Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Together We Will Win by Karen A. McWhirt

As a child, I used to get junk mail all the time.  Having one of those ambidextrous names, you'd be amazed at the sort of mail I'd receive.  I've always remembered quite clearly receiving mail that requested of me to have my testicles checked for cancer.  At the time I was young and had no idea what either testicles or cancer were.  The only reason I even remember this small bit of memory is that the look on my mom's face when she saw it went pure white and that was a rare occasion. 

Until I read this book, that snippet of memory is all that I could tell you about testicular cancer.  That was the extent of my knowledge.  Sure, I've known people with cancer, but I couldn't tell you anything in depth about it.  As for testicular cancer, well I only know of a friend of a friend.  I can't say that I wasn't aware of it, but I certainly couldn't educate anyone.

'Together we will win' is the motto that was adopted by the author and her son during his battle with cancer.  Ian contracted the disease in his teen years and sadly didn't survive far into adulthood.  This book is his moving tale, told from Ian's perspective.  A friend saw me reading this and scoffed a bit, stating that it just looked entirely too depressing to read.  I admit that cancer isn't exactly a ride at the circus to read about, but I didn't find myself depressed and sad at all reading it.  It was rather more like an educational tour with a few jokes along the way.  Yes, it's terribly sad how much Ian suffered, but this book doesn't take us into that suffering for long.  Ian doesn't focus on the pain, but rather on the love surrounding him. 

Alright, I'm afraid I've gotten all rambly again.  I'm blaming it on the cold weather and the snow freezing my poor little brain!  In a nutshell, this book had me so engrossed that I felt as if I were an intimate friend of Ian's.  I feel privileged that this wonderful family allowed me to be part of such an immense part of their lives.  If you're looking for depressing and sad, this isn't it.  This book is of love, hope, inspiration and education.  Honestly I learned so much from this book.  I found myself just the other day spouting off random cancer facts that somehow just clawed their way into my brain while I was engrossed in the book. 

This book would be perfect for every young man out there to read.  Sadly, the world doesn't work that way.  None of them are going to pick up this book and read it just for the sake of reading.  The ones that do read this book will be the ones that suspect that they themselves have cancer or know someone else who does.   As a parent, I'm extremely glad that I've read it.  I have two sons and the valuable information inside may one day help alert me if one of them is showing symptoms.  In the meantime, I've enjoyed a touching story and I'm so thankful that both Ian and Karen have the strength to share Ian's story with the world.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Rose for My Mother by Nancy Lee Canfield

In this extraordinary true story, parapsychology expert Nancy Lee Canfield reveals how her early years shaped and prepared her for a lifetime of studying the paranormal.  A Rose for My Mother chronicles Canfield's turbulent childhood in and out of foster homes and orphanages before the age of thirteen, her early marriage at seventeen, and her awakening to paranormal phenomena.  A Rose for My Mother is an intriguing blend of memoir and the study of parapsychology.  Taken from the back of the book

OK See what I've just copied from the back of the book?  Read it, and then forget it!  I'm not saying it's not all true, but...well it just doesn't fit as correctly as it probably should.  Alright, alright!  For me!  It just doesn't fit as correctly as it probably should for me!  I did get the paranormal parts of the story, although it wasn't as predominant as I thought it would be.  Yes, I suppose you could say this is a memoir of sorts.  I will, however, agree that this is an extraordinary true story.

Nancy starts out by letting us know that she obviously can't recall every single detail of what has occurred, so she's done some research to make it as true to life as possible.  Yay!  We all have memories from our childhood, but we all also have faulty memories that make us remember things being a specific way when, in reality, that was only our perspective of it.  OK...marching on!

For me, there were two major points of interest regarding this book.  The first is that I had such a sense of deja vu while reading and the second that I didn't find out the point of the title of the book until the end.  Every so often, I would read an excerpt from Nancy's life and think to myself 'I've read this before...but where?'  or 'That reminds me of something..but what?'  Even now I still have that feeling of deja vu, as if I'd read this book before and remembered parts of it, but that's just not possible.  Now, knowing that this book has a paranormal element to it, you may be asking yourself if I'm just saying that so that it'll seem to fit in better with the book.  NOPE!  If you've read any of my other reviews then you know I'm honest to a fault in my reviews, even if it comes across harshly sometimes.  I'm honestly not sure why I had that feeling, but I've found it entertaining and enjoyed it.  As for the title of the book, there's a key happening in the book.  Well, that doesn't really help either...and I can't go into it without giving a spoiler.  I'll explain it in a different manner.  The title isn't really about a rose or Nancy's mother, at least not by my understanding.  It symbolizes Nancy's realization that things are not always as they seem or how we remember them and that there's beauty even in the most dire of circumstances.

I strongly suggest this book for anyone who enjoys memoirs, drama, or just wants a fascinating read.  If you're picking it up for the paranormal aspect, you'll find it, but if that's all you're looking for, you may be disappointed.  There's so much more to this book that you'd have to cut away huge chunks of it to peel it back just to the paranormal parts. 

After the Last PR by Dave Griffin

PR stands for Personal Record.  You may have already known that, but I sure didn't!

After the last PR is a book about the virtues of running.  It's about the disciplines a runner develops and how those disciplines positively impact the runner's life. Taken from the back of the book

Basically this book is a short synopsis of Dave's life as a runner, from the very beginning to where he's at now.  He's learned several life lessons from running and has passed those lessons on to his children.  Dave takes an inspiration look at not only his own running career, but also at how running has changed the lives of others he's known. 

The book is beautifully written.  As a non-runner, I think I got something different out of it than a runner or prospective runner would.  For me, it was more about watching a man find himself.  I'm sure a runner would be more easily able to identify with everything that Dave's written.  If you've been thinking about running as a hobby or lifestyle, I can't think of a better book to motivate you. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

December/ January Book Choice

I normally choose one book per month.  There are more than enough awesome books released each month to pick a new favorite.  Since I was such a slacker though, I really feel like I need to extend December's choice through the month of January as well.  My apologies to all of those authors who have books being released next month, but you're out of the running for choice of the month! 

Tempted by Fate is the third installment in Kate Perry's guardian series.  Not only his this a wonderful series with kick ass female characters, Kate's just awesome.  Over my reviewing career I've met several authors who just really impress me such as Desmond Evans and Pamela Grandstaff.  Kate's another one of these authors who I just literally adore.  She's just such a fun and amazing person!  I can't get enough of her writing, but I also love reading her books because she's just awesome :) 

If you haven't checked out the guardian series by Kate, I strongly suggest you do.  It's action with a touch of paranormal, comedy and romance tossed in.  That's not even to mention how inexpensively you can order them online!  Enjoy!

Peas and Bananas: Outside with Lil Boo by Daddy Bookins

Lil Boo is exploring outside!  What fun!  From eggplants to bats- off go my hats!  OK, only one hat goes off, but this was just such a fun little rhyming book!

The pictures are bright and colorful.  There is one sufficient paragraph on each page with a wonderful little rhyme at the bottom which leads to the next page.  There are lots of fun little facts about several different items.  Everything is covered from types of watermelon to spider facts.

My five year old grabbed this book and ran for dear life with it.  I had a terrible time pulling it away from his grubby little hands long enough to review it.  My only complaint with this book is the font.  It's beautiful and flourishy, but makes it difficult for young readers like my son to make out the words and letters.  My son was absolutely entranced with the book, however, and it worked wonderfully for me to read it to him.

Peas out, Daddy Bookins!

