Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tammy's Top Ten Reads of 2008

When I looked over my list of books read in 2008, I found it interesting how my ratings would change if I were to give them out now. Some of the books I rated 9/10 would be lower; those stories just didn't stay with me, though I enjoyed them immensely while reading them. Then some of the books I rated 8/10 or 8.5/10 would definitely be elevated; those stories still haunt me and I find myself thinking of them regularly. Don't you just love it when a story sticks with you, so much so that months or even years later you think about the plot and the characters and wish you were reading it again for the first time? So when I looked over my list, I chose my Top Ten, not just based on the rating given at the time, but on my feelings for the book right now.

Without further ado, here is my Top Ten List of 2008, (with several teetering on the cusp of inclusion, so they were added as Honorable Mentions with capital letters):

Top Ten List of 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Time of Singing by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Agincourt by Bernard Cornwell
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Under An English Heaven by Robert Radcliffe
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
The Winter Rose by Jennifer Donnelly
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Honorable Mentions:
The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause
Beside the Burning Sea by John Shors
Molokai by Alan Brennert
Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klaasen
Caves of Perigord by Martin Walker
Stop in the Name of Pants by Louise Rennison
Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
Rumors by Anna Godbersen
Wishing you all a blessed New Year filled with love, family, and books!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod

I'm on a roll! Well, it's easy to be on a roll when you're on Christmas break. I went ahead and picked up The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer because Katherine (my equally vampire addicted daughter) wanted me to read it so she could get to it. As it turns out, it's a gem of a book that takes on the young adult vampire genre very well. I'm looking forward to the next two in the series. Fun, fun, fun.
Amazon review copied below to give you a fuller view of the book.
With the glut of young adult vampire novels available today, I am usually hopeful that when I pick up a new one, it's going to be well written and at the very least, fun. Hopeful, but cautious; many times authors tend to jump on the bandwagon of the moment without regard for the nuances and flavor that created the sensation in the first place. Luckily for me (and the legions of other vampire addicts out there), The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod lives up to the hype and kept me thoroughly entertained throughout.
Vlad Tod is in eighth grade, which would be bad enough for an awkward adolescent if he wasn't also a vampire. Since Vlad's parents died, he has lived with his "aunt" Nelly, who is able to keep him supplied in blood through her job as a nurse. The only other person who knows of Vlad's condition is his best friend Henry; otherwise, most of Vlad's problems are of the every day middle school variety: being picked on by the school bullies, loving a girl from afar, and getting homework done. But things quickly change when a new substitute takes over when one of Vlad's favorite teachers goes missing; this sub seems to somehow know more about Vlad than he should, and Vlad finds this very unsettling. With the discovery of his father's diary, Vlad realizes his being a vampire is going to be darker and more dangerous than he'd known.
Vlad is a typical 8th grader, and that's one of the things that makes this book so engaging. While Vlad has a special "condition", he is also just worried about the regular things an adolescent would be. Vlad's relationship with Henry is entirely believable and funny, and his wistful longing for the beautiful Meredith is familiar territory for most young adults.
Ms. Brewer hits just the right balance of humor and suspense throughout the novel, and she spends the correct amount of time building tension and creating possibilities. The chapters that focus on the victims of the "bad" vampire are darkly written and chilling. While I found the climax a bit unrealistically lucky for Vlad, I can truthfully say that I am looking forward to reading more in this series. The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod is great fun as well as entertaining, and a welcome addition to the young adult vampiric genre.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

I am in love with this book. The more I think about it, the more I love it. It's got everything that makes a book wonderful: lots of humor, tragedy (for a purpose), determination, courage, and writing that is so good you just want to wallow in it. If you only ever pick up one young adult book, it better be this one. It's that good.

I will copy my amazon review below. I hope you'll read this one and agree with me. I'm still smiling about this unique novel.


I wish it was possible to give a book six stars on Amazon. Or ten stars. Or a hundred stars. Not for just any book, mind you; only for those that pack such emotional wallop, humor, and writing into them that the usual scale just doesn't do them justice. The sort of book like the young adult novel The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie that just makes you immediately realize this book deserves way more than just five stars.

Arnold (also known as Junior), lives on the Spokane Native American Reservation where drinking and dysfunction are imprinted on the genes of its inhabitants. Arnold's faced a lot in his life, including being born as a hydroencephalic to well-meaning but disappointing parents. But as Arnold looks around and sees how everyone, including his older sister, has given up, something is sparked within and he becomes determined to make something of his life. So with lots of courage, Arnold talks his parents into letting him attend Reardon High School, the "white" school outside the reservation that will give him the contacts and advantages the rez school cannot.

From the moment Arnold steps into Reardon, his life changes, as he knew it would, and a lesser person would have been brought down immediately in the face of becoming an outcast on the reservation for having the nerve to think he could be "better". Life at Reardon is difficult, too; as the only Indian at the school, Arnold's got to somehow forge friendships from people very different than himself. But Arnold's not a quitter, even when he's forced to walk the distance to school because his father is either too drunk or too broke to take him; not even when his former schoolmates and their parents turn out en masse to boo and throw things when he plays basketball against the rez school. Arnold takes refuge in his skill as a cartoonist and his self-knowledge that somehow he will survive.

The story is told with liberal humor and lots of tragedy, and Arnold is a typical self-deprecating teen. Alexie's writing is the kind I'd like to actually crawl inside, it's so good. An example is when Arnold's math teacher convinces him that he can better himself: "I was starting to understand. He was a math teacher. I had to add my hope to somebody else's hope. I had to multiply hope by hope." Later, while clinging to his mother following a devastating tragedy, Arnold says: "...she held on to me for hours. Held onto me like I was a baby. And she kept crying. So many tears. My clothes and hair were soaked with her tears. It was, like, my mother had given me a grief shower, you know? Like she'd baptized me with her pain."

When you finish some books and close them, you may know you've enjoyed them by the way you're left feeling. Maybe you're smiling over a happy ending, or you're breathing hard because you've survived an action-filled climax. With The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, there will be so much more; Arnold is going to live with you in his heart-warming, hopeful manner forever. Six stars. One hundred stars. One very large star that supersedes all others. Whatever. This book is simply one of the best I've read. I cannot recommend it highly enough for people of all ages.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth

Sandra Worth's The King's Daughter picks up the story of the War of the Roses from a most unique point of view: that of Elizabeth of York, daughter of the Yorkist king Edward IV and eventual wife of the Lancastrian king, Henry Tudor (Henry VII). While at times Worth is overly flowery, I can always count on her to give me a good tale that provides glimpses into this bloody period of England's history. Following is my review.
When we think of British history and its queens, I doubt many of us will immediately think of Elizabeth of York, daughter to a king, niece to a king, sister of a king, and wife of a king. Yet without her, the War of the Roses might have continued on interminably, and her family's Tudor dynasty would not have existed. Sandra Worth has taken this obscure tragic queen and illuminated her life in her excellent historical novel, The King's Daughter.
Told from Elizabeth's point of view, Worth starts with her earliest childhood as the beloved eldest daughter of Edward IV and his queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Worth takes the view that Elizabeth Woodville was purely evil, giving her an over-the-top personality that quite honestly grated on me throughout the novel. Young Elizabeth, however, having lived through two times of frantic sanctuary, the death of her father and the disappearance of her two younger brothers, continues to try to make peace with her vitriolic mother. Indeed, making peace seems to be Elizabeth's lot in life; used as a pawn from her earliest days, she never seems destined to discover any true happiness of her own.
Worth chooses to have Elizabeth fall in love with her uncle, Richard III, which I believe to be a mistake for several reasons. The idea of an incestuous relationship between the two, while less distasteful in the 1400s than today, still gives the story an icky feeling. Plus, Richard's devotion to his wife is well known, and it would be hard to believe that he would have encouraged his niece to foster her romantic feelings for any reason. While a young girl who hasn't known much stability might have fallen for a strong older man, the sort of unending devotion Elizabeth exhibits just feels wrong.
However, Worth does do a terrific job in bringing the details of Elizabeth's life forward, and I found her portrayal of the relationship between Elizabeth and Henry Tudor very believable. Elizabeth, trained from birth to accept her fate, realizes that it's going to be up to her to find her own place in life, and if that means tolerating both Henry and his overbearing mother, she will do it in order to bring peace to the kingdom her father loved. Worth does give Elizabeth a bit more spunk and spine than I'd previously thought she might have, and I appreciated that as this is a woman I just couldn't have understood otherwise. Worth also has a way of pulling you into the time period and making you feel as though you are experiencing events firsthand. If at times her writing is overly flowery and her villains way too one-dimensional, it can be forgiven because her novels are always well written and vibrant. The King's Daughter is no exception.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Tradition #1

When Hannah was very little, Jeff started the Christmas tradition of baking and decorating Christmas cookies with her. She often ended up covered in flour and icing, but she was always pleased to have her own cookies to offer Santa on Christmas Eve. After Katherine was born, she also became involved in this annual tradition, and if we thought Hannah was a messy "cook", Katherine literally took the cake (and the cookie and pretty much everything else). We have a memorable picture of Katherine shirtless while decorating because we'd finally realized more was going onto her pajamas than on the cookies. But she was happy.

Tonight was the 2008 version of cookie decorating. You'd think that at age seventeen, Hannah'd be bored with the whole episode, but oh no. The only thing she's "bored" with is her mother with camera in hand, capturing the moment again for posterity. You don't let 17 Christmases (we don't count the first one) go without recording the moment, regardless of what she complains about. In fact, she was downright surly at first about having her picture made until I threatened to post it to Facebook. Cooperation guaranteed.

Jeff's a great dad, and he's always right in there with them. I suspect that even after Hannah goes off to college next fall, she'll come home ready to decorate Christmas cookies. And there I'll be, camera in hand, ready to capture the moment once again.
Life doesn't get much better than this.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fetching? Well, no, actually...

I wish I'd loved The Fetch because I adored Laura Whitcomb's first novel, A Certain Slant of Light. Unfortunately, I had to push myself through this one which I chose to review for Amazon Vine. Confusing, boring at times, even perplexing; I have to wonder who the editor was that let Ms. Whitcomb publish such a great premise without great execution. It's not that it's so poorly done; it's more that it could have been so much more.
I've decided that rather than posting a link to my Amazon reviews, I'm just going to copy them here, noting that they are also found on Amazon. I'd still like you to visit Amazon to vote if you feel like it, but with Amazon's bizarre method of counting positive votes these days, I'm just not seeing the point of directing everyone there. So below you'll see my full review with details (is that like "with bells on"? Food for thought there).
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb
The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb has a terrific premise: Calder, a Fetch (those sent from heaven to "fetch" a dying soul to the next stage), glimpses a beautiful young woman one night as he steps through a Death Door, and finds himself unaccustomedly enamored. When he's summoned back to the same place just a few years later, he becomes even more intrigued--so much so, that not too long after that, he does the unthinkable, breaking his Vows and "borrowing" the corpse of a soul he's been sent to fetch in order to meet this young woman. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that not only is the woman not who he thought she was, he's now inside the body of the feared and despicable Rasputin, friend and manipulator of Russia's last czar and his family. How Calder not only protects but helps the czar's two youngest children after the dreadful executions, but also how he tries to repair the discontinuity his jumping into Earth gives this book a superb plot with lots of promise. Unfortunately, the promise goes unfulfilled for the most part. Laura Whitcomb has a gift for words, but I wish she had written a stronger novel. The Fetch has some gorgeous imagery and the idea of Calder, Ana, and Alexis needing to find Calder's Fetch Key seemed to be a good idea for action that should've kept me on the edge of my seat. Instead, the trio's trip around the world seemed interminable, with lots of repetition and some very confusing appearances by random demons and other Fetches. The characters felt distant; I never got the sense that I actually got inside their skins so I could understand them. The side stories held much potential, yet after turning pages excitedly to see what was coming, I was let down by either the non-action or the odd anti-climax. The ending itself left much to be desired; it's almost as though I was led to a scene expecting something momentous and was handed an abrupt, gentle solution. And the much-touted romance? Well, let's just say I didn't experience a true connection between the characters so I found it confusing and improbable. Not everything in this story is a let down, though. I did genuinely like Calder, and I could understand his self-doubt. I liked the glimpses into his life as a Fetch, and whenever he experienced supernatural reactions, I felt like the story was coming alive. I liked that the story was set in Russia with the Romanovs, and I liked that Whitcomb gave us another possibility for the tragic end of Ana and Alexis. An author's note at the end detailing some of the background to the real history would have been helpful; not everyone will understand the personna of Rasputin so I fear even more of the plot will be lost to young fans. I also think my final analysis of The Fetch suffers because of my deep adoration of Whitcomb's first novel, A Certain Slant of Light. The end result of my finishing this novel is that I'm left pondering what might have been had the story been fleshed out a bit; overall it's not a bad read, but it could have been so much more. Color me a bit disappointed, though I'll probably still look for Ms. Whitcomb's next book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Time Wasters

Because the only thing going slower than the minutes ticking by to indicate freedom in the form of winter break is my reading of Laura Whitcomb's The Fetch, I've decided I must share some holiday frivolity with everyone. So here is not one, but two fun time wasters to indulge in until I eventually finish this book (which generally isn't bad, but I'm pretty let down, honestly, especially since I adored her A Certain Slant of Light).

Snow Globe (I'm having to insert the url as blogger is for some bizarre reason, inserting a in front of every link I try to insert...oh joy). I like to pretend it's my 8th graders flying around inside. Be sure and watch the scenario happening inside as well...the snowman is pretty carnivorous.

Make-a-Snowflake (My classes had tons of fun with this one today. You'd think 8th graders would scoff at such childish fun, but oh no. They ate it up. I have to say, they made some truly coolio designs that I wish I could duplicate).

~taminator40 (brain dead and exhausted)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

My newest review is of the Vine book, Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (think that's her real last name? I'm doubtful). I chose this one from the Amazon Vine program because it's young adult (a favorite of mine) and it contains vampires (also a favorite...oh, come on, you knew that). It turned out to be a good choice. After a bit of a rocky start (I disliked how Lucius, the vampire, spoke in the beginning--I'm not big on fake snobbery), I found myself very caught up in the action.

