Sunday, November 29, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Edge of Forever

I did find time to get some reading in this weekend after all.  I hope you enjoy this book.

The Edge of Forever © 2009 by Jeff S. Chimenti, MD

ISBN: 978-1-4389-5657-2
Publisher: Author House

About the book: "After Michael Hanson saves a young woman from a violent encounter with her abusive husband in a small Nevada town, they attempt to find refuge in another city. But, as they flee, the couple doesn’t realize that they’re about to be pulled into a life-threatening adventure in an event that will change the course of human history in less than a week.

Michael, his two brothers, and a brilliant scientist piece the puzzle together and realize that the bizarre and frightening changes occurring at Yellowstone National Park are simply the tip of the iceberg, and that man is now facing something that is truly beyond comprehension – something millions of times more powerful than anything the Earth has seen in 65 million years when the dinosaurs faced extinction.

The three brothers and their families are caught in a desperate struggle to survive amidst a political cover-up and the panic that ensues when the details of the event are revealed to the world. The group must somehow summon the courage and intelligence to beat the ticking time bomb that will soon convert the United States into a wasteland and claim over a billion lives worldwide."

Wow! After reading this book, I'm thinking of the Yellowstone Naional Park area in a whole new way!  I realize that this is just a novel and a ‘what-if’ scenario but it was scary. Dr. Chimenti’s scientific background lends much realism to the story and makes you wonder if it could happen. It was also full of emotional drama as the main characters have many close calls as they’re fighting against time and human adversaries to escape sure death. This book should appeal to many different readers as it has sci-fi, romance, action (with some graphic violence), and is a total thriller. I loved the short descriptive chapters depicting what happened to random people as disaster struck.

A sequel, The Edge of Forever, Brink of Extinction, will be available early in 2010.

I received this book from PR by the Book to read and review.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ummm. Yesterday the house smelled like spices from the pumpkin pies and today the aroma is fresh baked bread. I think the smells of holiday cooking is one of the best things about it. They also bring back lots of memories from past years. My paternal grandmother always baked dinner rolls and to me, eating it was better than having a piece of cake. Those rolls more than made up for some of her other cooking mishaps.

Our daughter-in-law, Dianna, has to work part of the day on Thursday so I’m fixing an evening meal. I like it that way because I’m not rushed to get everything done by noon or one o’clock. We’re having a traditional meal with roast turkey and all the trimmings.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday and are able to be with your family and loved ones.  I won't be reading much this weekend so look for new reviews next week.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Long Sleep

The Long Sleep © 2008 by Stephen Mellor

Published by Samarcand Books, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

About the book: “It was meant to be a great day. The New Argo has been sent to colonize a distant planet – code-named Gamma Six. The day it got there should have been a great one for humanity. Instead, upon reaching the planet, the New Argo blows up.

But why don’t the members of the ruling Executive Committee want to investigate? And what really happened to the New Argo? These are the questions that Lize Carr, youngest member of the Committee, wants answered.

When she employs private detective Kem Logan she unwittingly starts a chain of events that will mean danger for a great many people, including Kem and herself.”

This was a different book. It’s a sci-fi story written in the UK. If I remember right, it takes place in the twenty-seventh century. Much of the earth’s population and plant life has been wiped out but there are huge advancements in computers with holograms, AI assistants, and drones everywhere. An executive committee rules the earth. Thirty-five years ago, a spaceship full of hopeful people left on a 30-year-long trip to colonize a new planet. They had been in suspended animation to make the trip, hence the name of the book, The Long Sleep. Just as they were ready to set down on the new planet, their spaceship blows up. Lize Carr’s father was one of the colonizers and she can’t believe it when the head of the Executive Committee, who is also her stepfather, refuses to investigate the explosion. She decides to do so herself with disastrous results. Some of the futuristic ideas in the book are amazing; others are ‘big-brother’ like. Although the book jumped around a little that made it hard to follow at times, the plot was interesting.
I won this book from Stone Soup. Thanks Katrina!


