Friday, August 31, 2007
First up didn't come home today. It's a review copy of The Master of Verona by David Blixt and it's still on a slow boat navigating the treachorous Bering Sea.
The second one I've been wanting for some time now, Star Wars Allegiance, the latest act of genius from Timothy Zahn.
The third I read about on the Clean Reads blog, A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. It's a YA Historical Fantasy. Considering that my next novel for the Slash & Burn, Manic Knight, is a YA Historical Science Fiction (whew!) I think I might learn a thing or two.
Finally, I have The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I don't actually know much about this book. I have to admit I was suckered by the title and cover art. That's rare for me. Those two ancient Egyptian guys remind me of Ariez and Kaliban from my own stories. You know the drill - if I like it, I'll review it. So, this one may or may not come up.
Finally, I thought I'd share my Wish List. These are books that I've been wanting for some time and will review once I get my greedy little fingers on them.
Invisible Husband by Sheila Goss
Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra
Now and Zen by Linda Gerber
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Among homeschoolers, especially those who use the Charlotte Mason or Classical methods, there's what we call 'Twaddle-Free Books.' These are the quality books which transport the child and provide multiple dimensions throughout the story.
"Making an apple pie is really very easy..." This is the starting sentence of the book. A girl wants to make an apple pie, but the store is closed. She can't buy the ingredients. Instead, she travels around the world to obtain them. Sugar in Jamaica. Cinnomin in Sri Lanka. Milk from a well-mannered cow in England. Eggs from a French hen, because they lay the finest. Semilina wheat from Italy.
What makes this book 'Twaddle-Free?' First, it's fun! So are Twinkies, but I don't feed them to my children every day all day long. Second, I can use it as a springboard to teach my children how to bake an apple pie. In baking the pie, I can teach them chemistry and mathematics. As well as how to clean up after themselves! Third, I can use it and a map of the world to teach them geography. We can run to the library for books on Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Italy, and all the others. Fourth, we can study the science of evaporating sea water to make salt.
Get the idea?
One of these days I'll list all of my Twaddle-Free Book Recommendations for Children. Happy Day, Blog Buds!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
This week's Oldie but Goodie is...
In the fantasy/romance novel Broken Vows, Ms. Daniells introduces us to T'Imoshen, the last of the T'En lineage. Her land, Fair Aisle, is under attack from General Tulkhan, leader of the Ghebite armies. The Dhamfeer stronghold is surrounded by Tulkhan and his men, and Imoshen must surrender or face the death of all those who have sought refuge within it's walls.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Kathy Peel has written a bunch of books and has a wonderful website. She even trains people in how to coach other people in managing their homes. And I'm sure she didn't mean to insult Stay-At-Home Mothers when she titled one of her books The Family Manager's Guide for Working Moms. ALL moms are working moms, of course. Some of us simply do not receive financial compensation.
Chapter One is all about assessing your family's currant situation, making a plan to organize it, and mobilizing the family team to accomplish organization. Naturally, this is the most difficult step. I've found that it's not a one-time event too. Life throws me a curve ball and the next thing I know I'm starting all over again! Kathy does an excellent job of laying out the steps for this. There's no wishy-washy advice.
Chapter Two covers housekeeping. It's not a how-to-scrub-the-toilet section. It's all about organizing your household so that it's user-friendly, easy to keep clean, and easy to get your family to do their share of the work.
Chapter Three concerns the Schedule, daily and weekly. Setting priorities, organizing time, getting things done.
Chapter Four is about the yearly schedule. Everything from back-to-school to seasonal cleaning.
Chapter Five describes how to manage special occasions, like throwing a party and traveling.
Chapter Six is a bonus section on the holidays, like how to survive Christmas with your yuletide cheer intact.
I've found having a notebook is essential to keeping track of all this. I call it my 'Dump Book' because I dump all my thoughts into it. Unfortunately, my Dump Book has mutated into three Dump Books over the summer. I'm going shopping for a new one, just one, that I can carry in my purse at all times.
As mentioned, Kathy Peel has written a bunch of books on similar topics, so pop over to her website to learn more. http://www.familymanager.com/
The Family Manager's Creed
I oversee an organization-
Where hundreds of decisions are made daily,
Where property and resources are managed,
Where healthy and nutritional needs are determined,
Where finances and futures are discussed and debated,
Where projects are planned and events are arranged,
Where transportation and scheduling are critical,
Where team-building is a priority,
Where careers begin and end.