Short synopsis? Jessica Packwood is just starting her senior year of high school when a very odd exchange student (who happens to be wearing a velvet jacket/cape), turns up, seeming to be stalking her. While that alone would freak a girl out, when Lucius shares the fact that he's actually a vampire, and she is too, Jessica becomes determined to not give in to his charms. Lucius has been sent to woo Jessica because their parents signed a pact eighteen years before that would unite both their vampiric families and bring peace to the vampire nation. Jessica's having none of it, though--she's got her sights set on hottie Jake and she's certainly not going to honor some weird pact her biological parents signed.

The story is action filled, and the author does a terrific job of building tension between the two. Jessica slowly realizes her heart is changing, but unfortunately, so does Lucius; the twists are unique as the couple finds their way to one another. I didn't care for the climax so much because I felt it was very abrupt, but in general this is a delightful book that achieved its purpose: it kept me turning the pages and engaged in the lives of its main characters.

A fuller review of mine can be found at amazon at I'm glad I chose this book, and it's good to be able to recommend a teen vampire novel to those who love Twilight.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Another Mother's Life

Another Mother's Life is a book I picked up from the Vine program through Amazon. I'd read Rowan Coleman's earlier novel, The Accidental Mother earlier this year and enjoyed it, so I was eager to get this one to see if it compared favorably. Good news: it's another good one!
Coleman sets us up with two best friends, Alison and Catherine, reuniting after fifteen years. Only of course this isn't just a "glad to see you again" meeting; the last time the women saw each other was when they were seventeen and Alison was running away with Catherine's lover, Marc. Devastated by the loss of both boyfriend and best friend, Catherine tried to move on with her life, eventually marrying musician Jimmy Ashley and having two daughters. But just as her marriage to Jimmy is coming to an end, Alison and Marc (along with their three children) arrive back in the town of Farmington hoping to "start over". Can the women overcome the betrayals of fifteen years ago? Should they? Or should Catherine try to have revenge by sleeping with Marc now?
There are some pretty big cliches in this novel (women friends falling out over a man, infidelity, and confusion about what's best in the long run, coupled with children tragedies), but it's to Coleman's credit that she can make you care for people who really aren't all that loveable when you get down to it. I should've despised Alison, not just for what she did so long ago, but what she continued to do throughout the novel; her blind devotion to her family made her overlook what the real tragedy was. Catherine's wishy-washy personality should've put me over the edge, but again, I liked her. Coleman has a way of getting you to understand the deep-seated insecurities her characters face and make you want to befriend them.
I did a fuller review for Amazon at While this is chick lit, it's pretty good and I can recommend it for the writing and characterization. I'll be looking for Coleman's next novel.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Once a LOTR Fan, Always a LOTR Fan

I first saw The Fellowship of the Ring in the theatre in January 2002, about a month after it came out. I hadn't read the books at that point, but I knew I'd probably like it since I was a big Harry Potter fan and this seemed similar in some respects. I had no idea, however, just how much I'd love not only the first movie, but the following two. Well cast, well acted, fairly true to the books (which I did read, btw), with some of the best fight scenes ever filmed and wonderfully quotable lines ("Don't talk to it; don't encourage it" has been our mantra about the elder daughter since seeing The Two Towers). Anyway, TNT is showing the trilogy this weekend, beginning tonight with Fellowship of the Ring (Jeff's favorite), followed by The Two Towers tomorrow night (Hannah's favorite), and concluding with Return of the King (mine and Katherin's favorite) on Sunday. And yes, I'll be watching all three again. And I'm sure once again I'll be amazed at Peter Jackson's vision and ability to bring to life a world I wish I could inhabit.

Monday, November 24, 2008

28 Reasons the Movie Twilight Is Better Than the Book

While we all know this isn't strictly true, it is funny. And any time I can gaze at pictures of Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, that's fine by me. (Yes, I'm a dirty old woman--so sue me).

28 Reasons That ‘Twilight’ the Movie Is Better Than ‘Twilight’ the BookThese are very funny and total spoilers. So if you have seen the movie, check it out. If not, avoid.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saw Twilight Last Night...

...and I loved it! I have to admit to being a little worried that it wouldn't live up to the book, and that fear was only heightened when two of Hannah's friends came out of the theatre as we were waiting to go in and said it was pretty cheesy. But once the film started to roll, I got caught up almost immediately.

The film is very well cast. Robert Pattinson is perfectly cast as Edward. He's got the intense stare that sends chills up your spine, and the scenes where he saves Bella keep you on the edge of your seat. In fact, all the characters are perfect---if only Bella didn't blink 5000 times a minute, I'd probably have no gripes whatsoever. The girls and I agreed that Emmett is our next favorite, with Jasper being almost hilarious with his new "vegetarianism". I found the scene where the Cullens are trying to cook in their kitchen for the first time just for Bella so touching as well as funny, and that can be laid at the feet of the terrific cast. Charlie, Bella's dad, is wonderful and believable. And, hot, hot. Evil, but hot. Not a bad combination, actually.

The scenery is gorgeous and the action is great. Our favorite scenes (the subject of much debate on the ride home) included the ones where Edward first saves Bella from the van, Edward saves Bella from the gang, and Edward and Bella arrive at school together for the first time. Oh, and the first kiss between Bella and Edward? Worth the price of admission alone.

There is some cheesy dialogue, though honestly it's mostly the dialogue that is lifted straight from the book. I personally dislike Carlisle's hair--it looks like a helmet--even if I loved Carlisle. The scene where Edward is sucking the venom from Bella's arm gives him a very weird facial expression--that certainly could've been done better. And the girls didn't like the initial reaction of Edward having to sit next to Bella in the lab--they felt that was done for too much comic effect. I liked it, though. And while Edward does indeed glitter, somehow it wasn't quite as I'd pictured it, though it's not bad.

The music adds quite a bit to the overall effect of the film, and the action and special effects are well done. We're set up for a sequel at the end, but of course we knew that going in.

My unbiased opinion, then? Go see it. In a theatre full of teenaged girls and their moms (and one truly heroic dad, who stood in line ahead of us for over an hour, holding places for his wife and daughter), you could've heard a pin drop 95% of the time. While of course Twilight had a built-in audience going in, I can easily say that it lives up to its potential and I was more than pleasantly surprised. I'm going to go again. That's a pretty big recommendation, in my book.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Celebrating Life

Koudelka, Robert Eugene “Bob”, age 43, of Mt. Juliet, TN, died November 11, 2008. Bob was a 1983 graduate of Mt. Juliet High School and an employee of Bridgestone for 20 years. He was an airplane pilot and was working on obtaining his helicopter pilot license.

