trade and arms dealer.