Saturday, May 31, 2008

Book Giveaway

I just finished reading this really good book and would like to share my copy with one of you. Did I Expect Angels? is the story of Jennifer Huffaker, whose life is changed in the course of a night by a near stranger, who senses the crisis she's in and decides that tonight is the night he needs to help her; he becomes an unexpected "angel" who literally saves her life.

In the back of her book, Kathryn Maughan encourages us to pay tribute to our angels by leaving a comment on I'm using her idea for the basis of my book drawing.

In order to win my copy of Maughan's book, leave a comment to this post telling me about an unexpected angel in your life - someone who popped up when you had car trouble, someone who phoned in your time of crisis, or just a stranger who smiled or held the door when you were having a really, really bad day.

Get your name in the drawing TWICE: post a comment on your blog about my book drawing and a link to this post. Be sure to let me know that you've posted. If you want to pay tribute to your unexpected angel on your blog instead of in the comments, that's okay by me. Again, just leave a comment letting me know that you've done that.

Get your name in the drawing THRICE: include a picture of the book in your post.

I've been wanting to do a book drawing for sometime, since I didn't participated in By A Friend A Book Week. I've read several novels sent by authors and publishers, but didn't like them well enough to send them along to a blogger friend.
Did I Expect Angels? is a book that I like a lot and want to share because I think you will like it, too.

I will draw for the lucky winner on June 1. Best of luck to each of you.

In order to tell you about one of my unexpected angels, I first need to tell you about an experience that zapped my confidence in humanity. These type of experience happen frequently, but this particular time it really touched a nerve. I was behind a car at the drive-thru. The lady was a bit crisp with the teller. Then she yelled the f-word at her. I really don't know why it upset me so much, but it did. A few days later, again at a drive-thru, there was another lady - she was my unexpected angel. She was courteous with the teller, laughed a bit when she made a small mistake and was all-around pleasant. Again, it was a little thing, but it really brightened my day and brought a smile.

I look forward to hearing about your unexpected angel.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Love Marriage

by V.V. Ganeshananthan

I received this book from LibraryThing's Early Review program. The timing was not right for my reading of this book, or any other book it seems. For a couple weeks now I just haven't had interest in any of the books I've picked up to read, even a suspense by my favorite author. So I feel my review will not do this book justice.

Yalini tells the story of her family and their ties to the Tiger terrorist group in Sri Lanka. I liked Ganeshananthan's unusual writing style - fragmented vignettes, rather than fluid chapters. I appreciated the lineage chart that I referred to several times. I only read about half the book and I think at some other time I would be totally engrossed in the story. If you are even remotely interested in Love Marriage I would encourage you to give it a try. I suspect it will receive high reviews from many readers.

I liked this passage: "Don't think you can find out the truth about your family by coming in, exiting, and reentering through a back door of history, borrowing the record keeper's excuse for intruding with a pen. Even family members will not feel they owe you more than memory, which is convenient, and which has been made beautiful, often through falsehood. At the most, you can pull back the veil for a moment."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Win "Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult

Heather from Book Addiction is holding a drawing for Change of Heart. The deadline to enter is May 24, so hurry over to her blog and enter. I'll pass on my best wishes that you win, but I'm really hoping that I win. If I don't win, I really hope that YOU do!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Did I Expect Angels?

by Kathryn Maughan

When I received this book in the mail, I looked at the cover for a long time and had all sorts of different thoughts and questions - Someone was mad, angry, depressed, hopeless when they scribbled over that angel; Why the head and eyes?; Is the fact that the angel is playing music pertinent?; It looks like a Christmas ornament, will that be meaningful to the story? You get the idea. Anyway, I love when a cover is that engaging. I always hope the book with a great cover will live up to it.

Did I Expect Angels? did live up to the cover. The story moves from the present to the past and from one point of view to another of the two protagonists. Sounds a bit confusing, but Maughan did an expert job of telling their stories and keeping my mind unjumbled.

On several occasions Jennifer has met Henry who is the greeter at the local Discount Store. Henry came to the United States from Costa Rica and appreciates that Jennifer will talk to him briefly in Spanish. That's all there is between these two until one fateful night when Henry becomes a bit intrusive. Jennifer tries to give him the brush-off, but is unsuccessful. That's all I'm going to tell you about the plot. I didn't know that much starting out.