He is survived by:
Parents - Charles and Carolyn Koudelka of Mt. Juliet, TN
Brother - James E. “Jim” (Diane) Koudelka of Mt. Juliet, TN
Nephew and niece - J.C. Koudelka and Nicole (Andrew) Cropsey
Uncle - Wes (DeVota) Koudelka of Cedar Rapids, IA
Aunts - Charlotte Loyd of Hermitage, TN and
Martha Koudelka of Mt. Juliet, TN
Cousins - Fred (Cathy) Koudelka,
Tammy (Jeff) McCann, Carol Wilson,
Kay (Tom) Oloff and Scarlett Kellar
His dogs - Xenia, Herra, Gus and Princess and
His friends from Nobel Air Aviation

Memorial services will be conducted 2 p.m. Sunday, November 23, 2008 at the Cracker Barrel Corporate Hanger located at the Lebanon Municipal Airport, 760 Franklin Road, Lebanon, TN.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to New Leash on Life, P.O. Box 247, Lebanon, TN 37088-0247.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Manyof you know that my cousin Bob has been missing and presumed dead in a helicopter crash for over a week now. Today we received confirmation of his death when his body was found in the lake about two miles from where the copter was last seen. No sign yet of the helicopter itself, but our relief at the discovery of the body is tremendous.

My father in law called this evening and I told him about finding Bob. His immediate reaction was one of sadness and sympathy. I may have shocked him a bit because my reaction is one of pure relief and yes, even some happiness. Unless you've had a close relative missing for an extended period, I don't think you can understand. It's the not knowing that drives you bonkers. You may realize in your heart that he's gone but unless you have a body, you just don't know. There's something about the material presence of the empty shell that gives a certain comfort--and dare I say it?--closure. It doesn't really matter how it happened at this point, but now we can go forward and grieve. Before we were hanging, unsure, always on edge.

A friend questioned me on the word "closure". She doesn't think it's an apt description and maybe it's not. But for lack of a better term, it does fit. When you don't know where your loved one is, your imagination continually plays scenarios. You imagine awful things (yes, there are things worse than death). When you know, really truly know, where your loved one is, there is some sense of closure. The life itself may be over, but you have a place you can go to grieve, and a sense that it really is only a body, and your loved one is now hopefully far beyond such trivialities we all face on a daily basis. It's hell, not knowing. Really, truly hell.

My cousin was almost exactly a year younger than me; his older brother is almost exactly one year older. The three of us often celebrated our birthdays together growing up (the November babies!) and while we had our disagreements (most notably his strong dislike of Obama), we stayed in touch via email and IM. From the annoying cousin I remembered as a teen, Bob and I developed a relatively close relationship in the past few years as we chatted frequently online. Sometimes he sent me truly idiotic emails and sometimes he'd surprise me with the depth of his feelings. I looked forward to his personal emails on every holiday wishing us all well, telling us to be safe, reminding us that he loved us. And whenever he IM'd me, I was "hey, cuzzo". I'm so sad I won't see that salutation on my screen from my favorite redneck cousin, sillyhillbillybob. Should I delete that email address? Or do I need to keep it so I can smile at the thought of my cuzzo who loved his very different cousin?

I'm sad but I'm relieved, and I hope his parents can receive some closure to these desperate hours. I hope his older brother, who walked the shores of the lake daily while Bob was missing, can fondly remember his goofy younger brother's laugh instead of the fear of the unknown he felt. I hope my brother who felt like Bob was a brother he didn't have can repeat the dumb jokes Bob told and remember with a smile how anal Bob was. I hope those who had issues with Bob can put those aside and realize that that redneck harbored a heart of gold which loved all of his family. I hope he's surrounded now by all his dear animal friends. And I hope I will get to see him again someday.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Blackstone Key

The Blackstone Key by Rose Melikan is my latest review book, and I wish I had a glowing review for it. It's not that it's a bad book by any means; there are parts of it that move quickly and kept me interested. But overall the book was just so unfocused! At times it read like an Austen novel, complete with romantic innuendo and intrigue, and then it would switch over to mystery mode, which I found at times confusing and at times just plain boring. A more focused approach might have given the story a fluid storyline; instead I was bounced between romance and mystery without either being woven well into the other. Among my other gripes is that just when the "Austen-ish" feel would take over, the gentlemen would begin cursing in front of the lady, something so out of the time customs that it would just jerk me out of the story. Plus I kept feeling as though it was set in the wrong time period; the Austen-ish (I hate to keep using that word, but that's how it seemed) feel made it seem as though it should have been fifteen-twenty years later than 1795, but the necessity of the war between France and Britain kept it from that setting. Does that make sense? Probably about as much sense to you as reading it did to me....

It's not a bad book. I need to keep reiterating that. It's just that it's not what I was expecting, and beyond that, it didn't live up to its potential. I can accept historial mystery, and I can accept historical romance, but when they should be woven seamlessly and they aren't, it just drags the book down.

I have a much fuller review available on amazon at


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ah, the Black Dagger Brotherhood....

Gotta love the old brain candy! J.R. Ward's Lover Awakened is book number 3 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and it focuses on the tortured vampire Zsadist, and his turburlent past which, naturally, affects his future. Lots of violence, lots of sex, lots of making peace with yourself...Z must find that is all right for him to love others and to rely on them. Standard stuff, and yet Ward manages to give us surprises along the way.
I won't rehash my entire amazon review here, but I will say that sometimes, brain candy is the best thing you can have, especially when your life in general sucks. Visit to see a fuller review...and prepare to be bitten by the vamps' powerful stories.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is supposedly young adult, but it's sure to please anyone who enjoys a fun, creepy tale. I love the world Gaiman created, and I love the characters, both dead and alive, who inhabit it. I want to live in a graveyard...alive, though, just like Bod Owens, the young toddler who escapes a murderer's knife by leaving his crib just in time and toddling off to the graveyard across the street. When the dead there discover the baby, they decide they are going to raise him. With the help of the mysteriously undead Silas, Bod (short for Nobody) is given the Freedom of the Graveyard and learns valuable skills such as Fading and Dreamwalking as today's modern world passes him by.

I loved the atmosphere of this book; Gaiman has such a gift of bringing odd characters to life and creating dark worlds for them to inhabit. This book is engaging and sly, and adventures abound for young Bod. There's excitement, there's tragedy, there's a tad of romance, there's name it, it's there. I can't recommend this one highly enough! Perfect for this time of year, it's going to delight you no matter when you decide to pick it up.

Here's the link to my fuller amazon review: Oh, and by the way, with amazon's new system of ranking reviewers, I am now #247. Go, me! It's sort of a mysterious, shady way of ranking reviewers, but hey, I got another tag out of it so I figure that's my reward. I just enjoy posting my thoughts about the books I read.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ah, The Sweet Smell of Brain Candy!

I'm a firm believer that sometimes, you just need some brain candy. Right now, I *want* to read Sharon Kay Penman's The Devil's Brood, and I will at some point. But my overloaded brain just didn't want to concentrate on keeping all the history straight, and I knew I wouldn't be giving it the attention it deserves. into the land of sex and vampires with The Black Dagger Brotherhood! My friend Beth (moonivy) loaned me the first in the series, Dark Lover, which I read almost a year ago. Of course, being me, I picked up the next 5 soon thereafter, fully intending to read them ASAP. Naturally, it's taken me until now to get back to them.

