Friday, July 31, 2009

Books I've read this week - Wait Until Twilight

Wait Until Twilight ©2009 by Sang Pak

From the cover: “A hauntingly strange and powerfully affecting debut novel that heralds the arrival of a unique and captivating literary voice. Sang Pak’s Wait Until Twilight is a coming-of-age story that explores the complex darkness infecting a damaged psyche in a small Southern town.

Not long after his own mother’s death, sixteen-year-old Samuel discovers a set of deformed triplets hidden behind closed doors in his sleepy Georgia community. The babies – whose shut-in mother believes they were immaculately conceived and whose menacing brother is a constant threat – take control of Samuel’s every waking and sleeping thought. His only escape, he realizes, will be to save the monster children. But to do so, he must rein in his darkest impulses as he undergoes a profound transformation from motherless boy to self-defined man – because sometimes the most terrible monsters are those that live inside us all.”

Samuel’s friend takes him to see deformed triplets and after seeing them, they consume his thoughts and affect his daily life. He feels guilty that the sight of them bothered him so much. On a later visit to the house, he discovers the babies’ older brother mistreats them and wants them dead but he doesn’t know what to do about it. The story follows him as he discovers what he needs to do to become a man. This was a disturbing book and what Samuel does is not all pretty and light but it was a compelling story.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Books I've read this week - You Can't Hide

You Can’t Hide ©2006 by Karen Rose

From the cover: "YOU DON'T KNOW WHO I AM.

Terror has forever changed the life of psychiatrist Tess Ciccotelli. Someone is tormenting her patients, pushing them to commit suicide, and setting her up to take the blame. But Tess can’t break her oath to protect her patients’ privacy at all costs. Even when detective Aidan Reagan demands a list of everyone she’s treating. Even when the mounting danger threatens Tess herself.


Aidan doesn’t like anyone who stalls his cases. Still, he can’t help but admire Tess’s fierce loyalty to her patients, especially when it becomes clear that a nameless, faceless enemy is set on destroying her career, her family, and finally, Tess herself. As Aidan’s heart softens, the killer’s will hardens, and one thing becomes clear – the noose is tightening around Tess’s neck.


This was a good mystery and just when I thought I’d figured out ‘whodunit’, that person ended up another victim of the killer. Someone is trying to ruin Tess’s life using her patients and friends. Her first thought is someone she helped put in jail is seeking revenge. But as more and more people she’s associated with are killed, she can’t think of anyone who hates her that much. Aidan disliked her because he felt she let one killer escape prison by pleading to insanity. As he gets to know her, he realizes that she always does what she believes in, whether it’s the popular opinion, or not. As expected in most good books, the damsel in distress and the hero end up getting together. For a book that is almost 500 pages, it did a good job of keeping my interest with well-developed characters and storylines.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Peek into my Week

I already posted that I had jury duty 2 days this week. Friday I opened the Multi-purpose Center at 8 and worked until 4:30. Anne, who is my sister and the director, had the WIC (Women, Infant and Children) appointments the day before and that makes a very long day for her. She came in about 8:45 but none of the other volunteers showed up. I was glad it was kind of a slow day. Some days it can get pretty hectic with people shopping, the phone ringing, handling donations and sometimes the food pantry, too. For lunch, Anne usually buys us a take-out sandwich which I eat at my desk. If I'm lucky I get my coffee drank before it's cold. I enjoy the work but I would enjoy it a LOT more if it paid something. If I'm lucky I find a shirt, a book, or maybe a purse that I like but they don't put gas in the car or pay the bills.
t has been a strange summer, weather-wise. June was a steaming scorcher most of the time and July may be one of the coolest on record. It has been great not to have the AC running all the time and being able to sleep with the windows open. I’ll take fresh air anytime over a house that closed up. It’s been raining quite a bit, too, which plays hell with racing schedules. This Saturday evening was the first time that we’ve been able to make it to a figure 8 race and we attended the one at the Brooklyn Raceway. Our son Jason and his wife sponsor a race series that takes place at several central Iowa tracks and he also takes photos at the races and sells them. The Brooklyn racetrack has provided them with a small building to sell their photos in this year, which is really nice for them and provides better access to the fans. Jay has a blog where he posts photos, figure 8 race and other motorsport schedules, and race standings here. We hadn't seen the kids since Jim went back to work so it was nice to visit with them.