Just a reminder - don't forget to check out the book contests and reviews on the blogs listed to the right.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And the winner of Sanctuary is......

Thank you to everyone who entered my first giveaway.

There were a total of 12 comments.  I assigned a number to each comment according to the order they were made. I asked Jim to pick one and he picked number 7 which was a comment by Terry. Congratulations!  An email was sent and I heard from Terry already.

Books I've read this week - Breaking the Bank

Breaking the Bank © 2009 by Yona Zeldia McDonough

ISBN: 978-1-4391-0253-4
Publisher: Downtown Press, a division of Simon and Schuster
SRP: $15.00

About the book: “Mia Saul is down on her luck. Dumped by her husband, jettisoned from her job, and estranged from her adored older brother, she and her young daughter, Eden, have had to make a downscale move to a crummy apartment, where their neighbors include a tough young drug dealer and a widower who lets his dogs use the hallways as their own personal litter box. Juggling a series of temporary jobs, wrangling with her ex-husband over child support, and trying to keep pace with Eden’s increasingly erratic behavior have left Mia weary and worn out.

So when a seemingly functional ATM starts handing Mia thousands and thousands of dollars – and not deducting the money from her account, because it sure isn’t in there – she isn’t about to give it back. Her newfound cash stash opens up a world of opportunity, and a whole lot of trouble. Worried friends, family, and in-laws start questioning her judgment about everything, and the cops really, really want to know where all that cash is coming from. And then there’s Patrick, a man Mia most definitely would never have met if things hadn’t spun out of control. Mia is beginning to think that maybe somebody, somewhere, is trying to teach her a lesson about what matters in life, and what doesn’t…”

This was a magical story. Mia’s groceries are stolen and when she goes to the ATM machine to get money to buy more, the machine gives her $200 instead of $100. She just figures it’s a mistake that the bank will catch. When she gets her next statement and the error isn’t there, she decides to go back to the bank and see if the machine will make another ‘mistake’. It does but this time it gives her $1000! Who wouldn’t want an ATM like that! Later the machine gives her even more and tells her to ‘use it well.’ Mia tries but gets into all kinds of trouble. She has to deal with her family, her ex, her boyfriend, her job, her daughter, and the money…it all gets to be too much and she ends up in trouble with the law. How she gets out of her predicament is anything but predictable. Very enjoyable story.

I won this book from Drey’s Library. Thanks Drey!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Piano Teacher

The Piano Teacher © 2009 by Janice Y. K. Lee

ISBN: 978-14-311653-0
Publisher: Penguin Group
SRP: $15.00

About the book: “This is the haunting story about a man and two women whose fates collide in Hong Kong During the Japanese invasion of World War II and it’s aftermath ten years later.

This sweeping tale of romance, secrecy, and betrayal alternates between the lives of two vastly different women whose destinies are linked by the man they both love. In 1941, Trudy Liang is a beautiful Eurasian soialite who falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Will Truesdale, a newly arrived Englishman. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Will is sent to an internment camp, where he and other foreigners struggle daily for survival. Trudy remains outside, forced to form dangerous alliances with the Japanese – in particular, the malevolent head of the gendarmerie, whose desparate attempt to locate a priceless collection of Chinese art lead to a chain of terrible betrayals.

Ten years later, Clair Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter’s piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the heady social life of the expatriate community. At an elegant cocktail party, she meets Will, to whom she is instantly attracted. She soon begins an affair…only to discover that her over is hiding a devastating past. As the threads of this spellbinding novel intertwine, impossible choices emerge – between love and safety, courage and survival, the present, and, above all, the past. Claire learns that sometimes the price of survival is love”

This story is told in two parts that intertwine. The first takes place right before WW II starts and during the takeover of Hong Kong by the Japanese, and the second, 10 years later, as Hong Kong is making its recovery. Some of the characters overlap and it’s their experiences that make the book. The author grew up in Hong Kong and also did a tremendous amount of research that is proven by the detail in the story.

