Thursday, April 30, 2009

Week 17 - Book 18

Today is the start of Week 17 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 18. Which means we are over 1/3 of the way towards reading 52 books for the year. If you need suggestions about what to read, head on over to the Well Trained Mind forums and see what every one is reading this week.

Curious about the previous weeks.

Week 0 - Book 1
Week 1 - Book 2
Week 2 - Book 3
Week 3 - Book 4
Week 4 - Book 5
Week 5 - Book 6
Week 6 - Book 7
Week 7 - Book 8
Week 8 - Book 9
Week 9 - Book 10
Week 10- Book 11
Week 11- Book 12
Week 12 -Book 13
Week 13- Book 14

Week 14- Book 15
Week 15- Book 16
Week 16 - Book 17

Happy Birthday to Science Fiction author

Larry Niven

The very first book I read of Larry Niven's was back in 1974 called "The Mote In God's Eye" and co-authored by Jerry Pournelle. This led to reading "Lucifer's hammer" and "Footfall," The "Ringworld" series. He took us into many new worlds and fascinated our imaginations.

His newest release is the long awaited sequel to "Inferno" written back in 1976

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


"Last Mango in Texas" by Ray Blackston

(from the back cover)
Texas Tech student Kyle Mango is attending a fraternity party when he meets Gretchen, an artsy animal lover whose independent spirit sparks his attention. But after a month of bliss, they suddenly find themselves in rough waters. When Kyle inherits four oil wells from his uncle, he sees his affluence as an opportunity to impress Gretchen. But just before he makes his move, Gretchen joins a group of campus activists to clean oil from suffering birds in Alaska.
Kyle is torn between managing his business and being left lonely in the Lone Star state--and risking everything to fly to Alaska to pursue Gretchen. Kyle soon discovers that oil slicks are nothing compared to relationships slicks. The early bird may get the worm, but the oily bird can ruin romance!

This is a very good book. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious, Kyle's pursuit of Gretchen takes him to the desert of Texas, the coast line of Alaska, a bed and breakfast in France and a small village in Africa. The whole time Kyle is chasing Gretchen he still has his oil wells and they are causing some trouble with his romance of Gretchen. Along the way Kyle picks up an employee for his oil business, it's his room mate from college, Chin. Chin is in charge of Oil Well Development. Chin's job is to find more oil and get the wells developed. Kyle also gets another employee, Sal, who also happens to be a reformed bookie, who also happens to be a well driller. Sal drills wells at Kyle's site and they get 2 more wells going.
Are you still with me? Well, that's all your going to get as I don't want to let the cat out of the bag and ruin the book for you. If you get a chance to read this book, you'll love it!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

I joined the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers and the third book I requested and reviewed was The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns.

Here is the blurb that interested me enough to finish Christianity in Crisis so I could review it and request this one.

“Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary.” - St. Francis of Assisi

It’s 1998 and Richard Stearns’ heart is breaking as he sits in a mud hut and listens to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda. His journey to this place took more than a long flight from the United States to Africa. It took answering God’s call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America’s finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda.

This is a story of how a corporate CEO faced his own struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Using his own journey as an example, Stearns explores the hole that exists in our understanding of the Gospel.

Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again.

This book has been as earth shaking for me as I believed it would be. Rich Stearns presents reasons for why he believes we have a “hole in our gospel” if our faith has no outward expression, specifically changing the world we live in where we see poverty and suffering. He begins the book describing his journey from disadvantaged youth to president of a luxury goods corporation to president of World Vision and how his faith grew and he grew until he was able to accept the job at World Vision. These chapters challenge us to evaluate our lives and see if we are living for Christ, even in our jobs and lives as they are right now. He isn’t saying everyone has to go work for a charity organization, but that wherever our job, we should be working for God’s glory. That includes caring about the poor and needy.

Then he hits the hard part - the statistics that reflect real people. He works to convey the magnitude of the issues without losing our interest in the personal reality. Then he can get into the joyful news that we can all make a difference. He addresses a section to the Church and the critical question of why the church hasn’t reached out more. This is not aimed at pastors, but the members, all of us who have failed to stand up and address the disparity between rich and poor in this day and age.