I also didn't know that I was going to be pulled into Henry and Jennifer's lives like I was. Even though I have not personally experienced either of their personal trials, I felt so in tune with some of their feelings. I think Maughan has a strong skill as a writer and I look forward to reading all of her future books.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Secret Scroll

by Ronald Cutler

The comparison has to be made to Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code because their is quite a bit of similarity in plot. A religious artifact is discovered that could have worldwide reverberations in the Christian world, if the artifact is indeed authentic and if knowledge of it is made public. There is a fanatic sect that are willing to do all manners of evil things to stop that from happening.

Through visionary dreams and happenstance Josh Cohan is led to a cave where he discovers a scroll that may have been written by Jesus Christ. I could have bought into that premise if the writing on the scroll had any magnificence to it. If Jesus was an ordinary man, as purported in the scroll, he would have shown some brilliance, charisma - after all he was a great leader and persuaded masses of people to follow Him. Instead the scrolls revealed no show of inner character. Basically, Jesus wrote in the scrolls that he was an ordinary man who argued a lot with his parents who always loved his brother James more. He also argued a lot with James. He experienced the ways of the flesh as a teen, but later chose a life of celibacy.

The book lost its credibility as soon as parts of the scroll were presented. I realize it's a novel and is not trying to prove the scrolls are real, but the author needed to convince me of the efficacy of the scroll for me to buy into the premise of the novel.

There was adventure and mystery as to who was leaking information to the fanatic religious sect. This was the author's first book and I think he shows promise. All-in-all, I would only rate this book as average.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Light Fantastic

by Terry Pratchett

Pratchett is fast becoming one of my favorite authors. His books are pure delight - besides being witty and imaginative, they are well-written, have a great storyline and include full-bodied, whimsical characters. The Light Fantastic is Pratchett's second Disc-World novel and is a direct continuation of the story presented in The Colour of Magic.

Favorite characters include Rincewind who is the main protagonist. While attending wizard school he got a powerful spell stuck in his head that seems to have made lesser spells afraid to lodge there, thus he has never been good at magic. His companion in both books is a tourist named Twoflower who has a rosy way of looking at things. I really like Twoflower. My 3rd favorite character is Luggage, with his multitudes of tiny feet and definite attitude. Luggage is just that - luggage, a trunk in fact. He belongs to Twoflower and is fiercely loyal.

"Twoflower was a tourist and fundamental to his very existence was the rock-hard belief that nothing bad could really happen to him because he was not involved."

Chuckled at this description: "He moved in a way that suggested he was attempting the world speed record for the nonchalant walk."

"She picked him up by his apron straps and glared at him eye to eye. Torn though her dress was, disarrayed though her hair was, she became for a moment the symbol of every woman who has caught a man with his thumb on the scales of life."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Six Random Things Meme

I've been tagged by Tricia at Library Queue to come up with six random things about me. I'm leaving out the obvious one - that I love to read.

1. While attending college I switched majors six times in two years. Finally, with no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up, I returned home to work in a local dress shop.

2. Candleman proposed to me on our second date and I accepted. We had a week of dating before he left for Navy boot camp. He had been drafted into the Army but decided he would rather join the Navy. They let him. We were married during his one week leave after boot camp.

3. I went back to college when I was forty-one years old and majored in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. After graduating at the age of forty-four I became a high school science teacher. For several years I taught at the alternative high school and loved it.

4. I was totally inept with the spacing of my children. My first three were born within three years and my fourth came along eleven years later. All four children are girls. Candleman always said that some people have to take whatever they get, but we specialize!

5. I have fibromyalgia and so I hurt often and sometimes badly. I don't have an abundance of energy and need to sleep way more than I want to. Sometimes I go quite awhile without any disabling symptoms and I like those days immensely.

6. I like to take road trips with Candleman because he understands my foibles and provides leeway. Last summer we took a 5 week trip that took us across many states and into Canada. We went as far as St. John's, Newfoundland. We only had one disagreement the whole time, but it was one of the worst of our 35 years. Oh, and we also saw Lady Slipper Orchids and Puffins while in Newfoundland and the musical Anne of Green Gables while in PEI. Totally wonderful trip. Almost.

Now I get to tag six people. I always want to tag everyone I know, but I can't. Some of you hate to be tagged, so if I tag you just ignore it.

1. Bookfan-Mary
2. Chris at book-a-rama
3. Wendy at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
4. Gautami Tripathy from My Own Little Reading Room
5 Lisa at Harper Hoorahs
6. Framed from Framed and Booked

Here are the rules:
  • Link to the person that tagged you
  • Post the rules somewhere in your meme
  • Write the six random things
  • Tag six people in your post
  • Let the tagees know they’ve been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog
  • Let the tagger know your entry is posted

Sunday, May 11, 2008

House of Secrets

by Jeffery S. Savage

"Shandra Covington simply assumed her grandmothers' house was sold after her grandmother hastily moved in with Shandra and her mother two decades ago. Yet, here it was, deeded to Shandra in her grandmother's will.

Shandra, single, aggressive, and an accomplished journalist, has tender memories of the time spent as a young girl in the old house on the hill, and her curiosity and sentimentality lead her to a final visit to the forgotten home. What she discovers shocks Shandra to her very core. Not only is the house still filled with her grandmother's old belongings, but there is also a body, long since dead, and covered with the same thick layer of dust as the rest of the items in the house.

Returning with the sheriff and his handsome deputy, Clay, they find the body missing. In its place is another body—this one dead less than 12 hours. And all evidence points to Shandra.

Desperate to clear her name and uncover the truth behind these troubling mysteries, Shandra puts her journalistic training to use. Between the reluctant townspeople, ominous warnings, and physical threats, Shandra learns the truth, little by little—knowing full well that someone is determined to keep old secrets buried, even it means burying Shandra as well . . ." -Deseret Book description

House of Secrets is part of the Shandra Covington mystery series. I'm not sure if it's book one or two in the series that presently includes four books. I plan to read the others because Savage writes crisp, fresh and cunning mysteries. Lots of surprises and hard to answer situations kept my interest throughout. I've found another new-to-me author than I suspect will become one I return to often.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Another Addition for the Soup's On Culinary Reading Challenge

I tried another recipe from Taste of Home's Light & Tasty Annual 2003 Cookbook. This time it was a yummy side-dish - Gingered Squash Saute. And I made that delectable Double-Chocolate Cream Roll again. More rave reviews from family members.I also tried 3 recipes from Making Memories: the Dairy Keen Cookbook. Fried Chicken that was delicious, but I need to try one more time in an effort to 'get it right', Creamed Potatoes and Peas, and for Sunday supper a satisfying Loaded Baked Potato Soup.

I am having a ball with the Soup's On Culinary Reading Challenge and my family is most appreciative of the results. A big THANKS to Ex Libris from me and my family!

BTW, I went with Joy's suggestion for the title of my recipe blog: An Eater's Journal. Thanks, Joy!.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Garden of Beasts

by Jeffery Deaver

Oh, WOW! I loved this suspense/mystery. I think I've discovered a new favorite author. It may be premature to say that after one book, so I'm starting on a second Deaver to make sure. I loved this book. The plot, the characters, the setting of Nazi Germany in 1936 were all topnotch.

The book's hero is a mob "button man," or hit man, Paul Schumann, who is caught in the act in New York City. His captures offer him an alternative to the electric chair - to go to Berlin undercover as a journalist writing about the upcoming Olympics, in order to assassinate Col. Reinhard Ernst, the chief architect of Hitler's militarization, seen as a threat to American interests. A German spy onboard Paul's transatlantic liner grows suspicious and sends a warning to Germany before Paul discovers and kills him. Then in Berlin, Paul, en route to meet his contact, kills a second suspicious man who may be a storm trooper, setting Insp. Willi Kohl of the Berlin police on his trail.

Deaver weaves the three manhunts—Paul after his target, Kohl after Paul and the Nazi hierarchy after Paul—with a deft hand,.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the look at the frightening life of 1936 Berlin, a city on the brink of madness. Top Nazis, including Hitler, Himmler and Göring, make colorful cameos, but it's the smart, shaded-gray characterizations of the principals that anchor the exciting plot.

An affecting love affair between Paul and his German landlady goes in surprising directions, as do the main plot lines, which move outside Berlin as heroes become villains and vice versa.

How have I missed reading anything by Deaver before now?! Garden of Beasts is a stand alone novel; not part of Deaver's Lincoln Rymes series, which I've added to my list of new series.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Light and Tasty Cookbook

I joined the Soup's On Cullinary Reading Challenge and am making headway. I've tried three recipes from Taste of Home's Light & Tasty Annual Recipes 2003. Instead of posting the recipes on my book blog I've created A Food Journal. Very unoriginal name, I know, but it does correspond with A Reader's Journal - kind of, sort of.

Point being, I've tried out three delicious recipes from above mentioned cookbook with the really long name. I've posted the recipes along with pictures on my food blog. Please drop by for a visit.