Work in Progress Wednesday

I've finally got past whatever was blocking me from writing and have made some progress on the rewrite of Floating on the Surface. Not as much as I like, but enough to get my imagination in gear again. I found a great picture the other day that just captured me and just had to make a new book cover.

Cool! Really sparks my imagination. National Novel Write Month will be starting in just 31 days, so have to get back into the habit of writing at least 1667 words a day. If I start shooting for that amount every day, by the end of October I should have most of the rewrite done. I'm working my way back up to it. Day light savings time ends on October 31st and setting the clock back an hour will help. It will help me get back in the habit of getting up at 6:30. As long as I get up a couple hours before the rest of the household, I'll have my quiet time to write.

I've been working on character outlines and world building for Eyes in the Ashes and coming up with some interesting ideas. It's definitely going to be a murder mystery and I'm trying to decide if my setting will be small rural town in California or Texas. I like the idea of it being a small western style town with wooden boardwalks. A town with character as well as a lot of characters. When I was writing my 2nd WIP, the extra characters and subplot sort of developed as I went along. So we'll see what happens.

I'm getting really psyched. I think I may try Lazette Gifford's outlining idea - phrase drafting. Thanks to Debbie of for reminding me of it. I had read about a couple years ago but forgot about it. My bad. But with all I've learned since then, I think it is a really good idea now. That way I can capture some of the thoughts that having been coming to mind. Otherwise they just turn into fleeting thoughts and poof they are gone. I've discovered as I get older, that unless I write things down immediately, it will be lost forever in the ether.

I find this saying by Marie Antoinette intriguing:

"There is nothing new except what has been forgotten"

Who wants to join me for Nano this year?

Wordless Wednesday

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

The Lost Symbol


Dan Brown

Front Flap: "As the story open, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object - artfully encoded with five symbols--is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient meant to usher its recipient into a long lost world of esoteric wisdom.

When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon--a prominent Mason and philanthropist--is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept his mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never before seen locations -- all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.

Dan Brown just happens to be one of my favorite authors. The very first book I read back in 1998 was Digital Fortress. I was looking at books by Dale Brown, another favorite author who writes techno thrillers and picked up the book thinking it was by him. I bought the book and realized after a bit, his voice seemed totally different and looked at the front. Dan Brown. Hmmm! I went on to read all his books, including Da Vinci Code. I read Da Vinci Code twice. The second time after hearing all the hype and doing a bit of research. Which brings me to The Lost Symbol.

I thought this part was especially cool since I've been taking Art History.

The fresco of the "Apotheosis of Washington" by Constantino Brumidi in the Capitol Rotunda mentioned in the story. That slightly sidetracked me from the story, when I went on the internet and started exploring the history and art section of The Architect of the Capitol's website. Wow! Now I want to go there.

Anyway. According to the amazon critics I must have bad taste, because I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It is a non stop, analytical, symbol ridden, action packed ride. This is one book you cannot put your mind on hold and let it entertain you. It makes you think. The villain is very interesting, very evil and determined to get what he wants. He gives Langdon a run for his money. If you like psychological, intellectual thrillers, if you are into symbolism and puzzles, then this a book for you.

Pages: 528
Publisher: Doubleday
Released: September 15, 2009

My little salesman!

Happy, optimistic James and me - geeky mom. I have to buy a better hat and quit grabbing the first ball cap I come across.

As we all know, part of being a girl scout or boy scout is the fund raising. The girl scouts sell their delicious cookies for a couple weeks out of the year and the boys scouts have their popcorn sales. Surprisingly though, I discovered the boys aren't limited to a certain part of the year for sales. They only have the door to door sales for a couple weeks, but thanks to Trails end who provides the popcorn, folks can continue to buy popcorn year round. But we'll get back to that in a moment.

Yesterday, James did his first ever door to door fund raising for the boy scouts. We figured all our neighbors would be home on a Sunday afternoon -- wrong! Only three were home, but they all ordered something. Yeah! It was a good experience for James and he did well with his spiel, chatting up the neighbors, making them laugh and making them forget about their "no soliciting" signs on their doors. I told James under ordinary circumstances, if we didn't know the people, then we would honor the signs. However, these folks are our neighbors and we've been buying stuff from their kids and grandkids for years. Our turn.

