This is me

This is me
On vacation, I had my hair braided...it was so tight, I could barely close my eyes! Holy Cow! Pretty cool though, huh?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First the heat, then the rain and now heat again.

Just a moment to vent about the weather. I am so tired of all these extreme causes for the weather. I wanted to retire in Tennessee somwhere out in a private place but now I haven't a clue. What do I do? Where do I go?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Books We Read: Free Books August

Books We Read: Free Books August

You might want to check out this blog....an interesting one and one that I of the "book a day club" charter members can appreciate!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Darkness and Light

Cristian West, an artist of great acclaim is puzzled as to why the image of an extraordinarily beautiful woman haunts his every hour. He is filled with her presence wherever he goes and whatever he does, and finally is compelled to try to put on canvas this beauty to put his mind at rest.

But simply capturing the alluring yet mysterious image of this woman isn’t enough. When he spies her at the gallery, he is determined to learn why this woman seems so distant yet such a part of his life. He is compelled to know who she is and why she has been constantly in his mind.

But pursuing this woman could be the worst (or best) thing that ever happened to Cristian. For in meeting her and learning about her, he enters into a world that he never dreamed possible. Yet, despite this strange life of Sage’s and her “family” does not dim his infatuation for this woman. In fact, it becomes so commonplace with him, he is willing to give up his former life in order not to lose Sage.

Sage’s “family” is not that of blood but of a tie that binds tighter than mere birth. It is a tie that compels those who are in her “family” to protect, love and care for each other like no other family group one could possibly comprehend.

To tell more of this book would be a great disservice to the reader, as it must be read to be appreciated. While I have read many books of this genre, this is one of the better books, grabbing the reader and drawing them into the book easily and making one a part of the life of Sage, Cristian and the others.

I have only one criticism of the book. The ending seemed a bit too contrived and convenient and left me thinking, “What happened here?!?” It was not an ending deserving of the details put within the book, but rather what I felt to be an after thought or perhaps an easy way to end the book in a swift manner.

That criticism aside. This is a highly entertaining book and one that I would suggest for older teens and young adults. There are some sexual scenes that I would not want my 15 year old niece to read as they are on the savage and raw side but other than that, the book is solid and easy to follow. I wonder had the sexual scenes been toned down somewhat if this book would have a wider following. As a parent, Aunt and friend of many teens, I would have to think hard of the individual teen and how mature they were before purchasing this book. With a little editing, this book would be acceptable for all ages and would provide an interesting and entertaining read.

This is a story of time and star crossed lovers, mysterious happenings when the reader least expects it and protagonists who hold their parts solid throughout the book. As I mentioned before, though I recommend this book for more mature teens and young adults, I suggest parents and adults read it for themselves before gifting it to a teen, in order to determine whether it should be given at this time or saved for the future. For this book is one that will not grow old and the questions it poses within are well worth storing it away for a couple of years until that young person in your life can better handle some of the scenes within.

NOTE: While this is not the best "vampire theme" book I have ever read, there is something to say about the characters and the storyline. I have included in my review those parts which I do not like but I still invite the reader to partake of this book in order to add another to your list of "Books about Vampires" to read!"

The Ice Cream Theory

The ice cream theory is one of those books you read when you are in the mood for something light and humorous but not belly aching hysterical. It takes life and looks at it in a manner that frankly I never would have, as kinds of ice cream. Inside this small book with a tasty looking strawberry (or is that raspberry) cone dripping on the front, is the tale of a woman and how ice cream began to be an obsession for her.


I could really relate to this book on a lot of levels. I remember in my small home town there was this little diner (and when I say little, I men it maybe sat a dozen people) which had the most wonderful butter brickle ice cream cones! And it wasn’t enough that they were cones, they were double dipper cones. Two glorious scoops side by side just begging “eat me first!” I remember how on a hot summers day I would count the steps it took, trying to keep my cool and walk to Chiz Smith’s for that luscious bite of summer, but how I’d break into a run when I saw the diner. Now, 40 something years later, I found a store that sold butter brickle ice cream and though it was good, it wasn’t like I remember it. It was a little too sweet and didn’t have enough “brickle” inside to make me happy. A childhood memory came to an end.

