Monday, December 19, 2011

UPDATED


The Blood of FlowersThe Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What? How can you have listened to the book and it be on your TBR list? Sandy, don't you think you need to fix your shelves?

NO. This was one of my Audible.com choices. Unfortunately, there is an oops in the recording that therefore messed up the download. The end of the two parts are cut off. It didn't bother me so much on Part 1 but was at a crucial moment in Part 2! (GRRRR!) Naturally I called Audible.com immediately! They are going to fix it and then alert me, so I can get the rest of the story! The question is how long will it take them to fix it! You know how some of us are when we are so into a book that we just have to know, can't wait to know the rest of the story! I'm one of those! What do you do then? ORDER THE BOOK!

Publisher's Summary:

"In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. When her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.

Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.

©2007 Anita Amirrezvani; (P)2007 Hachette Audio"

And that is where it cuts off! Decision time!

It should have taken just a bit over 13 hours to hear the entire story that is narrated by the rich voices of actress Shohreh Aghdashloo who is originally from Iran. Her voices add so much color to enjoyment of this book! I feel in love with her voice, accent, laugh, and intellect the first time I saw her on the Craig Ferguson show.

Maybe I need to expand a bit. When I read I hear the story in my head. When I read a book, I also hear it in my head with whatever accent is appropriate. I've heard German, French, Irish, Scottish, Russian, Spanish, Chinesse, Janpanesse, and the variety we have in America and India. The voices of the middle eastern countries have not added their music to my ears enough to remember them.

One thing is learned quickly...the role of this woman in 17th century Pursia wasn't any better than that of women in Europe in the same socioeconomic levels.

Anita Amirrezvani has not only told us the story of a gutsy young woman but bits about rug making from dye to design to finished product. She also gives us some short folk tales of the period.

I am giving you my review how because I cannot see the review changing much with reading the hard copy. It's been out for a while so you should be able to find it in most of your usual haunts! It's almost Halloween, so go haunting those places for this book in any format you like!

UPDATE:

I have now finished both the book and the recording. Sure enough, it was as wonderful as I expected! I loved all the characters in the book because of what they added to not only the understanding their motivation, but also the flavor of the peoples of the time whether good or bad. There is a richness to this book that makes me anxious to see what she comes up with next!

The conversation between the author and narrator at the end of the recording is most interesting!

Who should read this book? I would have gotten a lot out of this book about the age of 13 or 14 so young women, mothers and daughters, people who want to know a bit more about the run making process and their makers, people who love myths and legends! Lovers of historical fiction.

This is definitely on my favorites for 2011!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children, #1)The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I know I am strange but this is again a movie I saw and had to read the book. Thus started my love of all books Jean M. Auel. This is the start of the author's vision of what happened "way back when" as cultures intermix and travel up through time. Get hooked on the first and you will want to travel along. Unlike a lot of serialized stories, each book stands alone, so if you manage to find one before another, it won't hurt.

I now have it in audio format from Audible.com, as apparently I 'lent' my book copy. I have really enjoyed listening to this as I do the mundane! Sandra Burr does a grand narration of the first people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011


HarvestHarvest by Tess Gerritsen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Narrated by George Guidall
Length:12 hrs and 30 mins
Release Date:04-22-11

You should know that my dad was an Army doctor and I have probably spent almost as much time in them as out! We were both mystery lovers so this had to be one of my Audible.com choices.

It got my husband and I a bit confused with some of the scene changes and who is or isn't there but that is kind of the fun of a mystery. Will it all come together in the end? While we figured out who was what and why, there was a bit of worry and OMG at the end.

I can't code this one as a cozy mystery .. it leans closer to nail biter. If I promise you that the confusing bits will make sense, will you stick with it and give this one a chance? We (DH and I) were glad we did!

Friday, October 21, 2011

BOB



BOB from Jacob Frey on Vimeo.
For full enjoyment, watch past the credits! WARNING! DON'T DRINK AND WATCH!

Thursday, October 20, 2011




Famous Places of the World Photographed in Soap Bubbles. Photo credit: Tom Storm. Dlugi Targ, Gdansk, Poland

Somehow I don't think this is the right size



Monday, October 17, 2011

Why aren't new state laws fought?

Black men were given the rights to vote through the 14th and 15th amendments. The 19th gave equal rights to women.

With these amendments, why isn't the federal government doing something to stop states from making it hard to impossible for many individuals to exercise their rights?

Why aren't state citizens voicing their objections? Why isn't the federal government getting into this?

They think they will hurt one party but what about people of their own party? Don't they know those people will also be stopped?

I don't know who is running for office in my state this year, but trust me, if they support these laws? or restrictions, they will not get my vote! It is, for me, a show stopper because I truly think it is anti American and illegal as hell!

Sterling Biographies: Frederick Douglass: Rising Up from Slavery (Sterling Biographies)Sterling Biographies: Frederick Douglass: Rising Up from Slavery by Frances E Ruffin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
UNABRIDGED
Narrated by Cornelius Jones
PUBLISHER Audible, Inc.

Summary:

"From slave to freedom fighter: that was the long and hard journey taken by Frederick Douglass. Douglass was America's first great civil-rights leader, and he threw off the physical, mental, and legal chains of slavery to become one of America's greatest champions for human rights. It was said that his life was proof that once black people could read and write about their injustices, they would have the power to end slavery.

Frances E. Ruffin explores this inspiring figure in all his complexity, and captures the hardships, prejudice, and violence Douglass endured as he fought for justice.

©2008 Sterling; (P)2009 Audible, Inc."