Which brings us back to Trails end who makes the popcorn. You see, they have this wonderful website where you can buy more popcorn. Yep, when you run out of your boy scout popcorn, you can order more. Or if you would like to order popcorn for the first time and support a boy scout, you can do so on-line. All year round. How cool is that. It is especially cool since all our relatives, who we know would love to buy popcorn, live out of town. They can buy it online and have it shipped directly to them, versus us shipping it. Convenient huh! And James will get credit for it and once he makes $2500 in sales, Trails-End will invest 6% of his sales in a college scholarship account now and then 6% of his sales every year.

Another cool thing this year is Operation Popcorn where you can buy popcorn for the troops. Folks can donate $25 or $40 and Trails-End will send popcorn treats to the troops.

We sat down last night and James made out a list of prospects, err family members who he wants to send emails to and or call and ask them to buy popcorn. He'll be busy this week practicing his salemanship.

If you would like to order popcorn and support boy scouts, click on over to Trails-End.Com. There is a wonderful variety including microwave popcorn, carmel, cheese and for those chocolate lovers - Chocolatey Triple Delight. And if you would be so kind as James would say to give him credit for the sale, his scout id # is 3158403.

Banned Book Week

Banned book week starts tomorrow September 26th and runs through October 3rd. I will be reading The Great Gatsby which has been sitting festering on the shelf for the past few years. Every year I say I'm going to read it and don't. This year I'm determined. I may even attempt The Grapes of Wrath - maybe.

I was looking at the list on the American Library Associations site and I have to confess. For the past couple years, every time I have looked at the list of challenged or banned books, I've missed something. The thing I have missed or not read correctly is this

According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at least 42 of the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century have been the target of ban attempts. The titles in bold represent banned or challenged books.

I totally overlooked the "titles in bold" are the banned or challenged books. I always thought every book on the list had been challenged or banned. Which lead me to searching high and low on the internet why Wind in the Willows would be challenged or banned. Couldn't find anything anywhere...asked my husband and asked the ladies of Well Trained Mind who all set me straight. AHEM! That will teach me to read the small print a bit more carefully in the future. Here's the list of books eliminating the ones that have not been questioned.

I read banned books. Do I really? The way I understood the list before, I had read quite a few. Now that I've eliminated over half the list, I've see that I've only read 3 which are marked with stars.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding ***
9. 1984 by George Orwell ***
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad ***
23. Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
64. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
66. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
75. Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike

Reasons why these books were challenged are here.

When I was in high school back in the 70's, A Clockwork Orange and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest was part of our required reading list for english class. At the time I was enrolled in a private Catholic high school. My parents didn't think either book was appropriate, went to the principal and I ended up reading alternative books. For the life of me I can't remember what they were. Hmm! I still haven't read either one and not sure if I ever will. However, there are quite a few on the list I do want to read. Looks like a trip to Borders is in store. Especially since Border's Educator Appreciation Week coincides with Banned Book Week. I think they did that on purpose.

Which banned book will you be reading this week?

Weekly Report #1

We started lessons this week after a long break so made it a light week. Each week will add in more until we are up to speed. Introducing quite a few things this year and much more reading involved. One thing I am totally stoked about, plus shooting myself in the foot for not doing so sooner, is getting the Voyages in English Teachers Guide. Oh my goodness, it is a gem. Last year we did without and I only taught from the grammar section based on Susan's Well Trained Mind recommendations.

According to Bauer "the writing exercises are not useful in building expository writing skills and should be skipped," and recommended other writing programs. After reading through the teachers manual, I totally disagree and I could see was feeding the poor kid hamburger when all along I could have been feeding him steak. Yeah - Father looked at me strangely as well when I said that to him. Then he took a look at the guide and understood what I meant. I've used a couple of the other writing programs and they didn't work so well for us. My opinion, the writing section is awesome, plus builds upon the grammar section. The guide says it is a balanced plan of writing and grammar and it sure as heck is. Plus it has built in some great social study and science connections to have James research and write about. So I'll be spending the weekend outlining the first few chapters and figuring out the schedule based on their sample "one chapter, one month."

I also semi figured out the schedule for a few things, plotted it out and typed up a master schedule. It is subject to change.

Faith, Character and Catechism: James and Father read the first two chapters in Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Shultz and discussed. We started St. Joseph's Catechism and did lesson 1 - Purpose of man's existence, Read Bible History- Chapter 1 Creation of the World and started reading Matthew in the New Testament. All lead to some interesting discussions.

Saxon Math: Going back to basics and getting more, less, left and right down pat, plus how to graph. I have a feeling we are going to move quickly through some of the lessons to the more difficult stuff.