As author Steff Deschenes explains it to the reader, as we go through life, our preferences for ice cream change, At first I was thinking “no way! I just like a little variety now and then.” Then I began to look back on times in my life and how I could really measure it by the ice cream I’d eat until I literally was sick to my stomach.

I remember having a problem with a boyfriend and since I worked at the school cafeteria, we pretty much had free rein of what we wanted, I discovered there was ice cream in the freezer. I still don’t recall why it was there, whether it was the property of the school, or if someone stashed their fave there but I discovered a lot of interesting adventures like Steff there in that icy bit of heaven.

I remember when my heart was breaking, I found myself once again at SAGA (the food service) looking for solace. There I found the perfect salve for my wounds in a half full container of chocolate (deep dark and rich) ice cream. I grabbed the ice cream and headed out the door only to run into the SAGA manager who simply said, “broke up with him huh?” I nodded and he said, wait here, and in a few moments he returned with a small container of chopped peanuts.

Without another word, he patted me on the shoulder and smiled and I was out the door. That night as I sat on the dark chapel steps I found someone else needing solace so I shared my ice cream, chopped nuts and spoon as we both sat there and talked for hours. By the time the ice cream was gone, so were our heartbreaks and though we never did socialize much after that, when we met, a comment like “chocolate ice cream” would be said with the other party saying in turn “peanut sprinkles” bringing a knowing smile to both our faces. It was a connection that this book reminded me of and makes me wonder if my ice cream friend remembers it too, four decades later.

As my life went on, like Steff, times changed and so did my preferences and obsessions for ice cream. I went through many stages, chocolate chip, peppermint, coffee, plain old fashioned vanilla with those lovely crunchy things poured over the top, Italian gelato, and finally my all time favorite of all, which I still adore, but which is close to impossible to find, chocolate ice cream with hunks of peanut butter cup within. Sure, I’ve tried to duplicate it, but it isn’t the same, and now I spend hours staring at rows upon rows of ice cream trying to find the elusive chocolate/peanut cup ice cream I still crave.

This book is one that you will start out taking lightly and find very humorous at times but at times, it will hit you in an all too familiar way like an ice cream headache that “that’s ME she’s taking about!” and life will change from that moment on.

The town I live in now has a lovely little ice cream store that has some of the most luscious flavors available. Like the life before him, my son stares at those flavors and tries to find the perfect one for him. But for me, the magic is all but gone. My love of ice cream has dimmed into that of which a small dip now and then of plain old vanilla is all I need. Like my life, my ice cream is simple and in fact it is as easy to wait in the car for my son and not imbibe as it is to choose a flavor. Ice cream doesn’t have that hold on me that it once had and somehow that saddens me.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves ice cream of all sorts or even someone like me who simply wants a scoop now and then on a hot summers day. Whether you are an ice cream freak or not, this book will bring to you memories of days spent with first loves, taking walks with ice cream cones to steal a kiss flavored with a bit of chocolate raspberry ripple or ice cream pity parties where you sat surrounded by pints of different ice creams, dipping into (and sometimes eating them all in one setting) a half dozen decadent flavors, trying to heal a broken heart through not the wonder of modern medicine but through the flavors which burst upon your tongue like bits of snow falling from the sky, trying to help you recapture the mystery and happiness you know is there but have no idea what to do to find it.

A thoroughly enjoyable read, “The Ice Cream Theory” is the perfect book for anyone from high school graduation age through retirement, for the memories it brings are ones you will most definitely connect to a certain ice cream in your life and you will see for yourself, as I did, that Steff is right…the only bad ice cream is the ice cream not eaten!

Silentheart

To begin with, let me make myself perfectly clear. I have read a great number of vampire books during the last few years based on what is an iffy plot in the first place and turning it into a vampire novel, thus hopefully insuring their place in the "craze of the day". This is wrong on on so any levels. First: it takes an inventive and successful book series and borrows not just plots but mannerisms, characterisation and some so called authors have even "borrowed" far more, walking a thin line to keep from falling into what I Iike to call "the lake of what I like to refer to as plagiarism", which we all know is wrong.


This is where my review of Silentheart comes into play. Written by Roberta Hoffer, Silentheart is for vampire lovers, a disappointment of epic proportions. Not only is the theme and plot thin, with predictable characters complete with an estranged/divorced woman escaping to begin a new life, away from her abusive husband, it is also brings said abusive husband back into her life to "get his revenge". As this is expected by the main character Sarah who discovers upon moving to Maryland that her ex-husband has not only sought her down but is still waiting for his pound of flesh, Sarah should not be surprised nor should the reader when she is accosted in her own hiome.