At about 3.5 hours, this is not a long biography. It could be easily stopped if you are sharing with a child. If you want to listen in one go, easy. Not only did I learn much about Mr. Douglas that was never taught in high school and college. I also learned much about the history after the war.

He lived an amazing life, not only through the Civil War, but after, before the Jim Crow laws, the beginnings of the rights for woman's right to vote.

If you feel your history was a bit vague or you are a home schooler who wants to give your kids more information about the war and its aftermath, I recommend this book to people of all color. 

Friday, October 14, 2011


The King of LiesThe King of Lies by John Hart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Ah, Audible.com, you have so dented my pocketbook! Between the sales of different kinds one almost on top the the other were just too good good tales to resist!

The King of Lies is a murder mystery taking place in midevil history. Adelia is a doctor but has to use a unic as a beard...otherwise, she would be labeled a witch and suffered the consequences. Who sends her on a mission to ensure the safety of his daughter? The King of England, Henry II! Among the company is her lover and father of her daughter, the Bishop. O, I almost forgot...a sword, "Excaliber". Lastly is the unnamed shadowy creature who want her life to end because the doctor killed lover, Wolf.

So there you have it! Just think of what kind of murder and mayhem can result from this cast of characters!

You don't have to be a lover of historical fiction to enjoy this book. Any mystery lover will want to snap this one up! Even my husband gave this one high marks!

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Penguin Classics S.)The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


I think I made a bad choice spending my Audible.com credit on this one.

To start with, I don't like the narration of the first part. It seemed so patterned. Looking past that impediment, I really did not like the character himself. I could not see him married to anyone other than the most desperate! And when he dropped to the use of physical violence, I just could not buy it! AND HE GETS AWAY WITH IT!

Having resolved this couple to her satisfaction, Ms. Bronte goes on to another...but it does not flow well from on to another which caused me some confusion. It might have been better if she had written these as short stories held together by the hall or the relationships.

I am forced to admit that with the switch to the new couple, I kept getting so bored, I fell asleep. I wish I could tell you this might be a better book if read but...

Maybe you should ignore me as I have never appreciated Weathering Hights either.

But I have loved Jane Eyre in all its formats!

I know...visit your local library and read the first part. If you like it, then spend your money to add it to your library.

Dial Dial "L" For Loser by Christy English

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If this was a movie, it would fall into the category of "Chick Flick". It is a fast fun read about a girl who could be in a Rubin's painting. She works in a bank with her two best friends. One minute she is foot loose and fancy free and thinking about giving up on the other sex completely! Two seconds later, she's tangled in the lives of 3 young men! The "L" can be wiped away! But have you ever tried to date 3 guys at one time? I tried juggling 2 and it got really dicey, really fast.

Who should read this book?

People studying for a huge test that need a break from study. People who have been reading so much historical fiction that they need something that will bring them back to today. People who always wanted to know what it is like to date 3 guys at one time. Ok, there are other people but you get the idea!

If I had a chuckle meter, it surely would have been in the red zone!

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
PUBLISHER Listen & Live Audio

You grew up fast as an orphan in the streets of London. Being in a group of other kids helped all survive. That's how Mary "Jacky" Faber did it until it all fell apart. What was she going to do? If she survived until puperty, she knew she would probably end up as street walker which she knew was wrong. Ah, then she spotted a ship in the harbor looking for boys to serve. If she cut her hair, she could pass; she was sure of it! It must be remembered that young boys of 8 or 9 often were taken on board. That is how our "Mary" end up as "Jacky, ship's boy".

Now, we know this charade cannot go on forever! That's what the rest of the tale is all about; how she keeps up her illusion, what it was like being a "ship's boy"; how she got "found out", etc.

I heartily recommend this book to both sexes who love the stories about the tall ships from 8 to 66 (hmmm, I know my mom would have liked this one as much as I, so I should make that last number 92).

I must thank Audible.com for exposing me to this story when they had a lovely sale of so many series "first".
Hood (King Raven, #1)Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Narrated by Adam Verner

PUBLISHER Oasis Audio

Length:12 hrs and 20 mins

Did you ever read or watch any of various Robin Hood stories? I did! I don't think I missed any one of them starting with Errol Flynn. I loved all with their slight changes here and there. The characters of Hood are a different but underneath I see the influence of Robin's story.

Mr. Lawhead's writing is delightful and colorful that made the scenes vivid in my mind. 'Makes me wish I had a young one to share with whom I could share (or would that be an excuse to listen again). And Mr. Verner? His reading was such an addition. He read quickly and clearly catching me up in the story. 'Not in haste but with action.

If you want to listen to this before sleeping, don't be surpassed if you find yourself finding it hard to shut it off! It is good company if you are in for a long car ride for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Picture PerfectPicture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Narrated by Sandra Burr and Bruce Reizen

Unabridged 14hr, 19 min

A policeman from the reservation moves to LA. He discovers a woman who has lost her memory. Turns out she is an anthropologist married to a well known Hollywood star. The couple looks "picture perfect". But all is not perfect. Her husband sometimes goes off and becomes abusive. She stays with him. Why does he suddenly become violent when he loves her? Why does she stay with him? Why does she leave him? Why...so many 'whys'.

This is not the type of book I normally read. That said, I must admit to quickly becoming involved in it and wanting to see, perhaps understand why a woman with her 'smart' would stay with this man and how it would be resolved at the end.

For a long time we listen to the voice of Bruce Reizen, so I felt a bit disrupted when suddenly Sandra Burr starts talking at chapter 19, part one. It goes back to Bruce on part 2, chapter 7 through the story's end. Both people have excellent narrating abilities but I felt disrupted with the change back to Bruce Reizen. I still don't get it, which is why I could not give the story 5 stars.