Wordly Wise: Introduced James to wordly wise vocabulary study and he seemed to like it. We completed chapter one studying the definitions for words such as benefit, complete, develop, dismay, hail, lack, master, patriot, and sufficient and he did pretty well. Except for the writing part, which he totally hates. But evil mom made him write everything out, despite the complaints. :)

Writing wise, he had to write a short paper for cub scouts on someone he considered a good citizen and he picked George Lucas. It was short and sweet.

"What makes George Lucas a good citizen?"

In 1991, George Lucas started the George Lucas educational foundation. George Lucas testified before congress to improve internet for all school children. George Lucas believes that the internet is the new learning method and is replacing the text book.
I am a member of the foundation which also publishes a great magazine "Edutopia". Lucas is trying to reform the education system and there are many interesting insights in the magazine and the web site is chock full of information. Someday James will be going to public school, so hope to see some of the innovations Lucas and company discusses put into effect.

He also wrote a letter to George Lucas requesting a tour of his studios and skywalker ranch, since he is a budding filmmaker and loves all his movies. His personal secretary wrote James a nice letter back (since Mr. Lucas is a very busy man) and suggested a couple biographies to read and sent him a star wars magazine.

Physics: James and Father started reading the first chapter - motion in Exploring the World of Physics and talking about physics. I also had them familiarize themselves with the Physics workshop kit they will be doing experiments from each week.

Lots of neat experiments in this one and the pieces are all similar to legos. James has already tried to abscond with a few pieces for his collection. Speaking of lego's, he completed the x wing fighter. He got really into it and after I went to bed one night, father discovered him still working on it at 2:00 a.m. We had to lay down a few rules.

Assigned Reading: I'm trying to assign books I pick out and have James read for 30 minutes to himself. I had him read "My Life as an afterthought astronaut" and he decided he didn't like it, so read the first two chapters and the last chapter. When he came to tell me he had finished the book after 15 minutes or so and couldn't answer any question about the characters, I knew something was up. It finally came out he skipped to the end because he didn't like it.

He and father read together "East of the Sun and West of the Moon" from The Blue Fairy book. Both told me it was very hard to read with the english verbage and father said James kept correcting his english. Don't know if reading the tales are going to work out for those two. May have to rethink it.

I made him come up with a list of books that he is going to read during the Fall from the pile o books on the assigned reading shelf to see which ones he'd pick. The books he choose are:

1. Star Wars Young Jedi Knights - Delusions of Grandeur
2. Bionicles Legend 10
3. The Box Car Children
4. The Water Horse
5. Magic School Bus Chapter book: The Truth about Bats
6. 20,000 Leagues under the Sea (scholastic edition)
7. Meg mackintosh and the Case of the Curious Whale Watch
8. Meg Mackintosh and the Mystery at the medieval Castle
9. Peter and the Starcatchers
10. Spook's Shack
11. Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle
12. Meg Mackintosh and the Mystery at Camp Creepy.

The list doesn't include the read alouds I've chosen for the year that include Wind and the Willows, Swallows and Amazons and a few others. This year is going to involve much more reading and writing. We'll adjust as we go along.

We also bought him one of these to aid him in his filmmaking project.

Educational Moments

Star Wars X Wing Fighter

See this puppy. James is attempting to put it together all by himself. He didn't want my help. So instead of doing math right now, he is in his room, reading the directions and constructing the x wing. Last year we bought several kits and they have been just sitting, because James wanted me to do all the work. He just wasn't interested. Suddenly, some brain cell kicked in and he's been working on the kits. He's diligently working away and it is educational. Just one of those unschooling moments that you have to take advantage of.

Schindler's List

I know the movie came out back in the 90's but I never saw it. Don't know why - just didn't. The other night I was reading and Father calls from living room "Schindler's List is starting." I look at the clock - 10:30 p.m. I really don't want to start watching a movie so late and tell him to dvr it. After a few minutes I go into the living room, sit down and it only took a matter of minutes for the movie to capture me. Yes, I ended up staying up til 1:30 a.m. watching the whole movie. Needless to say, we were both reduced to tears by the ending.

The movie brought back memories of going to the movie theater with my sister back in the 1970's to see Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. I had read the book so knew what to expect, but still. When the movie was over, I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. You know how when you come out of movie, everyone is usually chattering about the movie. How great it was, what their favorite part was, things like that... Not a sound from anyone. Just sniffles as we all quietly walked out of the theater, teary eyed and emotionally drained.

