Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009 - Hello 2010

I never thought when I started my blog on Valentine’s Day 2009 that it would develop into mainly a book review site. I just wanted to have a place to vent occasionally, write a few simple poems, and share my passions of reading, family, hobbies, and cats. Somewhere along the way, the reading has definitely taken over, due in large part to J. Kaye of J. Kaye’s Book Blog. Thanks to her generous recommendation of me (and many others ) to book publishers, I’ve been the recipient of many free books in return for my review of their offerings. That’s also why I have a box of un-read, used books that I never seem to get to. :-)

With the start of a new year, I’m looking forward to reading many more books and sharing my reviews with my readers. There will be another book contest soon for a new autographed copy of New York Times best-selling author Michael Palmer’s latest medical thriller, The Last Surgeon. I’m reading it now and I think you’ll enjoy it very much. If you want a sneak peak, you can get one here. Mr. Palmer has lots of great interactive content on both his Facebook fan page  and Twitter account. He’s hosting weekly Q&A's, book giveaways and other exclusive contests so make sure you check it out.


Congratulations to the Iowa State Cyclones
for winning the Insight Bowl!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Books I've read this week - Conflicts with Interest

Conflicts with Interest ©2009 by Michael Ruddy

ISBN 978-0-615-30599-8
PUB Date: January 30, 2010
Publisher: Rodeo Publishing
Price: $15.95
336 pp.

About the book: “Sometimes, life can be a poker game with a fortunate stroke of serendipity. Sometimes, it’s nothing but incessant bad luck. T.R. Morgan is playing such a game with his most feared situation as a builder. Defect litigation. It isn’t enough that his is still mourning the loss of his beloved wife. Now, he finds himself caught in a nasty lawsuit against Steve Sanderson, a ruthless Bay Area lawyer.

The problem – it seems, is when will T.R. lose his company and home over this lawsuit and how many times over? Or will his own gambling habit be his downfall? Can the insurance companies out-play him? And is his new girlfriend, Catherine, actually who she seems? T.R.’s story comes to an explosive climax that no one could have foreseen – least of all T.R. himself.”

T.R. Morgan and his son Ryan own Morgan Homes. Now they’re being sued for several hundred thousand dollars over what started as a simple leaky window. Not only that but the insurance companies are giving them a hard time about whether they’ll stand behind them or not. It doesn't seem to matter if the Morgans are willing to fix the problem or if they were even at fault in the first place. The plaintiffs' lawyer will stop at almost nothing to win the case and the price to settle keeps going up. In the end it all comes down to T.R. to try and get them out of the mess.

This was a fascinating book although a little heavy-handed with the litigation details. I’ve never been involved with a court case and I admit I had a hard time following some of the technicalities. The author spent over 40 years in the construction industry and that gives the book a great deal of realism from the builder’s viewpoint. The ending took a very surprising twist and was completely unexpected.

I was provided with an ARC of the book for review by The Cadence Group.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dryer Balls - Thumbs DOWN

One thing I got for Christmas was dryer balls. You’ve all seen them – those bumpy plastic balls that are supposed to replace fabric softener, save you lots of money, reduce drying time, and fluff up your clothes. Well, I don’t know about ALL dryer balls but the ones I got are plain and simply, a joke. I first tried them with towels because it says they “naturally fluff up and soften without chemicals.” When I removed the towels from the dryer, I could hear the snap and pop of static electricity. I put them back in the dryer for a few minutes with a softener sheet. I then tried the balls with a load of whites. I pulled a knit shirt out of the dryer and one of Jim’s white hankies was plastered to the front of it. I peeled it off and put those clothes back into the dryer also with a softener sheet. No more dryer balls for me!

The ones I used are Handy Trends Dryer Mate brand and were bought at Menard’s.

Anyone else get a present that didn't perform as expected?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Heart of the Buddha

The Heart of the Buddha ©2010 by Elsie Sze

ISBN: 978-1-934572-30-6
Publisher: Emerald Book Company
Price: $14.95
231 pp.