I think he’s telling us that if we give and it doesn’t hurt (isn’t a sacrifice) we haven’t really lived our faith. We are commanded to reach out to the homeless and help the widows and orphans in their distress. We are committing sins of omission in all the things we do not do. Is the church more comfortable holding to the traditions of men than in challenging the injustices in the world? We need faith and works, salvation and social reform.

The purpose and method of the book is clear and well done. I recommend it, with a warning - you will be convicted, even made uncomfortable by what he says. That’s good news, and you can live out the whole gospel.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I am behind because of this book. But hopefully will catch up in the next couple of weeks!

"World Without End" by Ken Follett


On the day after Halloween, in the year 1327, four children slip away from the cathedral city of Kingsbridge. They are a thief, a bully, a boy genius and a girl who wants to be a doctor. In the forest they see two men killed.
As adults, their lives will be braided together by ambition, love, greed and revenge. They will see prosperity and famine, plague and war. One boy will travel the world but come home in the end; the other will be a powerful, corrupt nobleman. One girl will defy the might of the medieval church; the other will pursue an impossible love. And always they will live under the long shadow of the unexplained killing they witnessed on that fateful childhood day.

This is a remarkable book Mr. Follett has written. Why, because it is so detailed in history and he lets your imagination roam and visualize the whole book while you are reading. All four of the children, Gwenda, Ralph, Merthin, and Caris are all connected by blood, marriage, or friendship.
As they all grow into adulthood and go on with their lives, they are all still together. Caris and Merthin are in love but can't be together because of trouble with the church. Gwenda loves someone she can't have but does eventually get the guy. And Ralph gains his highest ambition of becoming the Earl of Shiring.
The one thing that binds them all together is the fact that they all witnessed the murder in the forest. As war and breaks out between England and France, Ralph goes to war with the king. Merthin leaves to travel the world. And then the plague comes home to Kingsbridge, wiping out almost the whole town. As the town begins to rebuild and grow, Gwenda, Ralph, Merthin, and Caris all come together for a final time and all coming back to the murders they saw in the forest.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Weeks 15 and 16

I'm reading novels right now. Still feeling massive post-manuscript burnout (I need to post some more reflections on this but that would mean WRITING) and I'm trying to recover my story sense. And also my brain is too tired for nonfiction. So in the last two weeks I've read three novels--two entirely redemption-free and the third with no apparent reason for existing. #1: Revenge, by Stephen Fry Grade: C 18584237 A reasonably entertaining updating of the Count of Monte Cristo, until the end anyway, when instead of hard-won peace, the hero becomes exactly like the men he seeks vengeance upon. Actually that sounds like it might be quite poignant and meaningful, but it isn't; Fry takes too much nasty delight in the exact tortures that the one-time victim inflicts on his enemies. #2: The Vicar of Sorrows, by A. N. Wilson Grade: B+ 20581904 I like A. N. Wilson's prose, even if I'm perpetually glad that I don't live in his universe. This was a beautifully written novel, even though it 1) didn't throw any real light on why an agnostic would choose to be an Anglican priest, 2) featured a completely unlikely set of romantic alliances, and 3) ended with a toe-cringing scene where the one-time priest faced up to the complete emptiness of his calling. I won't ruin the climax for those of you who want to read the book; I'll just say that if that's a secular redemption, A. N. Wilson can have it. #3: The Gazebo, by Emily Grayson Grade: D 966575 I picked this up because it was on the end shelf at the library and I had to get on a plane and wanted to read something that didn't demand a fully oxygenated brain. I finished it thinking: What editor decided to buy this, and why? There was nothing strikingly wrong with it; it just had absolutely no reason for existing. Undistinguished setup, undistinguished characters, predictable plot, resolution visible about fifteen pages in. I only finished reading it because I didn't have anything else in my bag. And yet William Morrow published it, and Ms. Grayson seems to have gone on writing novels. Amazing.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

This is our April book club selection. We’ve all known we should read it for years but just never did. Jill finally said we should do it and now we have. Wow, what a book.

Some things that stood out to me, and that were discussed in our book club. Nollie’s insistence that God will honor our honesty - she does it twice and things work out well both times. She was right. Corrie lied about the radio, but Nollie and her daughter refused to lie, trusting that it was better to obey God than to lie for a good cause.