Returning back to Schindler's list - it is an excellent movie about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Filmed in black and white, there are a few minor moments of color. When the soldiers are moving through the town, shooting everyone. A little girl in a red coat, wandering the streets, seemingly in an aimless fashion, walking home to hide under her bed. Later in the movie, she is seen dead being hauled on a cart somewhere. Really gets to you. Well, the whole movie gets to you. The actors did a superb job: Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as the sadistic camp commandant, Ben Kingleys as schindler's jewish accountant, Istak Stern. I got a lump in my throat at the ending when each actor escorted the actual person they had portrayed up to Schindler's grave to place a rock on his headstone.

If you haven't seen it, then I highly recommend it. Now I need to read the book.

Fall Reading Challenge 2009

Fall into Reading

September 22 through December 20

Hosted by: Callapidder Day's

Welcome to the glorious days of Fall. Once again Katrina of Callapidder Day's is hosting Falling in Reading 2009 - a low pressure, set your own reading goals, and just read challenge. I decided to continue with my theme of First time Author Reads. I'm enjoying discovering new to me authors and I have a few in my current TBR stack that have been calling my name. The books I will be reading are:

Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald . The book has been sitting on the shelves for a couple years now and with banned book week coming up, decided I should read it. It was challenged by a baptist college in South Carolina for language and sexual references. There are a number of books listed on the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th century and the reasons why listed here.

A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin (674 pages) I have heard many good things about George R.R. Martin and delving back into my Fantasy roots.

Here Be Dragons - Sharon Kay Penman (720 pages) My late mother in law loved historical fiction and we inherited a number of books. They've been sitting on the shelves for years calling my name. We have the Wales Trilogy and when "When Christ and his Saints Slept. Perfect time to begin the series.

Kill Her Again - Robert Gregory Browne (320 pages) One of the mystery authors who blogs at Murderati. I've been working my way through all their books.

Nightwatch - Sergie Lukyanenko (464 pages) I came across the book while at the book store and was intrigued. I was on a mission to chose a book by its cover. But part of the mission included not looking to see what the book was about, posting what I thought it was about, then look to see what it was about. (yes - lovely sentence I know). I failed at the mission, but ended up getting several books. Thanks Jen.

Silent Thunder - Iris Johansen (384 pages) Same goes for this one.

Strong Poison - Dorothy L. Sayers (272) My MIL also loved British fiction and we have a few that have been sitting on the shelves waiting.

The Brutal Telling - Louise Penny (384 pages.) A review book sent to me by the publisher and being released today September 22nd, so you can guess which book I'm going to be reading next.

The Arc, The Reed and The Firecloud - Jenny Cote
I picked this one up after reading about on someone else's blog and reading it for the Random Reading challenge.

The Lost City of Oz - David Grann (352) I don't read alot of nonfiction but heard about this on on the blogs and was intrigued. My sister in law just finished it and let me borrow it.

The Red Siren - M.L. Tyndale (288 pages) I'm pretty sure I picked this one up after reading Amy's of My Friend Amy review. My type of story.

The Wyndham Case - Jill Paton Walsh (223 pages)
Another british mystery that's been sitting on the shelves a while.

Vanished - Joseph Finder (400 pages) This one I picked up totally based on cover for Take a Chance Challenge. This is how I completed that mission finally.

If you would like to participate in the Fall reading Challenge, head on over to Katrina's and sign up on Mr. Linky.

BBAW Contest Winners!

All my contests are over, except the one for Whiskey Gulf and you have until midnight tonight to enter. All the winners have been notified by email.

Congratulations to all the Winners!

Monday: "The Boneman's Daughter" goes to Gina of Book Dragons Lair

Tuesday: "Wicked" goes to Alexa of Violet Eyes Roaming

Wednesday: "The Divorce Party" goes to Sue of Mickelson Family

Thursday: "Benny and Shrimp" goes to Frances Ellen of Frances Ellen Speaks

Friday: "Paris City of Night" goes to Barb at Meditative Reading

Bonus Book "My Soul to Take" goes to Donna at Donna's Blog

Bonus Book "Intertwined" goes to Megan at Leafing Through Life

Thank you to everybody who entered. Thank you again to the hostest with the mostest Amy of My Friend Amy's.