Born in Fire (Born In trilogy #1)Born in Fire by Nora Roberts

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Narrated by Fiacre Douglas

LENGTH 9 hrs and 5 mins

PUBLISHER Brilliance Audio

Maggie views of marriage is tainted by that of her parents. She has sworn she will not follow in their in footsteps; she will never marry. As much as she adored her father, she resented her mother. As her father was dying, she promised to care for her mother and beloved sister. She is a very talented glass blower who will used the money from sales of her works to keep her promise. Her resentment is increased by her mother's constant demands on her sister. Maggis is as stubborn as can be expected by a red headed Irish lass. She is independent and outspoken having no time to waste on self sensor. She dresses without care as the work calls her. Not only is she talented in her working of glass, she is passionate about it to the point that at times she forgets eating or sleeping. Phones are a bother that she totally ignores.

Then Rogan Sweeny discovers her work. He wants to show Maggie's work to the world as he sees it as it and its creator as an Irish treasure. With his tenacity, he will finally get her to work with him. She will try his patience to the nth degree.

Now you know that as this is love story, these two will end up together. What you don't know is how they will get there. Remember, Maggie is not the most receptive person to ideas of love and/or marriage.

Fiacre Douglas's accent when not speaking for a character, has a lightly accented voice which does intensify when needed for the native ones. I wonder if he enjoyed the conflict dialogs as much as i did!

I would recommend this story to all who love to hear the sounds of old Erin...who love characters who challenge each other mightily, as well as the interpersonally relationships between Margaret Mary, her sister, and mother.

PS The is one of those sale books from Audible.com that I went wild about!

Witch and WizardWitch and Wizard by James Patterson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Narrated by Spencer Locke, Elijah Wood

5 hrs and 41 mins

AUDIBLE RELEASE DATE 12-14-09

PROGRAM TYPE Audiobook

PUBLISHER Hachette Audio

It was a football Sunday for him. I had NO interest. My choices were take a nap (too wide awake), read a book (the stack is fairly high but nothing there attracted me), read an ebook (no, no titles grabbed me), or listen to an audio book. On line I went and low and behold, I found this one in my Audible.com library. It sounded kind of fun. It was YA. Who cared! There are no laws that after a certain age you can only read these books!

The publisher's summary said it best:

"The world is changing - the government has seized control of almost everything and kids are disappearing.
For 15 year-old Wisty and her older brother, Whit, life turns upside-down when they are hauled out of bed one night, separated from their parents, and thrown into a secret compound for no reason they can comprehend, except that the new government is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Imprisoned together in a decrepit cell, Wisty and Whit cling to the only things they have left - a blank book, a drum stick, and each other. While searching for ways to escape, both begin exhibiting strange abilities. Maybe there is a reason they were singled out!
Can Wisty and Whit, a witch and a wizard, master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents - and maybe the world?

From James Patterson, the creator of the best-selling Maximum Ride and Daniel X novels, comes Witch and Wizard, his most terrifying and awe-inspiring series yet."

It was perfect! Just the right length to get me through football. Perfect company was I weeded out all my duplicates in Ancestry! And it had 2, yes TWO narrators! What great fun it was to hear the back and forth of male and female voices! I didn't expect the effectiveness that two different voice would have on a book. And the story? The story was equally entertaining. Lesson, were there lessons young people should learn from this book? Probably but who wants to look for lessons when they just want to escape for a while. Not me!

So do I think this is a good hollowed book to share with kids and grandkids. YEP! It's a bit scary...the eyes widening kind, not the hide under the bed kind. But then I loved Peter and the Wolf and Three Billy Goats Gruff too.

OH NO! I WON!

Sandy, you've lost it again!

No, you just don't understand. I know a wonderful fine artist who uses both acrylics and oils as her mediums of choice.  (She also dyes the most wonder colors of yarn!) She had a Friday contest where in the winner gets to choose a print of one of her paintings. I won! I whooped! I twittered about it! Joy! Excitement! I raced to her site! AND THEN IT HIT ME! I love her work (L C Neill)! How do I choose?

Places is adorned with sun rises...I love sun rises and sets and the way they color the clouds in the sky!

People...walking dogs. Lost in thought while seemly stareing at a wall. Walking in the rain. Reading a book. People just doing things I see people doing all the time. I feel their movement or stillness.

Things has so many things! Curling ribbons with crisp edges and turns. Flowers...just their faces and in a clear container where you can see how glass and water changes the way stems look. Scrabble tiles that look so real and have a bit of whimsy as you notice the words they spell out!

And I, I have to pick one, just ONE. Want to guess how I have spent the past 3 hours? Yes, opening each thumb nail picture to try and ascertain which one should come live at my house!

Thank you L C Neill for giving me such a lovely chore!

Go here and see some of the pictures I have been talking about... http://bit.ly/o8EFXu.

Friday, October 7, 2011


The Blood of FlowersThe Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
Narrated by Shohreh Aghdashloo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What? How can you have listened to the book and it be on your TBR list? Sandy, don't you think you need to fix your shelves?

NO. This was one of my Audible.com choices. Unfortunately, there is an oops in the recording that therefore messed up the download. The end of the two parts are cut off. It didn't bother me so much on Part 1 but was at a crucial moment in Part 2! (GRRRR!) Naturally I called Audible.com immediately! They are going to fix it and then alert me, so I can get the rest of the story! The question is how long will it take them to fix it! You know how some of us are when we are so into a book that we just have to know, can't wait to know the rest of the story! I'm one of those! What do you do then? ORDER THE BOOK!