I loved this book! It's not literature by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a page turner, and the storyline features damaged characters who connect on lots of levels. For a "lighter" read, there was actually some pretty emotional issues faced, including cancer, death, and pain. Despite the rather goofy names --Rhage, Phury, Wrath--these are characters who interact realistically and sweep me away, which is just what a good book is supposed to do.

I'm never going to apologize for reading something which intrigues and interests me, no matter how light or even silly. There's just moments when you *need* to be somewhere else, and concentration shouldn't be a major requirement. It's probably pointless for me to say that I'm going for Book # 3 just as soon as I finish the YA novel posted at the top of this page.

Nothing like the sweet smell of brain candy just when it's needed most, people.

Amazon review? I got one! Here it is:


Monday, October 13, 2008

Amazingly, I Am...

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Bette!


You are a Bette -- "I must be strong"

Bettes are direct, self-reliant, self-confident, and protective.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Stand up for yourself... and me.

  • * Be confident, strong, and direct.

  • * Don't gossip about me or betray my trust.

  • * Be vulnerable and share your feelings. See and acknowledge my tender, vulnerable side.

  • * Give me space to be alone.

  • * Acknowledge the contributions I make, but don't flatter me.

  • * I often speak in an assertive way. Don't automatically assume it's a personal attack.

  • * When I scream, curse, and stomp around, try to remember that's just the way I am.

What I Like About Being a Bette

  • * being independent and self-reliant

  • * being able to take charge and meet challenges head on

  • * being courageous, straightforward, and honest

  • * getting all the enjoyment I can out of life

  • * supporting, empowering, and protecting those close to me

  • * upholding just causes

What's Hard About Being a Bette

  • * overwhelming people with my bluntness; scaring them away when I don't intend to

  • * being restless and impatient with others' incompetence

  • * sticking my neck out for people and receiving no appreciation for it

  • * never forgetting injuries or injustices

  • * putting too much pressure on myself

  • * getting high blood pressure when people don't obey the rules or when things don't go right

Bettes as Children Often

  • * are independent; have an inner strength and a fighting spirit

  • * are sometimes loners

  • * seize control so they won't be controlled

  • * figure out others' weaknesses

  • * attack verbally or physically when provoked

  • * take charge in the family because they perceive themselves as the strongest, or grow up in difficult or abusive surroundings

Bettes as Parents

  • * are often loyal, caring, involved, and devoted

  • * are sometimes overprotective

  • * can be demanding, controlling, and rigid

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Friday, October 10, 2008


Untamed by P.C. and Kristin Cast is book #4 in the House of Night series about a school for vampyres and their unusually gifted fledgling, Zoey Redbird. This one picks up almost immediately after the last one, Chosen; Zoey's lost three boyfriends (we should all be so lucky) and her group of friends because she's been keeping secrets. Big secrets. Of course it was for their own good, but it takes more than a little explaining for her group to forgive her. Added to that is that the High Priestess Neferet is obviously planning something evil and it seems that only Zoey can stop her. Mix in some undead red fledglings, a most unusual friendship with former rival Aphrodite, the arrival of former love Erik as her instructor, a relationship with a Benedictine nun, and a beloved grandmother in mortal danger, and Zoey's having a bit of a stressful week.
I love this series, though at times it stretches into the teen angst category. But my little nitpicky gripe is really a non-issue because I'm hooked. This one ends on a major cliff hanger and I have to know what's coming next. Unfortunately I have to wait until next March for the next entry. Stupid writers, lol. Why can't they give me the next one now? I'm waiting on pins and needles here.
You can read my review on amazon at While there, check out my friend Stephanie's review which is one of the top three. She's done a great job!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bitter Disappointment

I'm really sad right now. It follows on the heels of disbelief and anger, so I guess I'm going through the stages of grief or something. It sure is a bitter pill to swallow, though, when someone you love and respect turns out to be not the person you thought they were.

I'm speaking of my brother.

I love my brother. He's younger than me by three years and we are as different as night and day. I'm short, he's tall; I went on to higher education and he cut his losses and went to auto diesel college; I had to move away from my mom and he built a house on her property. But he's a great guy who would do anything for you and works himself to death. We share a common sense of humor (thanks, Dad!). While we fought like cats and dogs as children, we are good friends now.

Except that this afternoon my mother very casually announced during our daily phone call that she thought my brother had gone to the same side politically as my uncle. Friends, this is NOT a good thing. She said my brother had told her he wasn't going to vote this year because he didn't like either candidate but he certainly couldn't vote for Obama because he's a Muslim.

Friends, he has heard out of my mouth the words "Obama is not a Muslim." And yet he's clinging to misinformation and ignorance.

I am so disappointed and I told my mom so. She said she just didn't say anything when he made the announcement, which honestly was probably the best response. I'm 95% sure Mom is an Obama supporter so I'm sure it was difficult for her to think her son is reacting this way.

If he had a true beef with Obama, that would be one thing. If he genuinely liked McCain and felt he'd be the better candidate, I could live with it. But if he's using an untruth as his basis for his opinion, and then throwing away his opportunity to vote because of it, then he's not the man I thought he was.

I'm an impulsive person so of course I wanted to immediately call and confront him but I restrained myself admirably and simply went on a rant to my husband. Jeff's the voice of reason and he told me he is sure my brother is getting his information from the uninformed. Of course he is. But how can he live like that? We weren't raised that way. My father in particular gave people a fair shake and gathered his own facts.

So now I'm just sad. There's a lump in my throat thinking that my brother has succumbed to "red-neckitis" and ignorance. He says he's a Christian and attends church every Sunday. If that's so, then how can he judge others so carelessly? I want better for him and I expect better of him. I still love him, but I'm sad for him.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Time of Singing

Reading a new Elizabeth Chadwick novel is always a treat, and The Time of Singing is no exception. This is the story of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk during the time of Henry II, and his wife Ida, who was a former reluctant mistress to said Henry. Chadwick follows Bigod as he grows from a young man who defies his father through the years when he struggled to regain his earldom and finally into the early time of King John's reign. As a stand-up man who had a bit of a thing for elaborate headgear (insert large grin here), Bigod springs to life under Chadwick's excellent writing skills. I can never recommend her novels enough, and this one is no exception. Unfortunately at this time, The Time of Singing isn't available in the U.S., but it's well worth the cost to obtain a copy through Historical fiction isn't being written today by anyone better than Elizabeth Chadwick. She very much deserves to be as popular as Philippa Gregory, and in my humble opinion, even more so.
I'm the first to review TTOS on! Follow this link to learn a bit more about this outstanding piece of historical fiction:
What to read next? Whatever it is, it'll pale in comparison.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Stuff I Don't Want To Do

Forthwith I will list several things I am compelled to do on a regular basis that I cannot stand to do:

  • Get up before ten a.m.
  • Massage egos at work (of people who are old enough to know better)
  • Tell kids to stop talking during class
  • Hall duty
  • Fend off f'in bladder infections
  • Pick up shoes left all over the house
  • Grade papers, power points, and various other stuff
  • Listen to whining
  • Vacuum
  • Eat fast food
  • Rein in the sarcasm
  • Sweat
  • Listen to crappy top 40 girl singers
  • Miss favorite tv shows
  • Explain the same thing over and over and over and over and over
  • Fix other people's messes
  • Laundry
  • Pay bills

I am sure I will think of 30 more things once I end this post. I am in a foul mood. Can you tell?