Libri Multus

Random books read in the past couple weeks

In my quest to read all things Agatha Christie, 4.50 from Paddington was very interesting. Miss Marple's friend Elspeth is traveling by train to visit her. Another train passes and for a few moments it travels in tandem with Elspeth's train. Elspeth glances across and sees a man strangling a woman. Miss Marple is the only one who will believe her and sets out to investigate with the help of Lucy Elsebarrow. Classic who done it. Thanks to Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise and the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.

Dead until Dark (a Sookie Stackhouse Novel) BethF and a few others have mention the Sookie Stackhouse books so many times, I just had to read it. Charlaine Harris is a first time author read and I'm sold. Have already picked up her 2nd book Living Dead in Dallas.

Hot Blooded by Lisa Jackson. Book #1 in her New Orleans Series. Reading as part of J.Kaye's Lisa Jackson Reading Fest. Romantic suspense novel and very, very good. Someone is killing prostitutes in New Orleans and threatening Radio talk show psychologist Dr. Samantha Leeds. He keeps telling her to repent her sins and confuse or someone else will die.

R is for Ricochet by Sue Grafton - part of Grafton's ABC Kinsey Milhone series. Thought I was going to read them all in order, however my mom had M is for Murder and R is for Ricochet. Just as good out of order as in. Kinsey is hired by a wealthy elderly man to escort his daughter home from prison and help her stay on the straight and narrow. The daughter wasn't as innocent as expected and gives Kinsey a good run for the money.

And last but not least:

Witching Moon by Rebecca York. Book 3 in the moon series - paranormal romance. Follows werewolf Adam Marshall who runs the Nature's refuge. Sara Weston, a botanist arrives to research vegetation. There is something odd about her that he just can't figure out. Also a coven of witches descends on the town, children of previous towns people who had been run out of town. They are set on revenge. What does Sara have to do with the witches?

BBAW Bonus Book: Whiskey Gulf by Clyde Ford

You ready for one last giveaway - Here it is!

Whiskey Gulf


Clyde Ford

Front Flap: After a sailboat drifts into a "live-fire" naval exercise area known as Whiskey Gulf, it's never heard from again. Maritime private investigator Charlie Noble is asked to discover what happened to the couple aboard. But he's stonewalled by the American and Canadian military. Then he learns that a Middle Eastern agent has been dispatched to find the couple as well. An agent with an old score to settle from his days as a Coast Guard intelligence officer.

Ultimately, Noble and his partner, Native American salvage diver Raven, head north along the Inside Passage where a hidden cove harbors answers about what really happened in Whiskey Gulf. But in order to return with the truth they must first survive a vicious attack and escape the clutches of a deadly whirlpool. Set in the stunning wilderness of the pacific Northwest, Whiskey Gulf is a story about unlocking secrets from the past that some people would rather keep concealed./blockquote>

Whiskey Gulf by Clyde Ford is third is a series of suspense books about Charlie Noble. I haven't read the first two year, but this book stands alone. It is well written and very interesting.

Charlie is asked by the members of the Kulshan Yacht Club to search for missing members William and Rebecca Kinsley. They and their boat went missing while sailing around Canada. They drifted into Whiskey Gulf, radioed they were having engine trouble, then completely disappeared. Charlie discovers they were in witsec and a terrorist is after them. The same man who once was Charlie's friend, until he killed his brother. Charlie and his partner, Raven are asked by the National Marine Intelligence agency to go on a ghost mission and track down the killer before he kills the couple. Whiskey Gulf is a techno thriller full of action. Ford writes along the lines of Dale Brown or Tom Clancy providing technical information about boats, torpedoes and military, but not as long. Makes for an interesting read. If you like techno thrillers, like me, be sure to get it. I highly recommend it.

I'll have to go back and read his other two books in the Charlie Nobel series: Red Herring and Precious Cargo. Thank you to The Perseus Books Group and Clyde Ford for providing me with a copy of Whiskey Gulf.

Pages: 264
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Released: July 14, 2009
Genre: crime fiction

Other Thoughts:

Tina of BookShipper
But what I loved most about this book (other than the non-stop suspense - which there is a abundance of) is the dialogue. Everyone in this storyline has witty and fun dialogue - and I would even venture to use the word "sarcasm" in some places - which I LOVE in any storyline."

M.Schlecht of Mystery Scene
Although sometimes a little heavy on the nautical jargon, Ford paints a realistic portrait of maritime life (he writes aboard a 30-foot trawler in Bellingham, WA after all), and readers will feel like they are boating right along with Noble as he investigates the case."