Publisher's Summary:

"In 17th-century Persia, a 14-year-old woman believes she will be married within the year. When her beloved father dies, she and her mother find themselves alone and without a dowry. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to sell the brilliant turquoise rug the young woman has woven to pay for their journey to Isfahan, where they will work as servants for her uncle, a rich rug designer in the court of the legendary Shah Abbas the Great.



Despite her lowly station, the young woman blossoms as a brilliant designer of carpets, a rarity in a craft dominated by men. But while her talent flourishes, her prospects for a happy marriage grow dim. Forced into a secret marriage to a wealthy man, the young woman finds herself faced with a daunting decision: forsake her own dignity, or risk everything she has in an effort to create a new life.

©2007 Anita Amirrezvani; (P)2007 Hachette Audio"

And that is where it cuts off! Decision time!

It should have taken just a bit over 13 hours to hear the entire story that is narrated by the rich voices of actress Shohreh Aghdashloo who is originally from Iran. Her voices add so much color to enjoyment of this book! I feel in love with her voice, accent, laugh and intellect the first time I saw her on the Craig Ferguson show.

Maybe I need to expand a bit. When I read I hear the story in my head with the appropriate accents. When I read a book, I also hear it in my head with whatever accent is appropriate. I've heard German, French, Irish, Scottish, Russian, Spanish, Chinesse, Janpanesse, and the variety we have in America and India. The voices of the middle eastern countries have not added their music to my ears enough to remember them.

One thing is learned quickly...the role of this woman in 17th century Pursia wasn't any better than that of women in Europe in the same socioeconomic level.

Anita Amirrezvani has not only told us the story of a gutsy young woman but bits about rug making from dye to design to finished product. She also gives us some short folk tales of the period.

I am giving you my review how because I cannot see the review changing much with reading the hard copy. It's been out for a while so you should be able to find it in most of your usual haunts! It's almost Halloween, so go haunting those places for this book in any format you like!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

BOOK REVIEW The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

The Confessions of Catherine de MediciThe Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


As I loved his "Last Queen", so did I love this book! And it only cost me one credit from Audible.com!

As with "Last Queen", Catherine de Medici becomes more than a by-word for 'evil'. Her early life is one that today's accused would blame for whatever they did in the present, so deeply was she hurt. Her times were hard for women, especially for women of intelligence. As they effected her, the 'times' and 'places' are also characters in the story.

C. W. Gortner showed me a very complex and deeply emotional woman, both strong willed and determined. Oh how she loved her family! Maybe too much. She was every bit "The Queen"! The Ruler! She who would have her way come hell or high water! As I listen to Cassandra Campbell's narration, I felt compelled to listen until the wee hours of the morning. I had to find out more about her and what she would do and why.

Cassandra Campbell voice was perfect for C. W. Gortner's grand story about this woman!
White Sister (Shane Scully #6)White Sister by Stephen J. Cannell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They said it well:

Leaving L.A.'s Parker Center, Shane Scully and his wife, Alexa, agree to meet at home in one hour. Shane gets there; Alexa doesn't. In the middle of the night, he's called to a crime scene on Mulholland Drive: The African-American victim, who appears to be a Crip gangbanger, has been executed gangland style. Shockingly, the body is in Alexa's car and her gun is found nearby. But Alexa is missing. Shane's frantic investigation into his wife's disappearance soon takes him inside a bitter and violent feud between two rival hip-hop record companies.

At the center of this war is one of the most lethal adversaries he's ever encountered: Stacy Maluga, a trashy, beautiful Lady Macbeth-like white woman raised in Compton, married to a multi-millionaire rap mogul and known in the gangsta hip-hop world as the White Sister. Shane is no stranger to big trouble, but this time he's met his match in a powerful and media-savvy enemy who could put him in jail, order a hit on him, or utterly destroy his reputation. Worse, Shane fears that his wife may be dead and that the White Sister is behind it.

My thought:

The description caught my interest so I snarfed it up from Audible.com after listening to the snippet they had and liking the voice of Scott Brick. I was not disappointed in Mr. Bricks narration or Mr. Cannell's writing while staying up late to continue the story!

So why not 5 stars? I have been listening more than reviewing and am trying to catch up. This one, I could not remember until I read the first sentence above...then it all came flooding back!

I do so dislike abridged versions of books and according to the ratings at Audible.com, this one ranked low on those who got that version. I can guess why. There is so much color to characters and so much action, that to cut it would be such a travesty.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Still MissingStill Missing by Chevy Stevens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Product Description

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

Still Missing is that rare debut find--a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel.

My thoughts

I found listening to her thoughts while captive were very insightful. 'Made me wonder how I would deal in the same situation. Could I do what she did to escape? Would life after be better or worse than what she went through? Who was the man who kidnapped her? Why did he take her?

As I realized the way the book was going to end, there was a part of my mind saying, "NO NO NO NO!"

This such a good book to read or listen to (with a great narrator!) that is almost too realistic.

BOOK REVIEW: Memoirs of a Cotswold Vet by Ivor Smith BVSc MRVCS

Memoirs of a Cotswold VetMemoirs of a Cotswold Vet by Ivor Smith BVSc MRVCS
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Did you ever read the Dr, James Herriot books like All Creatures Great and Small or watched the series on PBS as I did? (Well, you should!) If you enjoyed them, you will also enjoy Dr. Smith's stories which will touch on all your emotions. That's ok as I love critters and the way they open me up to all those things.

Yes, I do recommend this book to ALL lovers of critters!

I listened to them using my credits from Audible.com.