There is a lot more to this story than just the love affair between Claire and Will. Claire isn’t even in Hong Kong as the relationship between Will and Trudy begins before the start of the war. When the Japanese invade, Will is injured and imprisoned with the other Europeans and Americans. Trudy, who is half Portuguese and half Chinese must make her way on the outside dealing with the Japanese.  Will survives the war but at what price? What secrets is he hiding? What part does Claire have in bringing some of them to light and can she survive when her own secrets are uncovered?  The descriptions of what the people went through during the invasion and after are graphic and vivid. It was a very gripping story and one that will stick with me for some time.

This book was provided to me for review by Penguin Books.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Books I've read this week - Eddie's Bastard

Eddie’s Bastard ©1999 by William Kowalski

ISBN: 0-06-109825-6
Harper Collins
SRP: $14.00

About the book: “Eddie’s Bastard” is William Amos Mann IV, know as Billy – the son of a heroic pilot killed in Vietnam and an unknown woman. The last in a line of proud, individualistic Irish-American men, Billy is discovered in a basket at the door of the dilapidated mansion where his bitter, hard-drinking grandfather, Thomas Mann, has exiled himself. Astonished and moved by the arrival of his unexpected progeny, Thomas sets out to raise the boy himself – on a diet of love, fried baloney and the fascinating lore of their shared heritage. Listening to his grandfather’s whiskey-tinged tales of the family’s gloriously checkered past, Billy sets out to capture the stories on paper. He is a Mann, Grandpa reminds him daily, and thus destined for greatness.

Through the tales of his ancestors, his own experiences, and the unforgettable characters who nhance and enliven his adolescence, Billy learns of bravery and cowardice, of life and death, of the heart’s capacity for love and for unremitting hatred, eventually grasping the meaning of family and history and their power to shape destiny. Steeped in imagery and threaded with lyricism, Eddie’s Bastard is a novel of discovery, of a young man’s emergence into the world and the endless possibilities it offers.”

I won this book from Katrina Stonoff’s blog, Stone Soup. When she sent the book, she included a hand-written note expressing her desire that I enjoy the book as much as she did. Well, Katrina, I truly did; thank you.

Written as a narrative by Billy, this book follows his fascinating and somewhat convoluted journey through childhood. After a serious financial mistake years before, his grandfather had become the laughing stock of the town and a recluse, slowly drinking himself to death. His wife had walked out on him and his only son had been killed in Vietnam. Thomas thought he was the last of the Mann family and he had given up. He was delighted to find Billy on his doorstep because it gave him something to live for and someone to carry on the family. As Billy grows up, he has lots to learn about his family and its relationship to the town. There are loads of secrets about the Mann family that come together in bits and pieces. I thoroughly enjoyed following along with Billy as he made his way through many difficult times in his journey to adulthood. As he searches for answers about his parentage and his family, he discovers that the past can sometimes provide very important clues to the future. It was a very enjoyable book.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hey, hey, hey! MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!

Since I’ve been writing my blog for nine months (since February 14th). I think it’s time my blog gave ‘birth’ to its first giveaway! (That and because my bookshelves are getting full.) The prize will be my gently read copy of Sanctuary by N. E. Julian. You can read my review here.

RULES HAVE BEEN EDITED FOR MY READERS' BENEFIT. For your first entry, you must be a follower and/or subscriber of my blog and make a comment saying so and include your email. Since Veteran’s Day was this week and one of the main characters in the book is a serviceman, for another entry tell me if you have a family member or friend in the military (or not) and where they're serving. For one more entry, share the contest and leave the link telling me where. (NO tweets…I’m a Kat, not a bird.)
Contest is open to U.S. only, 18 and over. Deadline is Wednesday, November 18 at 10 p.m. CST. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Winner will be chosen randomly and must be verified before any other entry counts. Winner will be notified by email and have 48 hours to respond so make sure I have a way to contact you. If winner can’t be verified or doesn’t reply, an alternate will be drawn. Good luck.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Books I’ve Read This Week – The Cost of Dreams

