My 2009 Reading Year Wrap Up and 2010 goals

2009 is drawing to a close and it has been an especially good reading year for me.  Last year I read 217 books and decided to slow down a bit for this year, enjoy my reading a bit more. I joined quite a few challenges including J.Kaye's 100 + reading challenge.  However, ended up dropping out of the ones that didn't last the entire year due to time constraints.  I still read 184 books of which 75 were new to me authors.  I actually started receiving review books from publishers this year and of those 75 new to me authors 30 were review books.  My reading was pretty eclectic this year from nonfiction to classics to British mysteries to romance to science fiction.  I discovered quite a few authors that I will definitely be reading their other books and a couple, not so much. I had signed up for MizB's Read and Review Challenge and managed to review everything I read except for 9 which I read in the past couple weeks.   I'm not sure if I'll sign up again to review every single book I read in 2010.   It helped me to keep a record of everything I read, but was stressful at times when I read faster than I had time to write reviews.   I came up with the idea of mini reviews - Libri Multus - to review those books I didn't think needed a full review.  I like the concept and will continue with it in 2010.

I am copying Jennifer's (Literate Housewife) idea of a year of Reading Deliberately and putting a bit more thought into my reading this year.   I've joined quite a few challenges but the goal is to read my own books.  We have quite a few sitting on the shelves that have been calling my name, plus others I purchased this year that have gone unread.  And since I have gotten my Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader,  I will be getting e-books for those books that I normally wouldn't even consider rereading again.

I'm not swearing off buying books entirely.    That would just be asking the impossible.   However, for the first part of the year I'm going to try and get through the ones on the shelves before making new purchases.  I'll still be accepting review requests, but making sure those books match up with my challenges.  The challenges I've joined are listed in the sidebar. I will continue to host Read 52 Books in 52 books for 2010 and a new science fiction reading challenge called Mind Voyages.  

Without further ado - here are the books I've read this year: 

