Book Review # 107 - Black Hills by Nora Roberts

Black Hills


Nora Roberts

Front Flap: "A summer at his grandparents' South Dakota ranch is not eleven year old Cooper Sullivan's idea of a good time. But things are a bit more bearable now that he's discovered the neighbor girl, Lil Chance, and her homemade batting cage. Even horseback riding isn't as awful as Coop thought it would be. Each year, with Coop's annual summer visit, their friendship deepens from innocent games to stolen kisses, but there is one shared experience that will forever haunt them: the terrifying discovery of a hiker's body.

As the seasons change and the years roll by, Lil remains steadfast to her aspiration of becoming a wildlife biologist and protecting her family land, while Coop struggles with his father's demand that he attend law school and attend the family firm. Twelve years after they last walked hand in hand, fate has brought them back to the Black Hills when the people and things they hold most dear need them most.

Coop recently left his fast paced life as a investigator in New York to take care of his aging grandparents and the ranch he has come to call home. Though the memory of his touch still haunts her, Lil has let nothing stop her dream of opening the Chance Wildlife Refuge, but something...or someone...has been keeping a close watch. When small pranks and acts of destruction escalate into the heartless killing of Lil's beloved cougar, memories of an unsolved murder in these very hills have Coop springing to action to keep Lil safe.

Lil and Coop know the natural dangers that lurk in the wild landscape of the Black Hills. Now they must work together to unearth a killer of twisted and unnatural instincts who has singled them out as prey."

The book description pretty much says it all. There isn't much I can say about Nora Roberts. She is a fantastic writer and her characters spring to life on the pages. Lil and Coop have lot to work out and work past in the midst of the search for the murderer. The story includes subplots involved Lil's parents, Coop's, grandparents, Lil's pseudo adopted brother and her close friend and co-worker Tansy. Lots of mystery, mixed with romance.

Pages: 480
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Released: July 7, 2009

Other Thoughts

Annie from Reading, Writing and Ranting:
"I loved it from start to finish - it was just what I needed. Fans of Angel's Falls and Nora Roberts's other romantic suspense novels will enjoy this read!"

Errant Dreams Reviews
"It isn’t the speed with which Nora Roberts writes and publishes books that currently amazes me, although it’s certainly impressive. It isn’t even the fact that I find her books consistently enjoyable, although that’s pretty amazing too given how many of them she puts out. It’s the fact that she can explore so many different milieus with such immersive depth that really bowls me over."

Random Reading Challenge

Caribousmom is hosting a Random Reading Challenge which will run from August 1, 2009 through July 31, 2010.

Are you stuck in a rut? Do you always find yourself reading from set lists or feeling committed to reading one book while another book screams at you from your TBR mountain? Has your reading become completely scheduled?

If so, the Random Reading Challenge may be just the thing to put the spontaneity back into your reading.

For this challenge, readers will be choosing books randomly from their TBR stacks. You may select one of three levels of participation:

Level I:

You are just a tad compulsive about your reading – you love your lists and schedules. Being spontaneous is not something that comes naturally to you. To complete the challenge, force yourself out of your rut and read just six books.

Level II:

You really want to break away from all those lists, but you do still have a responsibility to your reading groups, other challenges and all those review books. Six books is too little, but twelve is too much. Stretch a little and read nine books for the challenge.

Level III:

Throw away the lists, don’t look at your schedule, bring on the joy that comes with the freedom to chose books randomly. Read twelve books for the challenge.

Rules (come on, you didn’t think I would be THAT random did you?!?!?):

  1. NO lists allowed.Books for the challenge are chosen one at a time when the mood strikes.
  2. Sign up at any time during the challenge period using Mr. Linky below. Please give me a direct link to your blog post about the challenge. If you do not have a blog, no worries. Simply enter your name and leave the URL box on Mr. Linky blank.
  3. Book reviews are not required, but if you want to write a review I will be providing a review Mr. Linky after August 1st.
  4. Books are selected one at a time using the following procedure:
  • Randomly select any number of books from either your physical OR your virtual TBR pile (I don’t care how you do this, but it must be random…no “cherry picking” allowed)
  • Assign a number to each book based on how many books you selected (ie: if you selected 14 books, assign each book a number from 1 through 14; if you selected 28 books, assign each book a number from 1 through 28…you get the idea)
  • Go to THIS SITE and use the TRUE RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR located in the upper right hand corner of the page to randomly select the book you will read. NO CHEATING – whatever the random number generator generates is the book you must read!
  • Each time you select a book for the challenge, you will use this procedure. You many select different books each time, choose a different amount of books each time, etc…have fun, mix it up, keep it random.
Looks like fun, easy and not too demanding and will challenge my mood reader mode. I will be going with level III and read 12 books which equals one a month. If you feel like joining in, hop on over to Caribousmom and sign up with Mr. Linky.

Libri Multus # 101 to 106


Second Chance Pass by Robyn Carr. # 5 in Virgin River Series. Follows Widowed Vanessa and her late husband's best friend retired marine Paul as they try to sort out their feelings for each other. Plus a new romance between Vanessa's dad and a newcomer to town.


Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr. # 6 in Virgin River Series. I had originally read a review about Temptation Ridge on My Friend Amy's blog who suggested I begin with book 1. Great idea. Fell in love with the series.
Follows Shelby, Vanessa's cousin and her relationship with newcomer, retired Blackhawk Pilot, Luke. He's very jaded and hates commitment. She's very sweet, but tough.


Cry Mercy by Mariah Stewart (Mercy Street Novel) Introduces Ann Nolan, a beat cop who adopted the daughter of a notorious drug dealer. Now he's found out who has her and wants her back. She flees to across the country, using an assumed name and gets a job as an investigator with the Mercy Street foundation. The foundation is dedicated to searching for missing persons. Their first case involves a missing sorority girl and her legal guardian is bound and determine to help Ann aka Emma find his niece. Lots of danger and mystery in this one.


Find Me by Debra Webb. Investigative reporter Sarah Newton travels to Youngstown to find out who really killed a popular teenager and debunk rumors her death was supernatural. Kale Connor, the newest town councilman is suppose to show her around and keep her in line. Lots of small town shenanigans and secrets for them to sort out as she searches for the true killer. Murder mystery with a bit of romance thrown in.


Breakpoint by JoAnn Ross (A High Risk Novel) Romantic suspense novel involving retired combat officer Dallas O'Hallaron and Retired Jag officer Julianne Decatur. They are both recruited by a top secret government group called THOR and assigned to investigate the death of a female navy flyer's suicide. Her death is highly suspicious and Dallas and Julianne find themselves being followed and the death count rising. Everybody has a secret. Murder mystery with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure.

Black Ice by Anne Stuart (book # 1 in the ice series). Chloe Underwood is a book translator and her roommate gives her the opportunity to translate for a business conference at a remote Chateau. She understands more languages than they think and the businessman are illegal arms dealers. Bastien Toussaint, ordered to kill her, decides instead to save her and they are off on the run. He doesn't know who they can trust and now he's put his life on the line for her.

Work in Progress Wednesday

Alrighty, I'll admit it. I've gotten very little writing done this past week. And you know, as soon as I decided to set the deadline for the end of September, everything went ppffft out of my head. Writing the past couple days has been like pulling teeth. I was ready to move on to a new day and write an exciting action scene and my characters kept pulling back, saying "hey, we are not through talking here, yet. This scene, right here, the way you thought it out before, write it." Strawberries!

I was going to try and keep writing the story down until the end, but at this point, I need to type up what I've written so far and get a better handle on it. What seems right at the time, flies out the window on other days. I need to see the story in print and go from there. I also started thinking about next November's Nano and that I need to get back in the habit of writing on the keyboard which is how I did the first two. Otherwise it will be slow, slow going. I may be writing 1600 words a day, but then stopping to type up the day's work will slog me down. I do all my blog posts that way - thinking them out as I type. So I going to catch up and get it all typed out. Somewhere in the process, it will loosen the thoughts processes up and we can go forth with the story.

In one of the articles in July's The Writer "The Big Bang Approach" by Jill Dearman, she says something that really got me going. The acronym Bang stands for B - begin, A - Arrange, N - nurture and - Go. She mentions in the exercise for Bang for n -nurture

"Imagine the spirit of your character hovering over your desk as you write. She tells you, 'yes, you know me very well, better than my best friend, my spouse, my shrink! But there's something you're still missing about me... 'let your character speak in the 'I' voice and tell you what you still don't see. Do five minutes of freewriting or 500 words which ever comes first."
Just the mental image of my character hovering around, looking over my shoulder while I write really popped my imagination. There's also a quote by E.L Doctorow that I really like.

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Book Review # 99 and 100 - New to me author find Anne Stuart

Ice Blue


Anne Stuart

Back Cover: "Museum curator Summer Hawthorne considered the exquisite ice-blue ceramic bowl given to her by her beloved Japanese nanny a treasure of sentimental value--until somebody tried to kill her for it. The priceless relic is about to ignite a global power struggle that must be stopped at all costs. It's a desperate situation and international operative Takashi OBrien has received his directive: everybody is expendable. Everybody. Especially the woman who is getting dangerously under his skin as the lethal game crosses the Pacific to the remote and beautiful mountains of Japan, where the truth can be as seductive as it is deadly."

Takashi works for a super secret committee and his directive is to kill Summer and recover the bowl for the Japanese. However Summer is kidnapped by a religious cult leader bent of having the relic and taking over the world. Takashi rescues her, only to try and kill her for the bowl, but Summer is one step ahead of him and the cult. She's had a copy of the bowl made and its hidden somewhere on she knows. He must keep her alive long enough to recover the bowl. Bodies pile up as Summer and Taksashi are chased across Japan. Even though Summer tries to stay mentally one step ahead of Takashi, ultimately, she knows he will kill her. The action is non stop as the tension builds, plus Takashi is torn whether to kill her or not. He is falling in love, but in his line of work, love could get him killed.