I oversee an organization.
I am a Family Manager.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
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I reviewed THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair on June 5th of this year. You can find it in the Archives to the lower left. ZOMBIE comes out the end of November, just in time for Christmas!
If you want to post this book trailer on your site, click on the 'MySpace' icon in the lower right corner of the book trailer and follow the directions.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
This week's Oldie but Goodie is..
In 'Runaway Time' Deborah Gordon introduces us to Sarah Maravich, a historian with the Wells Project. In the year 2085, the scientists associated with this project are responsible for the tempronauts they send back in time on scientific and medical research missions. Sara has bee sent back in time to Civil-War era Washington City, with the hopes of meeting with President Lincoln. Her mission is two-fold ~ discussing race relations with him and one Tyson Stone, and trying to prevent the President from going to the Ford Theater.
Ms. Gordon has written a wonderful time-travel romance in 'Runaway Time'. Her characters are vividly written, their personalities leaping off the page with their own unique qualities. it is those qualities that make you emotionally vested in the outcome of their story. There is another sub-plot going on in this story, but I will leave you to discover what that is. The romantic details are added tastefully, and are semi-sensual in nature. This novel is second in a series, and while I could not find a website for this wonderful author, you can check out this novel on Amazon.com at the following link:
Runaway Time (An Avon Romantic Treasure)
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Hands down, the best baby book ever is Secrets of the Baby Whisperer. Tracy Hogg was a British baby nurse. Here in America, we also call that Maternity Nurse or Newborn Specialist. In the US, the word 'nurse' implies a medical nurse. In fact, a Baby Nurse may or may not be a medical nurse. Tracy Hogg was both. Sadly, Tracy passed a way just a while ago. Her legacy, however, endures in all the families she's helped and, most importantly, through her own children.
The fundimental lesson of the Baby whisperer is that babies are born thinking, feeling, learning human beings with their personalities fully intact. Babies are NOT blank slates. They do not only cry and poo. Babies have their own language. The parent or caregiver who can learn this language can accomadate a baby's unique needs, helping her to settle into a contented life outside the womb.
Tracy provides concrete examples, steps, and even a quiz to help parents and caregivers to figure out their babies' personalities. She calls this S.L.O.W.
Once they do, she then provides the steps to settle baby into contentment by working with the baby's unique personality. She calls this E.A.S.Y. The astounding thing most people learn at this point is that the Parent/Caregiver and the Baby are working together. The Baby is NOT a helpless blob with arms and legs to be cared for. The Baby - and I'm talking about Newborn Baby - is NOT a passive creature!
E - Eating
A - Activity
S - Sleeping
Y - You
All human beings are born with a biological clock. Helping a baby figure hers out settles her into life outside the womb.
When we merely react to Baby's cries, usually by trying to find the fastest way to make them shut-up, we miss the opportunity to build this cooperative relationship. Trace calls this Accidental Parenting. She has a system for sorting that out too. She calls this A.B.C. or Three Day Magic.
Antecedent - What happend before?
Behavior - How did Baby react?
Consequences - What pattern was established because of this? (example- baby wakes up crying at 3 a.m. every morning)
Finally, the wonderful thing about Baby Whispering is that Tracy emphasizes over and over the importance of taking care of You. She considers the well-being of the entire family in her advice. I learned to get up early to have time for myself, to take an afternoon nap when my children slept, to do something by myself on my husband's first day off, to have a monthly date with my husband, and to put the children to bed early so I can have peace and quiet alone and with my husband. By looking after ourselves, we can better look after our children.
So, if you have a baby, you're pregnant or in the process of adopting, or you know someone who is, or you want to be a nanny or become a better nanny, check out Secrets of the Baby Whisperer.
If you want to learn more, visit http://www.babywhisperer.com/
Saturday, August 11, 2007
This week's Oldie but Goodie is...
Released August 2004
With football season just around the corner, I thought this week would be good to review a book that proves women and sports can happily co-exist ~ especially when there is a good man involved.
Annabelle Jordan is the oldest of three sisters whose parents were killed in a plane crash. We meet the trio for the first time when they arrive at the home of their uncle Yank Morgan, just after their parents are killed. Annabelle is the leader of the three girls, and she vows to keep the three of them together no matter what.