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

I'll preface this review with the cool fact that I met Laurie Halse Anderson a few years ago when our then librarian was able to convince her to come to our school (Croft Middle) to speak to small groups of students. She did the neatest little activity with the kids--she had them randomly list some words and then tell them they could make a story out of them. I loved it. She's a nice, personable lady, and if I hadn't already liked her before, I was really impressed after I saw her in action.
I scooped up Anderson's newest novel, Chains, when our now librarian received it as an ARC a couple of weeks ago. I don't think I've ever been disappointed in a book by Anderson, and this one is no exception. Set during the Revolutionary War, we meet Isabel, an 11 year old (I think) slave who has hopes that she and her younger sister Ruth will be set free as promised upon the death of their mistress. Instead, the mistress's scurrilous nephew not only refuses to free the sisters, he almost immediately sells them to a thoroughly disagreeable woman from New York City. Thus Isabel and her "simple" sister find themselves at the mercy of a mean Loyalist; orphaned and far from home, Isabel plots how to escape while dodging her mistress's hand and insults. Added to her circumstances is Isabel's worry over her little sister's "fits", and this worry is not unfounded; when the mistress discovers Ruth in a spasm, she becomes convinced that the child is possessed by the devil and sells her away from Isabel.
Isabel is a strong character for one so young; she knows her own mind, and secretly educated, she is able to realize what is going on around her in the Loyalist household. Isabel must decide if she's going to use the information she learns to aid the Patriots or the British; uppermost in her mind at all times is what will happen to she and her sister if she is caught. While I was horrified at how Isabel was treated, I was also humbled by her courage and through Anderson's gift of words, able to see her soul of survival even when Isabel herself was having trouble doing so.
Anderson has a way of pulling you into the mind of her characters, and whether historical or modern, you can sense the tension and emotions as the plot unfolds. Though I wondered at times whether Isabel would have thought or done some of the things she did, I felt that Anderson did a very credible job of building suspense and recreating the world of the American Revolution. As usual, Anderson has given us another page turner, and I can easily see many teachers of American history looking for this book as a supplement to their classes. Well written and well executed, Chains brings us the daily life of one small girl who makes a huge difference in a time when she shouldn't have been able to. Recommended!
No Amazon review yet; this one's not available for review until it's officially published.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to Ditch Your Fairy Review

How to Ditch Your Fairy is a delightful read! I grabbed it as an ARC from our school librarian last week because I'd *thought* I'd heard something good about it on a book list, though I wasn't sure from the book description that it'd be something I would enjoy. I don't know what I was worried about! It's truly delightful from the first pages when we're introduced to Charlie of New Avalon (where most everyone has a fairy). Poor Charlie's fairy? A parking fairy! Which might possibly come in handy if you're old enough to drive, but is totally bogus when you're a student at the Sports high school and all you want is for the new boy to notice you. So Charlie develops a plan with another girl for a fairy switch...all the while trying to avoid accumulating more demerits and keeping up with school work, and practice. We get updates at the beginning of each chapter a la' Bridget Jones as to Charlie's status for the moment, and it's truly hilarious to see what ensues when Charlie and new friend Fiorenze decide to take things into their own hands.
If you get a chance to read this one, don't pass it up. It's a gem! And while I could nit-pick (who on earth uses "tooth sucking" as much as this author does??), it's really a fun novel that pulls you in and keeps you turning those pages. And really, what reader could ask for more?
Check out my amazon review at and vote if you enjoy it. I reserve my more in-depth reviews for that particular stage.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Longing Review

I admit it...I like stories set in the Amish country. There's just something about the Amish, the fact that they don't need or want us, that fascinates me. I'm fascinated by the lifestyle and the traditions which seem so foreign to us Englishers. I suppose that's why I continue to pick up Beverly Lewis's works whenever a new book comes out. The Longing is the third in the Courtship of Nellie Mae Fisher trilogy, and it brings the series to a satisfying, if very predictable, close.
The second book in the series left me hanging and ready to move on, and this entry picks up the story nicely. Nellie Mae is mourning the loss of her younger sister Suzy and the ending of her relationship with Caleb, who doesn't believe in the New Order Amish church Nellie's found so intriguing. Nellie's also worried about her older sister Rhoda who has left the Plain life, and her friend Rosanna who has had many miscarriages and has lost her adopted twins. My biggest complaint is that Lewis is often times overly preachy in my view, but once I can get past her need to constantly quote scripture, I can find a good tale set in a place I don't understand but enjoy reading about.
One caveat for Mrs. Lewis, however; it'd be truly nice if she found a different formula for her next series of books. I felt there wasn't much difference in this trilogy than Annie's People, with the Christian situations being very similar. I much preferred her series on Abraham's Daughters which gave us some very different themes. My full Amazon review can be found at I hope you'll decide to visit the site and vote. And now blogger is acting weirdly when I try to hit enter, so I'll just sign off here as ~taminator40.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I picked up Necking by Chris Salvatore recently while in Borders just looking around. The cover was probably the selling point for me; love those long red nails (though quite honestly, they really don't play into the story at all). Of course with my love for vampires, the idea of a book publicist who caters to the undead sounded just like something I'd love to read. So, consider this an impulse buy (which, as we all know, sometimes works out and sometimes doesn't).
Overall, I liked Necking. It certainly isn't literary, but it served the vampire purpose; young take charge professional falls for the hot sexy vampire manager of her newest sensation and must decide what she is willing to do in order to be with him. There's lots and lots of sexual tension, and lots of actual sex as well. The two main characters play well off one another, but the detour into a side story of revenge was not only unnecessary but more than a little unfocused (and way too easily solved). I really disliked what Gia the publicist does to her parents; I think the author did a disservice in not finding some other way for her lovers to be together that wasn't so cruel. In fact, I'm still not sure why Gia couldn't simply tell her parents. It's not like they'd give her secret away as long as she's happy. Anyway, I was hoping for more depth; while the banter is good, this isn't a book that's going to stay with me very long.
Biggest gripe? The number of typos! If there was an editor, he or she needs a serious performance review. Lots and lots of misplaced quotation marks which caused me to reread sentences to garner just who was speaking, and sometimes entire words were missing that made the sentence make absolutely no sense as read. The worst? I think it was around page 261 or so when the word "silver" is written "sliver" not once but twice. I had to go back over the paragraphs a few times to believe that yes, indeedy, I was reading it as written. As a casual reader, this would bug me. As a grammarian, it drove me freaking nuts. This wasn't an uncorrected proof, for crying out loud; I paid good money for it and I feel like someone didn't do his/her job. Buyer beware.
My full amazon review (which bumped Harriet Klausner's off the main part of the page--yeah me!) is found at Visit and read if you are looking for more specifics on what I thought of this book.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Beside a Burning Sea Review

Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors has a unique premise among books set in World War Two. After the medical ship Benevolence is torpedoed and sunk in the South Pacific, nine people make it to the shore of a nearby island. There was only supposed to be one: the one who betrayed the ship to the Japanese who sank it.
This is a book about relationships above all else. The captain, Joshua, and his wife Isabelle, both have survived, but has their relationship? The large crewman Jake and Ratu, who was a stowaway, find in each other a relationship that neither realized was missing in their lives. And all of the castaways must come to terms with the gentle Japanese prisoner of war, Akira, who recites poetry but whose past is filled with horrific war atrocities. Do they allow him to become a valued member of the group as they await rescue, or should they continue to treat him as the POW he truly is?
This is a wonderful book though a bit slow at times. The ending leaves you wondering what happens next...some of the relationships obviously need more explanation. Be prepared to have a box of Kleenex nearby as the story progresses, and treat yourself to Shors' rich language and a gorgeous setting fraught with hatred, humanity, and love.
My amazon review (much fuller in length and explanation) can be found at Please visit and vote if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sad News...