O, you need to know that the reading is perfect for the book!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Juliet by Anne Fortier

JulietJuliet by Anne Fortier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

They saiid:
Twenty-five-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that the woman who has been like a mother to her has left her entire estate to Julie’s twin sister. The only thing Julie receives is a key—one carried by her mother on the day she herself died—to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy. This key sends Julie on a journey that will change her life forever—a journey into the troubled past of her ancestor Giulietta Tolomei. In 1340, still reeling from the slaughter of her parents, Giulietta was smuggled into Siena, where she met a young man named Romeo. Their ill-fated love turned medieval Siena upside-down and went on to inspire generations of poets and artists, the story reaching its pinnacle in Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. But six centuries have a way of catching up to the present, and Julie gradually begins to discover that here, in this ancient city, the past and present are hard to tell apart. The deeper she delves into the history of Romeo and Giulietta, and the closer she gets to the treasure they allegedly left behind, the greater the danger surrounding her—superstitions, ancient hostilities, and personal vendettas. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families involved in the unforgettable blood feud, she begins to fear that the notorious curse—“A plague on both your houses!”—is still at work, and that she is destined to be its next target. Only someone like Romeo, it seems, could save her from this dreaded fate, but his story ended long ago. Or did it? From Anne Fortier comes a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers.From the Hardcover edition.

I think:

This a hard book for me to rate. It bounces back on forth between the middle ages and today about two different Juliets. The old story is set in Sienna as is the story in current times.

I started this book with some people from my local library who I still have not met. After checking it twice, and still not finishing, I bought a copy for my Kindle. In my mind, I think of the book in three parts.

Part 1: I loved it and sped right along. There are so many, many great lines I had to stop and share with my husband!

Part 2: It was OK but for whatever reason, I just sort of drug myself through it. It was good with lots of action.  But I found myself listening to lots of audio books instead. I just was not pulled back to the story.

Part 3: This part rocked with twists and turn and suspense enough to pull me gleefully along.

So how do rate it? It has to be above good because of parts 1 and 3. Probably most people would not have the problem I had in the middle - maybe it was because I no longer had bits I wanted to share with my husband and I missed them. The last part was such a delightful roller coaster ride!

I'm going to go eat dinner and when I finish I hope to have my answer.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: The Sleepwalkers by Paul Grossman, reviewed by C.w. Grotner

As a member of GoodReads, I read lots of reviews (which is why my wish list gets longer every day). Obviously, many are very good or my wish list would be shorter. A couple of days ago I read one posted by C. w. Gortner that blew me away. I complemented him on the posting and indicated my desire to put it up here (not expecting a reply, any less a positive reply). Yesterday I got a very positive response enabling me to share this with you! (O, fyi, he is an author I follow at GoodReads because I enjoy his story telling.)

Thank you C. W.!


The Sleepwalkers
by Paul Grossman

C.w. Gortner's review Sep 13, 11

Read in September, 2011

One of my favorite periods in 20th century history is pre-Nazi Berlin; a fragile time before the rise of an era of unspeakable darkness, when the city was a fabled cosmopolitan smorgasbord full of vibrancy- an international magnet for artists, bohemians, eccentrics, and the curious. The Berlin we know today is very different from the Berlin of before World War II and Paul Grossman’s THE SLEEPWALKERS offers us a superb evocation of that city’s pathos and tragic hedonism in the weeks leading up to Hitler’s ascendancy, even as a resolute Jewish detective hunts for a killer.

As the title suggests, this is more than a novel about a series of bizarre murders that Grossman’s hero, Detective Willi Krauss, is trying to solve. All of Berlin appears to be sleep-walking, seemingly oblivious to the endemic violence lurking under the surface, epitomized by Nazi thugs and opportunistic politicians scheming to rescue Germany from decades of penury and shame. Krauss, however, senses these fearsome undercurrents, even as he is swept up in a labyrinthine quest to discover why a young woman pulled from the river was subjected to horrific medical experiments. Revered for his recent capture of an infamous serial killer yet haunted by personal loss, Krauss is now beginning to experience a subtle but pervasive fraying of his impermeability. His keen observations of the shifting world around him anchor the novel’s dark, fascinating trajectory into both the high-ranking offices of a crumbling government and Berlin's seamy underworld.

The supporting cast of characters includes an enigmatic prostitute, an extravagant hypnotist, an earnest cadet, a jaded aristocrat, and a street hustler. While some of the characters conform to established clichés, Grossman handles them with sensitivity and style, while his villains— including a terrifying, buck-toothed Josef Mengele—display the sociopathic tendencies which became a Nazi blueprint and are all the more unsettling because they are not fictional. Fast-paced action sequences interspersed with Krauss’s uneasy awareness that the life he’s always believed in is turning to quicksand under his feet give the novel a brooding, unstoppable feel that kept me reading far into the night. Though Krauss fights with every part of his being to halt the shadow sweeping over him, and everyone he loves, we know the inevitable outcome; it is a testament to Mr. Grossman's talent that despite this, we still find ourselves rooting for his idealistic, damaged hero, caught up in circumstances far beyond his control, like so many thousands of Germany's inhabitants.

It's me again! This book is available in all formats and lots of places! And no, I am not getting compensated by any one! Ok, maybe by me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trip Time!

If you have followed my for any time, you know how I love to take vicarious trips via my friends. Sometime the trips are just snaps....ok, most times...so this time it is a special trip to the California coast. Special? You bet 'cha! The pictures are spectacular! And they are in video mode! And the video is set to music!!! A wonderful photographer from Dunsworth Studios took the pictures which the graphic artist put together with music!!

Huh? You get the excitement of pictures set to music but why all the exclamations?

Ok, I have been working on Ancestry.com for quite a while. One of the people who has shared our common family members (we are cousins on my father's side) is Ms. Louise Ross-Martinez who was not only the graphic artist on this project but has also done one on our family! Now I ask you, how cool is that?!? (More on putting family on video later.)

Now my friends, grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and take a trip with me (and Louise and Jeannie) on a coastal ride on the California Coast!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck


The Moon Is Down (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The first thing you need to know is how much I dislike reading Steinbeck (yes, I know I am in the minority)! Except for this story about a little village in Norway that gets taken over by the Germans.

I first saw it as a movie on Panamanian TV, complete with subtitles. The characters were relatable from the newly widowed lady to the village doctor and gentle mayor, to the lonely German soldier and his commander, to the villager who help the Germans during and after the invasion. I was so impressed with the movie that I had to find the novella when I returned to States. Again I was impressed. Again I cried.

So why write a review of a book I read over 40 years ago? Because I have found it available in electronic format and am trying to decide if I want it from Amazon.com for my Kindle or Audible.com as my copy was 'loaned' away eons ago. Yes, it was propaganda of the early 40s. Yes, it was damn good propaganda as it gave a humanity to all of the characters. Read or listen to the story for yourself and see if you can understand why I want it back in my library!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Looky at what I got!

Little...younger sister sent me a wonderful check for my birthday which allowed me to indulge myself with something on my wish (but doubtful) list.
It came from Teavana and is called a "Amandine Decanter".

Want to see what it looks like?

Ok, look:


Isn't it lovely?! Can you imagine how lovelier it will look with one of my flowering tea bulbs in it?

Don't you wish you had a loving, enabling sister like mine?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book Review: I Gave You My Heart, but You Sold It Online by Dixie Cash

I Gave You My Heart, but You Sold It Online

I Gave You My Heart, but You Sold It Online by Dixie Cash


My rating: 5 of 5 stars


They said:

If you love smart, sassy fiction with some downhome Texas humor, you'll love this smashing follow up to Dixie Cash's hardcover debut, MY HEART MAY BE BROKEN, BUT MY HAIR STILL LOOKS GREAT.

Fans of Mary Kay Andrews won't be able to resist Dixie Cash. Description: Debbie Sue Overstreet and her best pal Edwina––the Domestic Equalizers––have one motto: don't get mad, get evidence! So when these hairdressers/private eyes get wrapped up in a new mystery you just know there's going to be trouble. Quint Matthews, an old beau of Debbie Sue's and a heart–breakin' rodeo rider, comes to town asking for their help––his identity's been swiped by a woman he met on the internet. They agree to get to the bottom of things, and get into a whole heap of trouble. As for Quint, he's never one to learn a lesson. He's got a date in Salt Lick, Texas, with a woman he met, yep, online––but what he doesn't know is she was put there by her own daughter!

Hearts are about to get broken all around Texas, but not before Debbie Sue and Edwina make things right for everybody.

My thoughts:

The girls are at it again! And I laughed as much as I did the first one!

That Audible.com sale was really irresistible...i bought lots of books by Dixie Cash!

Book Review: Ceremony in Death by J. D. Robb


Ceremony in Death (In Death, #5)Ceremony in Death by J.D. Robb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I may have a bit of bias here as I really like J. D. Robb's writing in this series which is just a little sic-fi but a lot of good old fashioned action mystery. I also like the main characters. Dogged detective Eve Dallas is a bit OCD as she has to get to real conclusions. Off 'the streets' she is the Walmart woman rather than the fashonesta...I would bet she has mostly jeans and sweats.While she has many make friends (well, she is a cop!), she is very distrustful of anything beyond...well, until Irishman Roake invaded her world.



Roake is a rich, handsome rogue with more than a shady past. With his insitfulness and intelligence, a well as his pals from the past, he is her equal who helps out with some of her sleuthing. He sees inside her ostrich thick shell and 'handles' her gently and persistently. Think Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man movies only make it more Nora and Nick as persue the bad guys as well as a lusty romance.



Dallas has new partner who always calls her 'Sir'. Roake has his disdaining butler.



Along with a good mystery there is much dry humor.



Am I reading these in order?



Of course not! For which I must thank author Robb who makes each story come to a conclusion with no cliff hangers! (Yes, the romance aspect not conclude, who cares? I think it's like when a friend tells you about what happened yesterday and then as you talk, remembrances are interjected.



Listen to it as you drive to the beach or while you are watching the kids play. The reader is great with voices clearly detected!



Damn Audible.com and the great summer sale!





View all my reviews

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Cleaning

I want to read more, listen more, and watch more. I also have become a doctor follower and you know those guys, they like tests and stuff.

Therefore, I am narrowing my rss following if I a) am on your email list b) I follow you on twitter, c) I follow you an facebook, d)goodreads. All others will remain on the list.

Please don't let your feeling be hurt! If I follow all, there is much repeating and I am going mad trying to read all sites and still have room for other things. I really do not know how people who follow thousands of people on all  sites do it!

Movie Review: For Colored Girls

A new premium channel came to the line up with a sampling of what they were going to offer. One of the movies I selected was Tylor Perry's For Colored Girls.

Parts of it sounded like a Greek chorus. All of it was poignantly powerful.

The casting was perfect and all the women were believable. I've known, heard or read similar stories of women of different ethnicities but this is the best of the lot.

I don't think I could read the book, if there is one, as I know if I did it would depict even more than my heart could handle.

So why am I recommending this movie to you?