Saturday night at the races it got downright chilly. I was wearing jeans and a tee and thank goodness, I took a sweatshirt. There was a steady breeze out of the northwest and it felt really cold before the races got over at 10:30 although it was probably in the 60s. Today was a perfect day... mostly sunny, high about 80°, and no wind. We both slept in since we got home late last night (Brooklyn is almost 100 miles away), and then went to Terrible's Casino like we do most Sunday afternoons. I've been having a good month. I won a little over $200 earlier in the month and today almost $70. That's pretty good since I usually only spend about $20 - $15 that Jim gives me and $5 that's comped each week. When we left today, Jim was in first place in the daily free slot tournament with over 4800 points. We'll find out Monday morning if that holds up. First place pays $50, 2nd - $25, 3rd - $20 gas at their station, 4th - $10 gas, and 5th - free buffets. Any of those would be nice wins.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Books I've read this week - Fairy Hunters, Ink.

Fairy Hunters, Ink.: A Book of Fairies for Children and (Not So) Grown-ups ©2009 by Sheila A. Dane. Illustrations by Rose Csorba.

About the book: “Have you ever wondered why your child's clothes, or even your own, always end up on the closet floor? Or why your socks go missing from your laundry? Or why ants inevitably show up at your picnics? If you want the answer to these and many other vexing questions, then Fairy Hunters, Ink. is the book for you.

All this and more await you as you follow the adventures of the intrepid band of Fairy Hunters made up of a little girl named Ashley, her friend Big Rabbit, and their fellow companion, Turtle. You will discover which fairy hates to fly, what Teacup Fairies eat, and the favorite games of the Mud Puddle Fairy. And you'll delight to the dry, amusing voice of Laura, the narrator whose age is uncertain, but whose gentle management of occasional conflict among the band's members teaches wisdom and tolerance in a way that children can fully understand.”

This was a delightful book full of fantastical fairy illustrations. I wished as I read it that I had a child here to share it with me. I know a couple who are going to love it. Here’s an excerpt about the Sock Fairies –

Sock Fairies come in various colors and will often steal Socks that match their coloring. This isn’t because they’re vain: it helps them hide from us. They sometimes steal handkerchiefs, too, which they use as blankets in the winter, with tiny pillows of Sock lint. In the summer they use their stolen handkerchiefs in elaborate games of “Charades” and “Guess When". I am uncertain as to the rules of the “Guess When" game; I am told the Sock Fairies get confused sometimes, too, and end up playing an odd mixture of the two games. When this happens, they began waving their handkerchiefs wildly, shouting Incomprehensible Things like, “What am I on Wednesday?” “What weathervane was Thursday?” “When will I be a Spotted Purple Weeblebarger?” (S.P.W. B. for short).”

As you can see, a child (or not so grown-up adult) would find this very amusing. It has stories about Chimney Fairies, Blue Bottle Fairies, Mud Puddle Fairies, Sock Fairies, even Book Fairies, and many others. It’s a very fun book and the author has a sequel in the works. For more information, you may check out the author’s web site at .

Jury Duty, Part II

I had a new experience this week. I served on a jury for the first time during a criminal trial. The defendant had been accused of stealing almost $10,000 from her employer, a convenience store. She worked a 10-hour shift alone and ‘refunded’ amounts started showing up on her daily reports. Who ever returns anything to a convenience store and gets their money back, let alone several people each day totaling $200 or more? The clerks were supposed to get all refunds cleared through their supervisors and no other clerks gave out any refunds. Then there was the little matter of the video surveillance system that is tied into the cash registers. This particular store used a system with a journal printer. When the clerk hits a register key, the transaction amounts show up on the video, just like it does on your receipt. If the journal printer is turned off, the transactions don’t show on the video. One of the videos was shown to us as evidence and you could see the clerk reach under the counter and turn the journal printer off. Next you could see her using the cash register but no numbers showed on the video so the store had no record of that transaction. The clerk was hitting the refund key before she made the transaction and later pocketing that amount. The daily receipt records also had missing receipt numbers from the time the printer was off. The clerk got bolder and bolder stealing several hundred dollars almost every day she worked over a period of about 4 months, totaling over $9800.

Since the clerk worked alone when the ‘refunds’ were made; since no other clerks at that store or others in the corporation had any refunds; since the journal printer was turned off and wasn’t malfunctioning in any way (only on her shift? I don’t think so); and since the video showed no one else stealing the money, we found her guilty of 2nd degree theft, that’s for stealing an amount over $1000 and less than $10,000. It's my understanding that she may be sentenced to 2-5 years.