About the book: “When Marian, an earnest romantic and idealist, goes missing in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, her prim and pragmatic sister, Ruthie, journeys from Canada to search for her. When Ruthie uncovers Marian’s passion for a Bhutanese monk and her hazardous trek over a mountain pass to Tibet, she fears the worst. And those fears only intensify when a sinister Tibetan reveals he is also in pursuit of Marian. As the sisters struggle to reach each other, they must overcome the demands of their own hearts and spirits.

In easy, poetic prose, Elsie Sze paints an enchanting picture of Bhutan as she spins a tale of mystery, adventure, and romance, recounting the two sisters’ physical and spiritual journeys to find each other and their true selves.”

Marian and Ruthie are fraternal twins born of a Portuguese father and Chinese mother. After their mother died, the family immigrated to Canada. Now Marian has gone to Bhutan to help organize a small, local library. When her 6-month work visa is up and she doesn’t return, and her letters stop coming, her sister Ruthie decides to go to Bhutan to find her. With the mind of a sleuth and the help of a wonderful guide, Ruthie follows her sister’s trail around Bhutan. Ruthie finds more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister has fallen in love with a Buddhist monk, but where is she now?

I didn’t know anything about Bhutan before reading this book. Including so much detail about the natural beauty of the area, its people, their clothing and food, and the Buddhist religion really brought the story to life. It would be a fascinating place to visit.

This book was provided for review by PR by the Book.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I hope you celebrate the holidays,
in good health and with someone you love.

Wishing you joy at Christmas
and good books for the New Year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Books I've read this week - Deadly Codes

Deadly Codes: A Gallagher Novel © 2009 by J P O’Donnell

ISBN: 978-0-595-5411-3
Publisher: iUniverse
216 pp.
Price: $15.95

About the book: “Daniel Cormac Gallagher, Jr., a Boston private eye, is hired to investigate the death of Jennifer Clark, tragically killed in a car bombing in her own driveway.

Gallagher has been commissioned by Jeanne Campbell, Jennifer’s twin sister, to find a mysterious woman – Jennifer’s secret lesbian lover who vanished immediately after the bombing. While the authorities continue to pursue their suspicions that the terrorist act my have been intended for Jennifer’s husband, Bill, who holds a top- secret position in the counter-intelligence division of the National Security Agency. Jeanne reveals intricate details to Gallagher that intrigue him enough to take on the case. While Gallagher begins searching for the missing woman, he has no idea that a bounty has been placed on his won head – two hired gunmen are plotting to kill him. Gallagher’s search takes him to Washington, D. C., where he discovers that the car bombing is only a backdrop to a complex, treasonous scheme to sell code-breaking formulas to a hostile enemy nation.

As the violent mystery unravels, Gallagher finds himself under deadly attack from two shocking but powerful forces – one he knows and another he never suspects.”

I really enjoyed the action and suspense of this book. Gallagher is a good investigator who happens to trust the wrong person at times. After he and his wife narrowly escape death, he promises to retire from P.I. work. As he’s trying to close his office, Jeanne Campbell comes in, tells him about her sister’s death, and asks him to find her sister’s lover. After hearing the details, he agrees to ‘just one more job.’ Of course, he uncovers more that he bargained for, once again putting his life in danger. The book was well-written, full of action and plot twists. It’s a shorter book but it doesn’t compromise on content. I hope the author brings this character back.

J. P. O’Donnell is also the author of Fatal Gamble.

The book was sent to me for review by Author Marketing Experts, Inc.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Books I've read this week - The Final War and 3001 - Birth of a Political Renaissance

The Final War and 3001 – Birth of a Political Renaissance
©2009 by Priscilla Andrea Herochik

ISBN: 978-1-4392-1514-2
Publisher: BookSurge
pp. 437
Price: $17.99

About the book: “What would happen if unrestrained religious fanaticism expanded worldwide: Could two religious zealots – a self-aggrandizing Baptist preacher and a Catholic Cardinal scheming to become Pope - subvert our Constitution and rule with Biblical dogma? Add the enemy of Christianity – Islamic despots from the Middle East and Africa – to this terrifying scenario, and we have the war to end all wars. In Pricilla Herochik’s convincing and unsettling futuristic novel, The Final War and 3001 – Birth of a Political Renaissance, these scenarios unfold with disturbing ease.