If I could give out Oscars, each of these women would get one for best actress. As would Tylor Perry. As would the writer. I would recommend this to aspirering actors, writers, and directors, people who like to watch great movies/stories that may make you hit you hard. Who like strong acting. People who want to leave a movie with their minds and hearts imprinted, as mine is right now.

For Colored Girls is for girls/women of all colors, races, and creeds as we are all parts of the rainbow of the sisterhood.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan


By Fire, By WaterBy Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


While reviewing what I should read next, I realized I never read or reviewed this book because it never arrived. Feeling most embarrassed, I contacted Mr. Kaplan to explain why I had never written the review. Nice man that he is, he asked if I still wanted to read it. Silly man. To save us both time, I suggested he send me an electric copy as I have both Nook and Kindle loaded on my Mac. Within 24 hours it was on my computer and ready for reading!

Less than 36 hours later, it was finished (who needs sleep when you have a good book!)

"Good book"...so inadequate a phrase to describe this book! Time: just before Christopher Columbus sets off to the new world. Place: Spain during the riegn of Queen Isobel and King Ferdinand. Subject: The early beginnings of the Spanish Inquisition and its effects on the Muslims and Jews (both converted and unconverted) and maybe some answers to "why".

The historical value of By Fire, By Water was tremendous as this was an area of my knowledge base filled only by movies. Again I had my computer set up so I could quickly check facts and gain a bit more information.

There is such a reality to the characters (both real and imaginary)! I had no difficulty moving from on character's point of view to the other.

While lots of questions arose as I read, at its completion I found myself comparing those times to times of today. What answers did I come up with? We'll discuss that after you've read By Fire, By Water and come to your own conclusions first.

Now this may seem trivial to others but I must give the author koodos for giving me translations when writing dipped into another language! That is one of those knit picking things that has driven me nuts for puppies years!

Mitchell James Kaplan, I must thank you for giving me the chance to read and review your novel! It's now one of my "but have you read this one!" list. I know it has been out for a while and can only hope this small review reignites interest! You took a chance that I might be the one person who didn't like it and would say so.

PS I went and searched for this in my blog and could not find it...sorry for the delay...so rush back to GoodReads and copied it out so I could post it here!

Update on Mommy

She fought the cancer with everything within her and the results of her last tests were there were no cancer cells anywhere to be found! That was the grand news!

The sad but good news was she got pneumonia less than a week later which took her away in 3 days.

What's good about that!??

She did not want to live so long that she had to live in a nursing home. Her mind was clear up to the last moment of life. My most wonderful niece-in-law took up some whiskey so they could all have a last toast...her own hail and fairwell. Well, my mother decided that one toast was not enough so whenever any came in the room, she toasted them (no matter how many times they came in). And that, my friends was the good news...she left in good spirits...still full of love and laughter!

Yes, I miss her a lot but I have such a boatload of memories!

So if you are sipping some wine or beer or other beverage, give her a toast and she will send you a smile of thanks.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Book Review: One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May DoddOne Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars




Publisher's Summary

One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the Western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians.

The covert and controversial "Brides for Indians" program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man's world.

Toward that end, May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetimes.

Author Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

©1998 Jim Fergus; (P)2006 BBC Audiobooks America

What the Critics Say

"Fergus lets his imagination go wild and creates a journal of one of his ancestors who became one of those brides in 1875. Laura Hicks renders this imaginative work splendidly. She is vivacious and expressive as May Dodd." (Audiofile)

My Thoughts

I stumbled onto this one in Audible.com. I read the above and listed to a snippet. I knew I had to know this story as it was a bit of history I knew nothing about.

The narrator was a grand voice for Mary Dodd.

What heroic women these were to agree to the plan and travel so far to meet and marry Indians for two years. When you think about the time and the articles in newspapers about the 'red man', how, why would they even consider such an adventure?

I not only learned about the women but also about life in one Cheyenne village.

This is indeed a book I would recommend to anyone else who doesn't know the history behind it, who wonder about some of the roles of women in the west, and life of a group of Indians of the plains! I think this would be a good book  for teachers and home schoolers to recommend to  students or school book clubs.

Even my husband found it intriguing.

Book Review: Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir



Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine | [Alison Weir]The Captive Queen by Alison Weir
Unabridged
Narrated by Rosalyn Landor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book dove tailed nicely as the first book I read about Eleanor of Aquitaine as it was of her early life up to her meeting with the man who would be her second husband (Henry, Duke of Normandy, King of England).

Publisher's Summary

Renowned for her highly acclaimed and best-selling British histories, Alison Weir has in recent years made a major impact on the fiction scene with her novels about Queen Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey. In this latest offering, she imagines the world of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the beautiful 12th-century woman who was queen of France until she abandoned her royal husband for the younger man who would become king of England.

In a relationship based on lust and a mutual desire for great power, Henry II and Eleanor took over the English throne in 1154, thus beginning one of the most influential reigns and tumultuous royal marriages in all of history. In this novel, Weir uses her extensive knowledge to paint a most vivid portrait of this fascinating woman.

My thoughts

As the oldest of only two girls, her father raised her to be able to rule after her he died. Thus she was not only a great beauty but intelligent and well educated but a desirable mate for most men of rank. One look between Eleanor and Henry and they were in lust. A bit more and they were in a love match that while contentious lasted for most of the rest of their lives in one form or another. Read the book for the expansion of the story.