Schloss Valkuriz by Felicia N. Cheung

A chance encounter with the handsome Lord Kessler leads iara to the magnificent castle of Schloss Valkuriz where she finds a new and exciting romance.  Haunted by recurring dreams of past sorrows in which she relives the episode of her last encounter with her lover, Iara learns the truth behind a dark secret buried in the past.  A secret protected by the immortal beauty of a sacred rose whose very essence is preserved by the faithfulness of a promise now forgotten.  A promise which, if broken, would lead to horrifying consequences.... - Taken from the back of the book


I was really looking forward to reading this book.  Sounds enticing, doesn't it?  The front cover is awesomely done with the beautiful rose and lots of pretty blood.  I can't say it was a 'bad' story.  It wasn't even terrible, and I think I would have preferred if it were.  At least with a terrible story I can find lots to say about it, even if it is all negative.  This book just left me......well.....it left me.   I enjoyed reading the book.  It was subdued with a nice mysterious background.  The characters were included in the story.  There was a plot.  It had a beginning, middle and end.  Basically, I really hate saying it, but for me this book was mashed potatoes.  They're decent to look at and they taste alright and they fill you up, but they're certainly no bacon mushroom burger.  Though it was a decent read, it's forgettable....perhaps even bland.  If you have nothing else to read, I definitely say go for it!  I can't find one single thing wrong with this book that would keep me from suggesting it.  Just, on the flip side, I can't find one single reason to suggest it.

I'm a Slacker!

I didn't just capitalize slacker because it's the title of this post, but because I'm a slacker with a capital 'S'!  OK, I haven't really been slacking, just not doing one job so that I'd have more time to focus on others, but sadly this was the job that has been let go for the past few weeks.  Thankfully, I've finally caught up on Christmas demands (other than the prerequisite joy which will be going on for weeks yet) and I'm all settled into the house (except for painting the living room but that will wait until previously said joy has started to wane).  Now it's time to crack down on reviews!

To start off, I still haven't drawn December's winner for the Amazon gift card!  So...let's see what we have here.............Rick! 

Check in soon to find out who January's winner is!  Also, lots of reviews coming up soon!  I've already done the reading and now it's time to tell you what I think!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mush by Clay Morgan Wilson IV

Seventy year old Clay Morgan and two of his sons are taking a three thousand mile, cross country road trip mostly down Route 66, to his third son's wedding.

Making a deal with their father, Dad will tell stories if they seek his favorite snack...microwave pigskins.  He weaves a Christian based comic romance where a devoted Klansman and his daughter fall in love with people they shouldn't.  There is a California town called Opportunity, where people are crazy about their pigs, a young pastor finds love for the first time, and lives are changed when God places a Ray Charles CD in the cafe juke box.

Through it all, Dad becomes a hero when he gives a heart-felt wedding toast to the newlywed couple and influences an in-law to stand up for himself.  However, he creates unforgiving enemies by expressing a negative opinion at the rehearsal dinner. (Taken from the back of the book)

Ah, Clay Morgan, how I long to hear more!  I think I enjoyed this road trip across the country more than the characters did.  The story between Clay and his sons is sweet, but the 'chronicle' that Clay weaves is breathtaking.  Everything is worded in such a manner that you just get sucked right in, but I found myself being disappointed every time I was pulled away from Opportunity. 

I strongly suggest this book.  It's a sweet and charming family story, but there's a real gem hidden inside.  The town of Opportunity is truly a gem.  I'm not sure what Clay has in mind for future, but I strongly suggest he write a book that is only about Opportunity and it's inhabitants.  I'm just absolutely in love with it!  We have murderers and lunatics and characters that are just so outlandish they have to be based on real people.  I want more!  Though this is an over all sweet read (Yes!  I keep using the word 'sweet'!  It just describes it perfectly!), I strongly suggest you pick it up just for the Opportunity factor.  It's the best little made up town I've read since Mitford, and that's saying something!

Tranquillity Initiative by Joan Meijer

Tranquillity Initiative is a medical thriller in which President Charles Anderson-in order to put a stop to an endless war with Astrakhan, and to salvage his presidency and bid for reelection-authorizes the Tranquillity Initiative, the illegal use of anthrax weaponry.

Two of the bombs are stolen off of the Trabzon Base in Turkey.  They are smuggled into New York by Micha Rodan's terrorist group.  Seeking explosives for an IED, the terrorists open one of the weapons and find nothing but strips of tin foil.  When they dump the foil and the invisible anthrax germs it accompanies outside a building off 42nd Street, the germs are swept into Times Square by a light evening breeze.  As the disease unleashes its fury within the city and around the world, and with the terrorists always one step ahead of them, Doctor Cassandra Williams, an anthrax expert from the CDC, and Richland Powell, the junior senator from new York, race frantically to stop Rodan and his men before they properly deploy their second weapon and bring the city's death toll from hundreds to millions. (Taken from the back of the book)

As political/terrorist books go, I have to admit this was the most fascinating that I've read.  In the beginning I found myself drifting off and having a little trouble staying in line with the context of the story.  Basically, politics is dry to me and I was a little bored out of my skull.  Soon, however, that changed.  I began to get intimate glimpses into the lives of specific individuals and found myself anxious to find out what would  be happening next.

The first big thing that hit me about this book is a specific talent that Joan has as a writer that I've rarely seen, and I've read A LOT of books.  Throughout the book we're presented with several characters who have contracted the anthrax virus through one means or another.  In a matter of a few short paragraphs, Joan was able to make me care about those characters.  One character was presented on one mere page, but I loved her and cared about her as if she'd been a life long friend.  I've been going over and over this in my mind and I still can't figure out how she did it.  Even if this isn't a book you might be interested in, if you're a writer, you might consider picking up this book to learn a few hints on character creation.  I'm stunned at the way that Joan has taken a mere glimpse at a person and made them someone I cared about.

Secondly, this is not the type of book that really affects you fully while you read it.  Each individual story line does, don't get me wrong, but the over all tone and reflection of the book doesn't hit you right away.  I found that once I reached the end, the entire story changed for me and I found myself clapping my hands with glee.  It's a week later and still I'm churning this story in my brain and coming up with new thoughts that I'd missed before.  Though during reading it can be dull and dry at times, the after effects of this book are what make me suggest it as a good, thoughtful read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With Love; Now and Forever by RaeAnne Hadley

From all outward appearances, Anastasia Cassadine has the perfect life; gorgeous looks, a very successful company and handsome men vying to be her companion.  But outward appearances can be deceiving.  Ana is still haunted by a dark secret from her past, one that involved her first love, Austin Troy.

Now, twelve years later, after finally gathering the courage to confront Austin, Ana is horrified to learn of his recent death.  His widow, Jennifer, informs her that Ana is named in Austin's will and must come to england at once.  Once there, Ana meets Rick Montgomer, a handsome medium that immediately puts Ana on her guard.  Their mutual attraction however, is hard tod eny, and as Rick and Ana begin to get closer, dark forces are gathering to tear them apart.

Once more forced to relive the terror that forced her and Austin apart so many years before, Ana and Rick must join together to battle the darkness that will threaten everything they know. -taken from the back of the book

This was a fun read for me.  Easy to pick up, difficult to put down.  I have to admit that I found the heroin to be a pretty big twit who annoyed me, but it was easy enough to look past that.  I can't say what it was about her that annoyed me without giving away spoilers, but I found myself reading and thinking, 'Really?  Seriously?  What's wrong with you???'  Perhaps she's written that way on purpose, I'm not really sure.  She's still lovable in spite of that one nasty character flaw, however.  The rest of the cast of characters are equally fun and endearing, if at times a bit staged.

Basically, this was a romance with an attempt at horror/suspense thrown in.  The reason I use the word 'attempt' is that it's sadly predictable.  Still fun to read, don't get me wrong, but predictable.  Those who enjoy Harlequin would definitely enjoy this meatier version. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Perform Like a Rock STar and Still Have Time for Lunch by Orna W. Drawas

Take the guesswork out of success and focus on the actions that can make you a star.  Filled with inspirational stories from successful executives, athletes, and ordinary people, Perform Like a Rock Star offers a clear road map for accomplishing impressive results that can move you forward faster than you ever thought possible. - taken from the back of the book

This book is definitely for the individual with their career in mind.  I have mixed emotions and thoughts on this book.  While reading it I felt rushed, as though the author was speaking to me and had a lot to say and minimal time to say it.  Although, as a reader, I have all the time in the world to read this book, there was such a sense of urgency in the way it's written that I didn't feel like I could slow down and let everything sink in.  On the other hand, the pop culture references, cartoons, inspirational stories and lyrics were well-worth being rushed. 