Of course as in all vampire books, we must find out how our heroine is connected to vampires. In Sarah's case it is that far into her family history, there are vampires galore. She discovers she has a guardian vampire who has protected her all her life with the name of Carter and this vampire is in love with Sarah. And so the story goes. It takes all the important elements of a good vampire story, tosses them around like a Cesar salad and calls it good.

But there is much more to writing a good book based upon vampires.

First the characters have to have personality and not be cardboard cutouts or predictable by modeling them whether consciously or unconsciously after hundreds of other vampires in literature. Second, think as many authors have previously, to show major characters such as Sarah, with some strength and devotion to those she loves. The days of vampires lying on fainting couches (think Barnabus Collins' victims in Dark Shadows) waiting for their vampires is too tame (and lame for today's reader.)

And lastly, if you are going to go to all the trouble of writing a book, get a darn good editor ad copywriter to check, recheck and check again, language used throughout the books and how it fits each character.

All sentences should make sense and if they do not, ask yourself why they do not and rewrite that page or perhaps delete it all together. And my personal pet peeve is books that have glaring mistakes of mixing tenses, leaving the reader thoroughly confused and lost. If a best seller is hoped for, writing must flow one scene into another and there should be no doubt as to who is speaking at any time.

And if the grammatical and editorial errors were not enough to break my chain of thought when it came to keeping the characters straight, the spelling errors were the icing on the cake. Run spell check and avoid errors for instance that were so glaring, my 12 yr old son spotted them just upon leafing through the book in my office.

To be brutally honest, this book was not only hard to get into as the editorial glitches were more than just mistakes, they were annoying. And if little mistakes had been more carefully pursued and corrected, this book would have stood a chance to at least be "OK". But as it is I found it a great mistake, far too predictable and full of so any copy write errors that my attention was ever fully on the plot.

I'm sure the author had great hopes for this book and the basis for a good book is there. But in my opinion, it needs to be reworked with some fantastic and new, exciting and unpredictable events thrown in to capture the readers attention.

As it is now, I honestly cannot recommend this book to anyone to read. But I do have a recommendation for the author. Consider another publisher with employees who have your best interests at heart and begin to tighten up the plot.

Or if you really want a hit, hide far far away, this "One hit wonder" "subject of the day... vampires" and leave the bloodsuckers alone. They have way more than their 15 minutes of fame...it's time to move on. If I were the literary guru of the day, I would bring back more stories of everyday teens finding adventure in the strangest of places.

In fact I just read a book which fits this criteria and I personally would find it a breath of fresh air were vampire books to fade away and a new book craze be introduced with vampires left far behind. I am tired of vampires and if my unofficial poll makes a difference, consider this. Out of 20 individuals asked, between the ages of 10 and 80.....85% want a new genre and are tired of vampires. And the other 15% could read a medical journal front to back and not be bored.

Authors and publishers are you listening? It is time for something new and fresh for your loyal readers! I sincerely believe so and so do your fans as well. Let the fresh writing begin!

Belle in the Slouch Hat

The story begins in 1862, with Belle, a 15 year old young woman who has idolized and patterned her life after, Bud, her hero, friend and brother. Though they all know the wages of war, it still came as a shock when the family discovered shortly after Bud left to rejoin his group, that he was shot in the back and killed.


With a spirit that belies her size and somewhat innocent appearance, Belle is bound and determined to find the scoundrel who killed her brother. Though her parents are against her getting involved in the war, they let her go to discover what she may and help the troops with intelligence.

The Civil War also known as the War between the north and the south is deep within it's hold and fight for rights. The war effects many as is to be expected and many live in fear every day that they will be the next town or person killed in this bloody senseless war fought a great deal by children. Bud was more than a mere Confederate soldier, he member of a group of tough Confederate Guerrillas, who were in charge of keeping the lines of communication open.

He always wore a slouch hat, something Belle appropriates for her own as she begins her own personal fight to find the man who killed her brother, Her strength is mighty and she intends to find the man who killed her brother even if it means her life.

During this time, Belle finds a special friend in Maude, who is not just a friend but is her spiritual mentor as well. Into her life comes a horse with magical powers, the self same horse that Bud once rode and her “best-friend-cousin,” sixteen-year-old Winnie Brayden. When Winnie was seven years old she lost her eyesight, but though she cannot see, she has an amazing ability to “see with her heart.” Her compassion and humor is a remarkable influence in Belle’s life and keeps her thinking while facing the future with hope and compassion.

As Belle discovers the name of the man who killed not only her brother but Maude's husband too, she is more determined to stop him at all costs. There is but one twist, Belle doesn't know that he is out to kill her in order to put a stop to the Confederate Guerrillas. But Belle will have nothing less than revenge for the death of her brother and so many like him, and continues on with a bravery that few men possess.

As the book comes to a conclusion, it is best left to the reader to discover how Belle and her advisory meet, interact and how the book finally ends. It is a book that teaches not only history but compassion, dedication and strength of character. It is a book that without a doubt will leave the young reader wondering what lies around the corner for Belle. Read it and see what is there for Belle and her friends. I believe you will find the ending satisfying and somewhat empowering as it dawns on the reader that a mere 15 year old young woman can show her love and dedication to such a cause without faltering or losing her focus of the realities of the world around her. I found out a lot about myself and found myself asking some hard questions in my own life while reading this book. Something I would not have done, had it not been for Belle in a Slouch Hat.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Unwanted Trilogy: Book One

As the book gets underway, Janet finds herself suddenly tossed in the air like a rag doll landing hard upon the cement as explosions rent the air around her in Poughkeepsie, while 5 dolls of the human kind, lie in the backseat, wailing and afraid. As explosion after explosion continues, Janet knows only one thing…she has to get herself and her precious cargo out of there and now!

In the backseat awakens friend and fellow caretaker, Michele with a blinding headache. The two had moved the infants to safety, but suddenly it occurs to both women that they are riding in not only a stolen Jeep, but in one that belonged to an officer of the law. If the badge in the ashtray were any indication, they had rushed from one kind of trouble to another and now that they had stolen the Jeep, they couldn’t very well tell the police what had really happened before the explosion and seek safety there.

Michele and Janet discuss their options, and Janet suggests they take the children to her uncles home in Newburgh to think things out, so they can do what is right for the children. Little do Janet nor Michele realize that though they were not five ordinary children, but children who would prove to be a challenge in ways they had never dreamed possible. All the time, the children and the two women who whisked them away from peril would be in danger along with their young charges.

Rarely do I read a book that grabs me from the first sentence and keeps me so enthralled that I spend the night like a kid, under the covers with a flashlight wanting to finish it all, yet sad and disappointed when the final page is turned. But this book is exactly that!

At an age where most responsible adults sleep the requisite 8 hours a night, I actually saw the dawn rise as I shut the book on what promises to be a fantastic, imaginative and thrilling trilogy. In fact, I wish the author hadn’t limited himself to a “trilogy” as I could see the premise and characters extending on as Lee Child’s “Reacher” does, with endless adventures and thrills and surprises around every corner.

The writing of Daniel L. Carter is such that the reader is pulled into the lives of the adults in this story, as they discover each new facet of the children and as they face conflicts due to these facets. To be a part of the story, is a rare talent but one Carter uses with finesse.

I will stop here in talking about the book and will not tell more of the plot in this review. For as to do so would cheat the reader out of one of the most exciting and riveting “new” books I have read in a long time. With other authors jumping on the “vampire story” train, writer Daniel L. Carter thrusts the reader into a world that is so unbelievable that it suddenly becomes believable. Giving each character within this book a personality that grows and fleshes out in such a manner that the reader actually feels a part of the action, is a talent and gift that makes this book one not to be missed. If you are like myself, enjoying books both riveting and “on the edge of your seat” exciting, then this is the book for you.

I wholeheartedly endorse and recommend this book for all ages from teens through adults. It is a refreshing change from the “vampire of the month” books and opens doors to exciting possibilities in the soon to be released (I hope) installments in this trilogy. Bravo, Mr. Carter!….you have a winner here. In word, action and deed, your characters have captured the attention and respect of this reviewer and in my world, that says a lot!

And to the reader, I say only one thing…buy this book, you won’t be sorry!