Bonus Giveaway

That's right - I want to share - it is too good to keep to myself. I'm giving it away to some lucky person. To enter this contest, please leave me a comment along with your name and email address. The contest will remain open a bit longer and end at Midnight, Saturday September 19th. Winners will be picked using and notified via email. Contest open to U.S. residents only.

BBAW - Goals

Hopefully this week you’ve been visiting a bunch of new book blogs and maybe noticing some things about them you’d like to try yourself. Or maybe you’ve just had some ideas for improvements to your blog you’d like to put into place or new ideas for content. But there’s also probably something you really love about your blog, too, something you’re really proud of. It’s time to show off! Tell us and this is really important, in 50 words or less what you love best about your blog! And then in 50 words or less where you want your blog to be by the next BBAW! Ready? GO!
What I love about my blog is it reflects where I am in life right now. When I started My Two Blessings back in 2007, I had no idea where it would take me. I originally started the blog to catalog our homeschooling journey, plus keep family and friends up to date. Over the past couple years, it became a creative outlet for me, plug I discovered a whole new world of books bloggers, writers, authors and a variety of other blogs.

One thing I am totally psyched about is receiving review copies of books from publishers and editors and authors. I've been a bibliophile all my life and when I graduated from college, tried to get a job in the publishing industry. I thought why not get a job doing something I love - reading books. It didn't exactly pan out. Amazingly, through my blog and my love for reading, I am getting to do what I always dreamed about. Albeit on a voluntary basis, but I am loving it. I really appreciate the fact that the publishing industry and authors see the book bloggers now as a very useful and successful element in marketing their books.

Another thing I love about the book blogging community as a whole is discovering books and authors I hadn't heard of. I've really expanding my reading repertoire this past year or two. really enjoyed this week and discovered a whole slew of bloggers I didn't know.

So this week I've managed to visit quite a few new to me blogs. It's been a bit overwhelming and I've noticed so many neat things on everyone's blogs. It will take me a bit of time to assimilate it all and decide if or what I would do to improve mine.

My goals for My Two Blessings for the next year - in about 50 words or less (sorry - got carried away)

Well to keep on reading and reviewing; talking about new author discoveries. Improve my reviews. Schedule more giveaways. Enter challenges that challenge me to read different genres. My blog isn't just about books (gasp!) so continue working on writing those novels, talking myself through it, perhaps sharing tidbits of my writing. Hopefully by this time next year, will be ready to query. Continue writing the saga about our journey homeschooling a very smart, precocious, talkative, spirited 4th grader.

I'm dipping my feet into twitter - I may follow more, than talk but I'll be there. I stuck my toe in for BBAW - so far the water is just fine. By this time next year, I may be in wholeheartedly, we'll see.

I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing - learning, growing, and sharing. So hang on to your hats and come enjoy the journey with me. Thank you to everyone who decided to follow me this week. Eventually I'll make it round to your blogs and get caught with everyone's comments. I appreciate it and you know what. I'd like to see 100 followers by my 50th birthday on November 21st. That would be an awesome birthday present. November is going to be a busy month for me with Nano 2009 and my art history class starting, however I'm going to plan a blog party of some sort with lots of giveaways. Come join in the fun.

Thank you, thank you, thank you -- Amy and all her assistants. You really know how to throw a party. She deserves a prize - what should it be.

BBAW Friday Giveaway - Paris City of Night by David Downie

Paris City of Night


David Downie

Back Cover: "June 18, 1850: The blurry image of escaping Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann wells up in a CIA darkroom in pre-dawn Paris.

December 26, 2007: Madeleine Adelaide de Lafayette, celebrated resistance and free french hero, former CIA deputy chief of station in Paris, is found dead in her mansion fronting the Eiffel tower. Few know she was a key player in the misguided Allied effort to fight Communism by smuggling Nazis to freedom. So was William Grant, Madeleine's favorite operative, also recently deceased.

December 28, 2007: As the countdown to New Year's Eve flashes from the top of the Eiffel Tower, vintage photographer and Daguerreotype expert Jay Grant, "son of a spook," races to piece together a deadly picture puzzle. Why were Madeleine and his father William murdered--and whose side is the CIA really on? Someone is trying to kill Jay before he can crack a code embedded on a set of Daguerreotype plates and flush out terrorists plotting to attack Paris. Pursuing Jay through the menacingly dark City of Light are a shadowy recycled Cold Warrior, a sexy Homeland Security officer, and his father William's age, fanatic former colleague, a man whose mission is no longer beating the Commies but battling radical Islam, even if it means destroying parts of the city he loves..