Reverend Rob is a Baptist evangelical who will stop at nothing to seize power and control. Cold and sinister Cardinal Richard Caldas will do whatever it takes to become Pope. When these fundamentalist tyrants join forces, the result is catastrophic for the world. In her novel, Ms. Herochik adds the final ingredient to concoct this calamity: the rise of Islamic theocracies in the Middle East and Africa, and the ambition of each of these religious factions to dominate the world. The result is a global war fought to the very last bomb. Only a handful of survivors remain. Humankind struggles to bring order out of chaos. A small number of people must made decisions that will either lead the world toward peaceful coexistence….or final annihilation. This is a rare novel that forces us to consider our future…and our continued existence.”

This book definitely did make me think. I didn’t necessarily agree with the author’s take on what could possible happen but she had many good ideas. I also didn’t like how the book was written. It’s supposed to be a novel but much of the book was just a narrative explaining how things were at that time period. When characters were included with a story line and dialog, the book was very interesting. The parts that were just narrative were a little less interesting and I wish the author could have developed a way to tell the story with more characters. I personally think her idea of a futuristic utopian society with little crime or illness, and everyone working for the good of everyone else is very far-fetched and leaves little room for individualism. If you want a book that will make you think, check this one out.

This book was provided for review by Author Marketing Experts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Books I've read this week - Savage Days Haunted Nights

Savage Days Haunted Nights ©2009 by Bennett Kremen

ISBN: 978-1-4196-5502-9
Publisher: Arnone Press, BookSurge Publishing
268 pp.

About the book: Savage Days Haunted Nights portrays Dorian, a man trapped in a harrowing struggle between good and evil, striving now perilously day after day to conquer this. It’s an arresting tale, suspenseful and driven by forceful action from the first page to the last. Criminals, professors, socialites, prostitutes, poets, and ordinary people animate every chapter of this saga, revealing some of the darkest secrets of the back streets of Chicago and New York and, in one chapter, a breathtaking adventure on a bleak, forbidding tundra in the wilds of Alaska. Revealed here also are the very deepest recesses of human character and the agonies of love amidst the moral challenges of our age.”

This entire book centers on the main characters struggle about right and wrong. As a child, he doesn’t learn to read and is picked on mercilessly. (He’s later determined to be dyslexic.) He learns to fight back, drops out of school and joins a gang in Chicago. As an adult, he finds he’s still full of anger and he has to deal with it. What he did as a youth colors his adult life and he becomes his own worst enemy. It reaches a point where it becomes a life and death situation. It’s not a great book but I sympathized with all he went through and could understand why he acted like he did.

This book was provided for review by Ariel Publicity.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Would you post a 'bad' review?

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. I fixed a 15 pound turkey hoping to have LOTS of leftovers but it went fast. I did freeze enough for one meal and made a turkey and Stove Top stuffing casserole. The rest was just eaten as leftovers and sandwiches and some went home with our son. We usually get an Amana ham from Jim's boss and have that as our Christmas dinner.

Now about book reviews...... I haven't posted any reviews this week but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading. One book I just finished was an anthor's debut book and I thought it was very poorly written. The story lacked good continuity and was hard to follow at times. Conversations took place without me being able to tell who was speaking until a few paragraphs later. At one time, one of two brothers was killed and in the next chapter, it was the other brother who was dead. The author seemed to make a point of some things and then said just the opposite a few pages or chapters later. I emailed the author and pointed out a few obvious mistakes but I just couldn't bring myself to post a review of this book knowing it wouldn't do the author any good. I searched for and read other reveiws of the book on line and it got good reviews so maybe I'm super critical. How about you? Would you post a 'bad' review?