Sunday, June 28, 2009

Win "My Forbidden Desire"

Drey's Library is one of the tour stops for Carolyn Jewel's My Forbidden Desire, a paranormal romance.

About the book: Alexandrine Marit is a witch in mortal danger. An evil mage craves the powerful, mysterious talisman that supplies her magic, and the only person who can keep her safe is a dark and dangerous fiend called Xia. With his fierce animosity toward witches, he's hardly the ideal bodyguard. Yet as days turn into nights, she can't deny the white-hot passion between them.

Xia hates witches. They enslave and mercilessly kill his kind. But he's been ordered to protect Alexandrine, who, to his surprise, has a spirit he admires and a body he longs to possess. With the mage and his henchmen closing in, Alexandrine and her protector must trust the passion that can unite them...or risk losing everything to the enemies who can destroy them both.

Sound like something you'd like to read? To enter, you have to share the contest in some way such as blogging, tweeting, or emailing friends with a CC to Drey. For complete info, check it out here. Contest ends 6 PM July 11. Good luck!

Murder in the Midwest

No make-believe story here, foks. There was a murder in my hometown Friday night. That's right, small town U.S.A., population about 5000, covered bridge capital of Iowa, and home of ever-growing crime.

A couple of months ago, a local man who was separated from his wife, went to her home in the middle of the night. He attacked her new boyfriend and severely injured him with a knife as his wife and kids watched. Really gave his kids some warm, fuzzy memories. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

This time a 43-year-old woman was attacked and killed in her apartment by her ex-boyfriend also wielding a knife and 2 of her neighbors were hurt. He had threatened her before so she had a no-contact order against him. She had plans to move to a different city to start a new life. He lived in Des Moines which is only about 30 miles away.... a half hour drive and a knife and she's dead. Several neighbors saw him break into the apartment and one rushed in to help. She was one of those also attacked. When he tried to escape, another neighbor tackled him and was also slightly injured but held him until police arrived. What good was the restraining order? If someone is that mad, what good is a piece of paper? Do you think he cared about being in contempt of court or a fine? Hell, no!

What is it with men who can't let women go? Is it an ego thing? 'I can't have her so no one else can either.' If you love her so much, why kill her? Is that going to help? Does that leave ANY chance of reconciliation? I don't think so! Murder, like suicide, is something you can never take back or make right; once it's done, there's no second chance.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Win an Oscar Mayer Prize Pack

You could win an Oscar Mayer Prize Pack, including an Oscar Mayer apron, Wiener Whistles for the kids, and coupons for free Oscar Mayer All Beef hot dogs and select condiments from Lattes and Life. Five more people will win coupons for free Oscar Mayer beef hot dogs (one coupon per winner). To enter all you have to do is go here and tell her what you like on your hot dog. Many other entry options. Contest ends at midnight July 12 and will be notified by email the next day. Open to U.S. only

Books I've read this week - Sassy

Sassy by Gloria Mallette

From the book cover: The murder of two women in New York City has Detective Frank Keifer looking for a vicious killer while Sassy Davenport, a popular romance novelist, has finally met the man of her dreams.

When architect Norris Yoshito, on a whim, steps off the street into one of Sassy's book signings, he is instantly smitten and Sassy is curiously intrigued. A passionate relationship develops, but when key people associated with Norris are brutally murdered, Sassy is thrust into a world of uncertainty and doubt. Norris appears to have two personalities. One is that of a violent man, the other is a man of great compassion who helps Sassy with her cousin who is dying of AIDS.

Fear and edge-of-the-seat suspense plunges Sassy into a nightmare of deception and danger where romance cease(s) to exist and the real world of murder is the force to be reckoned with.

This was an interestng mystery where the main characters are a young, black romance writer, Sassy, and a successful businessman, Norris, who was born of a Japanese mother and a black, Amercian serviceman. When Sassy meets Norris, she feels like one of her book characters has come to life. He seems like the perfect man for her. Why then do witnesses and the police think he's killing people? Is he really a psychopath with a split personality or is someone trying to frame him?

This book combined a romance novel with a mystery and did a pretty good job. Although by the middle of the book I had an idea of who was behind the killings, I wasn't completely right and nothing is clear until the end of the book. It's a good summer read.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Books I've read this week - End of Grace

Just a few minutes ago I finished reading End of Grace by K. Thomas Murphy ©2009. My first reaction is, "Wow!"

From the book cover: An incident in computer specialist Rick Maye's past has put him on the path of revenge. If his plan is successful, the object of his wrath, the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, could lose millions of dollars and thousands of members. What Rich cannot foresee are the sinister ways this church will react when threatened.

Mormons begin receiving letters that question the validity of their gospel and inform them that loved ones have been baptized into an alternative faith. It's an assault on the authority of the church, and more importantly, it's beginning to impact church revenues.