To enter this contest, please leave me a comment along with your name and email address. The contest will remain open for the rest of the week and ends at midnight September 18. Winners will be picked using and notified via email. Contest open to U.S. residents only.

BBAW Bonus Book: Intertwined by Gena Showalter



Gena Showalter

Front Flap: There's something about the new guy at Crossroads High....

Most sixteen year olds have friends. Aden Stone has four human souls living inside him:

One can time travel.

One can raise the dead.

One call tell the future.

and one can possess another human.

With no other family and a life spent in and out of institutions, Aden and the souls have become friends. But now they're causing him all kinds of trouble. Like, he'll blink and suddenly he's a younger Aden, reliving the past. One wrong move, and he'll change the future. Or he'll walk past a total stranger and know how and when she's going to die. He's so over it. All he wants is peace.

And then he meets a girl who quiets the voices. Well, as long as he's near her. Why? Mary Ann Gray is his total opposite. He's a loner, she has friends. He doesn't care what anyone thinks; she tries to make everyone happy. And while he attracts the paranormal, she repels it. For her sake, she should stay away. But it's too late....

Somehow, they share an inexplicable bond of friendship. A bond about to be tested by a werewolf shape-shifer who wants Mary Ann for his own, and a vampire princess Aden can't resist. Two romances, both forbidden. Still, the four will enter a dark underworld of intrigue and danger -- but not everyone will come out alive..."

Intertwined by Gena Showalter is the 2nd offering in Harlequin Teen's new line up. The story is intriguing, very well done and the characters endearing. Poor Aden, he has four souls living inside him who talk to him constantly. He can never get away from their chatter except for when he turns on his ipod full blast and tunes them out. However, when he gets lost in the music he doesn't watch where he is going and that's when the trouble starts. All he has to do is step one foot inside a graveyard and the dead rise to take him on.

He is in the midst of battling one of the dead, when Mary Ann walks by the graveyard. Both he and Mary Ann are hit in the chest with a weird wind and neither understand why. Fortunately she didn't see what Aden had been doing and walked on. But Aden followed her, because the souls inside him were suddenly quiet when she appeared. He finds out what high school she attends and arranges (with some difficulty and the help of his souls) to go there. It's supposed to be a small town normal school but for a small school, there is a curious amount of "strangeness" to it. Throw in shape shifters, werewolves, ghosts, vampires, witches and a whole assortment of other characters and the story takes an interesting turn. Very well done and well worth reading. A sequel called "Unraveled" will be coming out in 2010. Thank you to Harlequin for providing me with a copy of the book.

Pages: 448
Released: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Young Adult paranormal romance

Other thoughts:

The bookworm on Au Courant:
Intertwined ran from the beaten path of common love triangles and replaced it with unexpected romances, mutual untrusting tolerance, sibling-like caring, and ultimately… friendship. It was very refreshing to have characters who knew what they wanted and weren’t afraid to chase after it… even when everything went downhill."

Doug the SciFiGuy
"Intertwined is a solid offering for its intended young adult audience - fast-paced, interesting characters, chock full of action and lots of urban fantasy goodness."

Steph of Hey! Teenager of the Year:
"I felt this novel was well-executed. Though I went “What?” when more mythical creatures started to appear, my interest didn’t dwindle, the story was gripping. This will inevitably appeal to readers of paranormal romance, and if that’s you, it’s well worth checking out."

Bonus Giveaway (Closed)

That's right - I want to share - it is too good to keep to myself. I'm giving it away to some lucky person. To enter this contest, please leave me a comment along with your name and email address. The contest will remain open for the rest of the week and ends at midnight September 18. Winners will be picked using and notified via email. Contest open to U.S. residents only.

BBAW Thursday Giveway - Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

Benny and Shrimp


Katarina Mazetti

Front Flap: "It started in a cemetery, where they begrudgingly share a bench. "Shrimp," the childless young widow and librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order, meets Benny, the gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village's Old Bachelor. Both driven by an enormous longing and loudly ticking biological clocks, they can't escape the powerful attraction between them.

But how will she learn to accept that he falls asleep at the opera and has a house full of his mother's cross stitch? And how could he ever feel at home in her minimalist apartment, bare as the dentist's waiting room?"

To enter this contest, please leave me a comment along with your name and email address. The contest will remain open for the rest of the week and ends at midnight September 18. Winners will be picked using and notified via email. Contest open to U.S. residents only.