The trial took about two days. Most of the first morning was jury selection and instructions. Then there were opening statements from both lawyers and two witnesses for the prosecution presented their information. We were let go about 3:15 because the 3rd witness couldn’t be there until this morning. Today we heard the third witness, watched the surveillance video, and heard closing arguments. The defendant never got on the stand or said a word other than to her lawyer. We got further instructions from the judge about how to go about reaching the verdict. We deliberated about a half hour and then we were escorted across the street to a cafĂ©’ for lunch. Back to the jury room after lunch and we reached a decision about 2 p.m. I only knew 2 of the other jurors but they were all very nice people. We were evenly divided, six men and six women. No one was bossy or tried to bully anyone else about his or her decision. There were a couple who a problem with the concept of reasonable doubt although everyone agreed at the very start of deliberations that she had stole the money.

I’m still on the jury roll through September and I wouldn’t mind sitting in on another trial. I found it very interesting and feel it’s my duty to serve.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Books I've read this week - Her Name Was Beauty

Her Name Was Beauty by Deborah A. Williams

About the book: Her Name Was Beauty, a new book by behavioral specialist Deborah A. Williams, is the story about a young multiracial girl and her encounters with being teased by others as she goes to school for the first time.

Williams, the daughter of a biracial father, knows firsthand the complexity that comes with the blending of cultures and with dealing with people who are unable to acknowledge that it is okay to be different. In her book, Beauty finds that her peers at school do not want to sit next to the "dark girl" and even call her a "mutt." The author hopes that readers will see how this world has changed in regards to diversity. With so many children of all different ethnicities in foster care, detention and ready for adoption, Williams says, "children are the future whether we know it or not."

The author stated in her letter to me that the book is intended ‘for young children and for families of all nationalities.’ The idea behind the book is very good - a racially-mixed mother and father explaining to their little girl that while she may be different, she is just as good as other children and they think she is beautiful. The book is large like a coloring book and only about 25 pages. I think a child would look at the book and say, “Where are the pictures?” for there are none in the entire book and even the choice of a dove on the cover is odd. It is written in a very large font with only a sentence or two on each page like a young child’s book, but it’s definitely a read-aloud book with the parent needing to explain words as they go along, and probably not a book the child would read by themselves.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crop Duster

I was sitting at my computer writing the Sugar Time book review earlier and I kept hearing a small plane. I didn't think too much about it since we're located between the local small airport and the big one in Des Moines. However, when the noise kept getting louder and closer, I decided to check it out. I discovered a crop duster was spraying the corn field behind our house. It was fun watching him as he soared about 20 feet above the ground over the field but it also made me a bit apprehensive since I know occasionally they do crash. I was glad when he got done and left to do another field.

Books I've read this week - Sugar Time

Sugar Time by Jane Adams ©2009

About the book: “Charlotte “Sugar’ Kane hasn’t brought in a hit TV show for 20 years. She’s about to prove she still can, even if she’s an old broad in a youth-obsessed business, when she’s blind-sided by a medical malady that could cost her the pilot if anyone knew about it as well as ruin her chance to turn it into a winning series. She manages to keep her secret from the conniving young assistant who wants her show, and even from her grown kids and closest friends. And when she falls in love with Alex Carroll, she can’t tell him either: “What man who’s still got what it takes wants a woman with a condition?” But Alex has a secret of his own, and by the time Sugar learns it, she’ll have to face the hardest decision of all for a woman of a certain age who gets her last chance at both love and success - and knows that getting one means giving up the other.”

I almost put this down after reading a few pages. Why would I be interested in reading about a Jewish career woman ‘of a certain age’, (my age!), divorced and single, with grown kids and health problems? Don’t I have enough problems of my own? But as I read and got to know Sugar better, I begin to get interested in her life. She’s a television producer/writer who needs her latest show to be a success even if working all hours ends up killing her. She has an angina attack and is told to slow down and to try and eliminate stress in her life before she has a real heart attack. She meets a wonderful man and they hit it off immediately. She never tells him or her family about her medical condition because she doesn’t want the kids to worry and she thinks the man wouldn’t want anything to do with her. She has to decide what matters to her most and how she arrives at that decision is the basis for the book. It’s a good chick-lit book even if the heroine is a little older than most in today’s stories.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Books I've read this week - Testimony

Testimony by Anita Shreve ©2008 I won this book from Drey's Library. Thanks again Drey!

About the book: “Enter a world upended by the repercussions of a single impulsive act.

At an exclusive New England boarding school, a sex scandal unleashes a storm of shame and recrimination. The men, women, and teenagers affected – among them the headmaster, struggling to contain the scandal before it destroys the school; a well-liked scholarship student and star basketball player, grappling with the consequences of his mistakes; his mother, confronting her own forbidden temptations; and a troubled teenage girl eager to put the past behind her – speak out to relate the events of one fateful night and its aftermath.”

This story is told chapter by chapter by the different people involved - the students, the headmaster, the parents, the friends, the police. Three of the school’s senior basketball players and one fourteen-year-old freshman girl get drunk and engage in consensual sexual activities which are videotaped. The tape somehow arrives at the headmaster’s (it’s never explained how) and he mistakenly tries to keep the story quiet and handle it himself. When the girl thinks she’s going to get into trouble, she calls her parents and tells them she was raped. They call the police and soon word leaks out and the school and everyone involved are caught up in the scandal. Where the story takes place in Vermont, sex with a girl this age is considered sexual abuse and the 3 boys are charged. The story explains the background of the 4 young people involved and what led up to the night of drinking and sex, and then the aftermath. It also explores the ‘what ifs’ of the different characters that could have led to a much different ending.
I so understand how something like this could happen when kids are drinking and messing around. This could happen anywhere with the same results but being in the private school sector made it that much more scandalous. It was a very compelling story of how one mistake can ruin lives.

Books I've read this week - Benny & Shrimp

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti, © 1998, English translation © 2008

About the book: "A man and a woman, both of them lonely, meet and fall in love. Both of them crave companship and family; both are intelligent and good-humored. As Benny and Desiree’ (a.k.a. Shrimp) are about to discover, all that can stand between them and happiness is – everything.

Benny is a dairy farmer struggling to keep his late parents’ farm alive in a modern world. Desiree’ is a small-town librarian who has retreated even further into her shell after the death of her young husband. They live in Sweden, and their love story begins surprisingly enough in a cemetery: it is there, visiting their loved ones’ graves, that they first spot each other. Their differences are obvious immediately – she’s appalled by the tacky decorations he so carefully arranges around his mother’s grave and he’s turned off by her peaked bookworm looks – but lust and longing drive them into each other’s arms. Just when it looks like love could conquer all, reality rears its ugly head with a vengeance. How can Desiree’ (whom Benny promptly nicknames “Shrimp”), with her love of high culture, independence, and postmodern theory, be happy in a creaking old farmhouse that stuck in the 1950s? And how can a man like Benny, who sings to his cows on Christmas Eve and longs for a buxom woman to come along and help run the farm, reconcile himself to store-bought meatballs and evenings at the opera?

In Benny & Shrimp, Katarina Mazetti allows her two characters to speak for themselves in alternating chapters, giving readers an intimate look inside the minds of two people as they struggle to bridge the gap between their separate worlds for the sake of true love. The farmer and librarian could be two figures in a pastoral fable, but here they spring to life in all their sexy, infuriating, confounding messiness. Will modern-day practicality keep them apart, or will the unlikely couple live the fairy-tale ending? Either way, their path is a universal one of love, heartbreak, and hope.”

I had heard good things about this book and it was even recommended in Entertainment Weekly this week, so when it arrived yesterday, I couldn’t wait to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. Even though the story takes place in Sweden, it could have been anywhere. Two very different people meet and for some reason, they’re just drawn to each other. Benny is a dairy farmer who inherited the family farm and works very long hours. He doesn’t know about housework, laundry, or cooking since his mother always did that.. He’s looking for a wife to cook, clean, and help around the farm and provide him with a family. Desiree’ grew up with money, went to college, and lives in an apartment while working as a librarian. She’s very neat and organized and wants a man to share her love of books and opera and she never learned how to cook much - she's basically a vegetarian. Her husband and Benny's parents are buried next to each other. They see each other at the cemetery where they share a bench and when they smile at each other one day, something just clicks. Neither knew what to do about it at the time but eventually they do get together. Now they just need to figure out how to make their lifestyles meld harmoniously since neither wants to compromise and they’re both terrible at putting their feelings into words.

