Saturday, January 31, 2009

Snapshot Saturday # 2


We picked out and cooked some live for my favourite supper ever!!!!

Food for Thought

Has anyone else noticed the abundance of novels released lately by top selling written with an unknown?

Has anyone else noticed that some of these authors...write more than 2 books a year?

Hands up for anyone who believes that these well known authors write their own books....or is it a multi-million dollar a year business like everything else?

I stand up and declare that I will not read and review any more of these mass-marketed formulaic novels disguised as fiction.

Comments please


Friday, January 30, 2009

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

Ann's Words

This novel is very special to me. A few years ago I was afraid I would never be able to write again. For my entire life, reading and writing were ways to work out what I felt, what I worried about, what I feared, what I hoped for. Then on April 18, 2002, my five year old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep. As an added insult, when I lost Grace I also lost my ability to use words. I couldn't read and I couldn't write. Letters didn't come together to make words; sentences did not make sense. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't focus. Almost two years later, the literary journal Tin House sent out a request to writers for submissions for their theme issue on Lying. That night-I was unable to sleep well and was often up walking around the house at all hours-an essay came to me fully developed on the lies about grief. I sat down and wrote it and Tin House published it.

My Thoughts

When I wrote the words describing my thoughts and emotions about Ann Hood's book Comfort...I was also describing The Knitting Circle.
I am sure that this book was a very difficult one to write. Ann took the story of her family and her daughter Grace's death and she fictionalised it. It is almost the same story and well written.
More about this book though was centred on knitting as a form of therapy. a way of living through the grief ...even when you don't want to. The book also introduced a number of different characters who represented people from all walks of life who found knitting to be a solace for their troubles.

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood

Ann's Words

"Slowly, slowly, I began to tell my own story of loss and grief and hope. You know how that first day at the beach when the ocean water is still so cold, you dip your toes in, then run out? Next try, you get up to your ankles before you run? Then up to your calves, your thighs, until finally you are waist deep and you can dive in head first? That is how I wrote COMFORT. I wrote a little, then retreated. A little more, a little more, until I was able to dive in. "

"I did not know what to do with her Christmas stocking, the one with the angel on it and her name sewn in my crooked attempt to use a needle and thread. I did not know how to celebrate a New Year without her. And on the first anniversary of her death...."
"...My Body cannot move. I am paralysed."
... " I used to wake in a panic that I had forgotten even one detail about her, or that I would forget someday."

My Thoughts

These words above that I have quoted from Ann Hood's book or her website...I have felt them all too ever since my baby died.
I must give proper thanks to Steve Colca of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc....who offered to send me this book after I added him on Twitter. He very sweetly asked me first if this would be a welcome gesture and after I assured him that it was he sent me this book and The Knitting Circle.
Most of my blogging buddies on here know that I myself have been on a grief journey. My son Nicholas (15) died just over 2 years ago on October 30th, 2006. Ever since that heart has stopped beating. Ann's book took me down that road again...she took me back to the anguish and fear and shock that I felt that day. Her book broke my heart again but it also felt cathartic to cry as I relived my own last moments with Nick.
She manages to describe almost exactly the way that I felt about losing my Nicky when she speaks about losing her Grace.
She describes in minute detail all the platitudes that people say to you as a newly bereaved mother. "She/he has gone to a better place." (Are you kidding me?)
"God must have wanted them" (Not as much as I did!)
"I understand what you must be feeling." (Unless you have lost a child you don't!) and she also speaks about the weirdness that people feel around you. I myself have experienced people ducking behind stores, displays and bushes just to avoid speaking with me. Do they really think that we don't notice?
I have also felt people's impatience with me when I can't get out of bed sometimes to go into work because I am having a really bad day about missing him and I don't want to go on anymore. They are also impatient with me because they are tired of 'being reminded of my tragedy!" I work with a woman like that.
I am never sure how to deal with people like that but as my husband reminds me...that is their problem not mine. I have enough on my plate already.
Thank you Ann Hood for writing this book about your loss. I know that you wrote it just for me...didn't you? It feels like it anyway!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Your Blog is Fabulous! from Sheri @ A Novel Menagerie

Ok....I admit it...I am absolutely and completely chuffed with this award!
Sheri from A Novel Menagerie has welcomed me so completely into this blog world, that we all circle around, and her blog is the first one that I read everyday!