Fire and Ice


Anne Stuart

Back Cover: In the wake of a failed love affair, brainy beauty JIlly Lovitz takes off for Tokyo. She's expecting to cry on her sister Summer's shoulder, then spend a couple months blowing off steam in Japan. Instead, she's snatched away on the back of a motorcycle, narrowly avoiding a grisly execution attempt mean for her sister and brother-in-law. Her rescuer is Reno, the Committee's most unpredictable agent. They'd met once before and the attraction was odd--tattooed Yakuza punk meets leggy California egghead--but electric. Now Reno and Jilly are pawns in a deadly tangle of assassination attempts, kidnappings and prisoner swaps that could put their steamy partnership on ice."

Jilly travels to Japan expecting to find her sister and brother in law home, instead she is met with a near assassination attempt and Takashi's half brother, Reno trying to save her and get her out of Japan before its too late. Takashi and Summer are in hiding from the Russian mob. Now Reno and Jilly are on the run from not only the Russian, but the Yakuza as well. Members under Reno's and Takashi's grandfather's control want to take over and kill everyone who stands in their way. To add the the mix, Summer warned her brother in law to stay away from Jilly because she's had a big crush on him from the moment she met him. Now they are thrown together in very tense situations and he is having a hard time keeping his hands off her.

Both books are action packed and highly recommended. Will definitely be looking for more books by Anne Stuart.

What's On Your Nightstand - July

What's on Your Nightstand

hosted by

5 Minutes for Books

"How's summer treating you? Have you been reading? Are you trying to make more time to read? Let us know what you've been reading or what you hope to get to this month."
My nightstand overfloweth this month with lots of interesting books. We've been in the midst of planning for 4th grade and I can't help ordering a few books for myself while ordering books for James. I have been reading a lot since we are on our summer break and I finally have some time for me. Plus I received quite a few review books in the past couple weeks which I'm very excited about. One I'm particularly excited about is

I discovered Karen Rose a couple years back and love her writing. So when the opportunity came up to review "I Can See You" for Hachette Books, I jumped on it. As Shanra would say "Squeeee." It will be released on August 5th so will be reading it soon and reviewing.

I'm also reading "Teaching the Trivium" by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn which is chockful of tools for homeschooling, plus it contains a text of Dorothy Sayer's Lost Tools of Learning written back in 1947. Still very apropos to today and full of wisdom.

A book I just finished and will be rereading again and underlining keybits is "1-2-3 Magic: Effective discipline for Children 2 -12. Excellent book, except for the 1st chapter which reads like an infomercial. But once you get past that has great things to say. It talks about something we have been doing which is the little adult assumption.

"Grownups who believe--or want to believe--the Little Adult assumption are going to rely heavily on words and reasons in dealing with young kids and trying to change their behavior. And words and reasons, by themselves are going to be miserable failures much of the time. Sometimes explanatoins will have absolutely no impact at all. Other times explanations will take the parent and child through what we call the Talk-Persuade-Argue-Yell-Hit symdrome."

I really liked what Dr. Phelan had to say and alot of what he said really hit home. I'll review the book after I've reread it a second time, but I do have to say it is working so far. No more yelling from me and no more long winded talks from Father that seem to go right in one ear and out the other.

I've been needing a bit of help for my writing muse lately, so reading "Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write." by Mark David Gerson. I've been in a bit of a writing slump the past few days so enjoying reading the book and trying some of his suggestions.

I received several books this month to review that I'm looking forward to reading including

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

The Divorce Party by Laura Dave

Water Witch by Deborah LeBlanc

Atlantis Revelation by Thomas Greanias.

I also want to finish up the Dewey Reading Challenge and have one book left to read which is "A Year of Living Biblically" by A.J. Jacobs. Once I finish that will be joining J.Kaye's Book Blog Lisa Jackson Reading Challenge which runs from August 2009 through December 2010. Plenty of time to read her New Orleans Series books which I now have in my possession. :)

I'm a bit of a mood reader and there are so many books on my nightstand calling my name. I've been trying to work through the oldest first and trying not to buy too many new books. Looking at the books, it looks like I've managed to get through all the older ones, so now all the books are fair game now. OY! I was very good for a couple months and bought hardly anything at all. This month the temptation has been too hard to resist, especially when Amazon has their buy 3 and get the 4th one for free special offers.

To see what everyone else has been reading or planning to read, click on over to 5 minutes for books.

What books on your nightstand are calling your name this month?

Sunday Salon - Meanderings

The Sunday

It's Sunday, summer and sizzling outside. Our wayward baby mockingbird has disappeared somewhere up in the bushes or one of the trees with its parents in attendance and out of reach of the cats. If the cats get anywhere close to the area, the parents are dive bombing and chasing them away. We no longer have to worry and can get back to normal life as we know it.

I failed miserably with unplugged week and gave up on Thursday. Coinciding with the start of our summer break, dealing with baby birds, life in general and just wanting to kick back and relax, it just didn't work out. I didn't get a bit of writing done, but I did read alot. Different brain cells. As of today I have read 107 books this year, which means technically I've completed J.Kaye's 100+ Book Challenge. However, I'm not going to stop reading so will continue to total up the number of books. It will be interesting to see how many I manage to read for the year. I'm not trying to beat any records or anything, I'm just a fast reader.