  1. Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb
  2. Wicked by Gregory Maguire  *
  3. If There Be Dragons by Kay Hooper *
  4. Love by Design (2 classic novels) Loving Jack by Nora Roberts
  5. Best Laid Plans by Nora Roberts
  6. Five in a Row by Jane Coffey *
  7. Bad Faith by Aimee Thurlo
  8. Unspeakable by Sandra Brown
  9. Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble *
  10. To Catch a Thief by Christina Sky *
  11. Black Sands by Colleen Coble
  12. Hot Mahogany by Stuart Woods
  13. Split Second by David Baldacci
  14. Kiss - Ted Dekker
  15. Spider's Web by Agatha Christie
  16. Destiny Kills by Keri Arthur *
  17. Prey for a Miracle by Aimee Thurlo *
  18. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
  19. The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary  *
  20. Dance with the Dragon by David Hagberg *
  21. Life of Pi by Yann Martel  *
  22. For Her Eyes Only(3) Cait London
  23. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
  24. Hercules Poirot Christmas by Agatha Christi
  25. A Ghost in the Machine by Caroline Graham *
  26. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak *
  27. House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton *
  28. Crimson Moon – Rebecca York
  29. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner *
  30. Promises in Death - J.D. Robb
  31. Blood Bound (2) Patricia Briggs
  32. Line of Duty by Teri Blackstock
  33. The Girl She Used To Be - David Cristofano (review book) *
  34. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett *
  35. Coral Moon - Brandilyn Collins
  36. Dangerous Depths - Colleen Coble
  37. Sag Harbor - Colson Whitehead (review book) *
  38. Fireproof - Eric Wilson *
  39. Hadassah - Tommy Tenney *
  40. The Seven Storey Mountain - Thomas Merten *
  41. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy *
  42. Long Lost - Harlan Coben (review book) *
  43. The Mystery of Grace - Charles De Lint
  44. The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie
  45. Mercy Street - Mariah Stewart
  46. The Titian Committee - Iain Pears *
  47. Eon: Dragoneye Reborn - Alison Goodman *
  48. 14 - J.T. Elison *
  49. A World I Never Made - James LePore (review book) *
  50. The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
  51. Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs
  52. Stone's Fall - Iain Pears (review book)
  53. Too Hot to Handle - Robin Kaye (review book) *
  54. The Ghost and Mrs. McClure - Alice Kimberly
  55. Servant: The Acceptance - L.L. Foster
  56. Servant: The Awakening - L.L. Foster
  57. 1st to Die - James Patterson *
  58. Take No Prisoners - Cindy Gerard
  59. Whisper No Lies - Cindy Gerard
  60. Enemies and Allies - Kevin J. Anderson (review book)
  61. ReDeal - Richard Turner (review book) *
  62. House of Dark Shadows - Richard Liparulo *
  63. On a Pale Horse - Piers Anthony
  64. Visions in White - Nora Roberts
  65. The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan *
  66. Inside Out - John Ramsey Miller *
  67. Thread of Fear - Laura Griffin
  68. The Alchemist: Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel - Michael Scott *
  69. Living a Charmed Life - Victoria Moran (review book) *
  70. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe (review book) *
  71. French Bred by Frederic Guarino (review book) *
  72. Virgin River by Robyn Carr
  73. Homicide in Hard Cover - Kate Carlisle *
  74. Full Moon Rising by Keri Author
  75. Safe Haven by Hannah Alexander
  76. Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
  77. Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Stewart *
  78. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (review book) *
  79. Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader by Joe Hilley *
  80. The Soul Collectors - Charles Quince (review book) *
  81. Hero Under Cover - Suzanne Brockmann
  82. B is for Burglar - Sue Grafton
  83. Night Fall - Cherry Adair
  84. Shelter Mountain - Robyn Carr
  85. Whispering Rock - Robyn Carr
  86. Right Next Door - Debbie Macomber
  87. Walls of Phantoms - Courtney Thomas *
  88. 20 Boy Summer - Sarah Ockler (review book) *
  89. Last Look - Mariah Stewart
  90. Last Breath - Mariah Stewart
  91. Last Words - Mariah Stewart
  92. Forgotten - Mariah Stewart
  93. Harbor Lights - Sherryl Woods
  94. Baby I'm Yours - Susan Andersen
  95. High Stakes - Lisa Jackson
  96. Wizard's Secrets - R.L. Geerdes (review book) *
  97. Chasing Demons - R.L. Geerdes (review book)
  98. Duma Key - Stephen King
  99. Ice Blue - Anne Stuart *
  100. Fire and Ice - Anne Stuart
  101. Second Chance Pass - Robyn Carr
  102. Temptation Ridge - Robyn Carr
  103. Cry Mercy - Mariah Stewart
  104. Find Me - Debra Webb *
  105. Breakpoint - Joanna Ross
  106. Black Ice - Anne Stuart
  107. Black HIlls - Nora Roberts
  108. I Can See You - Karen Rose (review book)
  109. Benny and Shrimp - Katarina Mazetti (review book)  *
  110. 1-2-3 Magic - Thomas Phelan  *
  111. The Rapture - Liz Jensen (review book) *
  112. The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs *
  113. Blood Dreams - Kay Hooper
  114. Boneman's Daughter Ted Dekker
  115. The Divorce Party - Laura Dave (review book) *
  116. Kill Zone - Vicki Hinze *
  117. Paradise Valley - Robin Carr
  118. Shattered - Joann Ross
  119. Too Far Gone - Marliss Melton
  120. The Inn at Eagle Point - Sherryl Wood
  121. Flowers on Main - Sherryl Wood
  122. Water Witch - Deborah LeBlanc (review book) *
  123. The Atlantis Revelation - Thomas Greanias (review book) *
  124. Side by Side - John Ramsey Miller *
  125. Watcher in the Woods - Robert Liparulo
  126. Eighth Shepherd - Bodie Thoene
  127. Blackening Song - Aimee and David Thurlo
  128. Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Luis Zafon
  129. A Circle of Souls - Preetham Grandhi (review book) *
  130. Paris City of Night - David Downie (review book)  *
  131. Dragonsong - Anne McCaffrey
  132. Touch Not the Cat - Mary Stewart
  133. 4:50 from Paddington - Agatha Christie
  134. R is for Ricochet - Sue Grafton
  135. Hot Blooded - Lisa Jackson
  136. White Noise - Don Delillo (read for class) *
  137. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce (read for class) *
  138. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (read for class) *
  139. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (reread and read for class)
  140. My Soul to Take - Rachel Vincent (review book) *
  141. Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris *
  142. Whiskey Gulf - Clyde Ford (review book) *
  143. From the Query to the Call - Elana Johnson (review book) *
  144. Witching Moon - Rebecca York
  145. Intertwined - Gena Showalter (review book) *
  146. The Lost Symbol - Dan Brown
  147. The Murder of King Tut - James Patterson (review book)
  148. Vanished - Joseph Finder *
  149. Hunting Ground - Patricia Briggs
  150. The Angel - Carla Neggers *
  151. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald *
  152. The Judas Strain - James Rollins *
  153. Hunt Her Down - Roxanne St. Claire
  154. The Magician - Michael Scott
  155. Dracula: The Undead - Dacre Stoker (review book) *
  156. Hush, hush - Becca Fitzpatrick (review book) *
  157. Blind Descent - Nevada Barr *
  158. Kill Her Again - Robert Gregory Browne *
  159. The Ark, the Reed and the Fire Cloud - Jenny Cote *
  160. The Red Siren - M.L. Tyndale *
  161. From a Whisper to a Scream - Charles DeLint
  162. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley *
  163. NightWatch - Sergei Kukyanenko *
  164. Holiday Grind - Cleo Coyle  (ARC)
  165. The Recipe Club - Andrea Isreal (review book) *
  166. Inkheart - Cornelia Funke *
  167. Lady Liberty - Vicki Hinze
  168. A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin *
  169. The Wyndham Case - Jill Paton Walsh *
  170. Silent Thunder - Iris Johansen *
  171. Kindred in Death - J.D. Robb
  172. The Associate - John Grisham
  173. Cold Blooded - Lisa Jackson  
  174. Bed of Roses - Nora Roberts
  175. Sizzle and Burn - Jayne Ann Krentz
  176. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens 
Books marked with a star are first time author reads.  

