Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Monday, July 30, 2007

All Together Dead

I'm all caught up on the Southern Vampire Mysteries series, having completed All Together Dead last night. Definitely better than the last book in the series (Definitely Dead), this one centers on the vamps and a Mid-West summit meeting they are attending. Our friend Sookie is brought along for her telepathic abilities and naturally, murder and mayhem ensue. There was much more of sexy vampire Eric (thank goodness!) and though I do like Quinn, he's just not who I want Sookie to be with. This book is definitely darker than the last couple, and it ends on a bit of an emotional cliffhanger. Now I have to wait until next May (geez louise, that's a long time!) for the next installment. But by visiting the author's website, I was able to learn that HBO is planning a series called True Blood based on this series. Apparently Anna Paquin is going to play Sookie. This *might* be worth investing in HBO for.
My amazon review is found at Please visit and vote.
Now I picked up Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. Dark so far, it's an interesting premise of a teen girl who is fey, and the faeries who are tormenting her. I think it'll be a quick read.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Private Peaceful Review

I finished Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo (how's that for a name?) last night. I picked it up because it was a short read (202 pages) and looked good. And honestly, it was good, but frustrating at times. Tommo, the main character, didn't seem to make much emotional growth over the course of the book, which is set against the backdrop of World War 1. He remains childishly in love with his brother's wife throughout, to the point that I just wanted to shake him! But it is a story with a deep brotherly/family bond theme, and it does show the tragedies of trench warfare. I could easily see it being used in a U.S. history class, and I think the author did a good job with the subject matter. My amazon review can be found at: ~taminator40

Friday, July 27, 2007

Definitely Dead

I'm feeling pretty good about myself right now. I'd made a mental promise to myself to get to 45 books for the year by the end of the summer, and right now I've finished #47, Definitely Dead. For some reason at the beginning of this year, my reading had really slowed down and I'd only gotten to #25 when the summer began. So I'm officially pleased with myself that I've gone beyond my own self-imposed goal, and now I'd like to see #50 before that dreaded date of returning to school (which I'm sooooo in denial about!). Go, me!
Definitely Dead picks up the story of barmaid and telepath Sookie Stackhouse (don't you just love her name?) after the death of her estranged cousin, Hadley (who was also a vampire). Sookie is called in to clean up her cousin's estate, as well as deal with the vampire queen of Louisiana. This being our beloved Sookie (and the sixth book in the series), naturally things don't go smoothly and her life is in mortal danger a few times throughout the book. My biggest personal disappointment is the lack of relationship between Sookie and Eric the vampire (but yes, I still have a soft spot for Bill!). I suppose I like Quinn, her current squeeze (and weretiger) well enough, but he just isn't doing it for me like the vamps do. I can't get excited about a bald guy, even if I do try to picture him as looking like Chris Daughtry. I miss my vampires! However, I've got book #7 sitting here waiting for me, and it may be the next one I pick up. The preview for it at the back of this book had Sookie sitting in Eric's office with several vamps so hopefully they will be more of the focus. We'll see.
Anyway, overall I enjoyed Definitely Dead; its humor is great and the story itself is good, even if it does seem to wander a bit at times (hello? missing child sideplot? why?). I reviewed it at amazon at this link:
I picked up Private Peaceful because it's short (200 pages) and it looked good but when I was reading it this afternoon I was having to force myself on through it. :( I will finish it, but I'm not exactly enjoying it. But at least it'll be a solid #48 on my list! Hey, at least I can accomplish another goal, right?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Finishing Fearless

I finally finished Fearless by Lucia St. Clair Robson. Well, perhaps finished is not quite the right word, since I spent the last 50 pages or so just skimming to get to the end. Having read (and loved) other books by Robson, I can say this one was a big disappointment. While it had its moments, it certainly didn't live up to Ride the Wind or Mary's Land. It was just so boring in spots! There were times when I would find myself interested in Sarah Bowman, but after a while it seemed as though much of her life was repetitious. Robson's an excellent writer and usually her well-researched historical fiction just grabs me, but this one, which I read as part of my tbr_challenge, just fell a bit flat for me. I reviewed it at amazon at, giving it 3 out of 5 stars, which is probably a gift because I've enjoyed the author so much in the past. But at least I did finish it.
Next up will be the next entry in the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries, Definitely Dead. I figure I need to get away from both Harry Potter and historical fiction for a bit, and since I love this series, it will hopefully be more fun than Fearless.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Leaving Hogwarts...