The Mormon leadership dispatches kay Summers, a young but capable administrative assistant, to Oregon, where she finds and follows a thread leading to Rick. Unbeknownst to her, they've also dispatched agents from the church's secret army, the Danite Knights, to follow her to the source of the problem and fix it - permanently.

Initially, Rick and Kay play cat and mouse, each trying to find out what the other knows, while in the shadows the Danites use limitless resources preparing to stop not only the letters, but anybody involved with them. Soon, the mysterious deaths and close calls start happening. Rick and Kay, two adversaries, become a team; ultimatedly running for their lives, desperately trying to put the puzzle together as they stay one step ahead of the tempest Rick has awakened.

This was a fascinating book. I'm sure the Mormon church may feel otherwise, but I thought it was a thrilliing story about the abuse of power by one of the biggest religious organizations in the world. I found the background of the church hierachy to be very interesting and it would be very interesting to know how much of the church tenets mentioned are true. The author is a computer geek and he made the main character, Rick, a computer whiz, and the things he was able to do really added a lot of interesting detail to the book. It contained all the elements to make a good story - high-tech espionage, ruthless power struggles, blackmail, great characters, religion, scenic locations, with a little romance thrown in. I think this is movie material. This was the author's first book but I'm looking forward to reading whatever he writes next.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We're living in the tropics!

Last week it rained - sprinkles on Monday, an inch on Tuesday, two and a quarter inches on Wednesday, and another 4 tenths on Friday. Not only that the temperatures hit 90° and you know what that does to the humidity! This week has been even worse. We had 4 tenths on Sunday and another inch and a half last night along with high winds. Temperatures have been over 90 and last evening after the winds, our electric went out. It ended up being off for almost 10 hours. Thank goodness the temps went down a little after the storm went through but neither of us slept very well. I also had to empty the refrigerator and freezer into 2 big coolers with ice blocks so I didn't lose anything. Today was hot again and I am SO tired of all the rain! We still haven't replaced the dryer and it's so hard to dry clothes when it's either raining or the humidity is sky-high.

And of course, the grass doesn't stop growing just because it's wet - just the opposite. If it keeps up, we'll have to bale hay! I tried to mow the back lot this afternoon and got the mower stuck. Had to wait until Jim got home to get the other mower out and pull me up the hill. That put an end to the mowing for today. Hopefully, next week will be better.

Win The Host and maybe Twilight

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 5 copies of The Host by Stephanie Meyer and one person will also win a copy of Twilight. You must tell her why you deserve to win the copy of Twilight. Enter here. Contest ends July 15. Good luck.

Win "Olivia Kidney"

J. Kaye's Book Blog has a wonderful children's book to giveaway. Olivia Kidney by Ellen Potter is aimed at the 9 - 12 year reading level.

Book info: Olivia Kidney’s father only flaw is he can’t seem to keep his job as a building superintendent. And every time he loses his job, they have to move. This means, Olivia has to switch schools. To make things worse, his latest job is at a hotel where her neighbors are unfriendly. One day, she returned from school but found out that she lost her apartment keys. While she waits for her father to come home, a series of events happen and a whole new world opens up. But, the biggest thing of all is Olivia can see and hear things that not everyone else can.

If this sounds like something your child would like to read make sure you enter the contest here. There are many ways to enter - information on the blog. Contest ends July 24. Winner will NOT be contacted so either check the site on July 25 or subscribe to her blog. Good luck.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hoover Vacuum Giveaway

Win a Hoover Cordless Stick Vac from Good Golly Miss Blondie . Contest ends 12pm (Noon) EST on July 1st. Enter here by visiting the Hoover Platinum Collection and then telling her what other product from this new collection you would love to have. Remember if this entry is not done all others will be disqualified, and for such a great prize why chance it! Other entry info on site.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Books I've read this week - How to Train a Rock

I just finished How to Train a Rock by Paul Steven Stone © 2009.

About the book: With interest in his one-year-old novel Or So It Seems still on the rise, Paul Steven Stone recently introduced his newest book, How To Train A Rock, a collection of 'short insights and fiction flights' culled from over 20 years of Stone's irreverent and quirky newspaper column, "A Stone's Throw".

According to Stone, each of the fifty pieces in the book is a well-crafted, highly polished gem. From hilarious mock ads for 'The Law Offices Of Paul Steven Stone" to laugh-out-loud takes on Boston sports fans, automated answering systems and the over-exposed public lives of ladies named Paris and Britney, Stone's commentaries are often funny, occasionally profound and always creative.