And I don't have the slightest idea why the links are all in different colors. I gave up trying to fix it. Just ignore, isn't code for anything.

    Finished but not reviewed -  yet! 
    1. Living Dead in Dallas  - Charlaine Harris
    2. Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris
    3. Club Dead - Charlaine Harris
    4. Living Dead in Dallas  - Charlaine Harris
    5. Dune - Frank Herbert (e-book)
    6. The Gunslinger (dark tower 1) - Stephen King (e-book)
    7. Kill for Me - Karen Rose
    8. Dark of Night - Suzanne Brockmann
If you made it this far, thank you for reading and best wishes for a Happy New Year!  The best is yet to come. 

    Classics Bookclub - 5 minutes for Books

    5 minutes for books has revamped their Classic Bookclub just in time for the new year.  Now you get to pick the books you want to read and how many you want to read.  They'll be meeting up quarterly on the 5th Tuesday of the month for you to post your reviews and discuss the books.    For the past few days I've been perusing our shelves and thinking about which classics I wanted to read.   I am adding a mini challenge over at 52 books in 52 weeks for reading one classic a month.  Some bloggers are more interesting in reading classics, but don't have the time to read the classics and regular books in order to make the 52 books goal for the year.  Hence the challenge within the challenge.  My goal for 2010 is to read 12 classics from our shelves and I had already picked a few for some of the other challenges I'm involved in.

    The books I will be reading are:

    1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
    2. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
    3. Emma by Jane Austen
    4. Metaphysics (John Henry MacMahon translation) by Aristotle
    5. Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
    6. Nicomachean Ethics (James E.C. Welldon translation) by Aristotle 
    7. Phaedo by Plato 
    8. Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    9. Poetics (Samuel Henry Butcher translation) by Aristotle
    10. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    11. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
    12. The Stargazer: A novel of the life of Galileo by Zsolt De Haranyi
    Not necessarily in that order.  First up for January is Aristotle's Poetics. 

    Are you ready to dip in your toe or dive in head first and aim for 12 classics in 12 months?  What classics are you interesting in reading?  

    Libri Multus

    The Associate by John Grisham:   An old favorite of mine, John Grisham, stays true to form with this legal thriller.  Kyle, a law student is blackmailed into working for a law firm involved in a lawsuit involving a military contractor and a newly designed military airplane.   Interesting story with lots of twists and turns and subterfuge. 

    Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts.   2nd book in the Bride Quartet following Emma and Jack Cooke.   Emma, the florist, Jack and the rest of the gang have been life long friends.  When things turn a little steamy between Jack and Emma, it threatens to ruin friendships.  As the two work out the new dynamics in their relationship, the friends all learn to adjust and listen to their hearts.  Nobody does romance better than Nora and the ending was an "aw" moment which had tears springing to my eyes. 

    Cold Blooded by Lisa Jackson.  Book # 2 in Jackson's New Orleans series. The suspense in this book is palpable and the villian is creepy, chilling and very evil.  Olivia Bechet is telepathic and she is seeing the murders through the killer's eyes.  She buts heads with police detective Rick Bentz until he finally takes her seriously.  Throw  in a bit of romance hampered by past experiences which really burned them both, complicate matters with a half brother, a priest who is having a hard time with celibacy, and Rick's rebellious daughter and you have a story full of twists and turns which will keep you reading long into the night.

    Kindred in Death by J.D. Robb:  #30 in the In Death series.  Police captain Jonah MacMasters 16 year old daughter is brutally raped and killed.  He asked Eve to lead the investigation. The death affects everyone including Roark and Summers who are reminded of what Marlene had gone through.  The investigation leads them on the trail of a serial killer and they seems to be just a step behind.  Also Charles and Louise will be getting married soon and Eve is the maid of honor.  Their sub story brings a bit of levity and humor to the grim story. 

    Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz: (Arcane Society #3)  In this paranormal romance, Raine Tallentyre hears voices by touching objects other people have touched.  When she returns to her late aunt's house to clean it out, she discovers a kidnapped woman in the basement, hidden there by a serial killer.  The Arcane Society gets involved and sends Zack who sees visions when he touches an object.  Raine hates the Arcane Society and suspects they killed her father.  Sparks fly when they team up to find the serial killer.  