Wow. I finished J.K.Rowling's 7th Harry Potter novel this afternoon. I'm exhausted! Not because it kept me up, but because of the range of emotions I've experienced since late Friday night. Anger, desperation, fear, devastation, hope, grief, jubilation...I've felt them all repeatedly. I've been hungry, tired, hexed, trapped, confused, resigned, and relieved; annoyance has festered as things didn't move as quickly as I'd hoped, and then the realization came that it couldn't have moved any quicker or the story wouldn't have come together as it did in the end. 759 pages later, I'm so grateful to have experienced this set of books, and I cannot imagine not going back to Hogwarts with Harry.

I won't go into specifics in reviewing Deathly Hallows because I know there are still people out there reading. I will say that the action toward the end is fast and furious and makes so much sense after all of the preceding books and events. Rowling must be a genius to have plotted this book out so intricately! I was a bit irritated in the first half of the book that things weren't moving faster; however, I was conscious as I read that if things did move faster, the book would end even sooner than I was dreading. Without giving anything away, I will say this is indeed a quest, and Harry faces his future with courage and fortitude. Where is the little guy we saw as he first got on the Hogwarts Express? Luckily, Rowling included enough references to him and his friends over the years that those memories kept reminding me along the way of why I love these characters and this setting so much. Keep tissues handy; Rowling tried to prepare us ahead of time for the losses but I am still reeling. Finally, the ending is what I'd hoped it would be, and I am satisfied.

I haven't reviewed this book on amazon yet; I'm waiting for all the teenyboppers who like to vote NO just to be voting to calm down and quit checking the review pages. Maybe in a couple of weeks I'll be ready to post my final thoughts on this book. I know for certain I won't be letting go of the story or the emotions. Gut-wrenching, gripping, and grand, this is a book not to be missed. Read it, savor it, then revisit Hogwarts often. I will.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Ride of Our Lives

I just finished Mike Leonard's The Ride of Our Lives and it's one I cannot recommend highly enough. Mike Leonard is a Today Show correspondent, and a few years ago he decided to rent two RVs and take his elderly parents and his kids on a cross country trip. The results were hilarious and tear-jerking and every emotion in between. The grandparents are so funny that I found myself giggling repeatedly throughout, but they are also poignant in many ways. This book celebrates family, and it's definitely going to be in my Top Ten for the year. You can check out my amazon review here:

Next up...well, I'll probably go back and read a bit more of Fearless by Lucia St. Clair Robson, a book I'd been reading before setting it aside to pick up the Leonard book. It's all secondary to waiting for HP7 anyway...


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter Mania

Harry Potter Mania. As the days creep forward to the 12:01 a.m. release of the seventh Harry Potter book this weekend, I imagine it'll become all Harry, all the time on several websites and on television. Since when has a book EVER created such a buzz? And how on earth could someone EVER believe that's a bad thing?
Well, let me give you a couple of examples of people who believe that Harry Potter is, indeed, a bad thing. A few years ago when I was teaching fifth grade, a sixth grade teacher fielded a telephone call from a parent who objected to her using the first Harry Potter book as a literature lesson in her classes. The teacher asked me if I'd listen in to the parent's arguments, and ever the nosy person, I agreed. The father, who sounded intelligent, laid out his reasons in a clear, non-threatening voice: magic is wrong, it's against his religious beliefs, witches and wizards go to hell. No, he hadn't read the books but he'd heard about them and he believed his child shouldn't be exposed. My teacher friend agreed, though she tried to reason that the books were actually about good vs. evil to no avail. No harsh words were exchanged, and a different book was procured for the student. This was around 2001 or so.
More troubling to me was a conversation I had last week with a parent as the two of us worked a parking event to raise money for our daughters' band accounts. I mentioned in passing that we'd been to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that afternoon. The mom, a very nice woman, asked me if I'd heard that the books were evil and we shouldn't allow our children to read them or to watch the movies based on them. Apparently her preacher had recently invested time and energy into denouncing the books as evil personified, complete with demons and all sorts of things which will turn our children to the devil. This lady was concerned because she'd allowed her daughter (a senior in high school) to read the books and watch the films.
I really really wanted to roll my eyes and scream, but I didn't. First and foremost, I'm against censorship, though I do agree that there are age levels that are more appropriate for some things than others. More than that, however, I'm against ignorance. So in the interest of being fair, I simply told her that my entire family had seen all the movies and so far we'd not practiced any spells, been possessed by demons, or turned away from God. (I did say this in my sweetest voice). I also said that the books were about good vs. evil, and I feel strongly that in the end, good is going to win, that love will conquer all. My final shot: Had she read fairy tales to her daughter? Those were just as scary (especially if you read the Grimm versions) and they all contained magic as well, so they'd better be shunned as well if you put aside Harry. She nodded and said she'd never felt the books or movies were bad, but what her preacher had said had made her wonder.
Wonder is a good thing, I'll add. But if you allow someone who has not read the books or seen the movies to dictate fear and unreasonable beliefs into your life, then something is wrong. Beyond all the wonderful qualities inherent in these books, anything that can get millions and millions of people so excited about READING A BOOK in this day and age simply has to be a good thing. And if you don't like them after you've read them, you're justified in your opinion. Just don't be a drone who listens to the ignorant.
All this said, I'm literally tingling with excitement to get my hands on #7. We're going to a midnight party at our local Border's, just like we did for #6. I'll hold the book tightly and race home and open it, and yes, I'll probably read the last page because I'm like that (it won't ruin the ending, I promise!). And no matter how I feel once I'm done (sad, disappointed, elated?), at least I can say it's been quite a ride and I'm glad I was there for it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Finished Two More!