I really enjoyed Mr. Stone’s sense of humor and his take on important issues like gay marriage, war, cell phone use, and fatherhood. The entire book is made up of short stories so it was easy to read a while, pause, and come back later. The very first story, Pet Peeves, about neighbors’ dogs leaving ‘samples’ on his lawn was very funny. If you enjoy satire, you’ll like this book and Mr. Stone makes a lot of very good points like this from Love is a Many Gendered thing (Dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard). “….politicians may be able to legislate marriage but they can never legislate love.” I hope you read the book and get as much enjoyment out of it as I did. It can be purchased online at

The Original Kin Folks Barbeque

With Jim's 6 weeks of unemployment and the very wet weather we've been having, we hadn't really been out of town for quite some time. Saturday the rain held off (except for some sprinkles) so we decided to take a little drive. We ended up in Attica, a little town that's located about 8 miles south of Knoxville on highway 5 in Marion County. Now when I say small, that's what I mean. The population isn't even listed on the state map. All that's there is a couple dozen homes, a church, a very small used car lot, and one of the best restaurants around. Kin Folks Barbecue cooks all their meats using a wood-fired oven. They're housed in an old store with a pressed-tin ceiling and wooden floors. Another room has been added onto the rear for additional seating. The main dining room has dark maroon walls which makes it feel cozy and is decorated very eclectically with shelves holding a toy tractor collection, various antiques like old meat grinders, tins, old soda bottles, cast iron skillets, jugs, and even a stuffed raccoon and turtle. Old farm implements hang from the ceiling. Seating in this room is older style booths and tables with mis-matched wooden chairs.

None of that really matters though, because it's the food that draws people to town. For only $9.99 you can get a one-meat meal with 2 sides, and a roll. The meats include BBQ Beef, Beef Brisket, Country Ham, Italian Sausage, Turkey, Chicken, Catfish and Pork Ribs. This is one of the few places I know that fixes a nice, tender brisket because they cook it for hours. All the meats are served with BBQ sauce on the side if you want. The sides offered are baked potatoes, potato salad, country-style baked beans, green beans, corn on the cob, coleslaw, fruit salad, applesauce, or lettuce salad. You can also get 2-meat, 3-meat, or a 6-meat sampler dinner. If a meal is more than you need, you can have most of the meats as a sandwich. Coffee is only 75 cents and soda, ice tea, or lemonade are $1.79 with free refills or you can have a glass of milk. Children's dinners and carry-out is available,too. For dessert, they offer homemade ice cream, (plain or as a sundae) homemade fruit cobblers, (blackberry, peach or cherry), brownie delight, or a rootbeer float. I'm sure you won't go away hungry. They also offer catering. If you're ever in the vicinity, make sure you stop in. They're open Tuesday -Thurday 10:30 - 8:30 , Friday and Saturday 10:30 - 9, and 10:30 - 3 on Sundays, closed on Monday. Want more info? Call 641-943-2362.

Another Kin Folks is located in Altoona but it's in a new strip mall with none of the atmosphere of the original, and I hate to say it, but they had poorly trained staff. The one time Jim and I ate there we watched as a waitress wiped up a spill on the floor and then used the SAME cloth to wipe a table!!! I told the manager but he didn't seem to care. We won't ever eat there again.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books I've read this week- Difficult People: Flash Fictions

Hmmmm..... I received a copy of Difficult People: Flash Fictions by Jim Stallings ©2009 to review and I don't exactly know what to say about it. It certainly wasn't what I expected.

From the book cover: 'In writing these flash fictions over the years I've found they are somewhat whimsical, somewhat blue, somewhat comical, and in some cases, the tales take a truly edgy, dark, tragic turn. With the inherent need for immediate conflict in a short narrative, many of the stories scope out the war between the sexes, an endless battlefield of erotica and cleverness. (Be forwarned, many of these erotic tales require a tolerant, mature reader; they are not for the squeamish or juvenile readers.) Because of their brevity, the success of the stories depends in part on seeing the characters in depth; that's why I sometimes refer to them as Karmic tales or biographies or sometimes as Karmic portraits, whether slice-of-life moments or whole life summaries.' He also calls this a 'bold adult storybook of short-short spontaneously composed tales.'

This book is full of mostly one-page tales. The author admits that most were written in less than an hour then rewritten and read aloud "until the language, the vision and voice come together." I think he should have spent more time on them. There are a few that make a point like 'Pimp Daddy of Monticello' which refers to Thomas Jefferson and his hypocrital, "all men are equal" as he beds the slave women. I get the sexual inuendoes and references but there are a several stories that don't make any sense to me. But you know what? I kept reading them and I don't know why. Finally, about page 80 I said enough; I have more interesting books to read.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Books I've read this week - A Hint of Wicked

It's been raining so much here (an inch just yesterday) and today the sun came out and it'sin the mid-eighties and like a sauna. What can a girl do but read? Right?!

I won A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore from Reading with Monie. Thanks again!

Imagine this: You're married to your childhood sweetheart for 4 years and he goes off to war. You get word that he's been wounded and later, that they can't find his body. You're pregnant and after having the baby, you and your husband's best friend go to search for him but he's nowhere to be found. A year goes by with no word. Two years, still nothing and your friend's wife dies in childbirth. Five years, nothing, six..... Finally, after almost 7 years the court declares your husband dead and a year later you marry the friend. Nine months later you're in bed with your husband playing a little 'tie me to the bed' game when the bedroom door flies open and your dead husband bursts in! What happens next? That's the whole idea behind this book.

Jennifer Haymore set her story in 1815. Sophie, her first husband Garret, and their friend, Tristan, all grew up together. The two men are cousins and both fall in love with Sophie. Garret, being the older, spoke up about his intentions to marry her and Tristan stood by and did nothing. Now Garret is presumed dead and Tristan and Sophie have married. She still loves and misses Garret but Tristan does, too, and he understands. Now Garret has returned to reclaim all he left behind, his estates, the child he didn't know he had, and of course, his wife, and he's been betrayed by his best friend who he finds in bed with 'his' wife. Where has he been all this time and why didn't he come home sooner?

This book, while a romance novel, had a much stronger and interesting story than most. Even though it takes place in 1815 it makes you wonder what you would do in similar circumstances. Sophie loves both men but she knows she can't have them both (even though she fantasizes about it). How can she be with one without hurting the other? Like most romance novels, things work out in the end, although maybe not in the way you'd think. I liked this book and recommend it as a good summer read.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Books I've read this week -The Adventures of Snip in Oregon

The Adventures of Snip in Oregon by Betty S. Moir, Illustrated by Yumi V. Vong

This was a delightful little children's book about Snip the dog who lives with the Moir family. Reading the book was like having Mrs. Moir there to tell you about her memories of the dog. Snip was a poodle, malamute, husky mix who looked like a black sheep dog. He came to live with the Moirs when they moved to Oregon and his previous owners were moving to another country and couldn't take him. Some of the stories included are how he helped around the ranch, loved ice cream and riding in the pickup, and his adventures with wild animals including a skunk. It would be a good book to read aloud to a child although there aren't many illustrations. Mrs. Moir has plans to write about more adventures with Snip.

I've sent the book to my 10-year-old niece to read. We'll see what she thinks of it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Death of a Pope

The Death of a Pope by Piers Paul Read ©2009

From the book cover: Juan Uriarte, a handsome and outspoken Spanish ex-priest, seems to be the model of nonviolence and compassion for the poor and downtrodden. So why is he on trial, accused of terrorist activities? His worldwide Catholic charitable outreach program is suspected of being a front for radicals. The trial is covered by Kate Ramsey, a young British reporter, who sets out to uncover the truth about Uriarte and his work. She travels with him to Africa to see his work first hand but soon finds herself attracted to him.

Meanwhile an international conspiracy is growing, one that reaches into the Vatican itself. When the death of Pope Paul II brings about the conclave that will elect Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, a terrorist plot involving blackmail, subterfuge, and mass murder begins to fall into place… a plot that could spell disaster for the Catholic Church and the world.

Piers Paul Read’s powerful tale combines vivid characters, high drama, love, betrayal, faith, and redemption in a story of intrigue, church espionage, and an attempt to destroy the longest continuous government in the world – the Papacy. The Death of a Pope races toward an unexpected and unforgettable conclusion.

About the author: Piers Paul Read is an English author. A previous non-fiction work Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors sold five million copies worldwide. He also wrote Alec Guinness: The Authorized Biography, On the Third Day, A Patriot in Berlin, Alice in Exile, other books and several television plays. Learn more about this book at .

I was sent an ARC of this book to review. First I want to say I’m not Catholic or even a very religious person but I found this book fascinating and very thought-provoking once I got into it. The Catholic Church has always seemed somewhat mysterious to me and I wonder how it continues to exist in today's world with its rules against birth control, divorce, women priests, etc.

The content of this book is very applicable to today’s society with all the fears we have about global terrorism. In this story one radical takes steps to change the world in the name of God while attempting to place the blame on another religious group. Like so many other extremists, he feels that breaking the laws of the land and/or the church is okay if some good comes of it, after all “if God is for you, who can be against you?” The scary thing is something like this could happen if the right people were involved. This is a wonderful contemporary novel and packs a lot into its 215 pages.


I just realized I have once again been remiss in reporting my wins. I ended last month by winning Mother’s Day Murder by Leslie Meier from J. Kaye’s Book Blog on May 30. I’ve already read it and you can read my review here. I also received the Romano’s Grill gift basket via UPS that day and Jim and I have been having one of their meals each week. Last Monday we had the Chicken Marsala and it was good and a nice change. I added a can of sliced mushrooms and a pound of cut-up chicken breasts and everything else was included in the box. This was the win from Jersey Bites.