    *FTC disclosure:  purchased books and reviews are my unbias, personal opinion. Links are for informational purposes only.

    A Christmas Carol: Special Edition by Charles Dickens

    Special Edition 


    Charles Dickens

    with Christian Insights and Discussion questions for
    Groups and Families by Stephen Skelton

    We all know the story of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.   Scrooge is a scrooge, a miser who hoards money and doesn't celebrate Christmas.  He is visited by his dead partner Marley who tells him he will be visited by three ghosts - the ghost of Christmas past, present and future.   Once all is said and done, Scrooge is saved from his miserly ways and becomes a generous happy person.    So what is different about the special edition.   The special edition includes annotations in the side bar of the pages giving insight into Dickens insights when writing the book,  definitions,  biblical allusions and symbols, plus there are discussion questions at the end of each chapter. 

    Surprisingly, in all my 50 years I've never actually read A Christmas Carol.  If my parents ever read the book to us I certainly don't remember it.   I've seen the movies of course so knew what the story was about.  But never considered what the three ghosts symbolized or other factors in the books.   The annotations made reading the book easier to understand since it included definitions of old English terms  that otherwise would have had to look up.  The insight into symbols in the book were interesting such as Marley's ghost coming from below is symbolic of coming from hell and the chains wrapped around him give an account of his actions on earth.  

    "The chain he drew was clasped about his middle.  It was long and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds and heavy purses wrought in steel."  (pg 22)

    One thing I had always thought was that the visitations took place in one night.   According to Marley, Scrooge would be visited by three ghosts over a three night period. 

    "Without their visits,' said the Ghost, "you cannot hope to shun the path I tread.  Expect the first tomorrow when the bell tolls one."

    "Couldn't I take em all at once, and have it over, Jacob?' hinted Scrooge.

    "Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate.  Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us."  pg 26

    According to the annotation on the page "Dickens set Scrooge's journey over three days -- three being a biblically significant number, representing not only the Holy Trinity, but the three days of Christ's death, burial and resurrection, which Scrooge's experience echoes.  In addition, the miser's journey ends on a holy day, Christmas, the day that marks the birth of Christ -- and the rebirth of Scrooge."  pg 27.  

    However, when he woke up finally from the ghosts visitations, it was Christmas day. The special edition made reading A Christmas Carol are richer, more thoughtful experience rather than just reading a story for entertainment value. I highly recommend it.   Thank you to Julie at FSB Associates for sending me a copy of the book.  

    Pages:  128
    Publisher: Standard Publishing
    Released:  September 1, 2009 
    Genre: Classic

    Other Thoughts:

    "Verdict: I Heart It! Here's what amazed me about this book, I'm not your mainstream Christian. The doctrine I follow often conflicts with mainstream Christianity, but it did not conflict with this book...."

    "There is so much more to the story than what the movies show.  The annotated version and the connection to the true spirit of the season reminded me just how special this story truly is."

    "After we finished the story, I went back and read all the annotations and discussion questions on my own. I LOVED the annotations!..."

     *** FTC notice: non compensated, unbiased opinion - book received free of charge from the author. Link to amazon for informational purposes only.

    Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

    Merry Christmas from Our Family to yours!

    We have this wonderful book "Christmas Garland" by Margaret Tarrant's from 1942 with some beautiful poems and stories in it.   Last night I read to Father and James "Robin Redbreast" by Selma Lagelof which had me both laughing and crying.   Click here to read it on the Baldwin Project site.   I loved this old 12th century carol:

    The Friendly Beasts

    Jesus, our Brother, strong and good,
    Was humbly born in a stable rude,
    And the friendly beasts around Him stood,
    Jesus, our Brother, strong and good.

    "I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.
    "I carried His mother up hill and down,
    I carried her safely to Bethlehem town;
    I," said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

    "I," said the cow all white and red,
    "I gave Him my manger for His bed,
    I gave Him my hay to pillow His head;
    I," said the cow all white and red.

    "I," said the sheep with curly horn,
    "I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm,
    He wore my coat on Christmas morn;
    I," said the sheep with curly horn.

    "I," said the dove, from the rafters high,
    "Cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I,
    We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I;
    I," said the dove, from the rafters high.

    And every beast, by some good spell,
    In the stable dark was glad to tell
    Of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
    The gift he gave Emmanuel.

    As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and the many gifts and blessings he has brought into our lives, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

    Work In Progress Wednesday - 2010 Year of Writing Deliberately

    I decided 2010 is going to be my Deliberate Year!  Ever since I heard about Jennifer's idea of the Year of Reading Deliberately, the thoughts started rolling about in my head about being deliberate with not only my reading, but also writing as well.   Plus being deliberate with my health since watching my blood pressure and eating choices, especially after that choking scare.  Happy to say I was pleasantly surprised when I stood on the scale yesterday that since I've given up pepsi's and chips, it resulted in me dropping 8 pounds.  