I had a good afternoon today...finished two books! I admit I was a lazy slug, lying around reading with the cats napping on the bed with me, but I am glad to have whittled down Mt. TBR by two more books. And then what did I do? Go to and order another one! There MUST be something wrong with me.

Anyway, the first book I finished is a sequel to another one I'd read earlier this summer, Kilgannon by Kathleen Givens. The Wild Rose of Kilgannon picks up where the first book left off; the Jacobite rebellion has failed and Alex, our hero, is now on trial for his part. The action is fast and furious and the sex is nonexistent in this book; it is a page turner but a couple of nitpicky things just bugged me throughout. I guess I overthink when reading historical romances because I want to scream when I see inconsistencies, which is probably why I don't read as many as I used to. This one is similar in some ways to one of my favorite books, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, but really could have used a better editor. Still, not a bad read overall. Here's the link to my review on amazon:

The second book I picked up and read is called Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman. It's quite an interesting premise; it's written in journal form by Cathy, a teen whose boyfriend has just dumped her. Enlivening the reading are the massive doodles Cathy does all over the pages and a packet of "evidence" enclosed inside the front cover. I can see high school girls in particular just loving this title, and I feel safe in recommending it to my middle schoolers. It was a bit slow in parts but the uniqueness of the story makes it a good read, and I'm sure a sequel is out there being written as I type. The link to my amazon review is

Not sure what I'm picking up next as I'm keeping the release of HP7 in mind all week. I may try to get into one of my tbr_challenge books to stay ahead before school starts back, or I might continue trying to grab short but intriguing ones out of the mountain beside my bed. Guess I'll make up my mind when I get ready for sleep in a few hours. Stay posted!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Echoes in the Night Review

I'm a Titanic buff. I admit it. I'm sure it was spurred by the film, but once I got into learning more about the real disaster, my interest was piqued and I began collecting volumes of work on the subject. I don't always read as much as I'd like about the disaster, but I do check into Encyclopedia-Titanica frequently to see what's new and I try to catch all documentaries I can whenever they're on tv.
I picked up this slim volume written by Frank Goldsmith almost a year ago and decided it would make a good, quick summer-time read. While learning nothing new, I did find it interesting to read the impressions of the then 9 year old Goldsmith as he made it onto the last lifeboat launched. Mr. Goldsmith was not an author, but he did do a credible account of giving his tale, and a bonus for me was the included correspondence between his mother and some of her fellow survivors that showed the sort of aid received from many organizations but not the White Star line. I also liked reading about Goldsmith's attempts to correct the seemingly erroneous assumption that the captain of the Californian, a ship known to be in the area, deliberately chose not to go to the aid of the Titanic, thus ensuring the great loss of life. This is recommended reading for all who are still, nearly 100 years on, fascinated with this ship and its demise.

Here's the link to my amazon review:


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Do you believe in ghosts? I'm 95% sure I do, but even if I didn't, I do adore watching Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi on Wednesdays, and I like reading about others' possible encounters with the spirit world. This book, Will Storr Vs. the Supernatural, written by Will Storr, British journalist-at-large, is his take on paranormal investigation and the possibility that something else exists beyond death. Storr is not only a skeptic, he's agnostic; this adds a different dimension to his research since he grapples with his Catholic upbringing that he'd thought well behind him. So what does he surmise by the end of the book? I won't tell you (very evil grin inserted here) but I will say that lives are changed and thought processes are examined very closely. Nice and creepy, humorous and philosophical, this is a must-read for those who enjoy the possibilties of the paranormal.

The link to my amazon review can be found at:

Now I'm reading an account of the Titanic sinking from a survivor's point of view. This is a short one that likely will not be reviewed at amazon as it's lacking an ISBN number since it was published by the Titanic Historical Society. I will review it here when I finish, which should be tonight since it's very short.

Tomorrow I'll review the Harry Potter movie, which we saw today.