I listened to this one from Audible.com using my monthly credits.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: The Sugar House by Laura Lippman


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Their summary:

Jess Monaghan's life is back on course. She is beginning to make a name for herself as a PI, she's even banking good money. And then her father asks her a favour: to investigate the death in prison of a friend's brother convicted of killing an unidentified girl, otherwise known as 'Jane Doe'. Tess's search leads her to 'the Sugar House', a brutal institution where she discovers Jane Doe's real identity. And then Tess's father begs her to drop the case ...It is not until her parent's house is set on fire and a body pulled from the wreckage, that she realises that her life may have taken a very wrong turning indeed - one from which there is no going back.

My thoughts:

Is there a series of books based on the character of Jess Monaghan? Of course there is!

Have I read any others in the series? Of course not?

Why no? Because Audible.com had this one on sale and something about it made curious. For some reason, it reminded me of visit I had one week in Arkansas when I read every single Nancy Drew book! What a joyful experience it was! And so was reading The Sugar House. Jess is more mature but she manages to have some of those 'oops moments'! And then too, this is set in today's time and today's issues.

Why the comparison to Nancy? Because she is not getting shot at all the time or knocked out or hard drinking like some of the other mysteries that are out now.

Whoray for the author! She get added points for writing a book when I don't really need all the back story and bringing to it to a nice conclusion!

PS: DH liked the book as well!

Book Review: Scent of Danger by Autumn Dawn

Scent of Danger (Darklands, #3)Scent of Danger by Autumn Dawn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


A friend suggested we read it together. I agreed. We got our copies from Amazon.com for our Kindles.

If you find yourself in need of a good romance (romances?), with nothing too scary, pick it up and enjoy. It's a light, fun, fast read that had me wanting to keep reading to the end.

I do have to give the writer koodos as you know how I feel about series books that leave you hanging, waiting for the next book which probably won't be out for a year.

You might want to read the others in the series but if this one is your first, don't panic! I liked the beginning and the clean end.  Think of this as a fairy tale where boy meets girl, problems occur, boy saves girl and they live happily ever after! Or maybe a modern take on one of Shakespere's comedies.

Would I read the other books in the series? Yes!

Would I suggest it to my husband? No!

Grace took me to Thailand!

It has been so long ago, I don't know when I started following Grace's blog: Sandier Pastures.  She is an expat (someone who is from one country who lives and works in another country).  What's more, whenever she goes somewhere, she takes her camera to accessorize the words about her trip.
This is her posting from Thailand.  If all the pictures don't come through, click on the blog name to zip over there...in Dubai.  Without further ado, take it away Grace!

201120Jun
by GRACE
** This is a part of a series of posts about my blog trip to Thailand. **
Day two and we are still in Hua Hin, Thailand. After our visit to the Hua Hin Train Stationand Flintstone Hill, we went to Wat Huay Mongkol. In our itinerary it says, “home of the sacred Luang Pu Thuad statue revered by the locals” – of course we don’t have any idea what it means till we got to the place.
Wat Huay Mongkol houses the largest statue of Luang Phor Thuat in Thailand in a park-like setting. From far, the size of the statue is already obvious, much so when we got near.
And nearer:
There were lots of visitors there, including foreigners like us and local Thai people.We all went up the stairs to get nearer. I was curious what the people were doing there.
The Luang Pu Thuad statue sits on a pedestal with four other smaller images in niches where the faithful pastes gold-leaf in honour of the monk. Here are the people with thin pieces of gold leaves pasting it on one of the the smaller statues.
An excerpt from Luang Pu Thuad’s life story and as told by our tour guide:
Luang Pu Thuad became famous during the 16th century when he saved the people from draught. There was the time where there was not enough drinking water, and the weather deteriorate day after day. According to an account related by villagers, a monk was sighted in a small boat which moving along the river. He was in deep meditation and prayer. After he’d finished chanting, he lowered one of his legs into the river, and within short while, the river is filled with clear and clean drinking water. A miracle had happened. This bit of good news spread throughout the province and to other parts of Thailand. The monk was no other than Luong Pu Thuad himself. The people highly respected and graciously revered him from then on.
Also, it is said that amulets in the likeness of the monk (with varieties impossible to count) bring great protection and good luck. If you are amulet collector, dont forget to buy the amulet there. I didn’t buy any because I was not listening to the guide regarding the protection and good luck part. I could have bought one to keep. Maybe next time!
Going down again, there’s this three headed elephant at the foot of the statue where people walk under. Locals say walking under the three headed elephant will make some of your wishes come true. I do remember, walking underneath it wishes for a baby soon.
Little did I know I was already with child here! Anyway, Thailand really loves elephants, even the water fountain has got elephants on it. How cute are these?
We saw a monk in meditation in the shelter nearby. Local people gathered around him but I have no idea what they were doing. They must be praying?
At the other side, there are statues where people paste the gold leaves.
A golden statue.
Up next: Hua Hin Hills Vineyard for wine tasting and lunch. Yes, there’s a vineyard in Thailand!
* Photos taken using Canon EOS 550D and Canon PowerShot SD960IS 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Harry Bosch Box Set by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch Box SetHarry Bosch Box Set by Michael Connelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Would you believe the box set was on Audible.com!? AND they were spring cleaning so bought it as Charlie and I love his books...and this was 3 in one! Especially the character of Harry Bosch! He's a really good cop who won't give up on a case even if everyone else in the department has. And don't mess with his daughter or he will 'hunt you down'!

The thing I like about Mr. Connelly's books are you can read them in any order, as they all have a beginning, murder, and an ending.

Yes but what about the back story?

The salient parts are there to add to the character of the man, so what if you know something is going to happen to the family in the future...the important thing is how Bosch is going to solve the mystery!

Yes, I do highly recommend this trio of books if you like a good mystery!