Fast-forward to the present, and Annabelle and her sisters work for Yank in his sports agency, The Hot Zone, as publicists. Annabelle has just been assigned to handle publicity for one Brandon Vaughn, former football star, who now is trying to start a summer camp for special kids.
One problem, though. There have been strange and seemingly random occurrences that have been driving the opening date of the camp back bit by bit until Brandon finally realizes something fishy is going on.
Another problem? Brandon hasn't been able to stop thinking about Annabelle ever since they met a few years ago at a charity event, and now, she will be attached at the hip until the strange goings-on stop, and her ability to spin any situation into a positive one is no longer necessary.
Of course, the fact that Annabelle hasn't been able to stop thinking about Brandon either only makes the whole situation a bit sticky. Annabelle has abandonment issues because of her parents dying when she was so young, and Brandon has a few issues he has never been able to deal with, either.
Together, the two of them have two monumental tasks ahead of them. Discover who doesn't want Brandon to open his summer camp, and decide if this thing between them is something that can overcome both of their life-long hang-ups that have prevented them from trusting anyone with their hearts.
Ms. Phillips does a wonderful job of making us care about Annabelle and Brandon. From the first time we meet them together in Yank's office, we can see there is something there ~ something worth exploring. The story of Annabelle and Brandon is also interspersed with the story of Yank and Lola, (Yank's assistant), as well as briefly delving into the lives of Annabelle's sisters, Sophie and Mickie. All of these interesting character's lives are skillfully woven together without detracting from the main story, which will have you smiling, sighing, and shaking your head. The heat level is sensual, but in no way detracts from this fun and engrossing read.
You can find out about this author and her books on her website, www.carlyphillips.com
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Briar Rose is a story about the Jewish Holocaust of World War II. You should know the final third of the book does contain graphic content. However, I read Auschwitz by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli and Night by Elie Wiesel as a young teenager and those books were much more graphic. And you know what a weak stomach I have to begin with!
Despite the terrible imagery of the Holocaust, I do believe it is an essential part of every Human Being's education to learn about it. Millions of human beings with thoughts, feelings, loved ones, and eternal souls were legally murdered for being born a different race, for carrying out the basic human right of choosing their own spouses or romantic partners, and for having different religious and political views than those in power. It's easy to forget in our comfortable American lives that these crimes against humanity are still being carried out today. Now. Every day. From a girl being stoned to death for falling in love with a boy of a different religion to a man being hacked to death for being born African, these crimes go unpunished every single day. Right now. Today.
Briar Rose starts out slow for my taste, but this seems to be Jane Yolen's style. Mercedes Lackey is like that too. I sped-read the first six chapters while the groundwork was being laid for the story. Becca is the youngest of three sisters and the only one who loves to listen to her grandmother's telling of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. The rest of the family pretty much thinks Gemma (grandmother) is senile. She tells the same story over and over, yet she never talks about her experiences before she came to America.
Before Gemma dies, she asks Becca to promise to find the castle and the prince in her fairytale. After Gemma dies, Becca finds an old box of her things with clues. Based on these clues, Becca travels to Poland to uncover the truth of the past Gemma would never talk about. This is when the story gets especially gripping.
Jane Yolen did such a fabulous job with Poland and the Polish characters that I was ready to pack my bags and go there myself! My husband suggested I get together with his mother and plan a similar trip. Even though his mother is German, her family was not Nazi and survived the war under their own kind of oppression.
As the story progresses, it becomes obvious that Gemma's fairytale was actually a metaphor for the truth of what she'd endured as Jewish woman in World War II Poland. Becca finds the castle, which had been used as a murdering camp during the war. And she finds the prince too.
The Prince is so real. He's horribly flawed in so many ways, yet when the time came he made the choice to be truly human during a time and in a place when human virtue seemed burned in an Earthly hell.
I've read about the Jewish experience in World War II, as well as the Protestant Christian experience in The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Briar Rose is the Polish/Jewish experience and you should read it too.
P.S. The book cover above is different from the current release. As a result, the Amazon ordering box at the bottom of this page has a different look. I prefer the old cover.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Saturday, August 4, 2007
This week's Oldie but Goodie is...
by Ann Lawrence
Released July 2002
Neil Scott is half-owner of a video game store called Virtual Heaven. He is experiencing a difficult time in his life right now ~ his mother has just died, and his fiance' left because she couldn't handle the fact that Neil takes his responsibilities seriously, leaving little time for her. His partner in the video game store, Gwen, just got married, and she is very happy ~ a fact that rubs him the wrong way. Not that he had any romantic inclination for her, he just wished he could find that same happiness. Too bad the woman in the Tolemac Wars III video game poster isn't real. She looks interesting - like someone he could have a conversation with, someone he could laugh with...
When Gwen confides in him exactly where she met her husband, Neil can't believe it. The idea is just too far-fetched to believe. Gwen tells him she went into the hottest-selling video game on the market - Tolemac Wars. As Neil listens to Gwen tell him about the land in the game, he begins to plan. He decides he is going to Tolemac, and he is going to find the woman in the poster.
Tolemac is a completely foreign place, with warriors, slaves, and sorcerers. Women are the property of their men, and Neil is not prepared for the reality of this strange land. But when he meets Ardra, the woman from the poster, he is ready to do whatever it takes to stay and learn more about this lonely young woman. Neil, known as Lien in this place, is about to undertake a quest that will test every bit of his mind and body, and if he fails, he will lose Ardra forever.
Virtual Warrior is the third in a trilogy, but this was my favorite of the three. Ms. Lawrence has created a world that is very intriguing, and her descriptive writing brings the world of Tolemac to life. You will be rooting for Neil/Lien and Ardra by the middle of the book, and the ending...well, I'll let you discover it for yourself. The heat level is sensual and necessary to the storyline.
Ms. Lawrence' website is under construction at the moment, but you can keep your eye out for when the updates are complete. www.annlawrence.com
We have a winner for the drawing, but I'm not going to announce until he or she responds by email. So, if you haven't already, check your email! Pat's putting your prize together.
Meanwhile, pop over to Pat's blog to keep up with her progress as a brand new published author. There are some wonderful pictures up right now. Also, Pat's turning over some stunning numbers at Amazon and Barnes & Noble too. Way to go, Pat! We all knew you could do it!
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Well, I’m sitting hear listening to Weird Al sing, ‘eBay.’ Remember way back when the Arc (Advanced Reader’s Copy) for LOTTERY came out and a bunch ended up being hawked on eBay? Remember laughing our heads off, following the bidding war? Oh, that was such fun! In my little universe, this is Patricia Wood’s theme song.
The glorious day has arrived. As I predicted, Pat didn’t get much sleep last night. That’s okay. Today will probably fly by in a blur. I hope her husband and the other people with her in Real Life remember to take lots of pictures! Pat’s been working hard a long time for this. A lot of us have been along for the ride. She won us over with the power of her personality alone. In the age of the Internet, that’s truly an amazing thing.
Pat didn’t have much time to answer interview questions this week and that’s okay. I’ve been Blog Buddies with her long enough to know all I need to know for this. In fact, I’ve known Pat long enough to know stuff I WON’T tell you even if you threatened to take away my chocolate and never let me sew again. So, I’ll just reprint the front page of her website and we’ll get on with the party.
A funny, poignant, and wise novel about a very rich underdog who shows everyone just how little his IQ says about his smarts.
Redbook magazine says LOTTERY "... tickles your funnybone, tugs your heartstrings, and redefines the word 'fortunate' all at once."
Good Housekeeping calls LOTTERY "... irresistible ..."
Perry’s IQ is only 76, but he’s not stupid. His grandmother taught him everything he needs to know to survive: She taught him to write things down so he won’t forget them. She taught him to play the lottery every week. And, most important, she taught him whom to trust. When Gram dies, Perry is left orphaned and bereft at the age of thirty-one. Then his weekly Washington State Lottery ticket wins him 12 million dollars, and he finds he has more family than he knows what to do with. Peopled with characters both wicked and heroic who leap off the pages, Lottery is a deeply satisfying, gorgeously rendered novel about trust, loyalty, and what distinguishes us as capable.
Patricia Wood is a Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii, focusing on education, disability, and diversity. Lottery is inspired by her work, as well as a number of events in her life, including her father winning the Washington State Lottery. She lives with her husband aboard a sailboat moored in Ko`Olina, Hawaii. This is her first novel.
Pat is giving away a t-shirt, pen, and floatie for the drawing. If you leave a comment and your username leads to some kind of contact information, your name will be entered to win. Now, on with the party! This time, I swear, it's going to be a professionally coordinated affair.
P.S. Perry L. Crandell is the guest blogger at Pat's blog today. You might want to check it out. http://pkwood.blogspot.com/