There was some good discusion about the teaching from her father that some things are too heavy for us to bear just now, but God will give us the knowledge and strength just in time. We see this with her aunt Jans as she realizes she is dying and then again and again in the concentration camp. If they had known what was coming could they have persevered?

There are no ifs in God’s world. His timing is perfect. His will is our hiding place. Pray to Him to keep us in His will.

We were all moved by the part where she says there was no longer any distinction between prayer and real life. They had to depend on Him for everything and that included being grateful for everything (including the fleas) and forgiveness for their captors and tormentors.

Corrie was always thinking of the poor victims and how to help. Her father and Betsie were always thinking of the Germans and their need for love and grace to replace all the hate in their hearts. I want to be like Betsie - always caring for others, remembering the details of their lives, and showing love and concern for them.

The book was as wonderful as I've always heard it was. The message is so powerful and convicting and reassuring.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

"The Graveyard Book"


Neil Gaiman

Front Flap: "Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy--an ancient Indigo Man beneath the hill, a gateway to a desert leading to an abandoned city of ghouls, the strange and terrible menace of the sleer. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack--who has already killed bod's family...."

"The Graveyard Book" is the first book I've read by Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed it, even though it was weird and quirky. The story begins with a man named Jack walking through a home, killing first the parents, then bod's brother. Bod, even though a toddler, somehow manages to climb out of his crib and wander out the open door, while Jack kills his family. The killings are not graphically depicted but implied. The writing is very well done and paints a picture

"The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.

The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door." (pg 5 - 7)

Bod wanders up and into a graveyard where the ghosts and other denizens of the place decide to protect him. Of course, they have to put it to a vote first.

"A graveyard is not normally a democracy, and yet death is the great democracy, and each of the dead had a voice, and an opinion as to whether the living child should be allowed to stay, and they were each determined to be heard that night." pg 29

Bod is raised by the ghosts and Silas, who neither dead or alive, protects him and makes sure his physical needs for food and dress are taken care of. Bod gets an interesting education in history and thought from various ghosts from the different eras as well as lessons in slipping through shadow and fading from awareness, "the ways of the dead".

"Bod tried again. He closed his eyes and imagined himself fading into the stained stonework of the mausoleum wall, becoming a shadow on the night and nothing more. He sneezed.

"Dreadful", said Mr. Pennyworth, with a sigh. "Quite dreadful. I believe I shall have a word with your guardian about this." He shook his head. "So, the humors. List them."

"Um, Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, And the other one. Um, Melancholic, I think."

"And so it went, until it was time for Grammar and Composition with Miss Letitia Borrows, Spinster of this Parish (Who did No Harm to No Man all the Dais of Her Life. Reader, Can you Say Lykewise?) Bod liked Miss Borrows, and the coziness of her little crypt, and that she could all-too-easily be led off the subject." pg 106

Throughout the story, Jack never ceases to look for Bod and finish the job he started. The villains (the Jacks of all Trades) reasons in the story for killing bod's family and him are a bit vague and I'll leave the mystery of what happened to your imaginations.

I thoroughly enjoyed "The Graveyard Book" and look forward to reading more stories by Neil Gaiman. His books are intriguing, imaginative and entertaining. Even though they are written for the 9 - 12 year old age group, they are enjoyable for adults to read as well. Highly Recommended.

Pages: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Other thoughts about the book:

Michelle of 1morechapter:
The Graveyard Book contains a colorful (though some are long dead) cast of characters, some very creepy scenes, and some genuinely heartwarming ones."

Em of Em's Bookshelf:
"The Graveyard Book is pure delight from start to finish. This is the first book that I've read by Gaiman and, after the first couple of pages, I knew that I was in the hands of a master storyteller."

Rob of Robaroundbooks:
"It entertained me completely and as a reader who normally gets his kicks from the more dense prose of writers such as Steinbeck, Dostoevsky and Hamsun etc. that’s a big achievement. Bearing that in mind I’m confident that The Graveyard Book will entertain just about anyone."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Around the World in 80 Days

I pulled up a free copy on the Kindle and I’ve read it in between the more serious nonfiction sitting on my nightstand. I know I’ve read an abridged version but I don’t think I’ve ever read the entire work. I could relate to Passepartout seeking out an employer who could be consistent and dependable. Too bad his first day on the job turns out to be the day the dependable Phileas Fogg gets rash.