There was a lot of humor in the book but also places where I wanted to cry or give both of them a swift kick. I really enjoyed this book but was kind of disappointed when it was done because I didn’t want it to end. The author did write a sequel, Familjegraven, that was published in Sweden in 2005. I hope it’s translated soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jury Duty!

I found out last month that I’m on District Court jury duty for 3 months, July – September, and I’m scheduled to report next Tuesday. All these years and this is the first time I was picked. Jim got selected a few years ago but never actually had to sit on a jury. He went a couple of days and then the case was settled out of court. I’ll find out Monday evening if I have to show up the next morning. I hope if I do have to sit on the jury that it’s an interesting case. I’d hate for something boring to seriously cut into my reading time! LOL

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Books I've read this week - Aging with Grace

Aging with Grace by Greg Liberman ©2009

From the book cover: “Grace, a middle-aged housewife, is dissatisfied with her looks, her husband, and her lifestyle. Grace is certain that she was meant to lead a more exciting life than the one she finds herself in. She finds the thrill she is looking for and more when she reconnects with a high school friend through a social networking website. Suddenly, Grace is hobnobbing with celebrities, wearing designer clothes, and being wooed by Victor, a mysterious Hollywood powerhouse. Soon Grace is flying off to Malibu on a whim to hook up with Victor, all the while lying to her husband and her two daughters.

Grace has no qualms about accepting all Victor has to offer – a fabulous beach house in Malibu with closets full of designer clothes for her, plastic surgery, a part in a movie as well as a lavish lifestyle. Does Grace finally get everything she always wanted and deserves, or is there more to Victor that meets the eye? Find out in this exciting, fast-paced and humorous look at selfishness and desire.”

Oh, my! If there was ever a story character that I loved to hate, it was Grace. She is the most obnoxious, self-centered, immoral person who will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. She's a suburban housewife with two kids. When she finds out her old friend is a celebrity photographer, she’s consumed by jealousy and wants to be part of the scene. What got me is that she never hesitated or thought twice about what her actions might do to her family. Almost every word out of her mouth was a lie no matter whom she was speaking to. Her husband is going through a crisis at work and trying to start over and her two daughters need her, but she just ignores their problems. She alienates all her friends by telling them what she really thinks of them. I had to keep reading just to see if she would get her just rewards. I didn’t find much humor in the book. Grace was too frantic to accomplish what she wanted even when she wasn't popping pills, and the results were anything but funny. This is a good book if you want something to pass a hot summer day. Read it and count your blessings if your friends are not like Grace.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Books I've read this week - Midnight

Midnight by Dean Koontz © 1989

About the book: The citizens of Moonlight Cove, California, are changing. Some are losing touch with their deepest emotions. Others are surrendering to their wildest urges. And the few who remain unchanged are absolutely terrified – if not brutally murdered in the dead of night. Dean Koontz, the bestselling master of suspense, invites you into the shocking world of Moonlight Cove – where four unlikely survivors confront the darkest realms of human nature.

There have been 12 suspicious deaths in the past month in Moonlight Cove and undercover FBI agent Sam Booker has been sent to investigate. One of those deaths was the supposed suicide of Tess Lockland’s sister and she’s come to find out what happened, too. Eleven-year-old Chrissie Foster finds her parents aren’t what she thought when she misses the school bus and returns home unexpectedly. Now she’s running for her life. And disabled Viet Nam war vet Harry Talbot may not be able to get around without his wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop him from keeping tabs on the town with his telescope. He’s seen all those bodies going to the funeral home, more than the number of deaths that have been reported in the local newspaper, but what are those dark, shadowy shapes he sees slinking around at night?

Local crazy, rich guy Tom Shaddock, whose computer company employs most of the town, is taking over. He promised people that the injections they’re getting would improve their lives. In some ways it has because now they can heal themselves unless they get a mortal wound to their heart or brain. However, they’ve also lost their ability to feel any emotion other than fear, and some of the people seem to be having side effects, what they call ‘regressing’, and what they’re regressing into isn’t good.

This was one of the best thrillers I’ve read in quite a while. I sit by a window when I read late at night and this was one of those stories that made me draw the curtains, and check to see if those were just shadows I was seeing out of the corner of my eye or Boogeymen. It's just what I'd expect from Koontz.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Books I've read this week - As Long as He Needs Me

As Long as He Needs Me by Mary Verdick

From the book cover:They thought they were getting a vacation. Their marriage might not survive it.

In honor of their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, Kitty and Clem Johanssen set off on what’s supposed to be a dream vacation; a gracious cruise up the East Coast from New York to Montreal. But in a hectic rush to embark, Clem foolishly loses his cash to a couple of street swindlers. Unbeknownst to Kitty, the incidence sets off a profound introspection of Clem’s weaknesses, regrets, and mortality – amplified by the sudden appearance of his old war buddy-turned politician, T. McCollough Boyle, during a shore excursion. As Clem grows more distant throughout the trip, Kitty falls in with an attractive – and mysterious – Englishman named Toby Knight, who offers everything Clem doesn’t: grace, charm and hopefulness. Now, the slowly smoldering confrontations of the last three decades – the deep-seated resentments, half-buried insecurities and burning passions – will surface in a confrontation so powerful it will test the limits of the couple’s love.

At once unsettling and compassionate, As Long as He Needs Me is a psychological novel of faith, memory, love, and the unyielding supremacy of time.”

The story is told from Kitty’s perspective and current things make her remember past events that help explain the story. It’s a wonder the marriage lasted through 35 years with all the couple had to face. The author certainly included enough family problems – separation because of war, the question of abortion, drug use, homosexuality, adultery, death of a child, finding out about parents’ infidelity, etc. I was beginning to wonder, “What’s next?”

As I read this book this afternoon, I decided I didn’t like Kitty or Clem Johanssen very much. Clem is weak and likes to blame others for the things he did wrong and the things he didn’t achieve in his life. Kitty tries to run her children’s lives just like her mother did, and when things don’t go well in her relationship with her husband, she’s too quick to turn to others. That isn't to say it wasn't a good story, and the book was probably more true-to-life than a lot of others I’ve read. Having had relationship problems of my own in the past, maybe it hit too close to home. If I had to rate the book on a scale of 1 to 5, I’d give it a 4.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Garden Update

My garden is under attack! The pole beans grew and grew and I was beginning to wonder if they’d ever produce anything, but this week the buds appeared. However, at the same time, most of their leaves are gone! Plants have to have leaves in order to make energy to produce their seed and evidently the deer have decided that bean leaves are mighty tasty. They have acres of soybeans they could eat, but no, they have to raid my garden. They’ve also eaten about half the leaf lettuce and taken a few bites of the tomato plants. I read somewhere that you could hang bars of soap in your evergreens to stop deer from munching on them so I took a bar and cut it in half and slipped each piece in an old sock and hung them in the garden. It’s too soon to know if it’s helped. If anyone has an idea to keep the deer away, I’d like to hear it.

I thought the peas were done but I see there are new blooms coming on the plants. They like cool weather so last week was probably beneficial to them. If the weather goes back into ‘oven’ mode, I may just pull them and give the tomatoes more room. Too soon to know how the carrots are doing but the tops look good. Also, one of the 3 sunflowers that I transplanted is starting to bloom. I think they're so pretty and the birds will love the seed. I have lots of blooms and some small green peppers on my 9 plants which are on the other side of the house. Either the deer don’t like them or they haven’t found them yet. I can dice and freeze them if too many come on at the same time.


I haven't posted my sweeps wins for over 3 weeks so here goes....

For the last half of June: On the 16th I won the book Obedience from Stone Soup . I really liked this book and you can read my review here. On the 18th, I won another book, Is It Me or Is Everything Just Shit?: Insanely Annoying Modern Things from Bookin' with Bingo, and also on the 18th, the book Ecstasy from Fantasy Dreamer's Ramblings. You can read my review here. On the 20th I received a fun win from Val's Views, 'Hint Cards'. These are little cards to leave where hubby can find them reminding him that he doesn't need a reason to give flowers. On the 22nd, I was lucky enough to win two weeks in a row from Stone Soup; I won the book By the Rivers of Brooklyn.

And so far in July: On the 1st, UPS brought me a $50 gift card to Macy's from Teleflora Mom's Shopping Spree Sweeps. I've been spending quite a bit of time browsing since there are no stores close to me. On the 3rd the mail brought me a coupon for a free True Shimmer Chapstick from Walgreens. I'm not sure if this was a win or just something I signed up for. On the 5th I got an email saying I won the book The Night Gardener from Merry Weather Book Blog . And while it's not a sweeps win, I spent $30 and cashed out $234 at the Terrible's Casino on July 4th!