    Then I receive this wonderful email from Chris Baty.

    Dear Writer....

    I ran into your 2009 NaNoWriMo novel yesterday, and it said that you two are currently "taking a break." I offered my condolences and mentioned that I'd probably be seeing you today. It quickly scribbled out a note for me to give you. The note seemed kind of personal, so I didn't read it. Here it is!

    "Hi! Come back to me. I'll be better this time, I promise!".....

    ....So here's my proposal. What if we pick one of the promising stories we've started and set aside, and then spend 2010 finishing it up and making it great?"   

    Hence the birth of The Year of Writing Deliberately was born.  Deliberate - "Done with or marked by full consciousness of the nature and effects."   How often do we go through our days on auto pilot, not giving conscious thought to what we are doing.  Never fully in the moment, but thinking about what needs to be done next, splitting our attention away from what actively doing at the moment.   So, what does this have to do with writing?    I like writing and seem to do plenty of it -whether blogging, class work, lesson plans, business letters, etc.     For each of these things, the outcome has be letter perfect almost from the get go.  You edit as you go and make sure all the grammar and punctuation is perfect.

    Writing a novel is different because the first draft is free flowing thought - getting it all out there on paper first, then going back once, twice, maybe half a dozen times to edit until you are happy with it.   It's been an interesting experience and I now have 3 works in progress.   My first nano Floating on the Surface is resting, waiting for me to get back to it.  I decided to rewrite the entire thing this year and worked on it until Nano 2009.  The story is at a turning point in which I either have the action take place in a shorter period of time (which my characters seem to be lobbying for) or spread it out over a longer period of time.   I discovered when you veer away from what the characters want, they rebel.   

    My Nano 2008 Winter's Illusion is on the shelf and I'm going to let it stay there until I finish the other two.  I took more time finishing Winter's Illusion and think it going to need a couple edits, but no major rewrites.   I'm looking forward to going back and rereading.

    Nano 2009 The first draft of Eyes in the Ashes is about 60% done and I'm already thinking about editing it because about 15% of it is filler.   I ended up writing two different scenarios in the middle of the story.   I wrote scenes for both scenarios so it's a mess, but now know which direction want to take.   But the first part is good and will keep going.  I'm going to go back over what have written so far, take out the filler, and continue from there.  Father sat down one night when I stepped away from the computer and started reading the story.  I thought he would lose interest after a couple minutes, because he did with Floating on the Surface.  He doesn't read fiction, but he got captured by the story and can't wait for me to finish so he can read the rest of the story.  High compliments indeed and really made my day!

    So, my first goal will be to finish Eyes, then get back to Floating on the Surface.  I'm going to commit to writing everyday.  Doesn't matter how many words or pages, just as long as I commit to sitting down and writing for at least an hour, giving the story my full attention.  During nano, I had a goal of 2000 words a day and managed to accomplish that because I didn't turn on the computer, didn't check my emails, didn't blog until I was done writing for the day.   I dedicated my morning to writing, before Father and James got up for the day and the daily distractions started.

    So for my 2010 Year of Writing Deliberately, I will dedicate my morning to writing.   Every morning!  I found I have to write every single day because when I start differentiating between writing on the weekdays only and taking off on the weekend, by Monday morning, the resolve isn't there.  Then I have to work on Mondays, so justify not writing because I only have an hour before work so go online.  And so on and so on.

    I love writing!  I love putting pen to paper and letting my thoughts flow and I amaze myself sometimes.  I look at it later and say "wow I wrote that."   I will be sharing my progress weekly since you all help to keep me accountable.    If anyone wants to join me in the Year of Writing Deliberately, let me know.

    What works do you currently have in progress and what are your writing goals for 2010?

    Mind Voyages: Join me in the Red Room!

    Photo Courtesy Trey Ratcliffe of

    2010 is coming up fast and I have some ideas brewing about in my head for my Mind Voyages Science Fiction Challenge. Throughout the voyage I'll be posting Author Spotlights on science fiction and fantasy authors, ones that I love and have been reading for many years and also new to me authors I read and discover during the challenge.   For instance, I just discovered Mark Charon Newton who wrote Nights of Villjamur and was named one of the top five reads for 2009 by Speculative Horizons. I will be working on some guest author interviews and a few book giveaways.

    Since I have never done author interviews or had guest posts on My Two Blessings, I'm calling on all of you, my followers, for assistance.   If you like Science Fiction or Fantasy and would like to guest post on Mind Voyages, please let me know. And if you do, why haven't you joined the challenge yet?  Hmmm?