The first thing I won this month was the book A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore from Reading with Monie on the 5th. It just arrived today and I can’t wait to read it. It sounds juicy! On June 7th, I won a bottle of Tupelo Honey from Katie at Eat This and it arrived on the 10th. I knew Tupelo was the name of a town in Mississippi, but I didn't know it was also a flowering tree. The honey is very good. Also on the 7th, I won $5 from a Honey Nut Cheerios instant win game. (You can play up to 10 times daily and win up to 4 times total. Contest ends March 9, 2010. They will provide a code, On the 11th, UPS unexpectedly brought a huge-brimmed, straw sun hat from Glamour Magazine and Aveeno skin care. Get me a cooler of cold drinks and I’m ready to hit the beach. LOL

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Win a 19" Dell LCD Monitor!

Check out for varied and interesting posts. Matt posts about technical issues, tweeting, how to improve your business and/or web site, mountain biking - like I said, VERY varied.

Right now Matt is giving away a brand spanking new 19″ Widescreen Dell LCD Monitor!! That's right, a new LCD monitor! You know you want one so check out Matt's site. There are several ways to enter. Leave a comment saying what topics you'd like his site to address; tweet about the contest; link his site to your blog/site; subscrive via email; write about swansonager on your blog. He's giving a different amount of points (entries) for each thing you do. Contest open to US only, ends June 25, 2009. Enter here and good luck!

Win a Popcorn Gift Package

Kernal Season's makes popcorn seasonings like White Cheddar, Parmesan and Garlic, Ranch, Caramel and others, and Popcorn Spritzer. The Spritzer adds guilt-free flavor to your popped corn. It makes it taste like buttered theater corn without the fat calories. It's also great to spray on before you shake on the seasonings to make them adhere to the popcorn better. They may be purchased for home use at stores including Wal-Mart, Target, K Mart, Blockbuster Video, Safeway and Food Lion. Kernel Season’s products and popcorn accessories can also be purchased at

If you'd like a chance to win a Kernal Season's Popcorn Gift Package containing a bag of stovetop popping corn, three bags of microwave popcorn, a popcorn spritzer and six different seasoning flavors, visit Tara's View of the World and leave a comment here. Extra entry info available on the site. Contest ends June 19th.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Books I've read this week - Mother's Day Murder

I was lucky enough to win Mother's Day Murder by Leslie Meier ©2008 from J. Kaye's Book Blog. Thanks again Kaye!

From the book jacket: Spring in Tinker's Cove, Maine, finds local reporter Lucy Stone wishing she were digging in her garden instead of languishing in her office at the Pennysaver newspaper. But flowerbeds will have to wait when Mother’s Day rings in a feud between two neighborhood moms – and the fallout is fatal.

Two of her kids may be out of the nest, but Lucy knows only too well that mothering is a lifetime commitment. At least she gets to kick back and enjoy a fancy Mother’s Day brunch with her brood – that is, before the festivities are interrupted by a nasty scene courtesy of Barbara Hume and Tina Nowak. Opposites in every way, the only thing these mean moms have in common is the need to best each other at every turn, using their teenage daughters as pawns in elaborate games of one-upmanship…

The hostilities only escalate when Bar and Tina team up to host an after-prom party for local teens. Lucy – persuaded to participate so she can keep an eye on her own daughter, Sara – has a front row seat for the fireworks. But even after witnessing the women’s claw sharpening rituals, she never expects to see actual blood spilled – until Tina is shot dead at the public tennis court, right in front of Lucy.

Having witnessed Tina’s death, Lucy naturally expects to cover it for the Pennysaver, but when her boss snatches the story, she’s regulated to backing him up instead of taking the lead. It’s an exercise in frustration, especially since Lucy can shake neither the image of Tina’s last moments nor the suspicion that the evidence against prime suspect Bar isn’t as cut and dried as it seems….

Lucy is determined to unravel the close-knit knot of suspects, even if she doesn’t get the byline. But when the threads threaten to entangle one of her own, Lucy will come face-to-face with a killer who has a thing or two to learn about motherly love…

This book was one of the most current stories I’ve read. It covers a mother’s concerns about her teenage daughter’s texting, bullying at school, parental and peer pressure, and internet safety, all things that concern most parents these days. On top of that, it was a good murder mystery full of twists and turns. I have to admit I didn’t figure out the identity of the killer until it was revealed. It was an easy-to-read book that I think a lot of people could relate to. I’d recommend it as a good summer read.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Books I've read this week - Passeggiata: Strolling Through Italy

I was sent a copy of Passeggiata: Strolling Through Italy ©2008 to review. The author is G. G. Husak and the book is a detailed account of the yearly trips she and her husband took to Italy. They started going in 1993 and have made a trip every year since. They've visited the major tourist cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, and Naples but they also explored many of the small, off-the-beaten-path towns. They learned to travel light, use the public transportation of bus and train, and not be too upset when well-planned itineraries hit snags. The book gives a wonderful peek into the every day life of the Italians, their art, and culture. The title, Passeggiata, is the evening ritual of slow, strolling walks in the small villages. They don't walk for exercise like we do but it's their way to keep in touch with others in the community.