This just makes me sad...I don't know what the "leaker" thought would be accomplished, but I doubt it was Meyer completely putting the book on hold.

I hope you're happy, Leaker Person. I know I'm not.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ghosts Among Us

If I were in an analytical mood, I'd begin to wonder why it is that in the past few years, I've become very interested in the paranormal, but I suppose the truth is that I've *always* been interested in things that go bump in the night. Those things used to terrify me, but as I've gotten older, I find myself ever more fascinated. Besides watching Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi religiously (Hey, Tango!), I've found myself reading more fiction and non-fiction, hoping to lift that veil that divides the known and unknown.

To that end, I picked up Ghosts Among Us by James Van Praagh after my friend Sharon sent it to me. Van Praagh's a pretty well known medium, and is also co-producer of The Ghost Whisperer on CBS (a show I don't currently's a Jennifer Love Hewitt problem). Anyway, I was hoping for, and received, several stories from Van Praagh of people he's met and helped, and lots of reasons to believe that he's telling the truth when he says he speaks with the dead. Good stuff in general, but Van Praagh lost me when he began describing his version of the after-life--not that I totally disregard his version, but I just wasn't all that interested. And when he got into energy levels and chahkras, my eyes glazed over. My skepticism hit a high note when he named Abraham Lincoln as one of his spirit guides...well, I guess it *could* be true, though it seemed too over-the-top for me.

I will say that after having read copious notes from my friend Susan about her experiences with her psychic friend Alison and the Akashic record, Van Praagh's version of spirit guides and "reincarnation" line up almost exactly. In my book, that lends a lot of credence to Van Praagh's words.

Ghosts Among Us is very readable and it's obvious Van Praagh is a good storyteller. After finishing this one, though, I will say I prefer Allison Du Bois's style of writing and her ability to stick to one topic throughout a book.

My Amazon review is found at


Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Olympics

The Olympics will finally come to a close tomorrow, and I will finally find time to read again. Since they started on 8/8/08, I've spent many, many hours glued to my television, watching everything from basketball to gymnastics to diving to track and field to lots and lots of swimming, and pretty much everything in between. The Olympics have been on when I've gotten up in the mornings and they are still going when I finally click off the tv late at night. I've missed many hours of sleep as I was riveted to ladies gymnastics (Nastia Liukin was robbed, I tell ya) and beach volleyball, but I still wouldn't trade the time I invested. I also found time during my planning period at school to flick on the tube and catch some equestrian events and rhythmic gymnastics, and I even provided soccer updates to our two p.e. teachers. Hey, we're Americans, and we're nothing if not obsessive about being #1.

While all this Olympic worship has been going on, my reading has suffered mightily. I *have* read, just not nearly as much as usual, and often between events. I just haven't wanted to read as much because I've been so riveted to all the sports, even events I don't normally watch that much. I don't know why this is, but every four years, I find myself watching television to excess during the Olympics and as a result, my reading just falls by the wayside. But I figure it's worth it to treat myself like this. Otherwise, I might've missed the triumph of Michael Phelps and all the other athletes who have competed. Or the moment I just witnessed when Sonia Richards just blazed by the Russians in the last few meters of the relay race. Too exciting! Go USA! Go us!

Once every four years, we're right there with the athletes, cheering them on and wondering how they do it. I guess I'm just a sucker for a good story--whether it's in the pages of a book or on the tv screen.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Fun quiz found through

My results say (fairly accurately):

Your Personality: Exacting Eclectic Reader!

Your responses showed you fitting into two different groups - the exacting reader and the eclectic reader. The expression 'so many books, so little time!' sums up your life. You love books but you rarely have as much time to read as you'd like - so you're very particular about the books you choose. You read for entertainment but also to expand your mind. You're open to new ideas and new writers, and are not wedded to a particular genre or limited range of authors.


Sunday, August 10, 2008


I just finished Evernight by Claudia Gray for the Amazon Vine program; I'd seen it in bookstores but wasn't sure if I wanted to spend my money on it, so I was pleased when it was offered through the program. I'm also pleased to say that Evernight was indeed very good; I liked the world Gray created and I especially am a fan of the surprise she landed on me about halfway through (how did I not see that coming??). Set in modern times, we follow sixteen year old Bianca as she's forced to enroll in Evernight Academy when her parents take teaching jobs there. Immediately Bianca feels out of place since most of her classmates seem not only beautiful, but snobbish and cliquish. So of course she instantly falls for the rebellious Lucas, who though good looking, seems to be so much more normal than the other students. But Bianca's still not feeling a part of things, and odd occurrences start to make her realize that she's going to have to make some strong choices.

I liked this one well enough to recommend it; it's a good supernatural entry in the young adult category, with some interesting twists and turns. I did find a couple of the plot points a bit silly, but those can easily be set aside as overall, this is good first book in what I believe is a four book series that's planned. You can visit my more comprehensive review at

BTW, I have to express wonder at the fact that I posted a review of Juliet's Moon by Ann Rinaldi last Wednesday to Amazon, and it's yet to show up. I can't imagine what the hold up is, since it's a pretty tame Civil War young adult novel, while Evernight has some fairly bold sexual situations that I mention in my Amazon review. Who knows?


Thursday, August 07, 2008

A Great Lady

I'm not sure what you say or do when one of your mom's best friends dies. My mother loved Katherine, and she loved Owen as well; even though Katherine hadn't been herself for a long time, my mother would still visit her and often spoke of all the fun they had together. I'm glad she's at peace now, and I know my mother is at a loss, even if she considers it a blessing. I hope I have friends who will stay by my side like these two did. And God bless the Bradleys for mentioning my mom's friendship. It warms my heart.