The most useful part of this book is the second half.  Most of the beginning of the book talks about being a star and finding your goals and other helpful tidbits.  The second half goes a bit more in depth and gives you key information on taking care of pesky co-workers, formatting better e-mails and making meetings more productive.  This book focuses on prioritizing, which should go without saying in the business world, but Orna shows ways to remove the clutter from your business life and make it easier to achieve those priorities.  At the end of the book there's a section with discussions and activities.  These are designed to help you personally make the most of your business life and become a 'rock star'.

Gar Fish and Long Gravy by Alexander Devereux

Growing up poor in the small town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Alexander Devereux didn't have much.  But there was no lack of remarkable personalities, each of whom left an indelible imprint on his life.  Gar Fish & Long Gravy collects the stories, insight, tragedies, and uproarious wit of an unforgettable cast of characters.  Meet Granmama Lia', who's hard-won wisdom on life, love-and mistresses-is dispensed to in her kitchen to her beloved grandson, sometimes over Johnny Walker Black.  There's Ms. Peaches, who raises chickens in her ramshackle hut yet might be one of the richest people in town.  Big Daddy is an imposing hulk, but his massive frame hides a vulnerable past and humiliating secret.  Ms. Annie Laurie is a fabulously wealthy white woman who never had children of her own.  But her love rains down on young Alexander.  And that's just for starters. -taken from the back of the book

I've come to notice recently that most of the memoirs I read from the south have a definite hint of humor in them.  I found myself grinning in several spots of this book.  My favorite quote from this book is, 'If sense were common, everyone would have it.'  It makes you smile and holds several grains of truth.

This book paints a picture of Devereux's life as a child, and it's not usually a pretty picture.  There are so many hardships depicted that no one should ever have to live through, but each time it's taken care of with love and faith.  Though not everyone in Devereux's life growing up was someone any of us would want to be around, the others more than made up for it with their depth of love and wisdom and sharing.  I can't agree with all of the wisdom shared with him as a child, but I was still entertained while disagreeing. 

For me, the best part of this book is the actual dialogue.  The rest of the book is interesting and ads, but the dialogue is where the real meat of the story lies.  It gives us insight into the characters and their beliefs as well as the truths that hide behind each person. 

Though parts of this book are heart-wrenching, I strongly suggest it for you  memoir readers.  Also, for those of you handy with a baseball bat, let me know how the gar fishing goes :)

Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-Somethings by Susie Fishbein

This cookbook is NOT just for those who are Jewish!  Every recipe in here is kosher, but you'll find several American-style recipes in here too. 

Also, this book is not just for 20-somethings.  The recipes are designed for those with minimal kitchen space and utensils, but they're honestly good for anyone to use.  Not only that, but they look absolutely divine!

Most of the recipes you'll find in here are just a step up from basic cooking.  They're enticing, but not so difficult that you can't achieve them. 

My personal favorite section of this book is a chapter on parties.  It's full of party theme ideas! 

The pictures in this book are stunning.  The recipes are clear and concise.  Everything has been well-collected and well-placed.  Of all the cookbooks I own, I have to admit that this is my favorite and will be used often.  I want to try every single recipe in this book!

Simple Times Crafts for Poor People by Amy Sedaris

Most of you have probably heard of Amy Sedaris, but you've never seen her this way before.  She spent years as Jerri in Strangers With Candy and often collaborates with her older brother, David.  Though I've seen Amy's humorous side before, this was a whole new light that I just can't wait to share with you!

Whether you're a serious crafter or just want a good chuckle, this is the book for you.  Amy covers crafting for everyone from those high on hallucinogens to shut-ins.  Need to make a gift for the nudist in your life?  Amy has it covered!  How about that poor little poisoned mouse that's not quite dead yet?  Make him a mouse ghetto for his final hours!  Though most of the crafts I found to be rather jokish, there were a few that I found myself saying 'What a great idea!' to.  There are definitely some useful tips and information in here among all the giggles.  I do have to warn you about the chapter on safety though.  Although I'm sure it's packed full of humor and useful information, I couldn't bring myself to read it.  The pictures were just a bit too graphic for my own tastes. 

Whether wanting a new style for your love patch, a new recipe, or crafting for Jesus, this book has everything.  A friend and I spent hours going through it and we both found something entertaining on each page.  Amy's brand of humor lends a whole new light to crafting. 

Painkiller Ghosts by J. Marc Harding

After his girlfriend's death, 30 something year old Thymothy X Exler moves back home with his mother, Suzanne, to get stability, and then changes his  name to Thyme.  While out walking, Thyme witnesses a tragedy that changes the direction of his life.  meanwhile, Suzanne is stalked and threatened by a man she dated briefly and Thyme takes matters into his own hands, with kitchen utensils.  Soon, the man begins appearing in the lives of Thyme's friends with disturbing consequences.  Thyme begins to hear the jingle of his dog's collar occasionally, but his dog died years ago.  And then Chastity disrupts things even more. - taken from the back of the book

I had a great time reading this book!  The suspense kept me intrigued and the storyline kept me engrossed.  The characters are interesting in that they aren't like anyone I've ever known.  There's still a sense of realism, but they're behavior borders on the outlandish.  I'm sure there really are people like these in the world somewhere, just not in my own personal reality.

What really hit me the most about this book is Harding's way of writing.  It's nearly poetic.  In the beginning it's more noticeable than later on in the book, but it's still there for those that are looking for it.  The way the words are strung together is beautiful and haunting in the beginning.  Later, as it becomes more natural, the tone of the poetry of his writing alters to match the mood of the book.  Though the story was entertaining, it was Harding's flair with words that kept me from putting the book down.

A First Christmas; Friends and Festivity by Sean Noonan

Join Elannah and Sam as the half sleep takes them to their secret Tree-House in the Jungle..where they meet in their dreams.

Once again they're off to see their friend Rodger the Badger and onto another everlasting and fantastical adventure.

This time it's about a First Christmas Party.

From finding the perfect Christmas Tree, the Best of Decorations the excitement just keeps building as as for the lights...!  Well these lights will be like no lights ever seen on a Christmas Tree before!  But what will the Bridge Troll make of the party and what present will be the most unexpected of them all? -taken from the back of the book

Being a Christmas fiend, I had a great time reading this children's book.  It's full of adventure and magic.  Not just Christmas magic, but the wizard kind as well. 

This book is geared towards children ages 6 and up.  It's a little difficult for some younger readers, but I visualize this more as a night time read where the parent/guardian reads the book to the child.  The story is bright and fun and should keep children on the edge of their bed, all snuggled in and wondering what will happen next.  This would definitely be a great addition to your Christmas reading collection and a joy to share with your child.