I'm debating whether I'm going to continue with MizB's "Read and Review" challenge and still review every single book I read. I have a feeling if I quit the challenge, which has been a good way of holding myself accountable, books would fall by the wayside and not get reviewed and I'd forget what I had read. The reviews are a good way of keeping track and reminding what the books were about. Okay, talked myself into continuing. New books will be indepth reviews and older books will be mini reviews. I feel like I should come up with a fancy title other than mini reviews - it sounds so bland. Since we are going to be learning Latin this year, something like Libri Multus (books in brief) or Mini libri recenseo (mini book review) or brevis libri recenseo (short book review).

Anyway, I need to catch up on my reviews and will be posting a few this week. I'm just about to start reading "White Noise" by Don Delilo for my Modern Lit class. I didn't quite get to it last week so good thing the modules are two weeks long. I'm trying to decide between "The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton or A.J. Jacobs "the Year of Living Biblically" to finish Dewey's Reading Challenge. Started reading Wharton's book about three times now and can't get past the 2nd chapter. I'm just about to shelve it and go with Jacobs. I've read a few snippets and it seems quite entertaining. Since I will be done with those challenges, considering Caribousmom's Random Reading Challenge. which starts in August. Sounds like fun.

Booking through Thursday on Saturday - Preference

I'm a bit late this week. I was a bit busy on Thursday and didn't have time, but better late than never.

This week's Booking through Thursday is all about Preferences

Which do you prefer? (Quick answers–we’ll do more detail at some later date)

  • Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?
  • Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?
  • Fiction? Or Nonfiction?
  • Poetry? Or Prose?
  • Biographies? Or Autobiographies?
  • History? Or Historical Fiction?
  • Series? Or Stand-alones?
  • Classics? Or best-sellers?
  • Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?
  • Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?
  • Long books? Or Short?
  • Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?
  • Borrowed? Or Owned?
  • New? Or Used?

(Yes, I know, some of these we’ve touched on before, and some of these we might address in-depth in the future, but for today–just quick answers!)

Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?


Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?

Paperbacks the majority of the time.

Fiction? Or Nonfiction?

Definitely Fiction

Poetry? Or Prose?


Biographies? Or Autobiographies?


History? Or Historical Fiction?

Historical Fiction

Series? Or Stand-alones?


Classics? Or best-sellers?

Best Sellers

Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?

Straight forward basic prose

Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?

Plots, definitely plots.

Long books? Or Short?


Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?

Non illustrated

Borrowed? Or Owned?


New? Or Used?


Whew! I did it. It was very hard not to go into explanations and whatnot such as it could be, but in this case, but then. *grin*

So what do you prefer. To find to find out what the 100+ other participant prefer, jump over to BTT.

Birds and cats

Our whole week has been thrown completely off kilter by this little guy

Northern Mockingbird

While I was at work on Tuesday, I received a series of phone calls from Father and James about this baby bird they discovered in the back yard. During the day Father dug up some worms and puts them and the baby on the patio table where the parents proceeded to come and feed it. For a few days now, every time the cats went out into the front yard, they were being dive bombed by a couple mockingbirds. Now we know why. When I returned home that evening, lying in the curb was another baby mockingbird. I went into the house and kinda blew the guys thunder by saying "look what I found."

Now we had two baby birds who were too young to fly or protect themselves and 4 cats - what do you do? Let nature take its course or help it along a bit. Come 10:30 pm, we have 4 very anxious cats who want to do their nocturnal wanderings, two chirping baby birds and the momma and daddy squawking from the rooftop. Father mounted the bird house (that James made for cub scouts and never got around to putting up) on the patio wall and we placed the babies inside for the night. One was plump, very vocal and healthy, the other a bit thin, very quiet and had a hurt eye. The parents calmed down and disappeared into the trees to sleep.

Next morning, I hear squawking and thumping noises and go outside. One of the babies has been jumping out of the hole in the bird house and basically plummeting to the ground. James had already put it back twice when I came out. I put it back again and out it came. Okie doke. Now we know why it was no longer in the nest, it had jumped out and was ready to roam. Of course, last year we didn't have 4 cats attacking birds, so we never noticed baby mockingbirds running around. Rounded up the cats, with the help of the parent birds who didn't want the cats anywhere near their kids and set the baby down in the planter area. The thin one had made it through the night, but just barely. So I sat there on the patio holding it till it passed, while mom and dad flew back and forth feeding the other one sitting in the grass.

So the past couple days we have been keeping the cats in all day, then in the evening time, putting the baby in bird house (now with the hole covered so he wouldn't jump out) and letting the cats out for the night. Come morning, the parent birds help round the cats up to come into the house and we let the baby out. Really! They've been dive bombing them and chasing them which makes them run quicker than quick for the door. Maybe they'll quit attacking the birds now. Father called the Audubon society and a local nature center to find out info about the birds and hopefully within the next week, the baby will be flying and can get itself safely into the trees. This morning the gardener came and he didn't blink much when I told him to skip mowing and blowing the backyard due to our little resident. He just laughed, tipped his hat and took care of the front yard.

A bird in the hand

4 cats sitting and waiting

Checking each other out


An educational experience

Trusting little soul!

Now...ask me if we've gotten anything done this week.

Book Review # 98 - Duma Key by Stephen King

Duma Key


Stephen King

Back Cover: "After a terrible construction site accident severed his right arm, scrambled his mind, and imploded his marriage, the wealthy Minnesota builder faces the ordeal of rehabilitation alone and enraged. Renting a house on a stunningly beautiful and eerily undeveloped splinter off the Florida coast, Edgar slowly emerges from his prison of pain to bond with Elizabeth Eastlake, a sick old woman whose roots are tangled deep in Duma Key. And as he heals, he paints---feverishly, compulsively, his exploding talent both a wonder and a weapon. For Edgar's creations are not just paintings, but portals for the ghosts of Elizabeth's past...and their power cannot be controlled."

I generally steer away from horror novels, same as I do horror movies. Blood and guts slasher movies have never really been my cup of tea. Which is the reason I have steered away from Stephen King all these years. Too much for my very vivid imagination. A couple years back I read Stephen King's "On Writing" and was impressed with him. I decided to give one of his fiction books a try. I picked one up at the used book store and five minutes in changed my mind - too icky. Can't remember the name unfortunately because I already took it back for credit. However, when Duma Key came out, I decided to give him another try. I read the back cover, picked a few random pages out in the book, liked what read and decided to get it. Duma Key wasn't so much a horror story as it was a supernatural, psychological thriller. Totally captured my attention and kept me reading long into the night.

Due to head injuries sustained when a crane backed over Edgar's truck, his temper is out of control. His wife wants a divorce and none of his friends want to be around him - he's too unpredictable and mean. His psychologist suggests he find a quiet place and take up a hobby, find something that he has always wanted to do and do it. Edgar loved to draw when he was young but had given it up. He moves to Duma Key, Florida and takes up painting. Soon his paintings take an eerie turn and he discovers what he paints becomes reality. He is also being visited by ghosts of Elizabeth's past and he must try to figure out what her cryptic statements mean, ones she can't explain as she slips farther and farther from reality. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so will leave you with an excerpt from the first page.

"How to Draw a Picture (1)

Start with a blank surface. It doesn't have to be paper or canvas, but I feel it should be white. We call it white because we need a word, but its true name is nothing. Black is the absence of light, but white is the absence of memory, the color of can't remember.

How to we remember to remember? That's a question I've asked myself often since my time in Duma Key, often in the small hours of the morning, looking up into the absence of light, remembering absent friends. Sometimes in those little hours I think about the horizon. You have to establish the horizon. You have to mark the white. A simple enough act, you might say, but any act that re-makes the world is heroic. Or so I've come to believe.

Imagine a little girl, hardly more than a baby. She fell from a carriage almost ninety years ago, struck her head on a stone and forgot everything. Not just her name; everything! And then she recalled just enough to pick up a pencil and make that first hesitant mark across the white. A horizon line, sure. But also a slot for blackness to pour through.

Still, imagine that small hand lifting the pencil...hesitating...and then marking the white. Imagine the courage of that first effort to re-establish the world by picturing it. I will always love that little girl, in spite of all she has cost me. I must. I have no choice.

Pictures are magic, as you know."

Pages: 800
Publisher: Pocket Books
Released: October 21, 2008
Genre: Horror - suspense

Other thoughts about the book:

David Craddock of Fantasy book Critic
"It is the readers' near-invasive ability to view Edgar's triumphs and defeats that allows him to become such a strong, relatable character. Just as with his other works, King sets a realistic pace that details both evolutions and setbacks. The humanness of Edgar Freemantle's struggle to adjust to a life without his family, without his old job and his old friend, without an appendage, is what makes his journey interesting, enjoyable, and intense."

Lourdes of Lost in Books:
"This book unravels slowly, and wonderfully. Much of the first part is gothic, but then King starts ratcheting up the suspense – and the terror. This is undeniably a King book, but a different kind of King. It also may be one of his finest works. I’m glad I didn’t miss out on it."

Benjamin Percy of Esquire:
"If Lisey’s Story and Duma Key are any indication, King is writing at a level equivalent to, if not better than, his last run of excellent work published in the nineties. And I’m course eager to see what will come howling around the corner next. For now, Duma Key will continue to make my eyes go wide, the steadily rising terror of its chapters like the tide to a man buried neck deep in sand."

Unplugged week - random letter sentences

Unplug Week

While I'm off concentrating on my writing this week, I'll leave you with a little exercise.

Choose ten random letters of the alphabet and write them at the top of the page. Using words that begin with these letter, in the same order, writing an opening sentence (courtesy of Pocket Muse)

I asked James to choose ten letters and he came up with


Gee, thanks kid.

Apples enjoyed inside or under your window. Be Very Kind.

My Random bits were:


Zebbie's anxious cries followed Questia's harried departure. "Everyone's leaving me!"

Tried it again


Quickly reacting, Dennis earnestly peeked inside. Oranges? Vaseline? Goose Feathers!

Well! I'd like to see you do better. Dare you!

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The Sunday Salon - Poetry, books, and heat - oh my!

The Sunday

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night to all you Sunday Saloners where ever you are. It is a hot, hot, hot day here in the valley and we are a sweltering 104 degrees right now. Thank goodness for air conditioning. We've been hibernating inside for most of the week and will be for the next few days until the temps decide go back down below 100. Summer has finally hit us and it's time to adjust to early morning or late evening errands.

I've been immersed most of the day in reading poetry, the subject this week in my Modern Literature class. I've been reading the works of and learning about T.S. Eliot, Hilda Doolittle, Wilfred Owen and Ezra Pound, comparing, contrasting and discussing. All very interesting, but not my cup of tea. I finally finished posting my answers to the discussion questions and am done with that Module. The next two weeks we will be reading and discussing Don Delilo's "White Noise," and then the final. 3 more weeks and will be done with this class. Hurrah!

I received some interesting review books this week - very electric selection

Finished reading my very first Stephen King - "Duma Key" which was interesting and will be reviewing soon. I finished two books by Anne Stuart this week "Fire and Ice" and "Ice Blue". I'm in the middle of reading "Cry Mercy" by Mariah Stewart and not entirely sure what I'm going to read after this. Will sit down in the front of the stack and see which one calls my name the loudest.

July is passing by quickly and it is already the 3rd week of the month which means it is unplugged week. Unplugged week is the brain child of B.J. Anderson and starts the 3rd monday of the month. It just means I'll be turning off the internet for the next week. I will be taking the time to work on my current WIP and hopefully make some headway on it. And since we are now on summer vacation, give my house a good cleaning. Time to get to work on that list of "Things to Do."

Ta Ta For Now!

Book Review # 96 and 97 - Mistress of Beasts Saga

Wizard's Secrets

(book one of Mistress of Beasts Saga)


R.L. Geerdes

Back Cover: Castin has been an outcast all his life. Spending the better part of forty years wandering, the half-elf, half human has been unable to achieve acceptance, mostly due to his ability to manipulate water and earth. But when a vision leads him to an encounter with a woman from Earth, he realizes his druidic powers may not be a curse after all. Perhaps there is a place for Castin in Arconia, if he can live long enough to discover it.

Who brought her to Arconia? Why? Driven to find out, Katrina embarks on a journey with a sullen druid and a mysterious barbarian who claims to be leading her to the one person with all of the answers. But before the answers can be revealed, they must overcome assassins, angry mobs, and the attacks of mystical beasts -- not to mention the strange connection that Katrina seems to be developing with the fauna around her...

Chasing Demons

(book two of Mistress of Beasts Saga)


R.L. Geerdes

Back Cover: Two years after escaping a fiery car crash by slipping through a portal into the mystical world of Arconia, Katrina suddenly finds herself back on earth -- awakening, or so it seems, from a long, deep coma. What Happened? Was her magical experience in Arconia--learning to fight, earning the trust of others, and falling in love-really just a dream? Or is her appearance on Earth the result of something more sinister?

Now Katrina finds herself at the center of a multi-dimensional manhunt, full of subterfuge and guile. From Arconia, Katrina's lover Castin and her father Drestin will embark on a dangerous journey to Earth, where Castin must learn to trust others and draw on long-dormant skills from his elven upbringing. Meanwhile, a powerful bounty hunter named Cypris is assigned the task of tracking down the evil sorceress responsible for Katrina's disappearance--with just a young druid apprentice at his side and a newborn son in tow. And Katrina must discover her mysterious past--and past love-all over again. But none of them are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

When R.L. Geerdes asked if I would be interested in reviewing "Chasing Demons" I jumped at the chance to review the new fantasy novel. I decided to buy and read "Wizard's Secrets" first which is book one in the saga. When I accepted Ms. Geerdes request, I happened to mention I wanted to read the first book and she kindly sent me both books. I'm glad I read book one first because it gave an excellent introduction to the characters who were in book two. Yes, you can read Chasing Demons as a standalone, but I would suggest reading both in order to better understand the characters.

The books are well written and the story interesting. In book one Katrina awakens after a car accident to find herself in another place and time, being tended by a healer who looks like an insectisoid and discovers she can communicate with animals. She finds herself in a battle between good and evil and along the way discovers who her father really is and falls in love.
In Book two, an evil sorceress whisks Katrina back to earth and she isn't sure if everything that had happened in the land of Arconia was a dream while she was in a coma. The fiancee who she thought had been killed in the accident with her is very much alive. But when she starts to remember and believe that Arconia was real, he shuts her away in a mental hospital. Meanwhile Castin and her father, Drestin go to Earth and search for her to bring her back to Arconia. Even on Earth, there are magical influences at work. I thoroughly enjoyed both stories. Thank you to R.L. Geerdes for sending me both books.

Wizard's Secrets
Pages: 368
Publisher: PublishAmerica
Released: May 2006

Chasing Demons
Pages: 308
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Released: April 13, 2009

Other Thoughts

Hilarie of Never Not Reading
"When I first picked up Chasing Demons, I was looking for a fun fantasy read; something with plenty of action, a little romance (not too steamy please), and certainly nothing too serious. After finishing the book, I am pleased to report that it was just what I was hoping for."

Horror and Fantasy book Review
"I found “Chasing Demon’s” impossible to put down. I was intrigued by the premise immediately. (I mean, what is reality anyway?)"

Jessica Roberts of Book
A brilliant second novel in the Mistress of Beasts Saga. Fast-paced and enjoyable it asks the question “what happens when a magical world and Earth collide?”. An enchanting tale."

Harlequin launching Harlequin Teen

Harlequin Teen

Admit it, we all have read Harlequin's from time to time. My teenage years in the 70's were spent reading the pretty much g rated simple romances. I still have 6 of the old books sitting in the bookshelves and occasionally take them out to read. They're quite yellow, but still readable.

Harlequin is now launching Harlequin Teen (announcement)

Natashya Wilson, senior editor for Harlequin Teen describes the wide range of books she is looking for in the writing guidelines;

Stories with the unforgettable romance, characters and atmosphere of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga, the witty humor of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries novels, the edgy emotion of Jay Asher’s Th1rteen R3asons Why, the thrilling danger of Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games, Uglies, and the power of Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief…”

The first titles to be released under the imprint, however, all fall into the paranormal category.

Check out Harlequin Teen and see their first books featuring Gene Showalter and more. They plan on publishing one novel a month beginning in January, but will be releasing several titles over the next few months in paperback. The first book up will be


Work in Progress Wednesday

Yes, I know it is Thursday and I really don't have that much to report other than I'm writing, writing, writing but it seems to be going slowly, slowly, slowly. I'm giving myself a goal to finish the rewrite by the end of September, otherwise it will keep dragging on and I'll never finish. I finally realized I'm the type of person who has to have a deadline and someone to hold me accountable, otherwise it will be left to fester and I would be forever putting out fires. The reason for the deadline - October is going to be reserved for researching my 2009 Nano story "Eyes in the Ashes.". After nano I will be editing my 2nd nano piece and let "floating on the surface" (title to be changed eventually) rest. That's the plan, stan.

Used to be a time I would never even think of working on more than one book at a time or even be writing a book and I'm imagining my grandmother saying "don't put all your peas in one pot." So, it was a good thing Michelle highlighted Rachelle Gardner's "Write another Book" post yesterday. It came at a good time.

Rachelle says:

"I work with a lot of first-time authors, because that's part of what I love to do. But something I'm learning is that we may be doing you a disservice if we contract you when you've only written one book. Yes, writing that book was a huge accomplishment. And if your very first book garnered positive attention from editors and/or agents, that's even more of an accomplishment. It's terrific!

But it's not enough. The hard truth is that it takes a lot more than one book to really know "how to be a writer." So if you get contracted after that one book, over which you slaved for years, and then you're under the gun to produce another book on a deadline, what's going to happen? You are going to have a very, very difficult time.

Keep Writing."
Great advice as always.

Yesterday while perusing my favorite bloggers, I received a wonderful surprise from not one, but two bloggers. Wendy at Wendy's Minding Spot gave me this. Thank you, Wendy.

And from Annie at Annie Writes About Writing.

The award originated from The Scholastic Scribe in celebration of their 200th post and to share bloggy love with 5 extremely deserving scribblers. And if you are a recipient of their award, they would like to know about and have a Mr. Linky set up to add your name. Also check out who the very first 5 recipients of the award.

There are rules that go along with the award and they are:

1) Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends. Done - see below

2) Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award. That would be Awesome Annie. Thank you Annie.

3) Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award. Done

4) Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor! Done

5) Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog. Done

Do you know how difficult it is to just pick out 5 people? Even if your name isn't on the list, it's in my heart because I appreciate each and every one of you. Okay- enough mush. On with the naming.

Awesome Annie - I'm sending it right back to you.

Magnificent Michelle of The Innocent Flower

New found friend - Beautiful B.J. of Enriched by Words

The joyful Jody of On the Path

and last but not least

Another beauty - B.J. Anderson

I probably am duplicating some folks who have already received this award, but these are just 5 of the bloggers (both old and new found bloggy friends) who have encouraged me with my scribbling.

Work in progress wednesday's brought to you by Kate of the Lover's, the dreamer's and Me.

Final Weekly Report for 3rd Grade

We are officially done with 3rd Grade -- Yippee, Yahoo and Woozer!

We are completely and utterly burned out and ready for the summer break. The plan is to take 6 weeks off, then start fresh as of September 1st. We'll see if either one of us lasts that long without going crazy. I just finished reviewing what James completed during the year and it always amazes how much we got accomplished.

I went into the review with the feeling that we missed something, but it doesn't look like we have. I tend to get that feeling especially with Math. We dropped all the formal mathematics this year and just concentrated on addition and subtraction using Kumon Workbooks. Half the time he uses his fingers to count. The other half the time he manages to figure it out in his head and snaps off the answer and then there are those days that he just looks at me blankly. I do believe it is time to move forward and upward. Now I have to figure out whether to go with the spiral or mastery approach and take another look at Math-u-see, Modern Curriculum Press mathematics and Saxon to see which will be the best fit. I've tried all three in the past, just need to settle with one and not give up when we hit the wall. Going to work diligently on drills and memorization.

What we accomplished this year:

Devotions and Bible study: We did a mini proverbs study, devotions about God, attitude, respect and during the middle of the year started Explorer Bible Study of Genesis. We got about half way through Genesis, then stopped to work on an obedience study. Debating on whether going to continue Explorer or move on to Greenleaf's Guide to the Old Testament. We are already very familiar with Genesis so will probably move on.