Mary "Katherine" (Franklin) Bradley
BRADLEY, Mary "Katherine" Franklin, passed away on Tuesday, August 5, 2008 while residing at Woodcrest at The Blakeford in Burton Hills, Nashville, TN. Katherine was born on December 27, 1915 in Nashville. She was preceded in death by her husband, Country Music Hall of Fame Member, Owen Bradley, and by her parents, Clevie Franklin Ligon and William C. Franklin, and by her brother, William C. Franklin, Jr.. She is survived by daughter, Patsy Bradley; son, Jerry (Connie) Bradley; grandchildren, Leigh Bradley Jankiv (Grimbsby, Ontario, CN), Clay (Sara) Bradley; great-grandchildren, Josh, Eli and Emma Jankiv (Grimbsby, Ontario, CN), John Owen and Grace Bradley; brother-in-law, Harold (Eleanor) Bradley; and numerous nieces and nephews. Katherine attended East High School. She was a member of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Cook's United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, and The Church by the Lake at Cedar Creek Club in Mt. Juliet. She was a member of Cedar Creek Yacht Club for over 50 years and a member of the Nashville Yacht Club. She traveled throughout Europe, Canada, the Panama Canal, Alaska and the continental United States with her travel group from Glasgow, KY. She was a member of the Donelson Red Hat Club. Katherine was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend. She met her husband-to-be when they were in the 8th grade. They married in 1935 and shared 62 happy years together. She was the homemaker while Mr. Bradley pursued his musical career, which he began at the age of 15, playing piano. He was Musical Director at WSM Radio and formed the Owen Bradley Orchestra, which was considered Nashville's premier dance band for society events until 1964. Owen and his brother Harold built the first recording studio on Music Row, where he produced many of country music's greatest artists, including Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells. Mr. and Mrs. Bradley made their home at Cedar Creek on Old Hickory Lake in Mt. Juliet for over 25 years. They loved entertaining family, friends and civic groups on their houseboat "Studio A". The Bradley family would like to thank Katherine's friends, Cecile Light, Martha Koudelka, Mary Elizabeth Webster, Janet Gregory, Pearl Williams, Jackie McMillin, Mary Mitchell, Michael Sayles and all the caregivers at Woodcrest at Blakeford for their loving care, especially The Memory Care Staff - Valerie, Hester, Selena, Rebecca, Cierra and Linda, as well as Karen Heath and Alive Hospice of Nashville.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Ah, Breaking Dawn. The long anticipated end to Stephenie Meyer's hugely successful series that began with Twilight finally landed in stores last Saturday at 12:01 a.m. but I wasn't there. I did, however, take my happy self to Borders early (okay, early for me--11:00 a.m.) to pick up my very own copy. Is it wrong to admit that I immediately sneaked a peak at the last page just to ensure that my two lovers would be together? Nope, won't answer that. I headed home, determined to finish the 752 page book over two days.
Two days past my deadline for finishing, I closed the book and put it gently on the shelf near the others. It's taken me all day to think of the review I want to do for Breaking Dawn; it's very obvious that it's a polarizing novel, judging by the often incoherent reviews posted on Amazon. I've decided to forego posting a review there, at least for now; I have a feeling that a traditional review would be trashed at the moment. Anyway, back to the book and my thoughts on it.
I liked it.
What did I like specifically? I like that Meyer took us where we didn't think we'd go. I like that she took chances with her characters, making them step outside their own comfort zones and find things within themselves worth fighting for. I loved that she devoted an entire section to Jacob, a character I'll admit I never felt overly sympathetic for; seeing events from his point of view was the absolute perfect way to move the story along at a crucial point and give us reasons why Jacob was acting as he did. I love the titles for those chapters from Jacob's point of view!
I like that Meyer was able to have Bella incorporate her old family into her new one, and I like how Bella's insecurity was challenged once she moved onto her destiny. (How's that for being vague so as not to give away spoilers--unlike the bajillion teens on Amazon?). I looooved the transition piece; it could not have been done any better, in my opinion. I was there in the room with Edward, Bella, and Jacob and I was breathing with Bella every step of the way. I loved the developing relationship between the vampires and the wolves, and I loved how Jacob felt about Renesmee. I think it was realistically done since Meyer *had* set us up for the possibility earlier. I do believe she'd planned the whole thing out early on.
I suppose it's a spoiler to say I love the happy ending, but I do believe in happy endings. I loved that through it all I could feel the commitment between Edward and Bella. That's what drove me into the story in the first place, and that never changed.
Now for what I didn't like. Even though I feel that Meyer made a courageous and interesting choice in taking her characters into a phase of life they hadn't expected, I felt it was all a bit too sci-fi (I posted earlier that I kept being reminded of Star Trek TNG and Troi's rushed pregnancy). I still don't understand the need for Renesemee to grow so rapidly other than the prove a point in the end to the Volturi (okay, I know that one's a spoiler). I got tired of all the hand-wringing waiting, and the surprise appearance at the end was a little too convenient. I didn't care for all the vampire support turning up at the end, though I understand the *why* of it. I also felt that Bella discovering her gift and then fully realizing it just when it was most needed was a bit much.
There were parts I loved and parts I didn't care for, but I think Meyer is to be commended for not just writing the pat final installment that would have pleased the masses. There was a definite maturing in the characters that I found surprisingly appealing, and a strong undercurrent of emotion that has always been the basis for the stories. I am sure that I will be thinking of this final novel in the series for a very long time, and finding that I am looking very favorably on it. The good outweighs the bad; I closed the last page and smiled. That's what any good book should do: crawl inside you and make you feel. Goal accomplished.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Breaking Dawn...No Spoilers

One of my favorite online people, Andi of Tripping Toward Lucidity, just posted a message about Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer, which we are both reading (along with legions of fans of the Twilight series). Her post has prompted my own, which will probably echo hers in many respects. We both made the mistake of visiting Amazon's review page for BD; big mistake. Of course there were spoilers galore, which as a serial last page reader, really didn't bug me so much. It's the incessant whininess of the reviews, obviously written by teens who didn't get the story they'd wanted.

Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, of course. I don't deny anyone that pleasure. But having read several "reviews" (and how can they be considered such when 1) they are full of spoilers and 2) they just berate the author?) that seem to borrow from each other and influence further despair among said teens, I am waiting for the moment when cooler heads and rational minds decide to actually REVIEW the book. I get the feeling that most of these teens had the plot carefully planned in their own heads, and when Meyer decided to deviate from those pipe dreams, their worlds were shattered, making her THE WORST AUTHOR EVER. OMG, how are we all going to live? It won't do a bit of good to remind them that ultimately, they got what they wanted, because Meyer threw in some curves that took them on a ride they didn't meet the height requirement for.

I'm on page 185, and I have to say that the poor reviews at first made me very worried about how much I was going to like BD. I was expecting the worst. I know Bella is a drama queen and that Edward is controlling, but beyond all that, I like the stories Meyer has created and I'm happy (in general) with things as they've been written so far. I am beginning to realize my fear for this novel was wasted; I'm liking it. Despite a trip into sci-fi territory (I'm thinking specifically of a Star Trek TNG episode where Troi gave birth within 3 days), I think there's potential here for a good journey to a satisfying ending. I just started a section from Jacob's point of view, and while skeptical at first, I have to say I'm really enjoying it. I suspect many of the teenyboppers didn't care for this little tactic.

I'm really hoping that once the teens get all their own personal angst out of their systems that reviews will begin to appear that actually let people know what the NOVEL is like. While it won't be another Twilight, I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be one of those who will be giving it a fairly positive review. We'll see.