I'd also like to extend a special thanks to Elannah for autographing my book for me.  Elannah drew all of the illustrations for the book.  Some of the illustrations are intricate, but all of them made me smile :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Boost by Linda Edgecombe

First, I want to state that I haven't read this book, although I plan to.  Linda is a Canadian author/motivational speaker.  Her first book, Shift...Or Get Off The Pot, is a motivational book that deals with changing your perspective on life in a humorous manner.  Boost is geared more towards enjoying life.  Whether at work or home, every day has it's own special challenges.  Linda gives practical, fun advice about how to 'whistle while you work' and make those challenges a little less challenging.  I can't say I strongly suggest you pick this book up since I haven't read it yet, but I can say that it looks like a pretty good read, even if you're already taking a spoonful of sugar with your medicine.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

November

It's November already and I have no idea how that happened!  This year is seriously just flying by!  I know I normally put up the 'Pick of the Month' and draw the $5 Amazon winner on the first of the month, but I'm switching it up this month.  I'll be using tomorrow as a catch up day, so I'll get everything caught up then.  (Hopefully!)  On the bright side, this gives you guys an extra 24 hours to scare up some extra entries into the giveaway!  See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Legend Destiny by Nance Bulow-Morgan

A dark overlord is ruining the city of Mareese.  It's peoples are being oppressed and and controlled.  The people believe there is no hope until a young girl, Diony, is believed to be a part of a prophecy.  She finds she has extraordinary powers and takes it upon herself to fulfill her destiny and free her people.

It feels really strange that I just took such a deep read and condensed it into one mere, short paragraph!  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about this book.  I've read fantasy off and on but they always seem to have that 'fantasy fog' over them.  You read the book and you know what's happening, but it's more like watching it on tv than actually being there in person.  This is the first fantasy book I've read with no 'fantasy fog'!  Way to go, Nance!  This is a fantasy book for those of us who like to be really involved in our books!  I was sucked right in at the beginning and couldn't get out until I'd completely finished.  There are a few graphic scenes, so if you're faint-hearted, take that into consideration.  Personally, I loved them!  If it's not your thing, it's easy enough to skip over them without missing too much of the story.  The book does open up with a rape scene though, so be prepared. 

This is a definite must read for you fantasy lovers!  This is definitely more realistic fantasy than most of the fantasy that I've read.  Those of you who aren't into fantasy, can read this as a strong adventure book.

Do Witches Make Fishes? by Jason Mayo

A young boy doesn't want to eat his mother's healthy meals.  He wants to eat sticky sweet candy!  Who can blame him, right?  After a particularly trying day of arguing about food versus sweets, a witch appears!  Will the boy be able to save himself?!

I love this book!  I knew from the title that it had the potential to be great.  The illustrations (Thanks, Justin Wolfson!)  are incredibly fun!  They're bright and colorful and captivating.  There aren't too many words per page, so younger readers could easily pick this up.  Since it's a rhyming book, it's more fun to read.  The story is exciting but not too scary. 

I strongly suggest this book for children...especially right now with Halloween right around the corner.  It's a fun little book with a strong message about eating healthy. 

All proceeds from sales of this book will go to The Garden of Dreams Foundation.  I only wish I could afford enough of these books to pass them out on Halloween!

Dream Bigger by Julie Wise

Julie is a life coach and freelance writer.  In this book, she reminds us what dreams are and gives us the tools to achieve them.  Complete with inspirational stories and exercises, this book is a definite for those who have lost their way and forgotten who they are.

I moved Julie's book to the top of my 'to be read' pile on the advice of a friend.  I'm thankful I did.  It seems like life is constantly throwing something at you that you just don't have the energy and time to deal with.  For most of us we get so ingrained in our daily routine filled with housework, jobs and family that we forget who we are.  We become little robot machines that just tune out our innermost thoughts and get the job done.  I know I've been guilty of this on several occasions, especially recently with several life changes going on.  Julie's book helped me to remember who I am and what I want out of life.  Life is so short and we don't get that much time.  It's easy to get lost in the day to day things and forget what we really want out of life while we're here. 

This book is easy to read, short, and inspirational.  There are a few chapters that are just filled with inspirational 'dream' stories about others.  Most of the chapters though contain thought provoking information that leads into the exercises.  None of the exercises are difficult and Julie explains why each is important as you go along. 

I wouldn't suggest this book for just a bit of light reading.  Anyone seeking some direction in life or wanting to reconnect with who they really are will find valuable insight inside.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Redemption of Holly Dobson by C. Lynn Barton

Holly Dobson possesses an understated benevolent evilness.  She is relentlessly driven by her unbreakable sense of family values.  Holly acts with remorseless conviction to protect her own regardless of the consequences.

Her only son is a demonic, charismatic, and curiously engaging being.  The quintessential evil which George Dobson personifies sets Holly on a path that spans continents, decades, and the landscape of her very soul.

Along the way, Holly discovers her purpose and finds redemption as a mother, a woman, lover, and ultimately something more than a mere human being.  (Taken from the back of the book)

Where to begin...where to begin!  This was an excellent read.  I definitely had a few 'Exorcism' flashbacks!  It's the battle between good and evil and it's difficult to figure out who's on which side.  Even after finishing the book, I'm not sure!  Those of you who are into religious thrillers will definitely enjoy this.  The writing is captivating and flows beautifully.  There were a few wonderful twists thrown in that I hadn't expected.  Over all, this book has a dark feel to it that keeps you guessing.  I had a difficult time putting it down.

Now, sadly, I have to critique a bit here.  An editor would have done wonders for this book!  It was an excellent story that could have been made outstanding, were it not for a few things pulling the reader away from the story.  Items such as misspelled words and difficult dialogue kept me rereading passages to figure out what was being said.  The bright spot to this is that it isn't common in the book.  Definitely annoying when it happens, but don't let it be enough to deter you from reading it. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Letters to Ethan by Tom McQueen

Letters to Ethan is a book comprised of letters that Tom has written for his grandson, Ethan.  I guess the title is pretty self-explanatory on that one.  These letters contain life wisdom that Tom has gained through the years that he wants to share with his grandson.  Each chapter is a different letter with a different message.  Tom begins writing when Ethan is born and continues to write on special days and as he thinks of something important he wants to say.  Each letter is written with love, wisdom, and usually a slight touch of humor.

Over all, this was a pretty decent book.  It's sort of a life guide book.  For me, it was an alright read.  I wouldn't pick it up off of a shelf and buy it though.  I felt sort of like an intruder reading someone else's letters.  Had this been written to me from my grandfather, I would have treasured it for always and passed it on to my children.  There is a lot of good life info to be found inside though and i would definitely suggest this for anyone who wants more life insight and guidance.

The part that interested me most about reviewing this book is the Legacy Campaign.  Their website has a resource available for child protection.  More than that, they've set up an area where parents and grandparents can upload their own letters.  It's a great idea that I think would serve generations to come.  Pass on the wisdom and keep it personal!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Mirror Maze by Tom Brunger and Lisa Walker

Tom started out as a successful Norwegian businessman.  Stress and other factors led him deeper and deeper into a spiral of drugs and alcohol.  This path led him to be arrested at a Mexico City airport.  Tom spent several years living in the nightmare that was the Mexican prison system.  This book is his story.

It's always difficult to review a book that's so near and dear to the person who's written it.  You can't really just review the book.  You have to review the life that's painted between the pages as well. 

I started out reading this thinking of Tom as the typical businessman who gets sucked into drugs and alcohol.  We've all heard the story.  Things really start changing as Tom spends time in the prison system.  The treatment he receives is absolutely appalling.  Through letters that Tom personally wrote, we get a glimpse into a different life than most of us can even imagine.  No words can do justice to the terror that he lived.  Regardless of any crime he may have committed, the punishment was far more than he deserved.  It's far more than anyone deserved.  This book isn't so  much about the punishments and horrors as it is Tom's personal journey.  We find him doing everything he can to survive and pursuing a spiritual journey amidst these horrors he's presented with.

This is a heartfelt and compelling book.  It's easy to pick up and difficult to put down.  For me, it was a difficult read because I had to keep reminding myself that this isn't fiction.

Princess and Missy's Magical Adventure by Michelle Nicole Martin

Princess is a sweet little dog who loses her family and her home.  She begins to spend her life wandering the streets in search of a meal and helping everyone she comes across.  As a reward, Missy, a magical butterfly, offers her a crystal heart.  She then asks Princess to join her and her group in spreading joy and happiness.  Everything seems like a wonderful new beginning for Princess until the evil Jaith appears on the scene.

This is such a cute and sweet story.  Admittedly, it's sad in the beginning, but Princess bounces back.  There  are several good morals along the way for parents and caregivers to point out as learning lessons.  The words and sentences are short so that it's easy for younger readers to pick this book up and read it alone.

I handed this book to a nine year old girl to get her opinion.  She enjoyed the pictures as well as the story.  When I asked her to sum up how she felt about the book over all, she replied, 'It's just really sad that we never get to find out what happened to the poor doggy's family.' 

My over all thoughts on this book is that it reminds me of Lisa Frank stickers.  You know the ones, if you're a girl or have a girl.  They're cute and colorful and made just for young girls to enjoy.

A Pecunious Life by M.L. Dolan

I started reading as an incredibly young child.  While other kids were at recess playing four square and tag, I was in the library.  My favorite childhood place to hang out was an antique shop a few blocks from my home.  In the back, left-hand corner of the shop there was a room that was completely dedicated to books.  I can still remember the smell and the buzz of the overhead light as I spent my childhood and part of my teen years devouring every book I could get my hands on.  I'm not really sure why the owner of the antique shop put up with me since I rarely purchased anything, but I'm thankful she did.  It was there, in that tiny room of the antique shop that I found the one book that has stuck with me throughout my life.  As an adult, I've tried to find a copy but with no luck.  I can't even find reference to it anywhere.  The book was titled 'The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow'.  It was tiny in my hands and had a deep red textured cover.  This book was no piece of literature.   It was simply one man's thoughts, written down in a small book and put out for the world to see.  Though it was either never known or quickly forgotten by the rest of the world, this book has always been loved by me.

A Pecunious Life.  A life rich in wealth.  I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked up this book to read it, until I read the opening page.  This book isn't a piece of literature.  Dolan isn't a world-renowned doctor.  This book is simply one man's thoughts, written down in a small book and put out for the world to see.  The catch is that this man's thoughts are something worth listening to and thinking about.  He takes the time to tell us how he became who he is through a series of short, interesting stories about his life.  Then he takes us on a journey of who he is continually becoming.  This is an inspirational and motivational book geared towards getting you to think about your life.  What do you want out of it?  Where are you headed?  Are you really happy?  Dolan gives us a few exercises to help us get started in thinking about these important questions. 

This book isn't for everyone.  I don't see this becoming a best-seller or something talked about in every book shop in the country.  For the people who do pick up this book though, and find the tiny piece of magic that is hidden inside, and use it to better their lives, this book will be like 'Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow' is for me.  It's that one book that you take with you throughout your life.  Not always drawing on it, but having the comfort of it being there in your mind.

Vanished! by David E. Daigle

This is the fourth book in the Frontmire Histories.  In this book we start out with Morlah suddenly awaking from the druid sleep.  The problem is that he's slept for over six hundred years, which wasn't his intent at all.  Upon waking, he finds that things aren't as he left them at all.  Nearly everyone he's ever known has died.  The cities and peoples he once relied on are no longer helpful.  All that remains of his life is his nemesis, Daektoch, who is a black mage.  Morlah goes on a quest to find the elf stone, which he hopes will help him restore some sanity to the strange new world he's awakened to.

I haven't read the first three books in the series, but this one stands alone just fine.  I wish I had read them before reading this one though, just to get a better feel for the characters.  Although I loved the premise of the book and found it adventurous and intriguing, I just didn't feel any kinship with any of the characters.  This book is well-written and does have some really interesting scenes that I wanted to be involved in.  Over all, though, I was infused with that dry feeling I get when reading most fantasy.  As a stand alone book, it's not enough for me to want to tell everyone I know to read it, unless I happen to know that they're a diehard fantasy fan.  After doing some research and finding out how people feel about it as a series though, it paints a different picture.  The fans of the series seem to be enthralled with it and liken it to Lord of the Rings.  I strongly suggest that if you're a fantasy fan and want to read this book, start with the beginning of the series and work your way up.  The only real problem I had with it was that I wasn't interested enough in it to fully enjoy it, but those who've read the first three books first have had a much different experience.

The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head by Gary Small, MD and Gigi Vorgan GIVEAWAY!!!

I burnt my son's pancakes this morning.  I'm not proud of it, but I do decline taking the blame on this one.  It started out innocently enough.  He brought me a box of pancake mix and said "I hungry!' and I knew that was the point I was supposed to put down the book and start cooking.  As I stirred the batter one-handed, I reminded myself that pancakes don't take long to cook and I should just put down the book and do it.  As I flipped the pancakes over one-handed I reminded myself that pancakes don't take long to cook and I should just put down the book.  As I held out a plate of haphazardly chopped up and burnt pancakes to an empty kitchen and said 'Here!', I realized it was just too late to put the book down and there was just no point.  I wanted to put the book down and be a good mom, I really did.  I was unable.  

Nope, that isn't a story from The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head.  That's a story from my real life while I was reading it.  Maybe I'm a bookaholic.  Maybe one of the stories touched something in my brain that made me incapable of physically putting it down.  Most likely it's just because it was a darn good read! 

Here's what to expect with this book:  Imagine sitting on your front porch with someone you know and trust.  They're telling you about the time that a patient came into their office and had a book reading addiction (No!  This isn't in the book!  Stay with me here!).  He doesn't start with 'I had this patient this one time who had this thing.'  He starts out at the beginning.  'I was 53 and had just published my first book.  As my daughter was attempting to (insert whatever suits your fancy here), I received a call from my publisher.  He and I had been friends for years.  He told me that one of the girls reviewing my book had a problem and thought she might be benefited by talking to me.'  He starts out with personal information and a little background on the story.  Then you get hit with the patient.  Right away you don't know exactly what's wrong with them, only part of their symptoms.  As each story progresses, you learn more about the patient as well as more about the way that Dr. Small dealt with them.  Once the story wraps up and you find the issue, it doesn't stop there.  I'm definitely a 'But what happened next!' person.  I wasn't disappointed!  At the end of each story Dr. Small gives a small update on each person. 

Honestly, I just loved this book.  I couldn't put it down.  The stories were intriguing.  Being an amateur sleuth, I always tried to figure out what was wrong with the person before I was told and I failed with every single person!  Best of all for me was Dr. Small's writing style.  It has just the perfect amount of flow to keep you intrigued.  It really is like sitting down and listening to stories from a trusted friend.  This is great if you're a psychiatry student and want to read about a few cases.  Personally, I think it's even better if you aren't.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride!  If you'd like to check out a preview of the book, go here and they'll email you one! 

Now for the best news!  I get one free copy of this book to give away!  Honestly, I don't know anyone who'll want to pass up this book!  If nothing else, it's a pretty read that will really set off your bookshelf!  So, how do you win?  It's easy! 

Now for the rules: 

Leave a comment letting me know you're a follower on Google, Networked Blogs or Twitter!  You get an extra entry for each place that you follow.  Not only does that enter you into this giveaway, it pre-enters you into the $5 Amazon gift card for November!

U.S. contestants only, please!

The winner will be announced on Halloween evening!  What does this book have to do with Halloween?  Nothing!  It's a holiday and giveaways are fun!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Changing the Conversation by Gary Klaben

Usually after finishing a book and review, I like to go read other reviews about the book and see what everyone else thought of it.  Sometimes I have to ask myself if everyone read the same book I did.  Same title.  Same author.  Same basic promoted premise.  What I read, isn't what everyone else seems to have read though.  In this specific circumstance, I've actually gone back and rewritten my review because I just didn't find in this book the same thing everyone else did and I'd really like to discuss it.  Be forewarned, I'm a bit verbose in this one, but I had a lot I wanted to share.

Firstly, Gary Klaben is a financial advisor, ex-military, and primarily family man.  When I was approached with the book, I was expecting a book filled with information on how to make my family more financially sound.  With today's economy, it sounds like a necessity for nearly every home.  Most of the reviews I read touted it as a financial help book as well.  Some went so far as to mention that it was both a financial and family planner.  When I started reading, I didn't find lists of financial advice.  I didn't find any of those conspiracy theory secrets to making my dollar stretch from here to Neptune.  What I found is a heartfelt book, consisting of several lives worth of wisdom with a dash of financial information thrown in.  There are some sound tips for dealing with finances, but the financial aspect is really more of a backdrop rather than the point of the book, in my opinion.

What I found in this book was a deep look at the way that life has changed over the past few generations.  The importance of family and keeping it simple is really lost on today's generation.  Being close to middle aged myself (GASP!), it really hit me just how much things have changed in my lifetime so far alone.  Growing up, I didn't have the internet or worry about having the coolest car or whether I had the latest I-Pod.  These things are great, honestly, but that's one of the serious things that have changed.  My life back then was being with friends and looking forward to time with my family.  Baking cookies with my mom was way more important than going out and buying expensive treats.  Dad dancing with me in the living room was way better than any movie we could have seen at the theater.  Once I started working as a teen, financial living was pretty easy.  Work, get my paycheck, spend it.  I didn't really have a lot of bills other than clothes that I wanted or music.  Now that I'm an adult, there's rent and utilities and car payments and cable payments and soccer practice and insurances and counseling expenses and travel expenses and date out expenses and trips with the kids expenses and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  As for the financial aspects of this book, that's what I took away.  Things are just too complicated these days.  Instead of having complex lives, simplify it.  Start cutting out the things that don't matter.  I have to admit that sometimes I could be accused of being a lazy parent.  I know, it's horrible, but I'm being honest.  There are days when I'd happily hand my son a $10 and send him off to the movies with a friend rather than sit and play a board game with him for an hour.  I love playing games with him, but sometimes there are other things that need done too.  Of course, by simplifying, those things no longer come into the picture, freeing up time to spend with my son.  This makes us a richer family, not only in closeness, but financially as well.  Money is only important in our lives in that it allows us to make our lives the way we want.  The best financial advice I received from this book is to really take a look at what matters in my life and go from there.

If you're looking for a book that's going to give you cut and dried tips on what to do to make more money or make your money stretch further, this probably isn't the book for you.  This book is an enriching, engrossing collection of stories and life tales that paints a picture of what a full life is.  Though there is financial advice ingrained in the entire book, if that's all that you're looking for you'll be sadly disappointed.  This book is an inspirational and motivational tool to use towards changing your life and getting back to your core beliefs.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Elmer's and X-acto team up!

As a bzzagent, I get access to lots of cool stuff.  Recently, Bzz sent me a box full of products from X-acto and Elmer's to try out.  The problem with crafting is that you never really know what works well and what doesn't and none of us wants to spend our hard-earned money on something that's not going to work the way we want it to.  With the economy being what it is, crafting is on the rise.  Personally, I think this is a good thing since I'd much rather get a home-made scrapbook that I can treasure forever than a new sweater that I'll wear once and stash away in my closet.  (Not that I'd ever turn down a sweater as a gift!  Pink and fuzzy, if you please!)  If you're a crafter or just getting started or even just want to put a little extra edge on your hand-written letters, here are a few product reviews so that you know what you're getting for your money before you decide to buy.

X-acto Corner Rounder Puncher- This is a cute little gadget.  Mine's black with a fuschia button.  It's small and easy to hold in your hand.  This gadget is used to gently round the edge of corners of paper/photos/etc.  Yes, you can easily do this yourself with a handy spandy pair of scissors, but this gadget guarantees that each corner will match perfectly with no guesswork.  It has handy guidelines to rest the paper on while snipping off the corner and the push button goes down easily.  You don't have to be a body builder to use it!  The downside- I can't find this thing on sale anywhere!  Even the X-Acto website doesn't have a price listed for it.  It's supposed to be on sale at Walmart, but I haven't been able to find it.  I'm still searching!  It's a great product if you can find one to buy one!

X-acto Decorative Edge Scissors- Again, I ran into the problem of not being able to find a price or find them on sale anywhere.  I had a little trouble getting these to work at first due to a difficulty in opening them to use them.  Not the packaging, but the scissors appeared to be stuck in the closed position.  As soon as I got them open though, they worked beautifully.  They scallop and zigzag like nobody's business!  I've used Fiskars before and I have to say that the X-acto brand seems to cut more smoothly and feels more comfortable in my hand.


Elmer's CraftBond Glue Spots- This little guys were fun to play with!  Basically it's a dot of sticky glue that's wedged between non-stick sheets.  You pull off the glue dot and stick whatever you want to whatever you want!  The downside is that I wasn't talented enough to remove the dots without perpetually getting them stuck on my fingers.  The upside is that they stick incredibly well.  These are perfect for projects where you want a bit of a 3D effect since it makes the item you're gluing stick out a bit.  They're malleable though and can easily be flattened if you don't want a 3D look.  Again, no price available yet and nowhere seems to sell them.  Actually, that's true of pretty much everything I tested today, so I'm going to stop saying it.  I'm just hoping they aren't released yet rather than they're going to continue to be difficult to get ahold of.

Elmer's Tape Runner-  Innovative and wonderful idea!  This runs about the same as the old White-Out strips.  You just put the tip down to whatever you want to glue and pull back.  The tape comes off the device easily and sticks incredibly well for being double side tape.  The only issue I had with this is that the cap doesn't seem to click on quite right.  I had a difficult time removing it and a more difficult time putting it back on. 

Elmer's Craft Bond dual tip Glue Pen- I love this thing!  It has that clear gel type of glue in it.  One end is a fine tip which I expected to leave a gloppy line, but it didn't.  It left a smooth, thin line of glue.  The other end is a thicker tip with ridges that leaves a nice, smooth thick line of glue for larger projects.  It reminds me a lot of rubber cement but without the smell and the mess.  I hope this one doesn't end up being expensive because it's a new staple in my home.  It sticks the best of all the products I've tried.  WINNER!!!

Elmer's Craft Bond Glue Stick - This is your typical glue stick....or....is it???  Yep!  It is!  Honestly I didn't see any difference between this glue stick and any other.  It sticks well until it dries, at which point it easily pops loose with a bit of prying.  This is great for those projects with your kids that you know will get destroyed anyway, but I won't use this again for my own personal crafting needs.

For crafting ideas, go to Elmer's Craft Club.   There are some innovative and fun ideas to be found!

Give Me Your Opinion!!!

OK So, I have a writer friend.  Alright, I have several...that's not the point!  This specific writer friend has decided to go in a different direction with her books, but she's a little nervous because she hasn't done anything like this before.  She's agreed to let me put a snippet on my blog so that all of you can give her some serious feedback and let her know exactly what you think.  Please be honest!!! 

"Is it boiling yet?  We're on a tight schedule here!"
"No, not yet," Saber yelled back across the kitchen.
"Well hurry up!  We have a critic tonight.  He's impatient."
"And you're not?"  
Francois wiped his hands on his apron hastily and approached her.  "We need this soup done yesterday. Quit farting around and speed it up."
"If you wanted it done yesterday then you should have cooked it yesterday."
"Your attitude will get you into trouble one of these days, Steele.  Step aside and let me finish."
She did so, letting the head chef take over.  He looked into the pot and then turned to glare at her.  "You put onions in already?"
"Well...yeah."
"The onions have to go in after the water comes to a boil."
"They have to boil - so they'll boil."
"You can't put them in cold water!  It ruins the texture!  The entire base of the soup is ruined!"
"What the fuck difference does it make?  It's soup!  You know he'll hate it, anyway.  He always hates your food."
"You're fired.  Collect your things and get out."
"Whatever.  This job blows anyway."  She tossed her apron at the blustering Francois, landing it almost in the pot of water.  She grabbed her jacket off the peg in the back room and headed out the kitchen door.  "Your soup sucks, by the way!" She yelled as the door closed behind her.  Well, now she'd have to find another job.  Rent was due in a week.  
She let herself into her small apartment, threw her jacket on the floor, and flopped backward onto her bed.  Beside her, Warden, her cat, stretched lazily.  "Let me guess, he purred, "you lost another job."  His large eyes glowed orange in the semi darkness of the room.  His tabby coat, which he could change at will, was orange today.
"It sucked.  Francois is cranky and hard to please."
"What you mean is that you wouldn't listen.  As usual."
"What I mean is that he's an asshole and I'm glad I got fired.  I hated it there anyway.  It's hot and busy and everyone is rude."
Warden sighed.  "You realize rent is due in a week.  Also, I'm almost out of caviar."
Saber frowned at him.  "Why can't you just eat kibble like a normal cat?"
"Because I'm not a normal cat."
"I'll look for another job tomorrow.  Right now I just want a bath and--"
The tattoo on her right arm throbbed.  She looked at it, watching the rune ebb and fade with the throb.
"You want me to do what?" She yelled at it.  "No.  I refuse.  Dammit.  But...this is stup--...FINE!"
"So there you are.  You have another job," Warden smirked at her.
"You know I don't get paid for tracking down refugees.  It's part of my parole."
"Yes.  So who are we hunting this time?  Do we get to go anywhere fun?  Like Hawaii?"  He pawed at a loose thread on her bedspread.
"Colorado."
"Pfeh.  Why do all the refugees have to hide in the cold places?  I hate the cold."
"Hey.  All you have to do is provide a map.  I have to do all the hard stuff."
"And who are we hunting?  A murderer?  A serial killer?"
"Candy thief."
"A...what?"
"Someone has been stealing boxes of candy from a grocery store in Denver.  Come on, you know the drill.  Roll over."
Warden sighed indignantly.  "This is so humiliating."  He stretched out on his back, raising his paws above his head.  Saber pressed a button on his collar that projected a hologram on the cat's stomach.  She could see the fugitive's profile, complete with his physical description and why he was wanted.  Pressing another button projected a map.  She studied the streets of Denver, pinpointing the location of her prey.
"You know, with all their technology, couldn't they just think of a better way to do this?"
"Quit complaining.  All you have to do is stretch out for belly rubs and eat caviar all day.  I'm the one that has to hunt down criminals."
"So what are we to do with the candy thief once we catch him?"
"He's to be killed on site."
"Killed?  For stealing candy?
"No.  He's to be shot for hiding drugs in the candy boxes."
"Ah.  Are we leaving right away?" Warden stretched his limbs while Saber laced up her boots.
"Yep."
"But I'm hungry."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mrs. Pinkelmeyer and Moopus McGlinden Burn the Rrrrump Rrrroast by Jennifer Kelman

Poor Henry is staying with his aunt and missing his parents.  He's too sad to play or read.  When his aunt calls Mrs. Pinkelmeyer by mistake, his attitude begins to change.  Though it's a wrong number, sweet and silly Mrs. Pinkelmeyer takes the time to tell Henry how she's cooking a rump roast and stories about her dog, Moopus McGlinden.  The silly way she talks and the sweetness of her actions touches Henry and helps him through a difficult time.

Poor Mrs. Pinkelmeyer ended up burning her rrrrump rrroast!  I felt so horrible for her after she went to all the trouble of helping poor Henry that I wanted to fix her dinner!  Although this story is an unlikely event, it shows children how they can cope with being away from their parents or someone else that they might be missing. 

I'd suggest this book for younger children.  I even more strongly suggest that it's read in varying voices.  I tried it out on a 5 year old little girl, and she loved it!  I talked with a silly, high-pitched fake British accent and she giggled like crazy.  I tried it on my 5 year old little boy without any silly voices and he just looked at me like I was crazy and took the book away to look at the pictures.  The pictures are colorful and fun.  The words are pretty easy to sound out, but I'd still suggest this as a 'read to the child' book.  I just feel like it adds to the comfort factor that this book invokes in children.

This book is the first in a series about Mrs. Pinkelmeyer and her dog, Moopus.  I look forward to seeing what further adventures they get into.  Along with my review copy, I received two Mrs. Pinkelmeyer tattoos and my children had a blast with them!  Thanks, Jennifer!

Pepperidge Farm Donates to Susan G. Komen Foundation

As a member of One2One Network, I've received information about an important project going on this month.  I'm personally headed over in just a moment to participate myself.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, there are opportunities everywhere for all of us to help.  Pepperidge Farm is going to be donating to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure.  They will donate 50 cents for every Milano moment posted on their Facebook page.  It only takes a few moments to post a Milano moment, it doesn't cost you anything,  and you'll be helping an important cause.  Everyone I know has someone in their life that's been touched by breast cancer in one manner or another.  Please take a few moments to head on over to Facebook and support the Susan G. Komen foundation by posting your Milano moment.

Velvet Lace-Up Bustier by Eden Fantasys

As a new reviewer for Edenfantasys.com, I couldn't wait to try my first product.  Lingerie is always tricky for me.  Finding the right size, shape and color can be difficult, especially when ordering online.   Also, when ordering online you always have the possibility of receiving a product that was shoddily made and that's just disappointing to say the least.

I chose to try out the Velvet Lace-Up Bustier.  As a consumer, the price is great (assuming the product is well-made) and sizing was incredibly easy to figure out.  The first thing I checked when I received the item were the materials.  The velvet portion of the outfit is thin enough that it's not too hot to wear, but thick enough that it's sturdy.  The lacing and embellishments are made of a black stretchy material, and I found them to be strong as well.  The stitching is tight and close so that it should last quite a long time.  No unraveling here!  No loose threads!  The hook and eye closures on the back of the corset are well set so that they won't easily pull loose.  There are also two different settings on the back so that you can change it to your personal best fitting size.

The next test was the look and feel of the outfit.  As women, we all want to look sexy.  Me personally, I'm not willing to sacrifice comfort.  If something is scratchy or pokes me or just fits uncomfortably, I'm not going to wear it.  It's that simple.  The outfit fit perfectly!  Even though there aren't any shoulder straps on the bustier, it stayed in place quite well, even after moving around in it for awhile (Nothing exciting!  I tested it out while doing laundry!).  Not only did it fit well, but it was so comfortable! I could easily wear this all day long beneath my clothing!  Of course, I'm a pretty unfair judge as to how the outfit looked on me, but I actually liked it.  My ribcage looked small and I had quite a bit of cleavage (which was easily visible thanks to the front lacing!).

My only issue with this outfit had to do with the thong.  The front lacing appears to stretch unevenly.  Since it's not a tie string, the more you stretch the elastic around the waist, the more the lacing appears uneven from top to bottom.  It's not very noticeable, and is definitely not an issue when wearing the outfit.  It's just the only imperfection I found.

Over all, this outfit is a definite success for me.  It's constructed to be durable yet comfortable, looks nice, feels nice.  It's definitely a great value for the price.  I can't wait to try out my next product and let you all know about it!

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

Similac Recall Update

I received information from Similac this morning regarding their recent product recall on powdered infant formula.  Similac is concerned, not only with the quality of the product they're placing on their shelves, but on how it's affecting mom's, playgroups, and communities.  They're working round the clock to replace store shelves with product that's been unaffected by the recall.  If your store is still out of similac, email abbottnutritionsupport@abbott.com.  You can also order product online at http://SimilacStore.com.  Because of the product recall, for a limited time Similac is offering FREE overnight shipping! 

Personally, I'm pretty impressed with Similac right now.  My children are old enough that I no longer use formula, but I love that the company has expressed such an interest in their product recall.  They're taking extra time to really listen to their consumers and try to help them in any way possible.  If you have a comment or suggestion for Similac, please contact them and let them know.  They want to hear from us to make their product and service the best it can be.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dante's Journey by J. C. Marino

After Detective Joe Dante's family is murdered, Joe will go to any lengths to catch the murderer and find justice, even if that means following the killer into the depths of Hell. 

In 1961, Joe steps off the streets of Boston and into the first circle of Hell.  A mysterious tour guide, Virgil, attempts to get Joe to realize he's dead and take him where he belongs, but Joe is hell-bent (literally!) on finding Argenti, the murderer of his family. 

Dante's Inferno has been one of my favorite books since I was a child.  As soon as I heard about Marino's book, I knew I had to get my grubby little hands on a copy.  When you're renewing a classic, it's pretty tricky and few can pull it off.  In this case though, Marino is definitely a winner.

Different Dantes, different stories.  That doesn't really cover it though.  The basic premise of the story is the same.  Dante takes a trip through Hell with his guide, Virgil.  Both books are full of symbolism and deep thought.  Basically, Dante's Journey is a more updated version of Dante's Inferno.  Yes, I'm sure Dante is rolling over in his grave if he's reading this, but this is my blog and this is my opinion.  The literature factor is definitely still intact.  It's not up to par with the original, but it is geared more towards today's reader.  The story is definitely more updated.  Joe Dante leaves his living life in the early 1960's and his story in Hell spans nearly 50 years.  This leaves room for rock stars and Catholic priests in Hell, as well as the original inhabitants.

Overall, this is a fast-paced, thought-provoking ride through Hell.  It's not pretty, but it's not supposed to be.  It could have been a bit more graphic for my tastes, but I still devoured each and every word.  Fans of Dante's Inferno will enjoy that the story is comparable yet different.  Those who haven't read Dante's Inferno will love the ride. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Product Recall Information

Hopefully, everyone who needs this information has already received it.  Abbott issued it out on September 22nd, but since I'm just now getting it, I'm betting there are a few of you out there who still haven't heard about it.

This recall includes Similac powder products in plastic containers, Similac powder products offered in 8 ounce sample cans, 12.4 ounce and 12.9 ounce cans.  The recall was issued voluntarily due to the remote possibility of a small common beetle in the product produced in one facility.  If you have a possibly recalled Similac product, visit www.similac.com/recall or call 1-888-376-2054. 

Forgiving Troy by Thom Bierdz

Listen up, soap opera fans!  You Y&R people all know who Philip Chancellor III is.  Whether you've been watching since the 80's or are a new fan, you've at least heard the name.  Personally, I only remember snippets from my aunt watching during my childhood, but I still know who Philip Chancellor III is.  The actor who plays Chancellor is Thom Bierdz and his book is an interesting look into his personal life.

Years ago, Thom's brother, Troy, brutally murdered their mother.  After a difficult divorce between their parents, Thom and his siblings all had issues coping.  Troy had the most problems of the bunch and was repeatedly in trouble.  As Thom's career rose and fell, he watched his family fall apart.  This book is the product of Thom's search for peace after a troubled past.

Though I expected to pick up this book and be bored to tears hearing about the murder of Thom's mother, it wasn't like that at all.  Thom definitely has a talent for writing.  Each page keeps you flipping, engrossed in Thom's life.  The murder of his mother is definitely an integral part of the story, but it was so much more.  Thom shares with us his struggles with being gay and his fear that he, himself, may be psychotic.  We get an insider look at his family life and how he handles it.  Instead of being the simple murder tale I was expecting, I found a deep personal search that one man took in finding himself. 

Thought-provoking and heart-wrenching, I strongly suggest Thom's book to his fans as well as anyone looking for a good non-fiction read.

Edenfantasys.com

I started out just reviewing books a few years ago.  There's nothing better than the crisp smell of a good book and the feel of a cover beneath your fingertips.  Since then I've learned that there are just so many items out there that need reviewed that I've not been able to stick to strictly book reviews. 

Recently, I became a reviewer for Edenfantasys.com.  Eden is a seller of sex toys, lingerie, and other various items.  I can't wait to try my first product out and tell you all what I think!  I have a really difficult time finding lingerie that I like that actually fits (short legs, long torso...how's that for a visual???!!!).  Also, a lot of places online are just way too expensive.  Since I live in a small town, the closest adult store is nearly an hour away...not at all practical.  I like Eden's prices and I'm hoping the products live up to my expectations.  I still haven't gone through their entire catalog yet but was definitely intrigued by items such as the fun factory click n' charge

Watch for reviews coming up for Eden Fantasys and give them a click for some awesomely sexy Halloween costumes!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good N' Greasy

I'm not normally a fan of bluegrass music, but when I found out that my old high school chum, John, was in a band, I had to go check them out.  I was delighted to find that their website has a few demo songs that you can listen to and I enjoyed them.  The acoustics are spot on and John definitely has a talent for vocals.  The band includes John North, Matt Kuzma, and Dean Truinsta.  They're based in Kansas and anyone wanting to hear them live can go to Quigley's Sports Bar & Grill in Rose Hill, Kansas on October 22nd.  They'll be playing from 9 pm to midnight.  In the meantime, I strongly suggest bluegrass fans check out the demos on their site.  I'm waiting for a CD, John!

Dust by Joan Frances Turner

I've been a bzzagent for four years now, and it just keeps getting better!  Now they've offered me the chance to read the beginning of Dust.  I jumped at the chance, and now I'm wishing I hadn't because here I am, completely entranced, and no more to read until my copy arrives!

Of course, nobody ever believes their loved ones could become zombies, but it could happen.  When 15 year old Jessie awakens in her coffin, she knows right away she's dead.  After removing herself from the earth and a nasty run in with her now undead parents, she finds herself soon joining a gang of revolting and lovable zombies.  It's all about survival.  When the gang leader comes back smelling more chemical than usual, Jessie knows something's up.  What it is, I have no idea!  I sure wish I did though!  I searched the web reading reviews and all you wonderful reviewers out there were smart enough to not include spoilers!  Darn it! 

I wouldn't suggest this for younger teen readers due to it's graphical nature, but I loved every grotesque word.  This book is a unique zombie novel in that it's written from the perspective of Jessie and you get a good glimpse at how zombies communicate and function from an insider's view.  Though I hadn't heard of Turner before this, I hope she has more published works out there because I can't wait to devour every one!

October's Book Choice

For nearly two years now, J.R. Ward has been one of my favorite authors.  I can't even count the people that I've turned on to the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  Long live Wrath!  Anyway, I digress!  October 5th marks the release of the second book in the Fallen Angels series, Crave.  The first book in the series, Covet, received both good and bad reviews.  Personally, I loved it and can't wait to read more.  Sadly, it's going to have to wait a bit for me, but for those who have read it, I can't wait to hear what you think!  Leave a message and tell me what you think of J.R., The Brotherhood, or the new Fallen Angels series.  Specifically, I want feedback (no spoilers please!)  from those of you who read Crave.

October Amazon Gift Card Winner

I'm a day late, but thankfully not a dollar short!  Book Lover Nicole has just won a $5 Amazon gift card!  Just for being a follower!  Thanks for following my blog, Nicole, and congratulations!

The next giveaway will be November 1st!  Sign up as a follower to be eligible!

Giveaway Notice

All winners of giveaways will be notified as soon as their name has been drawn. Each winner will have two weeks to respond in order to receive their prize. Prizes cannot be delivered without an email/physical address. Any prizes that are not claimed within a two week period will be forfeited.

Notice

All books (unless otherwise specified) belong to me already, have been borrowed, or are sent to me by the author, publisher or review company for review. I do not receive any monetary rewards for reviewing books. The opinions expressed in my reviews belong solely to me.