Thank you Sheri! Kisses and hugs........

I think what I failed to mention though is why I love Sheri's blog....
She is sooooo real!

the details of this award are simple just write 5 things that you are addicted to and name 5 other blogs to pass it on to.


* I am addicted to getting books through the mail! ( I love getting my 'fix' everyday when the UPS or Canada Post guy comes!)

* I am addicted to Pandora beads and bracelets ( I have been collecting for only a couple of years but I love receiving beads to celebrate or mark an important event.)

* I am addicted to receiving comments on my blog posts! (Who isn't?)

* I am addicted to watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my daughter everyday. (My son Nicky and I used to watch this show when it was being broadcast and we loved it...this is another way to share something about Nicky with my daughter.)

* I am addicted to chocolate! (It doesn't even have to be good chocolate!...I am ashamed to admit.)

Ok...To Pass this along............

1. Confuzzled Books by Shannon ---Your blog is so charming with your hand drawn images.

2. My Tragic Right Hip by Deanna-----I first met Deanna through the Reading Club but I have remained a follower because her blog is always so well written and she blogs about herself. I love to "meet" the person behind the blog.

3. Poisoned Rationality by Lexie----I LOVE the name of this blog!

4. Musings of a Bookish Kitty by Wendy----Hmmmm....could be the name....the picture of the cat....or the content???? But I like it.

5. Bookaholics Anonymous by Jenn----This blog is new to me and looks very intriguing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nick's 18th Birthday

My baby was born at 01:36 am January 28th, 1991.

The happiest day of my life and I fell in love immediately, completely forever.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's on Your Nightstand

What's On Your Nightstand? is hosted by Jennifer at
5 Minutes for Books.

The Brutal Heart by Gail Bowen
Drood by Dan Simmons
The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike
Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly
Etta by Gerald Kolpan
Arctic Drift by Clive Cussler
Compulsion by Jennifer Chase
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
The Glister by John Burnside
Joker One by Donovan Campbell
Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Comfort -A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood
The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood
I, Robot by Howard S. Smith
Now the Drum of War by Robert Roper I feel intimidated...........


Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda

Product Description
Jessica Luna is your typical 26 year old: she has man trouble, mom trouble, and not a clue what to do with her life (though everyone else in her family seems to have plenty of suggestions!) After a lifetime of being babied by her family, Jess is incapable of trusting herself to make the right choices. So instead, she bases all of her life decisions on signs. She looks to everything for guidance, from the direction her rearview-mirror-Virgin-de-Guadalupe sways to whatever Madame Hortensia, her psychic, sees in the cards.

My Thoughts

I whipped through this book in less than a day. Of course it helps that I am home sick in bed with the flu. Thanks Madeleine!
This was such an enjoyable read. I really liked Jessica for many reasons-she was funny, endearing, vulnerable and completely clueless about her future. Jessica stumbled through her life...falling into jobs, boyfriends and falling in and out of favour with her family. She keeps going to see this local psychic who takes her $20/visit and scams her. Is she for real or isn't she?
Jessica seems to want somebody else to decide for her about her career and her love life while she hangs around waiting for........?
Gwendolyn Zepeda has a hit on her hands with this, her debut novel. There were many chuckles and giggles as I read this but also some sighs of recognition as Jessica seemed to embody many of the character traits in my own personality... the part that I will never admit to! Why is it that we all seem to need confirmation about ourselves? Why do we ask another person to tell us what we SHOULD do with our lives??? Is there a possibility that we are sometimes looking for a "fall guy"?
An easy read but very enjoyable.
Thank you Miriam and Hachette Books.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Choosing to Be by Kat Tansey

Product Description
Choosing to Be centers around a Buddha-wise Maine Coon cat named Poohbear Degoonacoon, his kitten muse Catzenbear, and author Kat Tansey as they take us on a journey from the depths of depression to the true freedom of Buddha mind. Tansey has written a magical fable filled with practical information and instruction on Buddhist meditation and how to conquer its five hindrances -- clinging, anger, restlessness, sleepiness, and doubt. This book is a must read for anyone seeking respite from their ordinary mind.

