Thursday, December 17, 2009

Contest Central Fridays - December 18 - 25

Are you hosting a giveaway, a contest, a scavenger hunt, a chance to win something?  Let the blogging community know about it.  This is the "Farmers Market" of contests.  If you are hosting a contest of any kind and want to spread the word, just sign up using MckLinky.

Where MckLinky asks for the title, please type what you are giving away, the deadline date and if the contest is Int (international) or US/Canada.
Example:  $25 Gift Card to GameCentral (12/30) Int

Include the URL to the specific post of the contest or giveaway.

WHAT a Trip! Part Two - The Drive Home

We flew into Chicago on Wed. night, Dec. 2.  Arrived at our hotel near midnight because our flight went from Salt Lake City to Phoenix and then to Chicago.  Who schedules these strange flight patterns?!  We ended up being delighted because we sat next to Bernadette who works in Phoenix and was flying home to Chicago to see her mother before a vacation in Aruba.  We enjoyed visiting with her and sharing our views on such varied topics as illegal immigrants, civil rights, snowbirds, President Obama and Chicago sights and restaurants.  The time went by so quickly.

We pricelined a lovely hotel in downtown Chicago - Embassy Suites.  It had a sitting room with couch, table, chairs and tv, a little kitchen area and a bedroom with another sink and a second tv.  It made a cozy 'home' for our 3 nights and 2 days in Chicago.

The day after we made our airplane reservations and the day before flying out of SLC, Candleman received a notice for jury duty.  He called from Chicago on Thursday evening and was told by recorded message that he needed to be in court the coming up Monday.  YIKES!  We thought about calling the court but in Utah they are closed on Fridays.  There was nothing to do but to drive from Chicago to Utah in 2 days.  It can be done but we really wanted to go a bit more leisurely.  I was hoping we'd be able to stop in Lincoln for a visit with Les.  Every time I get to Lincoln, which is has only been three times now, I like to drive past our old neighborhood.  I've pointed out the old stomping grounds to Candleman - the flagpole, park, Hawthorne and Millard Lefler schools, Golds Department Store, the favorite swimming pools and our house.  Les and memory lane were not going to fit into our plans this trip.  Can you imagine my sad face?

We woke very early on Saturday morning because we knew it was going to be a long day of driving.  Met the airport shuttle at  7, rented a car at the airport and drove to Galena, Illinois where we were going to pick up Kristi's postal car.  See earlier post for more details.  The drive to Galena was beautiful even though it was and there was no snow.  We both were grateful for the opportunity to drive on the back road and hope we get the chance again.  After making the transaction Candleman got his first experience driving a right sided steering car on the right side of the road.  I was driving the rental car while he followed me to the Dubuque airport.  We were quite apprehensive of driving all the way home in this "weird" car.  I kept thinking how weird it was going to be looking to my right instead of left to see my husband behind the wheel.

Little did we know that the driving situation was going to be no big deal compared to the temperature situation.  Luckily, Saturday the sun was shining and the nationwide cold freeze had not hit yet.  I was aware of an opening on my side of the vehicle that blew cold air right on my shins.  We stopped a bought two lap blankets with pillows to stuff down there.  Things got worse when the sun went down and we didn't have the greenhouse effect in our favor.  We discovered the heater didn't work very well.  With the temp and fan turned all the way up and the setting on heater, we were able to get something close to warm blowing out of the windshield vents.  If we tried any other setting we got blasted with cold air on our bodies.

I wanted to stop real bad but Candleman thought we should push on until we couldn't stand it any more.  Thankfully, he didn't have a hole on his side, but it was still very chilly.  Finally, we stopped for the night in North Platte.  I couldn't believe we had made it so far on the same day we had to deal with renting a car, buying a car and trying to find the rental car place in Dubuque.

I'm so glad Candleman pushed us on because Sunday was overcast and cold.  Luckily, the record snowfalls didn't start up until Monday.  We saw the sun for a few minutes just before sunset somewhere north of Baggs, WY.  We relished those minutes!  Another stop for a sleeping bag and some of those chemical hand warmers helped.  Candleman put a hand warmer in each wool sock he bought and then slipped them over the pair I was wearing.   I wondered what people thought as they saw us bundled in our coats with earmuffs and gloves inside our car.  At one point we passed a bald man without a coat driving on the freeway and comment on how warm he looked.

It was quite an experience, but not horrible.  We contemplated what the pioneers had to go through without freeways, sleeping bags, hand warmers, and no hope of finding a warm restaurant in the next city.  We were in an enclosed vehicle traveling 70 mph on paved, split roads and our winter experience would only last 2 days not months.  I can't even imagine what hardships they had to face.  How did they do it?

Kristi is not going to use the car until after the Christmas postal pounding so she has time to get the heater fixed.  After that, I think she'll really like her car.  It drove well and the seats were very comfortable.

All in all, we are thankful for the experiences we had in that short 5 days.  I was thrilled that Candleman was there by my side to enjoy it all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

WHAT a Trip! Part One

Our grand adventure started with the news that our daughter purchased a postal car over the internet.  She is a rural postal carrier in our community.  Rural carriers must provide their own means of transportation though they are reimbursed in milage and wear.  The company she bought the car from would ship it to her for $1700 - a fair price, but Candleman & I could see an opportunity so we told her we could deliver it to her for $1000. 

With our plane tickets paid we flew to Chicago a day and a half later.  I admit I was a bit reluctant at first - Chicago in December was apt to be cold, but then I thought about seeing the holiday decorations and was excited.  We were fortunate that our trip was a few days before the extreme cold hit Chicago and the nation.  Temps were in the 30s both Thursday and Friday.  We dressed warmly, bought some wonderful earmuffs in Chicago and rode the tour bus to our major destinations.