The Cost of Dreams.jpbThe Cost of Dreams © 2009 by Gary Stelzer

Publisher: Decent Hearts Press
Hardcover: 10 ISBN: 1-936073-01-3 / 13 ISBN: 978-1-936073-01-6 / $26.99
Trade Paperback: 10 ISBN: 1-936073-00-5 / 13 ISBN: 978-1-936073-00-9 / $15.99
E-Reader: See Amazon books for Kindle Version

About the book:  Set against the vivid backdrop of a Central American country in turmoil and a desolate Mexican wilderness, THE COST OF DREAMS introduces a masterful new writer of fiction. Gary Stelzer, a retired Midwest physician, draws upon an ordeal of one of his most memorable patients for a novel that's both a powerful, compelling page-turner and a poignant illumination of a woman's-and a people's-struggle to survive.

"Years ago," recalls Stelzer, "a foreign-born woman appeared at the ER of my small city hospital dreadfully injured by her drug-dealing brother-in-law. She had been shot at her family's home in the southwestern U.S. and her husband had driven her and their two small children to this northern Midwest locale. There I cared for her and directed her protracted rehab. Then the husband abandoned them all.

"She drifted away in the years following. But I always recalled how badly I felt for her and her children. Then one day in southwestern New Mexico, I watched as dozens of freight trains passed by and I began asking myself, 'what if...?'"

Thus the indomitable Flora Enriquez came to life.

Flora, a Mayan teenager, has escaped Talapa, her civil war-torn Central American village where her parents have been slain-and where even being seen in native wear could result in summary execution. Following her dream with nearly superhuman determination, she makes her way to San Diego, and against all odds, becomes a wife, mother and teacher. By hard work and shrewdness, she even obtains legal U.S. status.

Her life takes a horrific turn when she's shot by her drug-dealing brother in-law.  As she lays unconscious and bleeding in front of her house, Mexican immigrants traveling on a freight train kidnap and claim her as their daughter, caring for her on a long, grueling cross-country flight.

Nearly a year later, still gravely wounded and disfigured, a freed Flora arrives at the Lake Michigan home of Kate Bowman, an American aide worker who had previously befriended Flora in Talapa.  Kate's nephew had vanished on that mission, leaving Kate devastated and overwhelmed with guilt for permitting him to remain in a civil war ravaged Central America while she returned home.

Now Flora, eager to heal her injuries and desperate to restore what remains of her family, reignites in Kate a fire to learn the fate of her long lost nephew. The two women embark on a harrowing journey  that takes them to the ancient caves of northwestern Mexico in the Barrancas del Cobre, an exceedingly vast abyss of canyons, in search of a storied Indian healer. The cost of healing borders on the unendurable.

With breathtaking suspense, pulse-pounding action and authentic Indian culture, THE COST OF DREAMS is peopled by fully realized characters facing overwhelming obstacles and moral dilemmas. In short, it's a riveting and believable first-rate thriller.

I don't like the idea of illegal immigrants, but I know almost all of them are here just trying to make a living to survive.  This was the story of one of those immigrants and all that she had to endure to make her way to American and what she went through to survive once here.  I do believe her story is very extreme even if the basic idea came from a real person.  I doubt anyone could have lived through what Flora and others did in this book but it did make a gripping story.  I felt the author rushed through the ending and then tied things up a little too neatly. but I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that the book led me on.

I was provided this book to read and review by Dr. Stelzer and Carol Fass Publicity and PR.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Silent Gift

The Silent Gift © 2009 by Michael Landon, Jr. and Cindy Kelley

ISBN: 978-0-7642-0363-3
Publisher: Bethany House
Release date: October 2009
368 pp.
S.R.P: $13.99 U.S