    Also, if you are an author, writer, publisher, or a visitor from outer space or know of one who you think would love to be a guest blogger or would like to be interviewed, please let me know. I'm a pretty flexible person and don't have a set schedule for posts, and plan on posting at least once a week,  so don't worry about messing up any schedules.   My posts are spontaneous and off the cuff, generally something that came to mind in the middle of the night.  

    I'll be writing about interesting discoveries and challenges related to science fiction and fantasy that I find around the blogosphere.   Such as Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings who is planning on joining the challenge.   Every year during the months of January and February he hosts the Sci fi Experience which all about the pleasure of totally exploring the worlds of science fiction. It is a casual challenge, thing, experience, undertaking, whatever you want to call it,  in which you set your own reading goals and shot for the stars.

    There are a couple challenges I found that blend right in with the Mind Voyages challenge of exploring new books,  which call me crazy, I will be joining as well.   BookChickCity is hosting a year long Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge so I will definitely be reading Mark's book among others.   

    and Royal Reviews is hosting a Fantasy Reading Challenge for the year which encompasses Science Fiction Fantasy as well. I know I'll end up reading a few sci fi fantasy books.

    And for those of you interested in the 2010 Hugo nominees, one of our participants Katster is a Hugo voter.  She will be letting us know sometime in March who the top five 2010 Hugo nominees.

    So, are you ready to dip your foot in or dive right in yet? 

    2009 Fall Reading Challenge Wrap Up

    Happy Winter Solstice. Fall is officially over and with it Callapidder Day's Fall into Reading challenge. The theme this year was new to me author reads. I'm glad I kept the list short because ended up reading most of the books, deleting a few and adding some different ones.  I discovered some great authors and some interesting stories.  Fall somehow turned into a very busy time for me and my reading slowed down quite a bit. 

    Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not?

    I finished the majority of them.  The ones I finished were. 

    1) Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald which I read for Banned Book week.  Wasn't too terribly thrilled with the story and how it ended.

    2) Vanished by  Joseph Finder for Take a Chance Challenge.  Mystery. Liked this author and will be looking for more books by him.

    3)  The Arc, The Reed and The Firecloud by Jenny Cote.  Absolutely brilliant children's story that both James and I enjoyed.  I have already purchased book 2 The Dreamer, The Schemer and the Robe which we will be reading aloud in 2010.

    4) The Red Siren  by M.L. Tyndale.  A Christian tale about a lady pirate and I didn't like the ending too much.

    5)  Kill Her Again    by Robert Gregory Brown.   A psychological thriller by one of the author's who blogs at Murderati.  Excellent and will definitely be reading more stories by him.  

    6)  Night Watch by Sergie Lukyanenko.  An interesting paranormal fantasy involving a fight between good and evil. Interesting and the lead character very introspective and philosophical.

    7)  The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny.  A Canadian murder mystery which for some reason left me totally at a loss and I didn't review it.  I felt like I missed something and decided it was one I would have to go back and read another time.

    8)  The Wyndham Case by Jill Paton WalshFrom our library of inherited books - a british murder mystery.  It was interesting.

    9)  Silent Thunder by  Iris Johansen.  Combination thriller and paranormal romance thrown into one.  I like the author's writing and will be looking into more books by her. Didn't have to write a review but excellent story.

    10)  A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.   An Epic Fantasy series.  Great book and wish I had more time to write a review to do it justice.  Two separate story lines with several characters and each chapter follows a certain character.  The story lines do not merge by the end of the story and some characters are left in cliff hanger mode.  Definitely want to continue the story so will be reading the next book in the series.

    I ended up shelving Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penham simply because it was too dang long and decided would read for Historical challenge in 2010.  The Lost City of Oz I just couldn't get into and decided to put it aside until later.   I simply forgot about Dorothy Sayer's Strong Poison and will read it next year.

    Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?

    No, I didn't stick with my original goals. I got involved in a couple other challenges and ended up reading some new to me author books that I hadn't planned on.  Such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelle. No I had never read it and found it interesting but Dr. Frankenstein turned into a whiner.  Also reviewed a new book called  Dracula: The Undead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt  which was excellent.   A couple more excellent review books came my way:  Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick and Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel.  Also a spontaneous store purchase of Blind Descent by Nevada Barr which I thoroughly enjoyed. Plus Charlaine Harris's Dead until Dark (A Sookie Stackhouse Novel).  I am now reading the whole series and on book # 5. 

    What was your favorite book that you read this spring?

    I would have to say my ultimate favorite was The Ark, The Reed and the Fire Cloud simply because it was a fun read.  Imagine trying to read with all the accents of the animal characters - english, irish, scottish, spanish, etc.

    Did you discover a new author or genre this spring? Did you love them?

    All the books were new author reads for me and there are several of them I liked and will definitely be reading more of their stories such as George R.R. Martin, Jenny Cote, Charlaine Harris, Joseph Finder, Iris Johansen and Robert Gregory Brown.  

    Did you learn something new because of Fall Into Reading 2009 – something about reading, about yourself, or about a topic you read about?

    I learned I really don't care so much for British mysteries because for some reason they really don't hold my attention. However, I  love exploring new authors and being pleasantly surprised by different writing styles. I really didn't think I would like the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries that much, but find myself drawn in by her character and wit.  I am rediscovering science fiction and fantasy and enjoying being drawn into crazy new worlds. 

    What was your favorite thing about the challenge?

    The whole challenge was very casual and I enjoyed Katrina's weekly giveaways, even though I only entered a few and didn't win anything.  However, her giveaways exposed me to some books I didn't know about and added a few to my wish list.   One of the things I really like about the challenge is Katrina's central spot to link book reviews and  getting to see what everyone else read and what they thought about it.  And unfortunately I totally spaced on posting any of my reviews and I only visited a few of the links.  I'm be making up for that in the next few days, checking out everyone's wrap up posts and finding out their final thoughts.

    A big thank to Katrina for hosting as always. She is a wonderful host.

    Speaking of which, I won't be hosting the Winter Reading Challenge again this year because Winter just crept up too fast and I didn't have time to get it together.  However for 2010  I will be hosting Mind Voyages, a science fiction and fantasy challenge and continuing another year of hosting  Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge.  If you'd like to join me, click on over and sign up.

    To see what other folks read for the Fall Reading Challenge, head on over to Katrina's.

    Christmas prep and Some People by Flavia

    5 Days to Christmas Eve

    I'm working on my midterm Essay today comparing the Egyptian sculpture Menkaure and a Queen with a Greek sculpture Anavysos Kouros (warning: graphic nude sculpture alert). Shouldn't be too difficult. In fact, I think it will be fun pointing out the differences!

    And then, I'll be braving the crowds to pick up a few odds and ends for Christmas and grocery shopping. I think we're having rock cornish game hens this year for Christmas dinner. We still have half the meat from the 20 pound turkey we had for thanksgiving. If James wants turkey bad enough, since he missed out at Thanksgiving from being sick in bed, then I'll heat some up for him. Then we'll be wrapping up some Christmas gifts to place under our lonely christmas tree. The rest will be arriving via amazon and ups over the next couple days. It's been hilarious with father trying to Christmas shop online at Amazon since we don't have separate accounts. He has a cold and hasn't felt like leaving the house. So, we've been trying to be creative in not seeing what the other has been purchasing but it is extremely difficult. Next year - separate accounts.

    Tomorrow is the first day of Winter and the end of the Fall Reading Challenge, so will be posting a wrap up soon. In the meantime, leaving you with one of my favorite poems which is hanging on a wall in our house.

    Some People


    Flavia Weedn

    Some people come into our lives
    and leave footprints on our hearts
    and we are never ever the same.

    Some people come into our lives
    and quickly go...Some stay for a while
    and embrace our silent dreams.
    They help us become aware
    of the delicate winds of hope...
    and we discover within every human spirit
    there are wings yearning to fly.

    They help our hearts to see that
    the only stairway to the stars
    is woven with dreams...
    and we find ourselves
    unafraid to reach high.

    They celebrate the true essence
    of who we are...
    and have faith in all
    that we may become.

    Some people awaken us
    to new and deeper realizations...
    for we gain insight
    from the passing whisper of their wisdom.

    Throughout our lives we are sent
    precious souls...
    meant to share our journey
    however brief or lasting their stay
    they remind us why we are here.

    To love.

    Some people come into our lives
    to cast a steady light
    upon our path and guide our every step
    their shining belief in us
    helps us to believe in ourselves.

    Some people come into our
    lives to teach us about love...
    The love that rests within ourselves.

    Let us reach out to others
    and feel the bliss of giving
    for love is far richer in action
    than it ever is in words.

    Some people come into our lives
    and they move our souls to sing
    and make our spirits dance.

    They help us to see that everything on earth
    is part of the incredibility of life...
    and that it is always there
    for us to take of its joy.

    Some people come into our lives
    and leave footprints on our hearts
    and we are never ever the same.

    On my Wishlist


    On My Wishlist is a Weekly Meme hosted by Book Chick City 

    It allows us to share the books we haven't bought yet but are waiting to be bought and devoured. If you are anything like me then your wishlist is getting longer by the day!

    My Wish list is growing by leaps and bounds these days.    Imagine my surprise this week when I came across some books by authors I love and read that I wasn't aware of.   How did they slip by me.

    Vanishing Sculpture by Donita K. Paul. She is the author of The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, a christian fantasy series.

    "Tipper is a young emerlindian who’s responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions--including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon--and eventually witnesses the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder." - Donita K. Paul

    Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson.  He is the author of the ya christian fantasy series The Door Within trilogy and also the swashbuckling pirate books Isle of Fire and Isle of Swords. 

    "The Seven succeeding Elven Lords of Allyra were dead, lost in the Siege of Berinfell as babes.  At least that's what everyone thought until tremors from a distant world known as Earth, revealed strange signs that Elven blood lived among its peoples. With a glimmer of hope in their hearts, sentinels are sent to see if the signs are true. But theirs is not a lone errand. The ruling warlord of Allyra, the Spider King, has sent his own scouts to hunt down the Seven and finish the job they failed to complete many ages ago.

    Now 13-year-olds on the brink of the Age of Reckoning when their Elven gifts will be manifest, discover the unthinkable truth that their adoptive families are not their only kin. With mysterious Sentinels revealing breathtaking secrets of the past, and dark strangers haunting their every move, will the young Elf Lords find the way back to the home of their birth? Worlds and races collide as the forces of good and evil battle.  Will anyone escape the Curse of the Spider King?" -

    Then there is Charles De Lint

    Muse and Reverie which was just released on December 8th. I have enjoyed reading all the books in the Newford Series so looking forward to reading this collection of short stories.

    "Muse and Reverie is an all-new collection of short fiction in Charles de Lint’s “Newford” universe—the fifth such collection since 1993, and the first since 2002. Previous collections are Dreams Underfoot, The Ivory and the Horn, the World Fantasy Award-winning Memory and Dream, and Tapping the Dream Tree.

    The city of Newford could be any city in North America, bursting with music, commerce, art, love and hate, and of course magic. Magic in the sidewalk cracks, myth at the foundations of its great buildings, enchantment in the spaces between its people. In this new collection, de Lint explores that magic and those spaces, shedding new light on the people and places that readers of novels like Moonheart, Forests of the Heart, The Onion Girl, and The Mystery of Grace have come to love." -

    And one I discovered through Shelf Awareness:

    Ben Kane's The Forgotten Legion.  It will fit in nicely with my historical fiction challenge.

    "This may be the only historical novel in which a principal character is a proto-Etruscan nationalist. In this lively and often riveting first novel, Kane captures much of the chaos, brutality, and splendor of the late republic in the first century BCE, when Rome was ruled by the First Triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Marcus Licinius Crassus. Curiously, the four main characters are from the underside of society, and each has reason to despise the power of the emerging Roman superstate. Tarquinius labors on a latifundium and bemoans the loss of Etruscan greatness and subservience to Latin cultural and political domination. Brennus is a great gladiator whose family fell victim to imperial expansion. The twins, Romulus and Fabiola, suffer the degradation of slavery. Each of them is caught up in one of the seminal episodes of the century, as Crassus, seeking military glory, launched an expedition against Rome’s archenemy in the East, Parthia. Kane clearly knows the history of the period, and his story is rich in accurate historical detail. The characterizations are finely drawn and set against a dangerous, cruel, but often thrilling landscape. --Jay Freeman"

    And from Michael Palmer who wrote The Last Surgeon which is being released February 2010

    Fatal: I was perusing Michael Palmer's website the other day when he asked if I would like to review The Last Surgeon.  All his books sounded so good, but Fatal captured my immediate interest because of Micheal's  story behind writing the book.

    " Palmer excels at packing current medical issues into a web of suspense. The action begins immediately as people in various cities become afflicted with some unknown malady with bizarre symptoms. Some die quickly from seizures and blood loss, others develop a progressive mental illness along with "Elephant Man"-like growths on their faces and bodies, culminating in uncontrollable violence. Dr. Matt Rutledge is certain that a case he has seen, involving a mine worker for the Belinda Coal and Coke Company, is related to the mine's criminal offenses. He was raised in the West Virginia town and lost his father to alleged safety violations, and his wife to a rare cancer. Certain that her illness was induced by groundwater contamination, Matt has a double score to settle with BC&C. Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Ellen Kroft, member of the advocacy group PAVE (Parents Advocating Vaccine Education), is struggling with her vote as part of a group evaluating a new megavaccine, Omnivax. In Boston, medical examiner Dr. Nikki Solari has watched the mental deterioration of her talented roommate as strange growths appear on her face. Both Ellen and Nikki travel to Belinda in search of answers. As expected, the three protagonists get together and set about solving the medical mystery, with danger, attempted murder, and bureaucratic strangulation surrounding them. Palmer skillfully juggles many subplots, integrating colorful characters and using current bioscience topics. FDA testing, vaccines, environmental toxins, spongiform encephalitis, greedy pharmaceutical executives, and bad cops-all contribute to the novel's action, suspense, and intrigue."

    What did you add to your wishlist this week?

    ***Links to amazon are for informational purposes only.