Language Arts:

Completed the Grammar section of Voyages in English which included learning about Sentences, Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs and Conjunctions, Punctuation and Capitalization, and Diagramming. We did a couple exercises in the written and oral communcation section but James already knew how to write a personal narratives and his creative writing skills are very good. We will be casually working on how to write book reports over the break. He is going to be required to read 20 chapter books and write a synopsis on each one in order to earn Monsters Vs Aliens DVD in September. We will continue with 4th grade VIE.

Completed Spelling Workout C with flying colors. He seems to have a photographic memory and misses very few words. Will continue with SWO Level D for 4th grade. Thinking of adding Wordly Wise. I was looking at it the other day and seems it would be very beneficial.

Cursive: He finished Handwriting Without Tears 3rd and 4th grade cursive workbooks. We started the 5th grade workbook but stopped when it started getting into grammar skills, latin and other things. Will save it for later.

Writing: We started with writing strands at the beginning of the school year but it was much too simple. Switched over to Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer mid year and continue with it for 4th grade. Also James has been writing lots of stories about Godzilla and putting them on his Godzilla blog.

Science: Concentrated on Chemistry this year as suggested by Well Trained Mind. James isn't big on experiments so we did more reading than anything else. Father was in charge of science and he came up with interesting exercises for he and James to do. They read DK Eyewitness Chemistry, read about different scientists such as Archimedes, Mendelev, Roger Bacon, Alan Turing and Robert Hooke. Also read living history book "Mystery of the Periodic Table", "Archimedes and the Door of Science," "Galen and The Gateway to Medicine." and "Periodic table-elements with style" Plus he's been rereading all the Magic School bus books. Will be moving on to Physics using Exploring the world of Physics and lots of hands on stuff such as the Physics workshop.

History: Been working our way through This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall slowly but surely. We are up to chapter 25 and will be continuing for the 4th grade and finish up, including adding in geography study of the states and presidents.

We didn't do any art, music or language study this year, but will be adding it all in for 4th grade. James loves to draw so we will be doing Artistic Pursuits for grades 4 - 6, and adding in Meet the great Composers. Also Father wants James to start an instrument this next year, so we will be investing in a Yamaha keyboard. Plus (keep your fingers crossed) attempt Latina Christina. James still wants to learn Japanese. I have Before You Know It so may just set him loose with that and let him do it on his own, see what happens.

Will continue with Webelos and mix in working on the achievements with homeschool stuff. He is also interesting in learning Kung Fu so will be looking into that. Otherwise will have to figure out a physical education program since he isn't really into organize sports.

Phew! I'm done - think I'll go take a nap now. :)

Mini Reviews # 89 - 95

Mini Book Reviews

After reading the humongous Walls of Phantoms and a few other serious review books I had promised to read, I needed a break and went on a romance and romantic suspense kick.

#89 - 90 - 91

Last Series by Mariah Stewart -- I discovered Mariah last year and have been working my way through her books. The Last series continues with the Shields siblings from the Dead series and highlights Andrew, Mia and Connor Shields. Romantic suspense novels which are very well written and keep you riveted throughout the stories.


Continuing with my Mariah kick of the moment - Forgotten is a creepy one about a murderer who kidnapped and killed a number of boys and is in prison for life. One of the mother's is dying and wants the murderer to reveal what he did with her son, so she can die in peace. In the process someone is copying the killer and shadowing the FBI agent Portia Cahill and she ends up having to team with the attorney, James Cannon, who once defended the murderer. Well written.


Harbor Lights by Sherryl Woods is a first time author read and one I picked up while perusing the shelves at Save Mart. Romance story about widowed father Kevin O'Brien who moves back to Chesapeake Shores and his relationship with new comer Shanna Carlyle. He is trying to figure out what to do with his life and Shanna is recovering from her broken marriage to an alcoholic. Kevin has one of those very involved, extended families with lots of sisters and meddling relatives. The story is amusing as well as heart warming. It actually is a well written story and I will definitely look for more by Sherryl Woods.


Baby I'm Yours by Susan Andersen who blogs at Running with Quills. I'm slowly working my way through the authors who blog at Running with Quills and this is a first time author read for me. Enjoyable story, humorous, sexy and full of suspense. Back Cover: "The last place Catherine MacPherson ever expected to find herself was sitting on a Greyhound bus, handcuffed to a surly bounty hunter, with only a suitcase of her twin sister's flashy, shrink wrap clothing to wear! Just two hours ago, the respectable schoolteacher was sitting quietly at home when this big macho hunk crashed through her door, mistook her for her errant Miami showgirl sister, and hauled her off in his strong arms. And no matter how sexy he is, she's furious." It's non stopp action as Catherine figures out ways to escape Sam, try to prove she isn't her sister and also keep away from the bad men who think she is her sister.


A reprint of two classic stories by Lisa Jackson - Gypsy Wind and Devil's Gambit. Both women in the stories are owner's of horse breeding farms and the drama involves their race horses. The stories are interesting, however the characters were a little bit too dramatic for me and the descriptions of various body parts while the characters were involved had me laughing and shaking my head. Standard fare for harlequins written in the 1980's. Now I remember why I quit reading them.