A bittersweet story of hope in the midst of suffering, The Silent Gift follows the story of a devoted mother and her disabled son trying to survive the Great Depression - and the discovery of the boy's unusual gift. "We wanted to tell a story to illustrate that one's worth isn't dependent upon what society deems valuable, but that our intrinsic worth comes from our Creator;' said Landon Jr. and Kelley. Yet the book explores another theme - one that isn't often found in the pages of fiction. And one that the authors didn't take lightly. "The uniqueness of this story is that it focuses on a child who is both deaf and mute, but everyone believes has the gift of prophecy;' said the authors. "It was intriguing to delve into the spiritual gift of prophecy and its own unique implications." With prophecy as a hot-button issue with some denominations, Landon Jr. and Kelley wanted to give an accurate but thought-provoking portrayal of this special gift. As a result, they conducted in-depth research as well as interviewed some of the top theological minds of today. "The challenge was trying to find clarity between actual prophecy and what we typically call 'psychic' today;' they said. With research balanced by story, Landon Jr. and Kelley weave a beautiful narrative of love and enormous sacrifices that lingers long after the last page has been read.

From the book cover: The decade of the thirties was a time of enormous uncertainty – for the world, for America, and in particular for one lonely, struggling mother and her disabled son. Their story is one of unyielding love and incredible sacrifices in the face of circumstances beyond belief.

But then The Gift appears…Where has it come from, and why? How can a young boy who cannot communicate provide comfort and direction to seekers who learn of his special ability? Whatever the source, its presence brings a single shaft of light and hope to Mary and her beloved son, Jack…Will it be enough?

Oh, my! This book pulled at my emotions over and over. Mary struggles trying to take care of Jack. She just wants people to accept him and treat him normally, and she wants to provide a good home for him. When he suddenly appears to have the ability of prophecy, is it a good thing or bad? Without speaking, Jack has the chance to touch and change so many lives. Mary and Jack are taken under the wing of some wonderful people and taken advantage of by others who put them through hell, but Mary’s love and belief in her son never wavers. What she goes through to protect Jack and keep them together is almost unbelievable. Read it and let me know what YOU think.

This book was provided by Edify Media for me to read and review.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Books I've read this week - Dark Paradise

Dark Paradise © 1994 by Tami Hoag

ISBN: 0-553-56161-8
Bantam Books

About the book: New Eden, Montana, is a piece of heaven on earth where one woman died in her own private hell. Now it’s up to ex-court reporter Marilee Jennings to decipher the puzzle of her best friend’s death. But someone has a stake in silencing her suspicion. Someone with secrets worth killing for – and the power to turn this beautiful haven into a dark paradise. And as Mari digs deeper beneath New Eden’s picture-perfect exterior, finding the truth is suddenly no longer a matter of justice. It’s her only hope of staying alive.

Marilee Jennings is sick of her job and when her boyfriend dumps her, she impulsively decides to drive to Montana and spend some time with her friend Lucy while she decides what to do with her future. When she arrives, she finds out Lucy was killed 10 days earlier in what was called an accidental shooting. In a few day’s time, Mari finds out her friend is dead, she’s inherited everything, and the hot cowboy who owns the next place doesn’t like outsiders. The local land is being bought up by Hollywood-types and the ranchers are having a hard time holding on. One of those outsiders confessed to killing Lucy and got off with a slap on the hand. That doesn’t sit well with Mari and she decides to look into the circumstances of her death. She has a run-in with her neighbor and the sparks fly in more ways than one.

This was a good book with many interesting characters and storylines. There’s the conflict between the locals and the outsiders, the lust between Mari and J. D., the twisted relationship of Bryce and Samantha, the hell of Del and his demons. It all comes together in a very well-written novel.

I purchased this book at a flea market.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Extreme Makeover Home Edition Iowa Casting Call

I'm posting this just in case anyone in Iowa is interested or you know someone who lives in Iowa and would benefit. 

Extreme Makeover Home Edition is doing an Iowa casting call.  THE DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 10th.

Interested families or those who wish to nominate another family should e-mail a short description of their family story to Nominations/Submissions must include:
1. The names and ages of each member of the household
2. A description of the major challenges within the home.
3. Explanation of why this family is deserving, or a positive role model in their community.
4. Photos of the family and a photo of the home
5. Don’t forget to include a contact phone number.
And again, the DEADLINE  is November 10, 2009.