Monday, July 09, 2007

HP Spoiler of Doom

Sent lovingly by Gillian in Oz, here is my own personal Spoiler of Doom for Harry Potter:

My Harry Potter Spoiler of Doom is:
A man with an orange on his head joins a Beatles tribute band, as John Lennon by using ingardium Leviosa
Get your Harry Potter Spoiler of Doom


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Another Vampire Book Finished! Plus Some HP News

Yesterday I finished #5 in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Dead As a Doornail. Like all the Sookie Stackhouse books, this one was a fast, fun read. Certainly not great literature by any stretch, but the characters in these books are funny and fascinating and I'm definitely enjoying getting to know them over the course of the series. My biggest complaint about this one is the lack of Eric the Vampire...I was a Bill fan, but Eric's got me now. In fact, it's a complaint in general that the story didn't focus more on vampires, but then again, I *may* have a vampire problem. Here's my link to the amazon review:

We are all beside ourselves with excitement over the new Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. We've got tickets for the 12:30 show on Wednesday, the day it opens. I absolutely adore these books and movies. I love that the movies have had the same actors throughout for almost all the roles, with the grand exception of Dumbledore (which couldn't be helped, of course). I love seeing how these kids have grown up. It makes it all so much more believable. I love the music and the adaptations. We've spent the weekend rewatching the first three films on ABC Family, and we may try to get in the fourth film tomorrow night. I've got happy tremors just thinking about it!


Friday, July 06, 2007

On the Rack of Love

My next review is the eighth installment of Louise Rennison's Georgia Nicolson series, Love is a Many Trousered Thing. I adore this series...I have yet to read one of the books without having at least one laugh out loud moment, and often have found myself dissolved into tears as I read of Georgia and her teenage exploits. This one starts on the cliffhanger of the last one, Startled by His Furry Shorts, wherein poor Georgia, recently told by Italian Stallion Masimo that she will be his one and only, finds the original Sex God, Robbie, suddenly back from Kiwi-a-go-go land. What's a girl to do? Well, if it's Georgia, it's certain that she doesn't know! This one, while still vintage Georgia, does suffer from a bit of "I wish the story would move along a bit more", though I did still find myself giggling over her actions, especially at the beginning of the book. The camping expedition is a riot! And why on earth won't Georgia realize that Dave the Laugh is THE guy for her? Oh, well, the course of luuuuuurve is never easy.
My amazon review can be found at: It's currently the third one on the page.
Now I'm going to finish Dead As a Doornail by Charlaine Harris, and then I've got several books calling to me. Who knows which one will win in the war of t0-be-read next?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Restoration Review

As I say in my Amazon review, I very nearly wall-banged this one midway simply because the main character, Robert Merivel, seemed so self-absorbed and foolish. But I decided to give poor Robert one more chance to redeem himself, and fortunately for him (and me), he did. I would not say he completely changed his life, but it was indeed a major radical reform for a man who once believed a simple blackbird was an Indian Nightingale. Rose Tremain is a good author, whose prose keeps you engaged even when you are despising the character's lack of moral fiber. I read this one because the yahoogroup historical_favorites, of which I'm a member, is reading it soon and I figured this would be a great opportunity to get it out of Mt. TBR. And while I cannot say it's a favorite read, it was overall fairly engaging and I can recommend it to those who like historical fiction in particular.
Here's the link to my amazon review:
And now on to decidedly lighter fare--Georgia Nicolson's back in Love is a Many Trousered Thing and I'm already laughing at her fabbity-fab life. :)

Monday, July 02, 2007

The McCann Cats

Our cats are so goofy that I couldn't resist sharing a few pictures of the furbabies. They make us smile and laugh, and nobody could stay mad after cuddling with Fiona early in the morning, hearing Athena's gigantic purr, or scratching Angus's enormously healthy belly. It's so much fun to be a cat household!

Kitty slumber parties!

Athena being adorable

Angus chillin'

Fiona plays in the blinds

Dead to the World Review

Still on my vampire kick, I finished off Dead to the World by Charlaine Harris a couple of days ago. This is a really good entry in the series; Harris keeps throwing more and more supernatural creatures at us, and darn, but if those vampires don't just keep getting sexier! Sookie Stackhouse, mind-reading waitress at large, finds her ex-boyfriend's boss, Eric, alongside the road on her way home from work, and even though she's vowed to not meddle with vampires again, she can't just leave him there when it's very obvious his memory has been erased. And do things ever go smoothly for Sookie? Her brother turns up missing, a local community turns out to be full of werepanthers, and a coven of witches has moved in and is attempting to take over Area 5. Delightful as always, this book kept me turning the pages. And OF COURSE I had to make a trip to the local Borders to pick up the next 3 books in the series because I just couldn't stand knowing there were more books out there unread about Sookie and her delicious world. I'm having great fun reading this series.

Here's the link to my amazon review: