Sunday, March 29, 2009


Here was the my little black book daily devotional and give up bread. I started this post on Ash Wednesday and it's been sitting in draft form all this time. Talk about your road to hell being paved with good intentions - that about sums it up right there!

It's almost Palm Sunday and have I read that Little Black Book - no! Have I given up bread - well, for the most part. I've been good about no rolls and bread with dinner except for one slip up. But at lunch time, the healthy choice for me is a veggie sub at Subway and they did away with the wraps so I have occasionally been eating it on wheat bread - but I'm not enjoying it so I think God is probably OK with that. I've kept to the no meat on Fridays except I think for one slip up.

I have been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis so that has been contemplative. And Lord knows with Tween the way he is, I've been praying. And I've been praying for friends too - the girls I mentioned in another post with cancer. So it hasn't been fun and games but it also hasn't been what I planned - I guess that would be called LIFE!

Friday, March 27, 2009

This Rock by Robert Morgan

From the author's website: “…a gripping story of two brothers struggling against each other and the confines of their 1920s Appalachian Mountain world.”

This was an audio book that I listened to. The setting was upstate South Carolina. Upstate is more of a mountainy area than my Lowcountry but to hear the South Carolina drawl replaced with a mountain twang was jarring. The narration sounded so deliberately hillbilly that it grated on my nerves. But I was able to get past it and enjoy the story - as much as you can enjoy any story by an Oprah author. Robert Morgan's selection that was picked by Oprah was Gap Creek, which I haven't read, but I'm sure it is equally depressing - they all are.

This book captured me right off the bat because the main characters were brothers - the good brother and the bad brother. That conflict is playing out daily here in Whoville with Youngest and Tween so I listened almost desperately waiting for some prophesy of what the future holds. It wasn't what I hoped to hear. The bad brother's antics just get worse and worse and are forgiven again and again by his mother because despite his terrible temperament he is her child and she loves him. She also quotes scripture about forgiving seven times seventy times to justify her actions. And thus the good brother is driven away to find peace on his own. I've felt that happening in a smaller way here. Tween drives everyone to misery and we all end up retreating to our personal space just to avoid conflict. But he's my baby and I still love him. I need to find the balance of protecting my family and providing Tween the reassurance he still needs that he is loved.

There's some redemption at the end in This Rock - hopefully the redemption here will come a little sooner precipitated by less drama - please God not enough to write a book!

This is one of the books on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

This is one of my books for the 2009 Audio book Challenge. 9/12 completed on that one - click on the button to see how it's going!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

This will be the shortest Twilight series review ever. I finished the book over a month ago. I tagged a spot for a post but then I never wrote it! It is completely impossible to simply type in a post what I wrote in my reading journal because that is spoiler after spoiler and I wouldn't want to do that. So I'll just say these few things...
1. There's one "aww" thing. After thinking for three books that Bella sets a terrible example for young girls everywhere with her willingness to give up her life for her love, there is finally a nice little moral message played out. Aww!
2. There's an "eeewww" moment as well. Someone that I don't like does something that I don't like. Ewww.
3. It really was just all down hill for me after Book One. I loved Book One. These other three - they're alright, I wanted to find out what happened but I wasn't enthralled like I was the first time.

That's it. If you want more, just Google it, I am sure there are 50 billion posts out there to pick from!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

From the authors' website: An FBI agent, rotting away in a high-security prison for a murder he did not commit...

His brilliant psychotic brother, about to perpetrate a horrific crime...

A young woman with an extraordinary past, on the edge of a violent breakdown...

An ancient tomb with an enigmatic curse, about to be unveiled at a celebrity-studded New York gala...

The New York Museum of Natural History receives their pilfered gem collection back...ground down to dust. Diogenes, the psychotic killer who stole them in Dance of Death, is throwing down the gauntlet to both the city and to his brother, FBI Agent Pendergast, who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison.

To quell the PR nightmare of the gem fiasco, the museum decides to reopen the Tomb of Senef. An astounding Egyptian temple, it was a popular museum exhibit until the 1930s, when it was quietly closed. But when the tomb is unsealed in preparation for its gala reopening, the killings--and whispers of an ancient curse--begin again. And the catastrophic opening itself sets the stage for the final battle between the two brothers: an epic clash from which only one will emerge alive.

I just found this audio book on the discount rack at Barnes and Noble and the teaser on the back sounded good so I jumped right in without knowing anything about it. The beginning of the book was kind of confusing - now I know why. When I Googled the book to get an image for this post, I discovered that it is the third one of a trilogy! So I guess at this point I should omit my whining about how it took me a little while to get into the book because it was hard for me to figure out who was who.

The narrator of the audio book did a great job. There were a wide variety of accents to use from the brothers who are from New Orleans to the gritty New York cops. And, one of my audio book pet peeves - men who try to sound like women but just sound hideous...not here! The narrator does a nice job with the women characters - most of the women are really strong, efficient ladies so they play well with his deeper tone but even the "young woman with an extraordinary past, on the edge of a violent breakdown" sounds alright.

So these guys suckered me. I was CERTAIN that I knew who the bad guy was. I was positive I had it figured out. And I was wrong! Once I got into the story, I enjoyed it. Not so much that I am thinking I need to go out and find books one and two but it was interesting and suspenseful and passed the time in the car as I ran errands and traveled for work.

This is one of the books on my list for the Spring Reading Thing 2009. Click on the logo to see the rest of my list.

This is one of my books for the 2009 Audio book Challenge. 8/12 completed on that one - click on the button to see how it's going!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009

I'm just throwing this up for now. I may come back later and add pictures of books, teasers from the back cover, etc. But..the important part is just getting the list done. I'm already like number 170 something - what a great response! Click on the logo above to find out more about Spring Reading Thing and you can sign up too!

Here's my list!

I'm in the midst of four already so goal one is finishing...
1. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
2. Book of the Dead by Preston and Child
3. Four Spririts by Sena Jeter Naslund
4. John Adams by David McCullough

Then I have my April book club selection...
5. A Silent Ocean Away
An audiobook that's sitting in the car waiting...
6.0. This Rock by Robert Morgan

And some others from my TBR stack....
6.1. had to add Amethyst Dreams by Phyllis Whitney
6.2. and this too The 60 Second Organizer by Jeff Davidson
6.3. and this one as well Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
6.4 a girlfriend dropped this one (and the next two in the series) off to me with a good recommendation Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin
6.5 Dry by Augusten Burroughs
6.6 Shopaholic & Sister by Sophie Kinsella

7. Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri
8. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (this was my stopper last time around!)
9. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell
10. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
11. A Hundred and One Days

Now I am listening to another audiobook...
12. The Power of Simple Prayer by Joyce Meyer
and two three other audiobooks
12.1 Lifeguard by James Patterson
12.2 Undead and Unreturnable by MaryJanice Davidson
12.3 When Madeliene was Young by Jane Hamilton

And, I've ordered my May book club selection from Amazon...
13. The Firemaster's Mistress by Christie Dickason

OK - today was the library Spring book sale...I've added a few "must reads"
14. We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro
15. The Things They Carried
16. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
17. A Mary Higgins Clark - actually two - one mystery, one historical fiction
18. a book of essays by Anna Quindlen
19. The Quiet American by Graham Greene

This one I had to go out and buy because I kept reading about it on other book blogs!
20. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

And I had to reread this
21. A Child Called "It"
which led me to...
21.1 Please Stop Laughing At Me by Jodee Blanco

Then I went and impulsively bought this at Walmart despite having two of her other books already at home waiting TBR...
22. Just Take My Heart by Mary Higgins Clark

And this fell in my (much too big) lap...
23. French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

My teacher's group summer book club pick was...
24. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Friday, March 20, 2009

Kitchen Privileges by Mary Higgins Clark

Product description from Amazon: In her long-awaited memoir, Mary Higgins Clark, America's beloved and bestselling Queen of Suspense, recounts the early experiences that shaped her as a person and influenced her as a writer.

**17 JUL 2009 - somehow I skipped over blogging about this book, I finished reading it Mar 20, 2009, and just now noticed it's absence from my Reading A-Z Challenge! So I am editing the post date!

Mary Higgins Clark has truly had an interesting life - Catholic school upbringing, secretarial school, then a stewardess, and on to the wedding. She describes it all in this memoir with love and humor. Clark leaves a little mystery with her two line summary of a marriage that lasted just a few years and was a mistake. Surely there is a story there?

I enjoyed this look at one of my favorite authors. I like her even more for reading it and it makes me more aware of the value of our family history. I think I ought to sit Great Granny down at her 90th birthday this Fall and have her tell all the stories from start to finish.

This book is my "K" for the A-Z Reading Challenge! Click on the logo to see my progress.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fourth of July by James Patterson

From the back cover: After losing one of its own, Lindsay Boxer and the Women's Murder Club make a courageous return for their fourth and most chilling case ever--one that could easily be their last. A young girl is killed in crossfire after a routine arrest goes terribly wrong, and Lt. Lindsay Boxer has to defend herself against a charge of police brutality. In a landmark trial that transfixes the nation, Lindsay fights to save her career and her sanity.

While awaiting trial, Lindsay escapes to the beautiful town of Half Moon Bay, but the peaceful community there is reeling from a string of unspeakable murders. Working with her friends in the Women's Murder Club, Lindsay finds a link between these killings and a case she worked on years before-an unsolved murder that has haunted her ever since. As summer comes into full swing, Lindsay battles for her life on two fronts: before a judge and jury as her trial comes to a climax, and facing unknown adversaries who will do anything to keep her from the truth about the killings--including killing again. It all comes to a head before the big annual 4th of July celebration on the waterfront at Half Moon Bay. Patterson fine-tunes the tension like never before in this heart-racing new novel in the bestselling detective series to debut in years.

This was great book! I was coming into the series at the fourth book but it didn't slow me down at all. Patterson and his co-author, Maxine Paetro, brought all the characters to life vividly so I knew everybody without hesitation and was able to follow the plot easily. Easy as figuring out who was who was...I didn't figure out whodunit. I knew one character was somehow going to end up a bad egg but I didn't imagine the ending scene and who was involved - that's good - I like the suspense to keep going until the very end! This book was one that just made me say, "Wow - no wonder James Patterson is so popular!" I'm going to have my eyes open looking for the first three in the series.

This book is my "F" for the A-Z Reading Challenge! Click on the logo to see my progress.

This is also one of my books for the 2009 Audio book Challenge. 7/12 completed on that one - click on the button to see how it's going!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Beach House by James Patterson

From the author's website: Jack Mullen is a driven student of the law. His brother Peter is a servant of the rich, parking the cars of the Hamptons' elite-and perhaps satisfying their more intimate needs as well. Then Peter's body is found on the beach. Jack knows the drowning was no accident, but someones unlimited power and money have bought the cops, the judges, the system. Now Jack is learning a lesson in justice he never got in law school- and his astonishing plan to beat the billionaires will have you reeling-and cheering-to the very last page.

James Patterson is prolific. I am not sure what the co-author thing is all about but he gives another author, Peter de Jonge, partial credit. My mother loved the Alex Cross books; she isn't the only one since a few have been made into movies. I started collecting them with the idea that I would get them all in hand and then read them through in order. That never happened. But then I stumbled across the audio book of The Beach House and since audio books are my current addiction, I snatched it up and started.

This book was read by Gil Bellows. He's a pretty man who has been in a few TV shows I've seen. His voice was pleasant enough except that I found his "woman voice" a little creepy. If he could have just stayed with the male characters, all would have been fine.

The story captured my attention. I didn't get it all figured out before the big reveal so the suspense stayed with me until the end. He drew enough of an image of each character that I was able to differentiate who was who. But he must not have captured the setting as well because although I know it is at the beach ("doh" as Homer would say) and I even know it's the Hampton's, I just still don't have a picture in my head of what that might look like.

This is one of my books for the 2009 Audiobook Challenge too. 6/12 completed on that one - click on the button to see how it's going!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pity party over, time to work!

Discovered this week that a friend who is the young mother of six beautiful children has breast cancer. Another friend, mother of two young boys, is in the hospital as her third battle with breast cancer has taken a bad turn due to side effects during treatment. These are REAL problems.

My kid is on the path to becoming a juvenile delinquent - so what? At least I am here and healthy so that I can deal with it and hopefully live to see him come through the other side. Ex-Marine may be out of work - so what? I have a good job, he has military retirement - yes, belt tightening would have to occur but we would survive. We'll figure out college - Bookworm is so smart she will qualify for the scholarship for state schools - she just may not be going out of state - and in reality she doesn't seem to care. She's perfectly content to go in-state; it's probably me living vicariously through her more than anything else! These are WHINES - not real problems.

So I kind of picked myself up yesterday - shined my sink - and came back. I went out to dinner at the Outback with a group of old girlfriends. I had a Cosmopolitan, a steak filet, shrimp stuffed with lobster, and later, poundcake with strawberries and whipped cream. bread. I gave up bread for Lent. (Yes, I am questioning the value of this sacrifice as I have to wear elastic waist pants today because I am still so full.) I got my ducks in a row for a training I had to conduct today for about 65 childcare providers....a tough audience at the end of the day; they have been known to fall asleep - but not tonight, at least not not during my portion!

I've made a list of all the book reviews in draft form in various stages of completion - I'm putting them here to hold myself accountable! Damn, John Adams is still not in the list.
Beyond the White House by Jimmy Carter
We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates (even after I said I would never read her again!)
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
The Constant Princess by Philippa GregoryBeach House by James Patterson

So Cryapalooza 2009 has ended.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How do we tell if it's clean?

In the course of my government slavery, I went into a house the other day that was home to a few kids and a set of parents and a small pack of assorted dogs. The house was dirty: piles of things on the floor, dishes unwashed, trash overflowing, and most unappealing - a pile of dog poo on the stairs. The stairs inside the house. The stairs that people would traverse from the first floor to the second floor - eww! So I am telling my friend, Mary Poppins (who really is practically perfect in every way) about this and saying, "How would you not know your dog had pooped in the house?" And there was this pause and she was like, "Well..." and then came the story about the time her dog had pooped in the house and how she was totally unaware but only figured it out later when he was cavorting with a piece of rock hard dried poo. So then she had to search every nook and cranny until she found the poop stash. And just in case you are wondering, Mary Poppins' house is immaculate - except for that one pile of dog poo.