This book is not a novel in any way. It's a journal of the Husak's trips and is very detailed in some ways, with chapters devoted to individual areas and towns, and yet lacking in others. She mentions lovely little hotels and cozy restaurants but doesn't give the names. I wonder why. Surely, that's just as important to the potential traveler as what they had to eat or the view from their room. If you're planning a trip to Italy or have already been there, I'm sure you would find this book very interesting as it does tell many places to visit in different towns. She tells of art in churches and museums, breathtaking scenery, and historical sites. She gives many hints to make travel easier and less expensive, and her writing style is easy to read. For me, the casual reader who has never traveled to Europe, the only thing lacking was photos. Not one in the whole book except on the front cover. If someone's talking about breathtaking scenery, I'd like to see it. I think a few pages of photos would have added a lot to this type of book.

From the author's web site, : G.G. Husak has traveled with her husband Al to Italy for over ten years. Their adventures in Italian cities and villages and growing love for the Italian experience provide the inspiration for her writing. She brings the background and insight of an English teacher and museum art docent to historical sights and art of Italy. She tells her friends that she enjoys writing about Italy almost as much as being there.

In more recent years, Glen and Al have added other Mediterranean destinations to their travels but always end up in Italy. They have not found a place that they like better.

The book can be ordered through .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Win books for your 'manly' man

Bookin with Bingo just keeps the giveaways coming. You can win 4 books for your 'manly man' just in time for Father's Day. The books are How to Profit from the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead when You're Left Behind by Ellis Weiner, Barbara Davilman, & Steve and Evie Levy; Men with Balls: The Professional Athlete's Handbook by Drew Magary; Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit? by Steve Lowe, Alan McArthur & Brendan Hay; and The Man's Book: The Essential Guide for the Modern Man by Thomas Fink. Make sure you read about the books before you enter. They are meant to be humorous books but not meant for everyone.

You can win all 4 books by leaving a comment here telling which book you want the most and why you want to win these books for yourself or some MANLY MAN in your life. Include your email address in your comment (I always forget to do that!). Extra entry info on the site. Contest ends 6 PM, EST, Wednesday, June 17. Good luck!

Win "Perfection" by Julie Metz

Luxury Reading is hosting this giveaway. Julie Metz says her book, Perfection, is “a memoir of betrayal and renewal.” The story begins with the sudden death of her husband Henry which leaves Julie a widow with a young daughter. As she tries to cope with her grief in the small town where they lived, she finds out her husband had been in a long term affair with a woman Julie thought was her friend and with other women, too. Julie began to wonder if she even knew the man she was mourning. The book tells how she recovers from her grief and shock with the help of family and friends and unexpected allies and rebuilds a life for her and her daughter.

To win, enter here by telling the best memoir you've read recently. Extra entry info on the site. Contest ends midnight on June 16th. Good luck!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Win Gossip of the Starlings

Bookin' with Bingo is giving away 3 copies of Gossip of the Starlings by Nina De Gramont. The book is about the loyal but destructive friendship of two girls at a New England prep school. Catherine Morrow can't believe her luck when Skye Butterfield, daughter of a senator, befriends her. Skye pushes the boundaries at the schook and involves Catherine in drunken nights and cocaine binges. Catherine later cleans up her act and focuses on her school work as Skye's addictions grow stronger and she has an affair with a teacher. Despite her best efforts, Catherine gets sucked back into Skye's daring escapades which leads to a tragic ending.

If this sounds like something you would like to read, enter here. Giveaway will end at 6PM, EST, June 18.

My Latest Garden Project

I get a free magazine called Living the Country Life. (They also have a web site if you’re interested – ) There was an article in the June issue called River Retreat featuring a Georgia acreage owned by Joan and Andy Coval. Besides landscaping, Joan likes to create original crafts and artwork out of natural and found objects. One photo that caught my eye showed a stick chair that she had made. I’ve dabbled in making stick objects myself (a few trellises and a garden ornament) so I decided to make a chair. I have to tell you it was a LOT harder than I thought it would be to get that chair braced and sturdy enough it would sit up by itself. (Note to everyone: Don’t ask me to make furniture!) When I get in the mood to do something, I want to do it right then. Consequently, I’m always starting something and don’t have exactly what I need to do the job. I also found out 4 hands are better than 2 when making something like this so Jim was drafted to help hold while I fastened it together. (This is only fair since I helped him put a new muffler on the riding mower.) I ended up doing part of it then letting it go until the next day while I thought about how to finish it. The chair in the magazine photo was all wood but I elected to use grapevine to make my seat since I have lots of wild grapes. I then hung a gourd on the back and sat a potted ivy on the seat. What do you think? The 'model' is my mama cat, Chuck.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Ballad of West Tenth Street; The Raven's Pool

Wednesday I read The Ballad of West Tenth Street by Marjorie Kernan ©2009. This was a win from Confessions of a Real Librarian. (Thanks again!)

From the back of the book – “Once upon a time in Manhattan there stood a pair of fine old brick townhouses on West Tenth Street. One had a blue door with a tarnished brass knocker in the shape of a dolphin. The other was empty. Behind the blue door lived Sadie, the widow of a famous British rocker who died of an overdose, and two of her children, Hamish and Deen.

The children manage to muddle along as best they can with a loving but distracted mother. But their whole world changes when the house next door gets a new owner – a mysterious Southerner who quickly endears himself to his new neighbors, taking them – and their friends – under his protective wing. In doing so, he transforms everything.”

This was a different story. The rocker dad has been gone for 12 years but the family is barely functioning. The oldest daughter, Gretchen, is so bad she had to be committed to an institution. The mother drinks most of the time and the two younger children, 12 and 14, are the responsible ones. When a rich, older gentleman moves in next door with his wonderful cook, Ettie, he takes an interest in the family. Another big part of the story is a homeless man, known as Capt. Meat, who also becomes a friend of the children, and his cat, Titus. The mother gets called away to England, leaving the children behind. They end up staying with the gentleman next door and several things happen. The whole story wasn’t very believable to me but has been described as an urban fairytale. Towards the end of the book one of the characters dies and I ended up wishing I hadn’t read the book.

Today I finished The Raven’s Pool by Deborah Cannon ©2004. I won this book last April from TCM Book Reviews. I had started it several weeks ago and just couldn’t get into it. I finally decided either to read it or pass it on.

From the back of the book – “When half-Haida archaeologist Jake Lalonde arrives on Cedar Island in search of the origins of the Raven myths, he is embroiled in a battle with a ruthless developer who plots to turn his archaeological site into a them park.

Grad student Angeline Lisbon faces a tough choice : Jake and the protection of a sacred site or Radisson and his promise of wealth and power.

The developer is relentless, bound to take what he wants. And what he wants is much more sinister – and much more ancient – than either archaeologist can imagine.”

This book takes place along the northwest coast. Like the blurb says, it's about the battle between the archaeologist who's trying to preserve the past and the billionaire developer who’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. It’s also about the native myths and legends surrounding the raven. Jake is trying to find something that will give the government a reason not to sell their property. Radisson wants it all including Angeline, who has to decide to work for Radisson or give her love and support to Jake. Radisson is used to getting whatever he wants so when things don't go his way, it really infuriates him. He plans on building a theme park based on the local native history. He’s promised most of the people in the area jobs at his new park if they’ll sell their land to him. Jake has a string of 'accidents', falling rocks, no brakes, etc. They don't stop him but he also never seems smart enough to put 2 and 2 together. Angeline uses her beauty to try and get what she wants and then is upset when Radisson wants to take her to bed. She and Jake are almost killed as the story reaches its climax. Fairly predictable story line.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Perils of Drying Clothes

The dryer died but I have an outside line.
I'm saving energy but it's a pain in the rear
Carrying wet clothes up the basement stairs.
Thank goodness the clothesline's near.

It doesn't take long for things to dry
Hanging up there above grass and ants,
But tell me this, little birdie -
Why did you have to poop on my pants?

Random Thoughts, Part 2

Does your spouse (or significant other) read? I read a lot but Jim isn't a good reader, doesn't like to read, and so doesn't do it unless it's the newspaper, instructions for something, or maybe a magazine. I can remember my paternal grandparents reading all the time. They each had a rocking chair and there was a floor lamp between them, and they sat and read each evening. They lived about 20 miles from town and went to the library every two weeks, coming home with a box of books. They're actually the ones who introduced me to reading since we lived close and they would get books for me and my brother, too. My hubby is jealous of the time I read which to me, doesn't make sense. He says it's like I'm not with him when I'm reading. I don't feel it's any different than when he's sleeping in his recliner with the TV on. He's still there if I need him. How does your spouse or SO react to your reading?


Oh, darn! I did it again! What, you ask. I didn't divide my hostas and now they're all getting too big and hanging over the sidewalk. They look so good when they're just coming up and I forget that they'll get bigger each year. I spent a hot afternoon today dividing a couple of them up and moving pieces to the other side of the house.


Sorry, but I had to turn on comment moderation last night after being hit with several spam comments. I'll leave it for a while and then see what happens.

Books I've read this week - Man Overboard

I was sent a copy of Man Overboard, written by Sandy Mason, to review. The book was written as if the main character, Johnny Donohue, was telling the story. (It reminded me of some of those TV shows where the cop or investigator talks to the audience during the show.) Donohue and a buddy, ex-cop Lonny Turner are delivering a boat when they find an unattended sailboat. It belongs to a marina owner and he's nowhere to be found. The police investigation finds out he'd been skimming money from his business and also, suspected drug-running boats had been tied up at his marina. Did the man just skip town or is he involved with the drug-runners? Johnny is a friend of the family and tries to find out what happened along with the help of his new girlfriend, Maria deFlores, who's a newspaper reporter, and his friend Lonny. The book is full of boat descriptions and sailing references. Not knowing one boat from another, it was hard to understand part of the time. If you like a mystery and sailing, you may like this book.

I found the book to be somewhat repetitive. And I have no idea why, when referring to Florida, he needed to say "that there seemed to be a lot of people wandering around the streets or working in the stores with IQ's well below the national norm." (p. 116) That should win some brownie points with Floridian readers! The author also seemed to think that since he was writing a book aimed at a mainly male audience, he needed to throw in references to the Korean War. (Chapter 30) In my opinion, this whole chapter and Johnny's trip back home wasn't necessary to the story. He also kept telling what Johnny was wearing and what they were eating ........ who cares? On page 161, "The weather now became a steady drizzle, so I ditched the sport coat and put on a sailing jacket. I still looked stunning." HUH? I hope he was trying to be funny. What kind of guy calls himself 'stunning'? This just wasn't really my kind of book. Sorry, Mr. Mason.

I believe this book was self-published as there was no publisher or copyright date listed. For more information on the author, you can go here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Drey's having a birthday giveaway!

Drey from Drey's Library is having a birthday but she's giving the presents instead of receiving them. To enter, just leave a comment and guess the actual date of her birthday. One clue for you - it's in June. Everyone who guesses the right date will be entered into the drawing, and Randomizer will pick the winner. In addition, you'll have one extra guess if you're a follower, and two extra guesses if you share - that's 2 per share! For every 10 people who enter, 1 winner will be picked, with up to 3 winners. What're you playing for? Up to three of the following books (mix & match, it's your pick...)--first winner picks 3, second winner picks 2, and the third winner picks 1.
The books you get to pick from are -
Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series: Furies of Caleron, Academ's Fury, and Cursor's Fury;
Eileen Wilks' Tempting Danger;
Anne Bishop's The House of Gaian;
Vicki Petterson's The Touch of Twilight;
David Baldacci's First Family;
Ted Dekker's Boneman's Daughters;
Dan Simmons' The Terror;
Linda Kelsey's Fifty Is Not a Four-Letter Word;
Jean Hanff Korelitz's Admission;
Katie Crouch's Girls in Trucks.

Enter here. Contest ends June 30 at 6 pm central. Good luck!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Last Family

After reading First Family by David Baldacci, I thought it was only fitting to follow up by reading The Last Family by John Ramsey Miller ©1996 (Bantam Books). This thriller kept my attention from the start and didn't let go until the final chapter. Martin Fletcher is a renegade DEA agent who blames former agent Paul Masterson for his downfall. Fletcher is a psychopath who doesn't care who he hurts in his quest for revenge. Over the past couple of years he has been killing the family members of Paul's former team, making it look like accidental deaths. After killing Agent Rainey Lee's wife, he calls Rainey and tells him what he'd done and that it was he who also killed his two children. He tells him it's all Paul Masterson's fault. Paul himself has become a recluse in a Montana cabin six years after almost getting killed in one of Fletcher's schemes. He's lost an eye, has limited use of one arm and hand, and walks with a limp. He wants nothing more than to try and forget the two men who died trying to save him but his life is filled with nightmares and regrets. He's alienated his family and doesn't know how to make things right

One day two men show up on the mountain looking for Paul. He learns that Fletcher has killed the families of 3 other agents and he needs to return to work in order to stop Fletcher from killing the last family, his family. The only way he can do that is to use his family as bait and try and take Fletcher out before he killst them. Is he up to the task? He and his former teammates, who have already lost their wives and children, are certainly going to try.

This book starts out fast and never slows down. The seemingly untouchable Fletcher gets away time after time. He's a makeup artist and has had plastic surgery and hides in plain sight a lot of the time. He taunts Paul with messages and phone calls. He's pure evil and you just want them to get him SO badly! I probably wouldn't watch this type of movie because of all the graphic violence and killing, including children, but it had so much character background that it made it really interesting to read. If you like this type of book, I guarantee you won't be disappointed.