Wordless Wednesday: Patrick Swayze 1952 - 2009

In memory of Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze died Monday of pancreatic cancer. Two of his most memorable movies for me were Dirty Dancing and Ghost. Three hanky alert - I watch this clip and it brings tears to my eyes. It just paints a very poignant picture.

BBAW Reading Meme - Getting to know you

BBAW Reading Meme

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
Pepsi and Doritos or Chex Mix

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? Eek! no - simply too horrifying.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open? No spine breaking here - bookmarks

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? 90% fiction / 10% non fiction

Hard copy or audiobooks?: Hard copy - my brain is too busy to listen to audio books. End up tuning them out.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? Used to be I had to read to the end of the chapter. My two extrovert, talkative come see what I doing right now guys have cured me of that. Can leave at any point. After all it is a book - you don't have to rewind. Just go back a paragraph or two until you go "oh yeah, that's where I was at."

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? is my friend.

What are you currently reading? The Magician: the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" by Michael Scott.

What is the last book you bought? The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? One fiction and one non fiction only at a time.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? Mornings on the patio or evenings curled up in comfy chair.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? Love series, but have nothing against stand alone.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? J.D. Robb aka Nora Roberts

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) Used to be when I had enough shelves, they were all alphabetical by author. Now they're a bit helter skelter. In the living room, all the fiction hardbacks are lined up by by height so shelves look neat. The nice looking books all find a home in the living room. All homeschool and educational books organized by subject in foyer bookshelves and kitchen bookshelves. In the bedrooms where it doesn't matter so much, majority are by author. My bedside stand where my current tbr pile is they are sitting on, in, around, in front of - no specific order.

BBAW Wednesday Giveaway - The Divorce Party

The Divorce Party


Laura Dave

Back cover: "Gwyn Huntington knows how to throw a party. And Hunt Hall, her postcard perfect Victorian home in Montauk, is no stranger to celebrations. But on the morning of her thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, she's putting finishing touches on the last party she'll host there: A party to celebrate her divorce.

Just over one hundred miles away, Gwyn's future daughter in law, Maggie Mackenzie, sits on the floor of her Brooklyn apartment attempting to organize her new life. She's in love with a wonderful man, and today she is meeting his family for the first time.

The Divorce Party takes us into the lives of these two women at opposite ends of marriage. For all the differences between them -- distance, privilege, age-- Gwyn and Maggie have one thing in common. Each has found herself at the crossroads, facing the same question: How hard should you work to stay with the person you love?"

Good question: How hard should you work to stay with the person you love?
To enter this contest, please leave me a comment answering this question along with your name and email address. The contest will remain open for the rest of the week and ends at midnight September 18. Winners will be picked using and notified via email. Contest open to U.S. residents only.

BBAW - Show us the TBR Pile.

Show Us The TBR Pile!!!

Okay Book Bloggers!!! It’s time to get creative! If there’s one thing book bloggers seem to have in common, one bittersweet fact, one troubling but joyous shared burden….it’s the TBR pile.

Show us your TBR pile!!!

My Nightstand

Bottom Part

bottom part - review and challenge books in front of the stand and inside are bunch of nonfiction theological books (research for story) plus Lisa Jackson books


A bit closer look at the top paperbacks

A bit closer look at the hardbacks, plus bookmarks and the essential reading glasses

The bonus books in the living room - inherited classics and history books. The green books contain the complete works of Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens, and Edgar Allen Poe. Lots of books to keep us all busy for a while.

Check out other bloggers more creative ways to show off their tbr piles

Come on what else do you have to do?

Teaser Tuesday -- The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Yippee - Skippie. It's here!!!!!

"The Secret is how to die.

Since the beginning of time, the secret had always been how to die. The thirty four year old initiate gazed down at the human skull cradled in his palms. The skull was hollow, like a bowl, filled with bloodred wine." (page 1)

"Few men knew it existed...and even fewer knew its awesome power or the ingenious way in which it had been hidden. To this day, it remained this country's greatest untold secret. Those few who did know the truth kept it hidden behind a veil of symbols, legends and allegory." (pg 11)

"As the man spoke, Langdon felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned and his eyes were drawn down...directly into the face of a tiny Japanese woman. She had a fierce expression, a mottled complexion, thinning hair, tobacco-stained teeth, and an unsettling white scar that sliced horizontally across her neck. (pg 66)