My Thoughts

This was a delightful read. Kat Tansey takes us on a magical journey with her zen master cat Poohbear Decoonacoon. Poohbear and his young cohort Catzenbear are Maine Coon cats.
Written as an anthropomorphic dialogue between the author Kat Tansey and her superior being, Poohbear the Maine Coon cat, the issues and dictates of Buddhism are explored, discussed and practised. Kat was recovering from a long bout of chronic fatigue syndrome and was bogged down in depression...but learning to meditate successfully has helped her come out of her depression and recover her life.
Each chapter starts with a zen quotation and a picture of one of the cats depicting the individual philosophy. You can just feel the wisdom emanating from them.
I absolutely believe that all felines have this innate link to zen fulfillment and they practise mediation everyday. We could learn many lessons from just being around them...I have 4 cats and they bring me so much.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ralphina, the Roly-Poly (Hardcover) by Claudia Chandler

Product Description
A book that is so charming and so beautifully illustrated that it is a pleasure for every reader. Preschoolers and early readers will especially enjoy discovering the hidden world of a tiny insect. Ralphina is a young roly-poly, living in the garden of a family with a little boy. Ralphina asks her mother how she can get the little boy to be her friend. Once they meet, Ralphina tells Alec all about roly-polies. The book is both fun and educational.

About the Author
Claudia Chandler holds a master's degree in elementary education, is an artist of oil paintings, a photographer of nature and is a passionate gardener of thousands of flowers in her Olathe, Kansas home. It is this combination of creative endeavors, along with her experience and passion of educating children, that has brought her to this most exciting and rewarding career - writing and illustrating books for children.

My Thoughts

What a beautiful exuberantly illustrated storybook. The story is fine but a trifle insipid and it certainly pales in comparison to the lovely paintings of the characters and the garden.
Bugs have never been my thing but certainly as a child I used to love to find one of these and gently touch it so that it would roll up. I thought that it was the coolest bug because it rolled up. I love beautiful picture books and this book`s saving grace is the charming illustrations which is what we parents buy the books for.

Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz written by vintage griffin

Saw this over at Enroute to Life and thought it looked like fun.

Take the Quiz here:

Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz

I am an Ingrid

I am an Ingrid!


You are an Ingrid -- "I am unique"

Ingrids have sensitive feelings and are warm and perceptive.

How to Get Along with Me
  • * Give me plenty of compliments. They mean a lot to me.
  • * Be a supportive friend or partner. Help me to learn to love and value myself.
  • * Respect me for my special gifts of intuition and vision.
  • * Though I don't always want to be cheered up when I'm feeling melancholy, I sometimes like to have someone lighten me up a little.
  • * Don't tell me I'm too sensitive or that I'm overreacting!

What I Like About Being an Ingrid
  • * my ability to find meaning in life and to experience feeling at a deep level
  • * my ability to establish warm connections with people
  • * admiring what is noble, truthful, and beautiful in life
  • * my creativity, intuition, and sense of humor
  • * being unique and being seen as unique by others
  • * having aesthetic sensibilities
  • * being able to easily pick up the feelings of people around me

What's Hard About Being an Ingrid
  • * experiencing dark moods of emptiness and despair
  • * feelings of self-hatred and shame; believing I don't deserve to be loved
  • * feeling guilty when I disappoint people
  • * feeling hurt or attacked when someone misundertands me
  • * expecting too much from myself and life
  • * fearing being abandoned
  • * obsessing over resentments
  • * longing for what I don't have

Ingrids as Children Often
  • * have active imaginations: play creatively alone or organize playmates in original games
  • * are very sensitive
  • * feel that they don't fit in
  • * believe they are missing something that other people have
  • * attach themselves to idealized teachers, heroes, artists, etc.
  • * become antiauthoritarian or rebellious when criticized or not understood
  • * feel lonely or abandoned (perhaps as a result of a death or their parents' divorce)

Ingrids as Parents
  • * help their children become who they really are
  • * support their children's creativity and originality
  • * are good at helping their children get in touch with their feelings
  • * are sometimes overly critical or overly protective
  • * are usually very good with children if not too self-absorbed

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Snapshot Saturday

Idea borrowed from the blog Write for a Reader.
My two favourite people on a recent summer vacation to PEI. My husband Paul and my daughter Madeleine.
The loves of my life! They keep me grounded and provide endless hours of amusement!
They were flying a kite and communing with each other.

Forgive the camera phone pic.

The Saga of Beowulf by R. Scot Johns

"The Saga of Beowulf" is the first complete and accurate novelization of the epic 10th century Old English poem "Beowulf," chronicling the rise of the emerging Nordic nations, the tragic feuding of their clans, epic battles with mythological creatures, and the final, futile struggle of one man against the will of Fate that made of him a Legend.

"Breathtaking in scope and relentless in pace," the story follows the Nordic hero Beowulf as he embarks upon a fateful quest for vengeance against the creature that slew his father, setting in motion a sequence of events that will bring about the downfall of a nation, all the while fleeing from the woman he has sworn to love. Based on extensive historical research and steeped in Norse mythology and lore, the saga unfolds across the frozen fields of Sweden and the fetid fens of Denmark, ranging from the rocky heights of Geatland to the sprawling battlefields of ancient France.

My Thoughts

What an incredible epic story. I received this book sometime in November and it rested in my TBR pile throughout the Christmas break. I have spoken of my difficulty in reading and reviewing over the break due to my state of mind and frankly this book is a tome...not exactly conducive to light reading. A daunting 600 page novelization of the story of the Norse hero Beowulf. It is absolutely accurate to the old English poem written in the tenth century and R. Scot Johns has completely adapted this tale from the old English to a modern retelling as a piece of fiction.
I have really enjoyed it but it took forever to read. The size of the font is small and my eyes are getting quite bad so I could only concentrate on the pages for about 50 at a time. This is NOT the way that I prefer to read. I love to completely submerge myself in a story and inhale it as if enjoying the most delicious spaghetti supper. This is not a book for the fainthearted either...once you begin the story it is hard to put down. Beowulf becomes this flesh and blood man who seeks out challenges that will befit his role as a hero for his people the Geats and ensure his place in Valhalla for all eternity.
R. Scot Johns writes with great detail and describes the settings and characters as if it he was setting the stage for a movie. He originally visualized and wrote the tale as a screenplay but rethought his decision to tell the story as a novel when two other movie screenplays were sold for production at the same time. I would liked to have read the screenplay. I loved the story and it is an easy read but it is too darn long. Sometimes there is just too much story to contain it within one volume so it might be more appealing if it was divided logically into a multi volume tale.
This is a 'massively' good read!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Lost City Of Z by David Grann


A grand mystery reaching back centuries. A sensational disappearance that made headlines around the world. A quest for truth that leads to death, madness or disappearance for those who seek to solve it. The Lost City of Z is a blockbuster adventure narrative about what lies beneath the impenetrable jungle canopy of the Amazon.

My Thoughts

This is not a fictionalized account of Percy Fawcett's adventures in the Amazon basin. This strives to recount quite accurately the information that Fawcett recorded about his explorations. It is mixed with the stories of a couple of other explorers that also attempted to find the lost city of El Dorado...and David Grann who tried to follow the footsteps exactly that Percy had travelled while searching for his mythical city of Z. It is unsure about why he even called it Z but he seems to have become obsessed with the idea of it and it had assumed an almost nirvana-like mysticism in his dreams.

This was a time in history when technology hadn't caught up with the dreams and needs of the adventurers in the jungle and when people went exploring they often disappeared for months and sometimes years...with no way of contacting those in the civilized world. Some never returned to their loved ones and the assumption was that they had perished in the 'green hell' that had taken over their lives. Hostile natives, disease or being the prey of carnivorous hunters was most probably the fate of all who disappeared but these mysteries just seemed to fuel the enthusiasm for hundreds of men and they all hoped to be the one to crack the mystery of The Lost City Of Z.

I was intrigued in spite of myself ( I have always enjoyed a good adventure story) and quickly read through this book although it was a little dry and I needed to read it over several nights. It required thinking about as I was reading unlike a piece of fiction. The account also felt disjointed through parts of the book and I grew to wish that David Grann had just written about Fawcett and not muddied the waters by introducing some other explorers. After all, David Grann was interested in following Mr. Fawcett's one else's.

I did enjoy the story and was thrilled to read the last chapter. It brought the quest for the lost city of Z to a satisfactory conclusion. This book has been sold and is presently in production for a 2010 release starring Brad Pitt as Colonel Percy Fawcett.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday

Sing! Sing a Song… January 15, 2009

But, enough about books … Other things have words, too, right? Like … songs!

If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

  • What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
  • Why?
  • And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?

You don’t have to restrict yourself to modern songsters, either … anyone who wants to pick Gilbert & Sullivan, for example, is just fine with me. Lerner & Loewe? Steven Sondheim? Barenaked Ladies? Fountains of Wayne? The Beatles? Anyone at all…



Rainy Days and Mondays by Paul Williams

(Ever since I was a kid I have loved this ......I totally related to it as I suffered with depression)

Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin' around
Nothing to do but frown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.

What I've got they used to call the blues
Nothin' is really wrong
Feelin' like I don't belong
Walkin' around
Some kind of lonely clown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.

American Pie
by Don McLean (the imagery is incredible)

Now for ten years we've been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin' stone,
But that's not how it used to be.
When the jester sang for the king and queen,
In a coat he borrowed from james dean
And a voice that came from you and me,

Oh, and while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while lennon read a book of marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.

We were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

Helter skelter in a summer swelter.
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter,
Eight miles high and falling fast.
It landed foul on the grass.
The players tried for a forward pass,
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast.

Oh, and there we were all in one place,
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again.
So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick!
Jack flash sat on a candlestick
Cause fire is the devil's only friend.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan's spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

One Tin Soldier by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter ( I used to sing this for my children before they went to sleep)

Listen children to a story that was written long ago
'Bout a kingdom on a mountain, and the valley folk below
On the mountain was a treasure buried deep beneath a stone
And the valley people swore they'd have it for their very own.

    Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend
    Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end
    There won't be any trumpets blowing, come the judgment day
    On the bloody morning after - one tin soldier rides away.

So the people of the valley sent a message up the hill
Asking for the buried treasure, tons of gold for which they'd kill
Came an answer from the kingdom: "With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain, all the riches buried there.


Now the valley cried with anger, mount your horses, draw your sword!
And they killed the mountain people, so they won their just reward
Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it -
"Peace on Earth" was all it said.


Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Ok....I realise that I am going to unload again so folks ....prepare.
Tomorrow I get the fun job of heading 2 hours away into Toronto (rush hour) for an 8:45am appointment at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at Toronto General Hospital. I am scheduled for my semi annual cardio tests and consultation.
I guess that I never explained baby Nick didn't just look like me...he inherited a lot of my genetic makeup which includes a genetic heart defect called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. HCM in other words. This is what killed him and I gave it to him.
Apparently we got it from my mom and she gave it to my brother and his son as well.
Nick is the only one in our family to die from it. We had no idea about this ticking time bomb until his first symptom...his sudden death.
My son Nick was climbing the stairs from his first period class in the basement to the third floor for his grade 10 English class. He walked into the room said hello to a bunch of friends and fell over unconscious. He quickly stopped breathing and although they immediately initiated CPR and this continued through the arrival of paramedics and the transport to the hospital...he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The worst day of my life...and I gave it to him.

Now....I know that it wasn't my fault as in blame but the inner part of me does feel at fault and having to go and get my heart checked again (to see if the hypertrophy has increased) just brings it all to the forefront of my mind. (as if it ever leaves.)

I get to have an echo cardiogram. an ECG and the results from that delightful MRI.
Oh and guess what....I also get told to lose weight! Hold me back...I just can't wait!!!

Funnily enough...whining about it today has made me feel better.

What kind of fun things are in your future????

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

AWESOME!!!! Meme

Borrowed from Sharon...this is HYSTERICAL!!!!

Type your name into Google with the verb that comes after in the question. Answer with your favorites from the first page of google results. Have fun!

Q: Type in "[your name] needs" in the Google search.
A: Tamara needs to consult with a fashion advisor.

Q: Type in "[your name] looks like" in Google search.
A: Tamara looks like such a sweetheart and a cool person to chill with.

Q: Type in "[your name] says" in Google search.
A: Tamara says her and Christian are well matched.

Q: Type in "[your name] wants" in Google search.
A: Tamara wants you dead.

Q: Type in "[your name] does" in Google search.
A: Tamara Does Firefighter Fran.

Q: Type in "[your name] hates" in Google search.
A: SYNOPSIS Tamara hates her life.

Q: Type in "[your name] asks" in Google search.
A: Tamara asks him to renounce the use of power for evil.

Q: Type in "[your name] likes " in Google search.
A: Tamara Likes It Rough.

Q: Type in "[your name] eats " in Google search.
A: Tamara Eats The Camera.

Q: Type in "[your name] wears " in Google search.
A: Tamara wears huge pads.

Q: Type in "[your name] was arrested for" in Google Search.
A: Tamara was arrested for "failure to disperse" on a public sidewalk as she was attempting to walk to her car to leave.

Q: Type in "[your name] loves" in Google Search.
A. Tamara loves the finer things in life: good food, great times, and regular vacations.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Crown Conspiracy by Michael J. Sullivan


Whether you are looking for a single novel, or a multi-book saga, The Crown Conspiracy is the place to begin. It is a heroic fantasy adventure written for a general audience and conceived as a single epic tale. This series is told through six self-contained episodes, each complete in its own right. Across the entire chronicle, mysteries build, characters deepen, and plots thicken, but none of the books end in a disappointing cliffhanger or require you to read a previous book to fully enjoy the one you are on.

My Thoughts

The Crown Conspiracy begins an epic fantasy that consists of 6 books called The Riyia Revelations.
Each of these books may be read on it's own without reading the rest of the books but they all fit together well in the telling of the tale of Elan.
The characters of Royce Melborn and Hadrian Blackwater are skilled skilled in fact that they are notorious for it and their fees reflect this exclusivity. Nobles and commoners alike come to this pair to retrieve stuff stolen from them or assignments that are sensitive in nature until they are framed for the murder of the king. They are the only persons to be found near his dead a locked chapel.
Amid the ensuing furor they meet and help Prince Alric and Princess Arista seek the real murdering traitor and expose the treachery from within the court. They need to spirit away Prince Alric before he can also be murdered and they need to take him as far away as possible to keep him safe even if he resists.
Along the way they meet up and help a monk who was saved from execution and left behind after his abbey was burned to the ground. A kind and gentle new friend. They also seek and find a wizard magically imprisoned for the last 900 years...a secret so volatile that to know of him is to sign your own death warrant. They gather up their trusty band of cutthroats and prepare to race to the rescue of the princess and place the rightful king back upon the throne.

There is so many layers to this story that to explain it in a few words is nigh impossible. The characters are well fleshed out and the descriptions about the countryside and customs fueled my imagination and I felt that I could hardly wait to read more of this adventure. The world created by Michael J. Sullivan is intriguing and he has subtly interwoven new possibilities that may be coming in future installments of this epic tale. I am hoping that the future books will include more of the characters met along the way and I have already guessed at one of the mysteries. I can`t wait to see if I was right.
Waiting eagerly for the next chapter of this saga.
Great read!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jolted by Arthur Slade

Newton Starker's Rules for Survival

  1. Check the weather constantly.
  2. Check the sky before exiting a building.
  3. When thunder roars, run indoors.
  4. Beware of cumulo-nimbus clouds.
  5. Do not take a bath during a lightning storm.
  6. Do not under any circumstances become angry. Count to ten. Breathe in. Breath out.

For over two hundred years, everyone in the Starker family has died after being hit by lightning, leaving only two-- Great-Grandmother Enid, whose secret to a long life is to grumble about everything, and fourteen-year-old Newton. Determined to break the curse, he enrols in the Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where students must navigate the outdoors, the very place Newton's mother warned him about.

Newton knows that information is power, and so he steadfastly follows his rules for survival. He obsessively checks weather reports before venturing anywhere. He never takes a bath or answers the phone during a lightning storm. But life slowly amps up, and before Newton knows it, he is weathering storms he can't control, including battling Violet Quon, who is equally resolved to get her picture up in the Hall of Heroes, and preparing for First Year Expedition, which is his chance to prove he's the ultimate survivor.

My Thoughts

What a fun book to read. I wasn't sure of what to think when I requested this book from the reading club but I always enjoy a good YA book and this was no exception.

The premise of Newton being the last surviving member of the Starker family to escape being struck by lightning is funny in it`s ghoulishness. That is such an incredibly remote concept...a whole family that somehow acts as a lightning rod and 'beckons' lightning to flow through them and killing them.

We have all been warned by our families about what to do in the event of a thunderstorm so most of these warnings are familiar but I am sure the majority of us could never envisage this strange occurrence happening to us. Check Spelling


I thought that Newton was such an interesting kid. He was so practical about his inevitable fate and he barely allowed his emotional self the room to feel sorrow and grief for the loss of his mother and his lack of friends or bemoan the increased distance between he and his father.

The time that he spends at the Jerry Pott's Academy is so eye-opening for him. he learns so much about his social self...the hidden part who actually yearned for a connection with someone.

He even forms a relationship with his Great-Grandmother Enid and creeps past her defences.

I am eager to read more of Arthur Slade's books.... he has a delightfully twisted imagination that appeals to YA and grownups alike.

Night Runner by Max Turner

Product Description
For Zack Thomson, living in the Nicholls Ward isn't so bad. After his parents died, he developed strange and severe allergies, and the mental institution was the only place where he could be properly looked after. As strange as it was, it was home. He could watch as much television as he wanted; his best friend Charlie visited him often enough; and Nurse Ophelia--the prettiest no-nonsense nurse ever--sometimes took him bowling. Of course, that didn't mean he had it easy. His allergies restricted his diet to strawberry smoothies, and being the only kid at the hospital could get lonely. But it never once crossed Zack's mind to leave...until the night someone crashed through the front doors and told him to run. Now he's on a race for answers--about his past, his parents, and his strange sickness--even as every step takes him closer to the darkest of truths.

From the Inside Flap
"I need blood," I said.... Charlie was sitting in a kitchen chair. He stood up so that he was looking down at me. "Oh, blood. Right. Of course, blood. What was I thinking? Well, we just happen to have a huge barrel of it in the back. Do you want some fries with that?" --From Night Runner

My Thoughts

I obtained this book from the Harper Collins Reading Club on Facebook. It arrived and went on a stack of books about 12 deep and I resolved to get to it as soon as possible. I really wanted to read it as the description intrigued me.

My 14 year old daughter Madeleine beat me to it and she couldn't put it down until it was read. She is of the age of the target audience so it was rather fitting that she be so enthused about it. She was so excited about it that I would find her in odd corners all over the apartment curled up and reading it.

Unfortunately as soon as she finished it she stuck it on a bookshelf in the living room and I forgot all about it. Being of a rather scattered mind these days...out of sight is out of mind for it was a few weeks before it became uncovered again and I read it.

I couldn't agree with my daughter more. This is a debut novel but Max Turner has a deft hand with the mind of a teenager ( after all he is a high school science teacher) and describes with gusto how he imagined a modern horror story to be. ( I also know the teenage mind well as I work with teens in a high school too.)

The ending was a bit predictable but the climax was a breathtaking surprise. I really didn't see it coming!

The character of Zack is extremely likable and you really find yourself rooting for him. Wouldn't it be great if there was a sequel to this?

Well done Max Turner!!

Through the Storm by Lynne Spears

We all want our children to succeed. What happens when they do?
Britney Spears wanted to sing ever since she was a little girl. But the years of sacrifices, auditions, performances, albums, fame, and paparazzi left the little Louisiana family swept up and spun around, and nothing turned out the way anyone ever imagined or wanted. Now Lynne shares the inside story of the Spears family as only a mother can.
Through the Storm takes readers outside the narrow orbit of the Hollywood glitterati. Lynne shares how fame forever changed their family; her regrets letting managers, agents, and record companies direct the lives of her children; the challenges that shaped Lynne and Jamie's failed marriage and how they affected Bryan, Britney, and Jamie Lynn; the startling events that led to Britney's breakdown; the aftermath of Jamie Lynn's pregnancy; and how the family has tried pulling together to recapture a sense of hope and purpose.
Through the Storm, says Lynne, is "the story of one simple Southern woman whose family got caught in a tornado called fame, and who is still trying to sort through the debris scattered all over her life in the aftermath. It's who I am, warts and all, with some true confessions that took a long time to get up the nerve to discuss."

My Thoughts

I acquired this book through Thomas Nelson Book Review.
Through the Storm is Lynne Spears' account of her children's early years. Two of her daughters- Britney and Jamie Lynn have great celebrity now so Lynne Spears' book is very timely.
The book reads quite candidly and follows Lynne's life throughout her early marriage, financial hardship, divorce and the raising of her children. It does NOT trash her daughters nor does it get into every single detail that has been written about them in the tabloids although it does often refer to how her girls are popular subjects for the paparazzi.
Lynne's book has an easy reading style and I finished it in less than a day. I wouldn't say that it went into very much depth but I didn't expect it to. I was also sure that this memoir would do nothing to tarnish the image of her daughters...after all...they are her daughters and their livelihood depends upon a somewhat pristine public persona.
Lynne did speak some about Britney's emotional illness and her concern for her daughter rang true but she glossed over some details as she did while discussing Jamie Lynn's pregnancy and the ensuing publicity furor.
A pleasant read but with little depth.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosney


Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life. Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

My Thoughts:

I am having huge difficulty trying to express my thoughts on this book. I enjoyed the read although the characters didn't seem to be well fleshed out but I was aware that the urgency of the subject matter and the magnitude of the horrific event might have overshadowed the character development.

My opinion.

I don't often feel a need to excuse or label my blog discussions as being just my humble opinion but this is a highly sensitive book and I don't want to do it an injustice.

There is No question that the events around the roundup of Jews in Paris is a complete travesty of any war-treaties and the last 6 decades have been spent in trying war criminals in court for such heinous acts. The hardest realisation comes when you read of this event and understand that it was wholly the responsibility of the french police that children were also gathered up and imprisoned. Germany didn't ask this of the french people...they volunteered the children on their own.

I am not here to add my opinion about these unforgivable acts but just to comment on the novel that describes a fictionalised story about these events.

I found it to be an easy read but as I said about the characters...they did not feel real to me. Sometimes it works to the author's advantage, in telling a tale, to play off past events with the present but in this story I felt that it lost the emphasis of the imprisonment. I would have preferred a story just based upon Sarah's voice and her journey but I also understand that the author used the present day tie-in as a way of introducing the events of 1942 when the journalist Julia researched the story.


It all felt a little contrived and trite to me when Julia ended up with Sarah's descendant.

Too convenient!

Writer's Block

Ok....I am stuck here. I have lost my writing voice. I deliberately gave myself some healing and grieving time over the holidays and read my little head off. I currently owe myself reviews on at least 10 books but for some reason...I can't think what to say.
That is very unlike me! LOL
If anyone has any ideas about how to break this deadlock then PLEASE send them my way!!
Kiss Kiss Hug Hug
I decided tonight that I won't feel guilty about this but I will try and take each book and just start writing. When I come up with something worthy of an audience then I will post.
Thank you for all the lovely comments on my new pic.
Here is the companion to it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Made Up pattern for Hat

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Keeping my hands busy by knitting a hat that I made up the pattern for. Kind of cute I think but I love the flower!