Our first morning, I slept in.  Good grief!  We enjoyed lunch at Macey's Walnut Room.  That was such a delightful experience that we ate lunch there again on Friday.  We loved the hot chocolate, the Swedish meatballs and, of course, the Frango mint chocolate cheesecake.  It was fun seeing the beautiful architecture and Tiffany vaulted ceiling in Maceys.

We walked over to Daley Plaza where they had a German Christkindl village - little shops that sold ornaments, food, clocks, etc.  We bought a pair of mittens for our youngest daughter.  After riding the tour bus for the rest of its loop we enjoyed a Chicago hot dog at Portillos.

Friday, after our lunch at Maceys we went to the Chicago Aquarium.  Fabulous!  Our bus tour person, Rosetta, told us about this excellent Irish Pub, so we went there for dinner.  Candleman was hoping for bangers and mash, but they were having a big Christmas party so we went to the Hard Rock and shared a chicken fajita dinner.  Rosetta also told us about the great mayonaise chocolate cake at Portillos and since it was across the street we indulged.  I'm not a cake lover, but their cake was delicious.  We sat in Portillos for over an hour visiting and enjoying the friendly, happy atmosphere.  We loved our time in Chicago.  What a city!  Can't wait to go back.  We've visited in July and December, so next time needs to be in spring or fall.

My recommendations (based on my minimum personal experience):
*Ride the Chicago Trolley Hop On Hop Off City Tours and keep your fingers crossed that you get Rosetta as your tour guide.
*Visit Maceys downtown after listening to the audio tour that you can find online.  Eat in the Walnut Room.  There was a 20-minute wait the first day, but they had us in our seats in less than 10.
*Take the Chicago architecture boat tour.
*Try a hot dog at Portillos.  And the chocolate cake!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Off to the Windy City and I are flying to Chicago to pick up a postal vehicle for our daughter.  Luckily we won't be driving around Chicago with a right-side steering wheel as we won't pick it up until after leaving Chicago, but we will be driving it from Dubuque along I-80 through Lincoln and Denver.  Should be quite the experience!

I have had a busy month and haven't posted faithfully.  I'm behind 4 or 5 or 6 reviews.  I am taking an ARC to read on the plane, but I'm also taking a crossword puzzle book.  Never know what kind of mood I'll be in so I better be prepared.  Also, have the iPod for some soft background music if Candleman dozes off.

We're hoping the roads will be good - big hope for this time of year, I know.  Looking forward to seeing the Christmas decorations and lights in Chicago, visiting the German village that will be set up downtown and of course, I'm looking forward to visiting Macey's and buying some Frango mints.

I have updated Friday's Contest Central even though there won't be a post on this blog.  Click on the tab at the top of my blog to check out the latest contests.  Also, I will be skipping Blogging Around the States this week, but will, hopefully, post one next Sat.  I have some fun people I am looking forward to interviewing and some who have already been interviewed.

I'm leaving my computer at home.  A decision made easier because we are traveling light and I only want to have one carry on and my purse.  I hope they believe that bag is indeed my purse!

Best wishes to you all as you prepare for the holiday season.  I was hoping we'd get some outside lights up this weekend, but it's not to be.  I'm not complaining too loudly - I'd take a trip to Chicago (or just about anywhere) in exchange for outside lights.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Triangle of Deception

triangle-of-deceptionby Haggai Carmon

This is the write-up featured on the author's blog:
"Working in a joint CIA/Mossad sting operation, Dan Gordon chose the path of deception – a triangle of deception.

In this fourth installment in the Dan Gordon intelligence thriller series, Dan is on the hunt for the source of funding to terrorist group Hezbollah. He infiltrates the Lebanese network in the Paraguayan terrorist hub, Ciudad del Este, through a Lebanese expat in Sierra Leone, only to realize the operation is even more far-reaching than he has been told. A chase for false documents turns a Shakespearean drama of double identities and uncertain loyalties into a web of lies.

Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Dan lands in a grim Romanian jail. Was it a security leak that got him in trouble? Why was he told to abandon top-secret CIA documents in a hotel room in Turkey? Was Dan made a sacrificial lamb for the CIA to make their plan look credible? Has he stumbled on a much bigger plot, one with the potential to unlock Al Qaeda’s machinations in the Americas? And how will he extricate himself from his stickiest situation yet?"

The Author

Haggai Carmon is an Israeli-born international attorney sharing his time and practice between the United States, Israel and the rest of the world. Since 1985, he has represented the U.S. Department of Justice in its Israeli litigation. Several other federal agencies have also assigned him with worldwide responsibility for undercover legal intelligence gathering outside the United States in complex, multimillion dollar cases, most involving money laundering.

He has performed this sensitive investigative work in more than thirty foreign countries.

The Story Behind My Stories: What Inspired My Intelligence Thrillers

By Haggai Carmon
My intelligence thrillers were inspired by my professional Israeli background, as well as by twenty years of service for the United States Government. During those years, I had a publicly known “daytime” job as well as a covert “nighttime” job. Since 1985, I have represented the United States Government in its Israeli civil litigation, appearing in Israeli courts in lawsuits to which the U.S. is a party. However, away from the public eye, I was also engaged by the U.S. Government to perform intelligence gathering in multi-million dollar, white-collar crime cases that required sensitive undercover work in more than thirty countries. Obviously, while working for the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies, I could not share the hair-raising aspects of my assignments with anyone but my supervisors, and some adventures not even with them. Sadly, many of these events, which are sometimes more fascinating and breathtaking than the best fiction I have ever read, will never see the light of day. The story of Dan Gordon and his battle against the invisible, but very real FOE – forces of evil – is my idea of the next-best thing.