Books I've read this week - Ecstasy

Ecstasy by Jacquelyn Frank ©2009
I won this from Donna at Fantasy Dreamer’s Ramblings. Thanks again Donna!

From the book cover: “At one with the darkness, the mysterious Shadowdwellers must live as far from light-loving humans as possible in order to survive. Yet one damaged human woman will tempt the man behind the Shadowdweller throne into a dangerour desire…..

Among the Shadowdwellers, Trace holds power that some are willing to kill for. Without a stranger’s aid, one rival would surely have succeeded, but Trace’s brush with death is less surprising to him than his reaction to the beautiful, fragile human who heals him. By rights, Trae should hardly even register Ashla’s existence within the realm of Shadowscape, but instead he is drawn to everything about her – her innocence, her courage, and her lush, sensual heat….

After a terrifying car crash, Ashla Townsend wakes up to find that the bustling New York she knew is now eerie and desolate. Just when she’s convinced she’s alone, Ashla is confronted by a dark warrior who draws her deeper into a world she never knew existed. The bond between Ashla and Trace is a mystery to both, but searching for answers will mean confronting long-hidden secrets, and uncovering a threat that could destroy everything Trace holds precious…”

If you like a paranormal romance with intrigue and good, erotic sex, then this is a book for you I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz-type paranormal stories but not too many romances. I have to say this one was very interesting and full of a different type of adventure and very sensual lovemaking. Ms. Frank has a way with words that pulls the reader into her story. I did find it somewhat difficult to imagine a world without light or one where the people must only move from shadow to shadow in order to survive and that was always in the back of my mind as I read the story.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009



Just claiming my blog for Technorati...please ignore.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Books I've read this week - Obedience

I won Obedience by Will Lavender ©2008 from Stone Soup . (Thank you Katrina!) She has a weekly, Monday book giveaway. Make sure you visit her site. I started reading this book yesterday afternoon and couldn’t put it down. Maybe that’s why I got to bed a t 3:30 AM!! This was one of the most convoluted mysteries I have read in a long time.

From the book cover: “When the students in Winchester University’s Logic and Reasoning 204 arrive for their first day of class, they are greeted not with a syllabus or texts, but with a startling assignment from Professor Williams: Find a hypothetical girl named Polly. If after being given a series of clues and details the class has not found her before the end of the term in six weeks, she will be murdered.

At first the students are as intrigued by the premise of their puzzle as they are wary of the strange and slightly creepy Professor Williams. But as they delve deeper into the mystery, the boundary between the classroom and the real world is blurred and the students wonder if it is their own lives they are being asked to save.”

So, a group of students in a Logic and Reasoning class only have one assignment. Using the clues given to them by their professor, they have six weeks to find an imaginary girl or she will be (hypothetically) murdered. But when the clues start to involve real people and real places, does that mean the girl is real also? Is the professor somehow involved in the disappearance and assumed murder of a young woman almost twenty years ago? Two of the students get so drawn into the story that before long they can’t tell truth from fiction. How far will they go to save the girl before the time is up? This story leads the reader in one direction and then another and the ending is not at all what you expect. Yes, someone does die but not whom you think. I was so mad at the end of the book because of what happened to some of the characters and the story kept running through my mind even after I put the book down. If you want a good, psychological thriller to read this summer that’s full of plot twists and turns, make sure you check out Obedience.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Books I've read this week - No One You Know

No One You Know by Michelle Richmond ©2008. I won this book from Dawn at She Is Too Fond of Books . Thanks again Dawn!

From the book cover: “All her life Ellie Enderlin had been known as Lila’s sister – until the day Lila, a top math student at Stanford, was murdered, and the shape of the family changed forever. Twenty years later, Ellie is a professional coffee buyer who has never put down roots. When in a chance meeting she comes into possession of the notebook that Lila carried everywhere, Ellie returns home to finally discover the truth about her sister’s death – a search that will lead her to Lila’s secret lover, to the motives and fate of a man who profited from their family’s grief, and ultimately to the deepest secrets even sisters keep from each other. This is a riveting family dramas about loss, love, and the way hope redefines our lives – a novel at once heartbreaking, provocative, and impossible to put down.”

Twenty years after Ellie’s sister is murdered, she runs into the suspected killer while buying coffee in Nicaragua. The tell-all book written about Lila’s murder has ruined his life, but he swears he’s innocent and Ellie tends to believe him, finally realizing that she never really believed he did it. Like everyone else, she had just believed what was written in the 'true' crime book to be based on facts. Who then, killed her sister? Going back home, Ellie starts the search for the real killer.

This was a good mystery with interesting characters and locations (San Francisco and Nicaragua). It did a good job showing how families interact before and following a tragedy.

Lila was a math genius (like the guy on the NUMB3RS television show) and the many math references and explanations went right over my head; the longer ones, I just skipped over. I do realize they helped explain the personality of Lila and others in the story. The information about Ellie’s job as a coffee buyer was very interesting. I did not like the man who wrote the tell-all book and was surprised when Ellie treated him so nicely. I thought it was interesting that book continued on for a few more chapters after the murder was solved, because the real story wasn’t the murder, it was the relationships of the people involved.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Books I've read this week - Across the Pond

Across the Pond by Storyheart (Barry Eva) ©2008, a YA romance.

From the book cover: Finding himself packed off to friends in the USA, fifteen-year-old English-born Fred Squire is not happy. Then he meets Brittany. Struggling with his feelings for Brit and the language, Fred is further confused when he meets Brits flirtatious friend, Angel.
Escaping from a confrontation with Steve Harris, the neighborhood bully, Brit tells Fred her dark secret about Harris, and Fred’s world is turned upside down.
Life continues to throw Fred a curveball when he catches a baseball worth a small fortune. Further run-ins with Harris, a crazy family barbeque, and a chase through a mall all add to Fred’s American adventure.
Brit and her Brit” know that their young love will be followed by heartache when Fred has to return to England but not before some final twists in the tale.

This was a short (just over 110 pages), easy to read book. Fred needs a place to go when his parents win a trip to Australia and he can’t go with them. He’s offered the choice of taking the train to his grandparents in Scotland or flying to New York to visit family friends. He decides to go to America and visit the friends who just happen to have a daughter his age. It doesn’t hurt that his folks promised him an Xbox if he does a school paper on the differences between the two countries.

It doesn’t take long for Fred and Brit to fall head over heels for each other. He ends up defending her and her friends against a bully. Then during a trip to a ballgame, he catches a ball worth a lot of money. What he does with the ball and how he gets back at the bully are a big part of the story. I’d recommend the book to teens or anyone who likes a fun book with a happy ending.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Books I've read this week - Hunter

I don’t often read ‘deep’ stories because I like to be more entertained than made to think about the book. If that makes me shallow, so be it. However, I just read a book that really made me stop and think about the past. The book is Hunter: A Novel by Campbell Jefferys ©2008.This book was the winner of the General Fiction category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Mr. Jefferys is writer-in-residence at the Universtiy of Perth, Australia and also lectures part-time at the University of Hamburg.

The main character of this historical novel is Eric Messer, a 15-year-old boy who lives in a seaside town in Australia. He’s recently moved to the town from the country and the local boys are making his life miserable. He falls in with a surfer crowd and needs to earn money to buy his own board so he starts doing yard work for some of his elderly neighbors. He meets two men who have both emigrated to Australia from Europe, one a German and the other an Austrian. He learns they both have secrets that are related to the Nazis. How Eric struggles to fit in and the life lessons he learns from his family, his friends, and the neighbors he works for, are the basis of the story.

The book contains some very graphic descriptions of the atrocities that occurred as the Germans battled their way through Europe. It tells one man’s story, as he first becomes a member of the Hitler Youth, then the SS. As he slowly comes to realize that what the German Army is doing is wrong, he prays he’ll be killed. When he’s injured but doesn’t die, he deserts. After the war, he spends 2 years in a prison camp and then makes a new start in Australia. He eventually comes to live in the same housing development as the boy, Eric. Eric hears rumors that he’s a Nazi and he’s fascinated with the stories he tells.

This isn’t a quick-read but I wasn’t disappointed in the time I spent. I learned a lot about Australian culture and climate, and they way they feel about other people. The only ‘real’ Australians are the Aborigines yet the European immigrants treated the ‘blacks’ as lower-class citizens, much like we did the Afro-Americans in the United States. I could go on and on about the book but just trust me and read it yourself. If you can get past the graphic descriptions, you’ll soon find yourself immersed in the book.