The cast of characters:

Phileas Fogg - a gentleman (when that word meant something) of unknown means, very regular in his actions with no time or energy wasted on superfluous activity or emotions. It is easy to believe he has no emotions - he is not excited or irritated by anything, but calmly takes the good and the bad, the beautiful and the mundane, and continues about his business without curiosity or urgency.

Passepartout - naturally good-spirited Frenchman, looking for a stable, reliable master where things are very well regulated. He is a perfect fit for Fogg. He is also, unfortunately, the direct or indirect cause of most of the delays. And he left the gas light in his room running when they left England.

Detective Fix - a policeman determined that Fogg is a bank robber and working hard to get Fogg and a warrant on English soil at the same time so he can arrest Fogg. He starts out by putting obstacles in their way while he could possibly arrest Fogg in India or Hong Kong (English colonies), and then by helping them to rush them back to English soil once they get into Japan and the United States.

Aouda is the Indian widow doomed to be burned to death on her husbands funeral bier until Fogg and Passepartout, along with an English colonel and a native rescue her. She can’t be left in India so she joins their party. She is indeed grateful to Fogg and he is very solicitous of her comfort.

Much is made about how Fogg seems to have no emotions and that is in direct contrast to the other members of the party who are excited by the sites, and depressed by the delays, and fret and worry over the bad luck they run into. I admire that Fogg sleeps calmly and is not disturbed by the things he cannot control. I do think more emotion along the positive side would be welcome. Not that he doesn’t feel it, perhaps, but he could certainly demonstrate a bit more. He is very solicitous of the feelings of others.

I still doubt they could get through the US without realizing they were a day ahead. If the ship left New York on time then it would have left a day before the day they expected (per his trusty schedule). I do understand not looking at any newpapers or otherwise seeing the date. Surely Fix was flooded with information after his embarassing false-arrest and he could have sent a telegram. But, the ending is good, even if it is convenient.

Week 16 - Book 17

Today is the start of Week 16 in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 17. Which means we are 1/3 of the way towards reading 52 books for the year. If you need suggestions about what to read, head on over to the Well Trained Mind forums and see what everyone else is reading.

Curious about the previous weeks.

Week 0 - Book 1
Week 1 - Book 2
Week 2 - Book 3
Week 3 - Book 4
Week 4 - Book 5
Week 5 - Book 6
Week 6 - Book 7
Week 7 - Book 8
Week 8 - Book 9
Week 9 - Book 10
Week 10- Book 11
Week 11- Book 12
Week 12 -Book 13
Week 13- Book 14

Week 14- Book 15
Week 15- Book 16

Today marks the anniversary William Shakespeare's birthday.

Sonnet 78: So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse

So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse,
And found such fair assistance in my verse
As every alien pen hath got my use,
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing,
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feathers to the learnèd's wing
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine, and born of thee.
In others' works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces gracèd be.
But thou art all my art, and dost advance
As high as learning my rude ignorance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Higher Hope by Robert Whitlow

We read the first book, Deeper Water, as part of our book club earlier this year. So, when the second book, Higher Hope, came available for Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers I picked it. It is nice to see how some of the stories progress.

The Tides of Truth series follows law student Tammy Lynn Taylor, known as Tami at the law firm where she is a clerk for the summer. She has a strong Christian faith and very conservative background. We are watching Tami come of age, and learn how to walk by faith in a world that doesn’t support or always accept her beliefs. This time around, the case she is working on involves an abrasive, outspoken preacher who tells people what God shows her, and they don’t always like what she says.

The story was interesting and plausible. The best part may have been seeing how the preacher self-censors herself, knowing that sometimes what she knows isn’t complete enough or the other person isn’t ready for it. Plus seeing how the people she does talk to react to what she says. Some repent, some work to reconcile with family and friends, and some deny that it’s the truth. Her deposition by the lawyer is a great scene. The books are thoughtful and well done.

A World I Never Made by James LePore

A World I Never Made


James LePore

Front Cover Flap: "Pat Nolan, an American Man, is summoned to Paris to claim the body of his estranged daughter Megan, who has committed suicide. The body, however, is not Megan's and it becomes instantly clear to Pat that Megan staged this, that she is in serious trouble, and that she is calling to him for help.