A globetrotting legal practice has left little time in my life for hobbies. However, one night in a small hotel in a faraway country, I finally had the time to fulfill my urge to write. I was on U.S. Government assignment collecting intelligence on a particularly vile and violent criminal organization. Earlier that evening, I’d received a phone call from my local INTERPOL contact. “You’ve been exposed. I suggest you stay in your hotel. We’ll arrange for your safe departure tomorrow morning.” Is it any wonder I couldn’t sleep that night, between jet lag and the rage that came from being unarmed and unable to leave the hotel without my hosts’ protection? I poured it all into the writing, and the result was my first novel, Triple Identity.

This book gives a very real look into the world of undercover operations.  I found myself wondering, "Why would anyone let themselves be talked into this job?"  This is a man's book.  By that I mean it's a book men would feel comfortable picking up and then find themselves totally captured while reading.  That's not to say this is a book women would not enjoy because it is.  I found it captivating as well as interesting. 

Triangle of Deception is the fourth in a series featuring Dan Gordon.  I had not read the first three, so you can easily pick this one up and read it as a stand alone.  I'm looking forward to reading the earlier books and look forward to future releases.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blogging Around the States - Arkansas

Today we are visiting Melissa from Arkansas.  She is known in the book blogging world as Gerbera Mom and her blog is Gerbera Daisy Diaries.   I love this quote (right) by Marjorie Pay Hinckley that she has posted on her sidebar.  Melissa is a good example of laughing her way through life.  Her positive attitude infuses her posts and blog.  Her favorite quote is also on her sidebar:  "Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and smile on your face, but with great purpose in your heart."  - Gordon B. Hinckey.   Thanks, Melissa, for sharing those inspirational thoughts.

One think I really like about Melissa is that she's 'real'.  In a post earlier this month she shares the feelings every mother in the world experiences in great quantities:  "I’m not sure I do anything right as a mother: I yell too much, I criticize too much, I don’t cook well enough, I don’t craft at all – OK let’s stop there because I’m depressing myself."  Doesn't that sound familiar?!  But she goes on to acknowledge that she has done one thing right.  Recently Melissa started a mother/daughter book club.  I know a couple of you belong to mother/daughter clubs and I think it sounds so fun.  I'm envious.  You should stop in for a visit on Melissa's blog and read about the joy she experienced watching and listening to her daughter and the other young ladies in the group.

Melissa also belongs to an adult book club.  For their November meeting they discussed The Omnivore's Dilemma and enjoyed a Thanksgiving Pot Luck.  YaUMMMM!  Melissa shares a recipe she discovered through Amy's Fall Recipe Exchange for Pumpkin Dump Cake.  It sounds so delicious.

A now Melissa answers a few of my questions about her and her state.

1. Start by telling us a little bit about yourself.

Melissa Mc (aka Daisy Mom): I am a 42 yr old mother of 3; wife of 1; daughter, sister, friend, aunt; lover of football, politics, food, travel, walking, theatre and all things literary. I currently work part-time at our local library branch – I’m in charge of JUV fiction and Mysteries. I’m also President-elect of my kids elementary school PTA. I am without talent in most normal Mormon activities – I don’t paint, sew, craft, scrapbook or quilt. I can be found in front of the TV during every March Madness college basketball tournament and on every Saturday during college football season. My youngest was born with a congenital heart defect and had open heart surgery at 5 weeks. I know more about Children’s Hospitals than I ever wanted too. And when I grow up, I want to be the first female commissioner of the NFL.

2. What do you love about your state?

I’m not a native of Arkansas. We moved here 8 years ago from NYC when my husband changed jobs. There are LOTS of things to love about Arkansas: First, it is absolutely gorgeous. Most of the state is located on the edge of the Ozark Mountains – not the Rockies, but spectacular terrain, nonetheless. It is a great recreational state – hunting, camping, rafting, hunting for diamonds (– of course, my husband and I are city-folk, so we don’t partake in those activities like we should. It also is incredibly affordable!! And during this national recession, that has been a huge blessing!

3. Is there anything you don't like about where you live?

The HEAT! It is oppressive here in the summer. The heat and humidity can knock you flat. But other than that, we’ve loved our years in Arkansas.

4. If job, money, family did not enter the equation, would you prefer to live in another state? Which one? And why?

I’ve lived a lot of places – and if I had my choice I would move back to Washington DC in a heartbeat (and not suburb – like Arlington VA -- the heart of Washington DC, preferably the Capitol Hill neighborhood). It’s where my husband and I met – and I had my first job. It’s a magical place for me. And if money wasn’t an object – I’d transport myself there immediately.

5. If I visited your state what cities, sights, and/or activities would you recommend I check out, see and/or do?

In Little Rock they have a fabulous “River Market District” ( that positions itself on the banks of the Arkansas River. Lots of fun shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Just a few blocks from the River Market District is the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center ( – a must see for any visitor. Little Rock is also home to the only professional theatre in our state – The Arkansas Repertory Theatre ( They self-produce and design 6-7 shows a season. Little Rock is also home to the Arkansas Symphony and the Arkansas Arts Center.

Little Rock Central High School famous for the desegregation movement is shown below.

NW Arkansas – you must got to Fayetteville and visit the campus of the U of Arkansas – and go “call the Hogs” at an Arkansas Razorback game. In Bentonville – you would visit the Walton/WalMart Museum and see where Sam Walton started it all!

For an Ozark get-a-way – you would visit Mount Magazine state park ( and rent one of their wonderful cabins! We did that as a family, and it was one of the best vacations we’ve had.

6. Who are some authors that currently live in your state? Any famous authors from the past?

National Book Award winner, Ellen Gilchrist, lives in NW Arkansas.