So then of course I started thinking about my own pet poop story. Our cat lives in Bookworm's room. Sometimes the cat roams about the house just to nap in a new spot the way cats like to do and then gets shut out when Bookworm shuts the door and takes off for school or wherever. Shut out from her usual napping spots and from her litter box. Well the way our house is laid out all my places - my bedroom, my den, the kitchen, the laundry room are all at one end of the house. Bookworm is on the other end past the formal living room that gets absolutely no use. So one day there is a knock on the front door - no one uses our front door! I go to "the other side" to let in a dad that is dropping off Youngest. As we're standing there hanging out in the formal unused living room, I'm thinking, "Something (or someone) doesn't smell right." But we make our small talk, thanks for the car pool, see you soon, goodbye. I turn around and there right smack dab in the middle of the center cushion of my lovely leather couch is a pile of cat poop. That's what didn't smell right. And in case you are wondering, although my house isn't immaculate, I do have a housekeeper that comes once a week so it's pretty clean - except for that one pile pf cat poo.

So all of this just begs the question - if the presence or absence of a pile of pet poop in a home can no longer be a benchmark for cleanliness, what are we left with? How do we tell if it's clean?

I contemplated Googling "pictures of poo" to add a graphic but thought better of it...aren't you glad?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hold onto this thread, please.

My life is unraveling. I've not posted lately. I've read and listened to several books. I've seen a few movies. I've hostessed a party. I've worked at home - laundry, dishes, bills, laundry, dishes, bills, and at work. But all of that pales - seems completely unblogworthy compared to the pain. Tween is falling apart. We've gotten a notice of possible expulsion from the school, we just discovered he's committed a grave act of vandalism with a group of other boys. Ex-Marine got notice today that his company is laying off twenty percent of the work force. Those that are lucky enough to stay will have to weather a five week furlough planned for this summer and another two weeks at the end of the year. Bookworm is all about college - but how are we going to pay for it? And Youngest just keeps plugging away being his angelic self despite the high emotions around him. I'm in a state of complete disorganization. When I am carrying around a Ziploc bag of bills and permission slips and sports schedules because I don't have time to deal with them, I know it's bad. And it's not even the gallon size - it's the two gallon size! So I've got several posts in varying stages of completion waiting patiently in draft status for me to get it together. I could maybe get it together for me but it is so much more than me that it just feels a little overwhelming. It's taking all I've got to hang onto this thread.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

From the back cover: The Mulvaneys are blessed by all that makes life sweet - a hardworking father, a loving mother, three fine sons, and a bright, pretty daughter. They are confident in their love for each other and their position in the rural community of Mt. Ephraim, New York. But something happens on Valentine's Day 1976 - an incident that is hushed up in the town and never spoken of in the Mulvaney home - that rends the fabric of their lives.

AS the years pass the secrets they keep from each other threaten to destroy them, but ultimately they bridge the chasms between them and reunite in the spirit of love and healing. Rarely has such an acclaimed writer made such a startling and inspiring statement about the value of hope and compassion.

If I had been paying any attention in the bookstore, I wouldn't have bought this one because of the author, Joyce Carol Oates. I had read another of her books (Gravedigger's Daughter) and did not like it. But I wasn't paying attention! I just saw that Oprah book club symbol and the bargain price tag and into my cart it went. I guess, in the end, I am glad.

Like almost every last one of Oprah's books, this is a sad story. Oprah apparently likes her book weepy. This tale is the disintegration of a family - the slowly eroding relationships. And the kicker is...all for nothing - it was such a waste. I really wanted revenge on the family member who caused the breach. I didn't get it in full so the ending was a bit unsatisfying.

The book moved really slowly through the first days.I listened to the audio book and I think it was 7 CD's long and the first day and night of the story took up almost three of the seven CD's. The pace was slow but it held my interest - it didn't feel like a "slow start" - but she did cover ground more quickly as the book progressed!

I don't have vivid images of either the setting or the time period - perhaps that speaks to the lack of distinguishing characteristics of the 70's/80's and the geography of upstate New York! More likely it's just that Oates expended all her energy on the relationships. And that's what I crave - I have discovered that about myself - a good story isn't about a place or a time - it's the people. This is a good story.

Joyce Carol Oates has an extensive website and she has an interview regarding the book on this page.

This is one of my books for the 2009 Audiobook Challenge - click on the button to see how it's going!