Charlaine Harris – author of the Sookie Stackhouse series lives in Magnolia AR.

Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead, lives in Little Rock.

John Grisham, is originally from AR (born in Johesboro) – but lives inMississippi.

Charles Portis, author of True Grit, Norwood and The Dog of the South, is originally from El Dorado AR, and lives in Little Rock.

Dee Brown, author of Bury My Heat at Wounded Knee, after retiring from the U of Illinois, retired and died in Little Rock.

7. Do you have a favorite book set in your state?

Now you are going to test my knowledge of Arkansas literature! Two that I highly recommend: The Painted House by John Grisham. It’s a fictional account of his childhood in NE Arkansas on a cotton farm. It’s a wonderful book. So different from his legal thrillers. And, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou – her autobiography of her childhood in southern Arkansas. It is a must read.

I want to thank Melissa for taking the time to share information about herself and about Arkansas with us.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading her responses and getting to know her better.

Friday, November 20, 2009

3rd Degree

by James Patterson

 Lindsay Boxer a homicide detective, Cindy Thomas a reporter, Claire Washburn the Chief medical Examiner and Jill Bernhardt a lawyer form the group that meet together as friends that collaborate on solving murders.

One of the girls becomes seriously involved in a dangerous situation in this 3rd installment of the Women's Murder Club.

The Spotlight's on Me!

I'm being featured on Elizabeth's blog As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves.  She hosts this cool feature called 451 Fridays.   451 Fridays is based on an idea from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. In his novel, a group of people (Bradbury calls them Book People) are trying to keep the ideas found in books alive. Instead of actually saving the books, the Book People each "become" a book - memorizing it, word for word, and passing it down to the next generation.

451 Fridays asks what books you feel passionate about. What book do you think is so important that you would be willing to take on the challenge of "becoming"?

Skip on over to Elizabeth's blog and see what 5 books I feel passionate about and which book I would choose to 'become'.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday's Contest Central for Nov 20-27

Are you hosting a giveaway, a contest, a scavenger hunt, a chance to win something?  Let the blogging community know about it.  This is the "Farmers Market" of contests.  If you are hosting a contest of any kind and want to spread the word, just sign up usingMckLinky.

Where MckLinky asks for the title, please type what you are giving away, the deadline date and if the contest is Int (international) or US/Canada.

Example:  $25 Gift Card to GameCentral (10/30) Int

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Winner of Looking After Pigeon

Our spontaneous road trip clouded my mind and I totally forgot I was suppose to draw a winning name on Sunday.  Luckily, the clouds cleared.

The winner of
Looking After Pigeon by Maud Carol Markson

Congratulations, Les!  I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading this book.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Syren: Septimus Heap Book Five
by Angie Sage

I hardly know where to start telling you how much I enjoyed this book.  Syren is written for ages 9-12 and yet it held my interest for all 630 pages.  Many Junior and YA adult books are not so well written and as interesting as Angie Sage's series featuring Septimus Heap.  I often find myself thinking, "I can see how this would be good for a younger reader."  Syren draws that same thought and this additional one, "Totally enjoyable for readers 9 through 99."  I loved it.

The writing, the story, and the characters all drew me in.  There were several tales of adventure that intertwined throughout and kept me interested.  Syren has so many endearing characters that are so vividly described, like Aunt Zelda who looks more like a quilted tent than a woman. 

The Septimus Heap series is one of the better fantasy novels I've read and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Offering of Leaves feel very fortunate to participate in this very first Green Books Campaign. Today at 1:00 pm Eastern time 100 bloggers will be posting their reviews of 100 different "green" books. The common thread is that each book is printed in an eco-friendly manner.

My book choice was influenced by yoga-guru and longtime blogging friend, Jenclair.  I only have a rudimentary knowledge of yoga but have been interested in her studies and training which she talks about occasionally on her blog, A Garden Carried in the Pocket.

I discovered, after receiving An Offering of Leaves by Ruth Laurer-Manenti, that it is not about yoga but rather a collection of stories "Lady Ruth" shares with her yoga students.  The stories are based on her personal experiences and represent the yogic commitments to non-violence, compassion, and service.  Ruth's stories gently infused my soul with an increased understanding of the philosophy of yoga. 

 One of my favorites was the story of quiltmaking - Handmade Perfection.  She tells of the beauty and perfection of a quilt.  My mother makes beautiful quilts and I have enjoyed making a few quilts myself.  Perhaps this is why I liked this story so much, but I think the concept will resonate for most of us.
    When you look at these quilts, you would never think that because one square is different from the rest, these quilts aren't perfect.  They're complete.  Nothing is missing.  They're stunning.  All the hardship, resourcefulness, and love that is in these women is woven into these quilts.  They're handmade.  They reflect depth of chara ter and depth of life.
   I think sometimes we have a conditioned idea of what perfect is.  Perfect would be like every square being the same, or having exactly the right amount of fabric.  But in thiss case, the perfection of these quilts, just like our perfection, is large enough to contain imperfections, irregularity, or surprise.

An Offering of Leaves is published by Lantern using FSC certified paper.  FCS stands for Forest Stewardship Council, which is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.  Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide.

The Green Books Campaign has been organized by Eco-Libris and aims to encourage both publishers and readers to get greener and make sure books are printed responsibly.  Visit this page of the Eco-Libris blog to see the entire list of books being reviewed all at the same time, as well as a list of all the bloggers participating.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Green Book: 1 Day, 100 bloggers, 100 green books, 100 reviews

Logo design by Susan Newman
On Tuesday, November 10, 2009, at 1:00 PM Eastern Time over 100 bloggers will take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of more than 100 such books.

Organized by Eco-Libris, this campaign is aiming to promote “green” books by reviewing more than 100 books printed on recycled paper or FSC-certified paper.

To see a list of the books that will be featured and the bloggers participating in this ground-breaking event click HERE.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Blogging Around the States

My apologies but I'm going to miss posting this week because of our spontaneous road trip. I haven't had much internet time so I will be posting our visit to Arkansas next Saturday. Stay tuned because we will be visiting Daisy Mom from Gerbera Daisy Diaries.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Contest Central Fridays

Are you hosting a giveaway, a contest, a scavenger hunt, a chance to win something?  Let the blogging community know about it.  This is the "Farmers Market" of contests.  If you are hosting a contest of any kind and want to spread the word, just sign up using MckLinky.

Where MckLinky asks for the title, please type what you are giving away, the deadline date and if the contest is Int (international) or US/Canada.

Example:  $25 Gift Card to GameCentral (11/30) Int

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I saw this last week on Aarti's blog, Booklust.  The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen Beckett will be released in the US on Nov 24, 2009, so it's not such a terribly long wait.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Folks Aren't Home

Hi, y'all.  Candleman and I are on the road again.  Monday we went out to lunch and just in the short jaunt from out house to the restaurant we decided we needed a little trip.  Candleman had invited my brother to take a trip with him this week to Island in the Sky in southern Utah, but he couldn't go because of previous arrangements.   So I stepped up to the plate and said I'd go.  All I need is a small opening when it comes to traveling.  I love roadtrips with my personal driver! 

We rushed home after lunch and quickly packed and hit the road aiming for Moab.  On Tuesday we decided to not go to Island in the Sky so that Candleman and Steve could still do that trip.  Instead we drove south to Blanding, then west to Hall's Landing.  We thought we'd ride the ferry across Lake Powell to Bull Frog and follow the Burr Trail over the Water Pocket Folds.  When we arrived at Hall's Landing we discovered they weren't doing the ferry until spring. 

We didn't feel too bad because the drive was remarkable.  We turned around and back tracked 50 miles and then drove up 95 to Hanksville.  I could not believe how incredibly, strikingly beautiful this route was.  We both commented that it may be the most beautiful place we ever visited.  I'm sure that I was able to enjoy the sights because it was the first part of November rather than the scorching days of July.  We enjoyed temperatures in the 60s  - it's been so pleasant.

Tonight and tomorrow night we are staying in Torrey, Utah.  We'll be doing some sight-seeing tomorrow. 

Check out our travel blog - The Folks Aren't Home.  Candleman is a wonderful writer and has written a couple of really good posts already.  I wish I had his talent for writing but I'm pretty happy to be able to read and appreciate his talent.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Looking After Pigeon Review and Giveaway

looking after pigeonOne spring day in New York City, five-year-old Pigeon’s father disappears, leaving her to face a new and bewildering life with her mother and older siblings in an uncle’s house on the Jersey shore.
“Our mother named her children after birds” – so begins a now grown up Pigeon as she describes the tumultuous events of this pivotal childhood summer with her brother Robin, and her older sister Dove. In the heat and unfamiliarity of a beach town near Atlantic City, each member of her family looks for a caretaker of some kind—Robin in a fortune teller, Dove in older lovers, her Uncle Edward in the feckless owner of a diner, and her mother Joan in a religious cult. All the while, Pigeon, the youngest, searches for her father, believing he will return to the family to care for her. Through the course of the summer, Pigeon comes to the realization that, in spite of disappointments and grief, she has become quite capable of looking after herself. And through the course of narrating this story, the grown-up Pigeon comes to the further realization that she is willing finally to trust in love.

When I was offered this book as part of a TLC Tour, I thought it sounded very interesting.  Unfortunately, I did not connect with the characters or the story.  It may have just been the wrong time for me and this book to come together.  

The first page introduces us to a grown-up Pigeon who is beset with moodiness and bad memories.  Her live-in boyfriend encourages her to seek counseling, which she resists, but she does succumb to his suggestion to write down the events of that summer before she turned six.  That is the summer that troubles her even after 20+ years.   The book is told from the voice of 5-yo Pigeon with some insights thrown in from the grown-up Pigeon. 

I didn't feel like the events of that summer were impressively traumatic to cause Pigeon such unrest for that many years afterwards.  She seemed like such a independent child and so resourceful in entertaining and taking care of herself that I would think she could have healed better than she did.

As a reader of mysteries and thrillers this book seemed quite uneventful.  I expected something more to happen and was disappointed that it didn't.   All that said, I think this book will appeal to many so I'm offering my copy in a


Be forewarned - the title page has a little water damage, but the outside covers are in great shape.

To enter:
  • Leave a comment with your email - encode it something like this: booklogged at gmail dot com
I will draw for a winner on Nov. 8 - one week from today.  This drawing is open to U.S. readers only.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blogging Around the States - Tennessee

My Photo
This week we are visiting Amanda from lovely Tennessee.   Her blog is A Bookshelf Monstrosity and she is nearing 100 followers.  When she gets just 3 more followers she's going to host a huge giveaway!  I'm spreading the word because I love giveaways!  In addition to that giveaway, every Thursday she posts a list of all the giveaways she knows about that are happening in the blogosphere.  Check out this last Thursday's List .  There is some good stuff listed, trust me!

1.  Start by telling us a little bit about yourself.  (family, job, likes, dislikes, favorites, idiosyncrasies, pet peeves, or anything else you'd like to share that will help us know you better)

Hmmm...I've lived here my whole life. I'm not single but not married...somewhere in the middle, haha. I'm in graduate school to be a school librarian. I love to read (duh), listen to music, and blog! Oh, yeah, and I love sushi. Can't make a plant grow to save my life.

2.  What do you love about your state?  (please include the name of your state)

I love Tennessee because...
1. It's beautiful!
2. I live within 40 minutes of The Ryman Auditorium (where the Grand Ole Opry once performed).
3. The state parks are great!
4. It's the home of the Tennessee Aquarium! My favorite exhibit there is the seahorses.
5. People are really nice and caring. Example: I rear-ended a lady in my car the other day and she got out and asked if I was okay! Now, where else does that happen?

3.  Is there anything you don't like about where you live?

The weather here in Middle Tennessee is so erratic! We have huge temperature swings throughout the course of one day. I don't ever really pack away any season of clothes, cause you never know when it'll get hot again. I'm still wearing flip flops right now! Not to mention the mosquitoes...

4.  If job, money, family did not enter the equation, would you prefer to live in another state?  Which one?  And why?

I would love to live in North Carolina. My family took a trip to the Asheville area almost every summer when I was growing up; it is so beautiful there!

5.  If I visited your state what cities, sights, and/or activities would you recommend I check out, see and/or do?

Well, I live right next door to the Music City, otherwise known as Nashville, so there are plenty of sights and sounds there. Another quirky little area of interest is the elephant sanctuary a couple of towns over. Yep. That's right. Elephant sanctuary. As for my town (Murfreesboro), we're a run of the mill college town, so we have plenty of pubs and restaurants to keep you occupied :)

6.  Who are some authors that currently live in your state?  Any famous authors from the past?

For a full list of Tennessee authors past and present, check out Some highlights? Ann Patchett, Shelby Foote, James Agee, Robert Hicks, Nikki Giovanni, William Gay, Roy Blount, Jr., Cormac McCarthy.

7.  Do you have a favorite book set in your state?

Robert Hicks' book Widow of the South is set about 25 minutes east of my house in Franklin, TN.

Thank-you so much, Amanda, for answering my questions.  I love traveling for real, but since I can't right now it's awesome getting to travel like this.  I remember visiting Tennessee 10 years ago.  We drove from Memphis to Nashville in the dark, but we did see the outside of the Grand Ole Opry.  Unfortunately, we just saw the outside and the parking lot.  We tried to imagine how exciting it would be to attend a performance.  I'm sure our imagination fell short. 

Contest Central Fridays

Are you hosting a giveaway, a contest, a scavenger hunt, a chance to win something?  Let the blogging community know about it.  This is the "Farmers Market" of contests.  If you are hosting a contest of any kind and want to spread the word, just sign up using MckLinky.

Where MckLinky asks for the title, please type what you are giving away, the deadline date and if the contest is Int (international) or US/Canada.

Example:  $25 Gift Card to GameCentral (11/30) Int

Include the URL to the specific post of the contest or giveaway.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday

C. W. Gortner's new novel will be released May 25, 2010.
Ohhhh, that's a long time to wait.

[WoW.jpg]"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Shannon Hale Interview and Goose Girl Giveaway

About a month ago, Katie contacted Shannon Hale's agent and arranged to interview Shannon after the Book Festival on Saturday.  During the signing Katie tried to find a place with good lighting, but since the library closed at 6 pm her options were limited.  Even though the lighting isn't the best the interview is great. 

To enter the drawing for The Goose Girl go to Katie's Book Club, subscribe and leave a comment.  If you haven't read Goose Girl yet, I strongly recommend it. Do NOT comment here for the drawing.

SLC Book Festival

While so many of you were reading your hearts out this weekend with the Readathon, I was in Salt Lake City with Candleman and my daughter Katie, attending the annual Book Festival. This is my 3rd year to attend and I've loved every time. Things were a bit different this year with 2 people presenting together for each discussion. I wasn't sure I would like that but I did. All three presentations were wonderful. In the past there are usually 2 days of presentations - this year it was Saturday only and most of the presentations were in the afternoon. left home in the morning driving to SLC by way of Provo so we could have an early lunch at Zupas.  I love their mushroom soup and mango/berry salad.  I've only eaten there 2 times and ordered the same things.   If only I lived closer I could eat there more often and try some of their other soups.  We arrived at the beautiful SLC Library about 12:30 which allowed us time to look through some of the shops set up for the Festival. first session I attended alone while Candleman and Katie were out doing some shopping.   I wished everyone I knew could have been in that room with me as Carlotta Walls Lanier graciously told of her high school experiences as one of the Little Rock Nine.  Her book is A Mighty Long Way:  My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School.  After hearing Carlotta recount her story I rushed out to buy her book forgetting they were all taken down to the signing.  I rushed to the signing but they ran out of books so I didn't get one.  I really wanted one that was signed so I am really sad that didn't go straight to the signing.  I'm still going to buy the book because I was so touched by the story.  There were so many things I didn't know about the nine Little Rock African Americans marching into that all-white high school.
My second session was to hear Allison Hoover Bartlett, author of the The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, and  SLC's own rare book collector and dealer turned amateur detective, Sam Weller.    It was really fun and I look forward to this nonfiction book about the world of theft in the rare book world.

Candleman, Katie and I went together to hear Shannon Hale and Sara Zarr.  It was fun to listen to them talking, laughing and sparring with each other. They are both so cute and funny, imaginative and creative.  It was a delight to be there and they gave some good advise to future writers which both hubby and daughter appreciated.

Candleman bought 3 books for Katie - the one Shannon Hale book she didn't already own, The Housewife and the Actor, and two books by Zarr who is a new-to-us Utah author, Story of a Girl and Once Was Lost.

It was a wonderful day and we decided that we were definitely going to attend next year even if we didn't know any of the authors.  It was such a worthwhile experience.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blogging Around the States - The District of Columbia

My PhotoI am excited to introduce you to Thomas of Washington D.C.  When I posted my first Blogging Around the States he left a comment reminding me to not leave out the District of Columbia.  I sure would have without his reminder so I thought it only fitting that Thomas should be chosen to represent the District.

You can find Thomas at his blog, My Porch, a place to sit back and visit.  He can also be found on Bad Chart! where he points out the flaws in charts posted in the New York Times.  I like this idea a lot.  As a science teacher I was quite often taken back with the way charts could and were manipulated. even in the area of science, to subtly distort data in support of an erroneous conclusion.  Thomas and a few friend contribute to a blog called Opensewer with brief commentaries on politics.

Thomas recently returned from a trip to Europe, visiting the Netherlands.  I want him to send me the complete itinerary so I can see all the beautiful, enchanting places he talks about in his recent posts.  Places like Piet Oudolf's Garden, a person and place I've never heard of but now would like to know more about.   Each of these pictures can be seen bigger along with several others on Thomas' blog.  He shares pictures of his time in Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp.  I hope there will be more from this trip.  I love traveling and when I can't do it myself, I'm quite thrilled to share the fun other's have experienced in their travels.  

And now for my questions and Thomas' answers about himself and his area of the U.S.

Start by telling us a little bit about yourself.

I have loved reading since since I was a kid growing up in a smallish town just outside the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis. I used to practically live at the public library and even ended up working there in high school. Since finishing college in 1992 (History at the University of Minnesota), I have lived in London, Washington DC (the first time), Honolulu (for a graduate degree), back to Minnesota, then to Ithaca, New York (for a second graduate degree) and then back to DC in 2002 where I live with my partner John whom I met soon after I moved back.

I started blogging in 2006 because I needed a creative outlet that I wasn’t getting in my work life. From the start I wrote bits and pieces about books and reading, but in the last six months or so I have focused more and more on bookish things. Part of my inspiration has been the great community of book bloggers I have recently discovered.  (Booklogged comment - that is something that all us book bloggers have come to experience, isn't, it?)

Besides books, I love classical music, cooking, and travel (and shhh, don’t tell anyone…television).

What do you love about living in the District of Columbia?  

The vast quantity, and amazing quality, of art available at the city’s many museums is something I love having access to. The National Cathedral is like no other in the US, like a great British cathedral plopped down in DC on St. Alban’s hill. It is a great place to visit. I also love strolling through the beautiful neighborhoods in the fall when the weather is cool and the leaves are turning.

Is there anything you don't like about where you live?


The weather is probably the biggest thing. It is too darn hot and humid too many months of the year. The kind of heat that has you sweating even before the sun comes up. Plus I would prefer colder, whiter winters. The other thing is that Washington can be a little too buttoned up for my taste. Too many lawyers and public policy types who only seem to have work on their minds. Even with all of the great schools in the area, I recently tried to find a creative writing or literature class to take in the evenings and came up with nothing. Kind of indicative of what is, and isn’t, important here. Oh, and the public libraries here are pretty sad.

If job, money, family did not enter the equation would you prefer to live in another state?  Which one?  And why?

Yes, somewhere in the Northeast. My two years at Cornell in upstate New York really got me hooked on small town life. Both John and I would consider places in Bucks County, PA; the Hudson River Valley in New York; the Berkshires in Massachusetts; or somewhere in Connecticut. There is something about the pastoral rural landscapes and the historic quality of the built environment that is very attractive. Plus there are more distinct (dramatic) seasons than in Washington. And frankly, I want to stay on the East coast because of its proximity to Europe.  (Booklogged adds - I love those small northeast towns, too.)

Having said all that, I think northern California and Portland, Oregon are the bees knees and I could be persuaded to move that direction as well.  (Booklogged can't remain quiet because you all know how much I love Oregon!)

If we visited the District of Columbia what cities, sights and/or activities would you recommend we check out see and/or do?  I know that there are many so why don't you tell us about some of your favorite and some lesser known places. 

Well, no visitor should miss the obvious things (the Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and the Smithsonian), but the official parts of DC can be pretty sterile. To see the real DC, you need to get out into the neighborhoods. Eastern Market near Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, U Street, Adams Morgan, and the residential parts of Georgetown.   (Booklogged chimes in - I missed seeing all those neighborhoods.  I'll need to make another trip!  I did see and love parts of Georgetown.  My brother took us to the most fabulous Argentine restaurant in Georgetown.  Can't remember the name or I'd recommend it to you.)

Large ImageFor art the choices are endless but the National Gallery should not be missed. Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian is a personal favorite. The aforementioned National Cathedral is a must see.  (Booklogged - I'm kicking myself that I didn't go to the National Cathedral.  Another one for my next trip!) 

For those with strong stomachs, the medical museum at Walter Reed Medical Center is truly wild and off the beaten path. Just think of lots of “things” in formaldehyde.

Who are some authors that hail from the District of Columbia?

I have never actually thought about this before. There are plenty of journalists and politicians who have written books who live or have lived in the District. But I tend not to read non-fiction so I don’t pay too much attention to them. However, there are two biggies that come to mind. Edward P. Jones who wrote the The Known World which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a great novel that chronicles the lives freed slaves who actually owned slaves themselves. An interesting book of historical fiction. And then there is Tracy Chevalier who wrote Girl With a Pearl Earring among others. Although she may have grown up here, she doesn’t live here anymore and I don’t think her work reflects her DC roots. But I am no expert on Chevalier so I could be wrong. Incidentally, I was just in The Hague last week and saw the painting Girl With a Pearl Earring in person.

Do you have a favorite book set in the District of Columbia?

I haven’t come across much fiction that takes place in Washington DC, or it might be that the themes of typical Washington fare aren’t necessarily my cup of tea. Too much about politics and such. However, Edward P. Jones who I mentioned in the last question has written two collections of short stories that take place in and around DC and focus on the day-to-day lives of DC residents, the majority of whom are African American and aren’t connected with “official” Washington. As for the more typically DC kind of book, Christopher Buckley has written some hilarious satire about Washington life including The White House Mess and Supreme Courtship the latter being about the President appointing a Judge Judy type character to the Supreme Court. But my favorite novel that takes place in Washington DC is Echo House by Ward Just, a former journalist for the Washington Post. Just has written about 15 novels and writes amazingly well. Echo House focuses on one of the grand homes in the District that serves not only as the home of a family political dynasty but also as a center of power in Washington politics. A really great read.  (Booklogged - thanks for that recommendation, Thomas.  I haven't heard of Echo House before and it sounds really good.)

Thanks so much, Thomas.  It was so fun getting to know you better and I'm so glad you reminded me about the District of Columbia.  Have a great weekend everybody.  I'm off to the book festival in Salt Lake City today.  Candleman and Katie are going with.

Contest Central Fridays

Are you hosting a giveaway, a contest, a scavenger hunt, a chance to win something?  Let the blogging community know about it.  This is the "Farmers Market" of contests.  If you are hosting a contest of any kind and want to spread the word, just sign up usingMckLinky.

Where MckLinky asks for the title, please type what you are giving away, the deadline date and if the contest is Int (international) or US/Canada.

Example:  $25 Gift Card to GameCentral (10/30) Int

You can find Contest Central every day of the week by clicking on the button at the top left sidebar.  PLUS there are buttons for sites that are always giving away things.  Check it out!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents)

by Gina Misiroglu

This book is chock full of questions kids might ask and simple short answers to those questions.  Let me share an example:
How much air does a person breathe in a lifetime?  During a person's ife, he or she will breathe about 75 million gallons (284 liters) of air.  Every minute, the human body need 2 gallons (7.5 liters) of air when lying down, 4 gallons when sitting, 6 gallons when walking and 12 gallons or more when running.
I could see using a gallon of milk to show the comparison.  Amazing - 4 gallons of air per minute to just sit here at my computer.  Let's keep that air clean!

If your family was watching The Amazing Race last Sunday you could have quickly looked up the world's tallest building - the Burj Dubai, located in the United Arab Emirates.  Or when Pres. Obama received the Nobel Price and your child asked what the Nobel Price is you could find a short answer in this book.

Did you know the largest nut weighs 44 lbs and takes 6-7 years to mature?  Have your kids ever asked what worms eat?  You can find the answer on p. 77.

Questions are listed in different chapters.  Here's a list of the chapters:
Outer Space
Planet Earth & Our Moon
Creatures Big and Small
Plant Life
People Around the World
Politics & Government
How Things Work
Math, Measurement & Time
All About My Body
Daily Life

There's an index at the back to help you find a specific item.

I'm very impressed with this book and can see it making a good  gift for the curious kids (and parents) in your life.  And what a helpful volume to have in the home schooling library.  As a former teacher, I can see kids using this book as a springboard of ideas for science fairs, research papers, etc.  Very helpful.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

13 1/2 by Nevada Barr Giveaway! am so excited to offer this fabulous book for a giveaway.  Read my review.  This is such a good psychological thriller and I highly recommend it.  I thought I had things figured out early on but the book didn't let up and kept me guessing about what would happen.

Here's what you need to do to enter this giveaway:
***Leave a comment with your email address written in code form, such as booklogged at gmail dot com.***

If you'd like to garner some extra entries, do one or all of the following:
1.  Subscribe by entering your email in the FeedBurner in the left sidebar.
2.  Sign up to be my neighbor - left sidebar right under the Contest Central button.
3.  Click on the Contest Central button and sign up for one of the contests listed.  Let me know which one.

This drawing will end on November 3.

Good luck to everyone.  I wish I had one to send to each of you

"Waiting On" Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. book I'm anxiously awaiting has already been released in hardcover, but I'm waiting for the paperback release.

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett is book 34 (I believe) in his Discworld novels.  I love Pratchett's wit, wisdom and humor and, of course, the story.  And I love that you don't need to read the Discworld books in any order - you can just pick one up and enjoy it.  Each expands your knowledge of the world and the characters,but it doesn't matter the order.

"This account of Unseen University's entry into the world of soccer (or, as they occasionally call it, "foot-the-ball") pushes past the usual conventions of satire to offer equal parts absurdist philosophy and heartwarming romance....A witty addition to the long-running fantasy series" (Kirkus Reviews )

Next question is which cover do I want?  I recently discovered The Book Depository located in London.  I can order a book from them and I get the UK cover and there's no shipping charge.  I can't remember whose blog I saw a button for The Book Depository, but thank-you.  I've already ordered a couple of books from there and I helped that store affiliate with a few pennies in her pocket.

Which cover do you like the best?

It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

It's Tuesday . . . Where are you? is a weekly meme sponsored by Raidergirl3 from An Adventure In Reading.  It's one of my favorites because we get to tell about the places we are visiting in our reading.  Be sure to visit Raidergirl3's blog and find out all the places people are visiting this week.

Syren by Angie SageToday I am in the fantasy world created by Angie Sage and inhabited by Septimus Heap.   We, Septimus and some of his friends and I, are stranded on a little island when the dragon we were flying was zapped by a bolt of lightning and we had to make an emergency landing.  We know it was right after seeing the lighthouse with a cat eyes and cat ears at the top.  We also know there is a syren living in a tower on the island who has taken possession of a friend we knew a long time ago.  We are suspecting there is a devious plot to hurt the castle.  What we don't know is that there is a ghost ship just offshore that is planning to hijack Jenna's father's ship, which we don't yet realize is heading toward the island.