This sends Pat on an Odyssey that stretches across France and into the Czech Republic and that makes him the target of both the French police and a band of international terrorists. Joining Pat on his search is Catherine Laurence, a beautiful but tormented Paris detective who sees in Pat something she never thought she'd find--genuine passion and desperate need. As they look for Megan, they come closer to each other's souls and discover love when both had long given up on it.

Juxtaposed against this story is Megan's story. A freelance journalist, Megan is in Morocco to do research when she meets Abdel Lahani, a Saudi businessman. They begin a torrid affair, a game Megan has played often and well in her adult life. But what she discovers about Lahani puts her in the center of a different kind of game, one with rules she can barely comprehend. Because of her relationship with Lahani, Megan has made some considerable enemies. And she has put the lives of many--maybe millions--at risk."

"A World I Never Made" is a debut novel written by new author James LePore. The story begins with a letter - a suicide note from Megan to her father which I had previously mentioned in a Tuesday Teaser. Pat and his daughter have never been really close, but he is surprised by her note. As soon as he realizes the dead woman is not his daughter, he begins to search for her not realizing that other parties interested in his daughter also are searching for her. Pat comes upon the young flower girl who Megan mentioned in her note and she tells Pat his daughter needs him and he will find her. The girl keeps popping up throughout the story, which is a another mystery in itself.

What is interesting about the story is while we follow Pat during the year 2004, Megan's part of the story begins in 2003 until at some point they begin to merge. "A World I Never Made" is very suspense filled, action packed and the body count starts to add up as Pat tries to stay ahead of everyone else looking for his daughter.

I received "A World I Never Made" courtesy of Julie at FSB Associates and thoroughly enjoyed the story and hope to see more from James LePore. Thank you Julie for sending me the book.

Pages: 288
Publisher: The Story Plant
Released: April 2009

Other thoughts about the book

Elizabeth at As Usual, I need more Bookshelves
"A World I Never Made is a highly entertaining novel - a great debut. I will certainly read LePore's next work - I can only hope it will be this much fun!"

Cheryl at Cheryl's Book Nook
"Nothing could have tore my attention away from this story. The World I Never Made by James LePore is a must read for thriller fans!"

James at Rough Edges
"I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book, since it’s a first novel from a publisher I wasn’t familiar with, but what I got was a well-written thriller with a likable hero and interesting characters."

14 by J.T. Ellison


(A Taylor Jackson Novel)


J.T. Ellison

Back Cover: " In the mid 1980's the Snow White Killer terrorized the streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Then suddenly the murders stopped. A letter from the killer to the police stated that his work was done. Now four more bodies are found, marked with his latest signature. The residents of Nashville fear a madman has returned, decades later, to finish his sick fairy tale. Homicide Lieutenant Taylor Jackson believes the killings are the work of a copycat killer who's even more terrifying. For this monster is meticulously honing his craft as he mimics famous serial murders...proving that the past is not forgotten."

Continuing my theme of first time author reads for the Spring Reading Challenge, I read J.T. Ellison's "14." Ellison is one of the authors who blogs at the group site "Murderati." I have been slowly making my way, reading books by all the authors who blog on the site and have to say, so far none of them have disappointed me.

"14" is a psychological thriller that will hold your attention every step of the way. Taylor is just a few days away from getting married, but she wants to solve and catch the murderer before she does. The story is a blend of her professional and personal life as she and her fiancee FBI profiler John Baldwin try to stop the madman from striking again. I don't want to give away any spoilers so suffix it to say, "14" is intense, creepy, and you never quite know what is going to be around the next corner. Don't start reading it right before you go to bed.

Pages: 416
Publisher: Mira
Released: September 1, 2008

Other thoughts about "14"

Michele - one "L"

"This was a very detailed, interesting plot that had me guessing throughout. Even when the killer is revealed to the reader but not yet to the lieutenant, there's so much drama and intrigue it kept me glued to the book. Quite fascinating, really."

“14 is a twisty creepy and wonderful book... Ellison is relentless and grabs the reader from the first page and refuses to let go until the soul tearing climax.”

Romantic Times - 4 1/2 Stars!
"Ellison's second Taylor Jackson story is precisely plotted and crisply written, and there are several effective twists. It's guaranteed to elicit shivers with its cold-blooded, sociopathic villain--and to keep readers on edge until the last page."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

Eon Dragoneye Reborn


Alison Goodman

Front Flap: "Twelve year old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye--an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; it anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured. When Eon's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life.

Only Eon's master knows her secret and is risking everything for if Eon becomes a Dragon Eye, it will improve his standing with the emperor as well. No one takes Eon seriously because he was crippled in a accident and is weaker than the rest. When the most powerful and oldest dragon appears and chooses Eon, he is suddenly catapulted from obscurity into the rich opulent life of the palace and befriended by the emperor's son. The boy who nobody took seriously, now has more power and influence than imagined. LIfe is treacherous,especially since he is a she and his allies must help devise ways to keep her secret. Intrigue, battles, suspense, secrets, powerful allies and even more powerful enemies make for an interesting story. Highly recommended.

Pages: 544
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure

Other thoughts about Eon:

Becky of Becky's Book Reviews
This is a compelling story set in a fascinating world. A power-hungry world in a way. A world with plenty of corruption. But an intriguing place all the same. Secrets. Mysteries. Ambition. Greed. Betrayal. The universal struggle of good versus evil. Good stuff."

Em of Em's Bookshelf
" I was never compelled to finish the series by Lian Hearn, whereas I am very excited to read the sequel to Eon. And the best thing about the Eon series is that it's a duology so I only have to wait for Book 2 to come out."

The Compulsive Reader
"he ending is heart stopping, and the complete cliff hanger will most certainly leave readers yearning for the conclusion of this smart and drama filled duet in the next book—whose title is too much a spoiler to reveal yet, but hopes to be just as riveting and breathtaking."

Friday, April 17, 2009


"Betrayals" by Carla Neggers

(from back cover)

A red velvet bag holding ten sparkling gems. A woman who must confront their legacy of deceit, scandal and murder.

Rebecca Blackburn caught a glimpse of the famed Jupiter Stones as a small child. Unaware of their significance, she forgot about them--until she discovered the priceless, long-missing gems where the key to a deadly chain of events spanning thirty years and three continents....sparing on one.

When a seemingly innocent photograph reignites one man's simmering desire for vengeance, Rebecca turns to Jared Sloan, the love she lost to tragedy and scandal. His own life has changed forever because of the secrets buried deep by their tow families.

Their relentless quest for the truth will dredge up bitter memories and shocking revelations of misplaced loyalty, dangerous pride and naked ambition...and they will stop at nothing to expose a cold-blooded killer.

This book was very confusing at the beginning. I almost didn't finish it. But about the middle of the book I finally figured out all the info about the families and put it all together. Rebecca's grandfather, Aunt and a family friend are the ones that start this whole series of mysteries. But it started with Rebecca's Aunt. The Jupiter Stones are at the heart of the story. And Rebecca and Jared are the ones trying to figure out the mystery of them. This book has murder, a jewel thief, lies, scandal, and family secrets. If you read it, don't give up on it! It's a great book!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Week 15 - Book 16

Week 15 - Book 16

Today, Week 15 starts in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 16. If you need suggestions about what to read, head on over to the Well Trained Mind forums and see what everyone else is reading.

Curious about the previous weeks.

Week 0 - Book 1
Week 1 - Book 2
Week 2 - Book 3
Week 3 - Book 4
Week 4 - Book 5
Week 5 - Book 6
Week 6 - Book 7
Week 7 - Book 8
Week 8 - Book 9
Week 9 - Book 10
Week 10- Book 11
Week 11- Book 12
Week 12 -Book 13
Week 13- Book 14

Week 14- Book 15

Something interesting going on in the book blog blogosphere this weekend -- The Dewey's Read A Thon. It is a book reading marathon which starts April 18 at 1:00 gmt and goes for 24 hours. You can sign up to be a reader or a cheerleader. You can read just for yourself and the challenge or for a charity. Check it out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Mysterious Affair At Styles

Hercule Poirot's First Case

Agatha Christie

Back Cover: Here is the famous first case that launched the legendary career of Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie's brilliant -- and eccentric -- detective steps out of retirement.. and into the shadows of a classic mystery. The victim: A wealthy heiress. The suspects: her fortune hunting husband, her jealous relatives, her hired companion. The solution: a deadly scheme that can only be revealed by the master detective himself...Hercule Poirot

"The Mysterious Affair At Styles" is an interesting introduction to Hercule Poirot. He was quite eccentric. I unfortunately read one word at the very beginning of the book which created an interesting conundrum. The story is narrated by Mr. Hastings, a friend of the Cavendish family involved with the murder.

This is the sentence that caused me to look at the story in a different way.

Mr Hastings narrates "I will therefore briefly set down the circumstance which led to my being connected with the affair."

I read "connected" as "convicted."

"I will therefore briefly set down the circumstance which led my being convicted with the affair."

Totally changes the story and sets you up to look for the clues that leads to Mr. Hastings. Hercule Poirot was an acquaintance of Mr Hastings and would tell some things to him and other clues, he would keep secret from Mr. Hastings. So it all seemed to mesh, except towards the end of the story, I realized something was amiss and went back and read the first page again. "Aha" I said, slapping myself on the side of the head. I was looking for guilt where there was none.

Interesting how one word can change everything!

Links to other thoughts about the book

"This is a most ingenious and intricately plotted book, with plenty of suspects to exercise those “little grey cells.'"

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise
"Although it was published almost 90 years ago, it is very readable even now."

Jaime of Confessions of a Bibliophile
"I think what I like best about Poirot is not just that so much of what he detects is based on observation, but that he has a real soft spot for love"

The Mystery of Grace by Charles De Lint

The Mystery of Grace


Charles de Lint

Front Flap: "Altagracia--her friends call her Grace--has a tattoo of Nuestra Senora de Altagracia on her shoulder; she's got a Ford Motor Company tattoo running down her leg; and she has greased worked so deep into her hands that it'll never wash out. Grace works at Sanchez Motor Works, customizing hot rods. A few blocks around her small apartment building is her world--from the grocery story where she buys beans, tamales, and cigaretts to the library, the little record shop, and the Solona Music Hall. Which is where she meets John Burns, just two weeks too late.

Grace and John fall for one another, and that would be wonderful, except that they're both haunted by unfinished business. Before their relationship can be resolved, they're both going to have to learn things they don't know about the world of the living and the world beyond. About why it's necessary to let some things go."

At first glance, "The Mystery of Grace" reminded me of another story about a tattooed young lady (Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs), but the resemblance was fleeting. Grace gets shot in the chest in a robbery gone bad at her favorite grocery store. She wakes up in a limbo like world of her neighborhood populated by recently deceased neighbors, most she didn't know or was aware they existed. At first she refuses to believe she is dead, but her neighborhood is different with few people and a few blocks away in any directions are the mists that won't allow you go anyplace but there. She discovers they are allowed to visit the live world two days out of the year - October 31st and April 30th.

Her first Halloween, Grace revisits her neighborhood and no one recognizes her. She meets John at a halloween party and spends the night with him. When she disappears without a trace from his bathroom in the morning, John is determined to find her. Imagine his surprise when he discovers she had been killed two weeks before they meet. Their story is an intriguing as both work to keep on living, waiting for April to come so they can see each other again.

In the meantime, Grace discovers a mystery about her limbo world and tries to solve it in order to find out why she is there and not in heaven.
What is holding these people and preventing them from moving on? Can she return to the land of the living and reunite with John or is their relationship doomed because she is truly dead. Why did she find him after she died and will she have to let him go?

"The Mystery of Grace" is an excellent story and well written. It is truly different from De Lint's other stories. It is a story of learning to let go, belief in yourself and strength of character. The storyline is intriguing and keeps you wondering what is going to happen. Charles De Lint is one of my favorite authors and I have read all of his books. Don't miss out on "The Mystery of Grace."

Pages: 272
Publisher: Tor Books
Released: March 17,2009

Links to more thoughts about "The Mystery of Grace."

Darla of Books and Other Thoughts
I did enjoy this one, and I really loved the characters, who are believable and complex and utterly sympathetic."

Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings Warning: Contains Spoilers
de Lint’s craftsmanship with the written word is as strong as ever. The man is a true artist in his medium.
-Strong characterization, even of minor characters. Charles de Lint has the ability to quickly paint a picture of people that allows the reader to form a connection with them without an enormous page count."

Graeme of Graeme's Fantasy Book Reviews
‘The Mystery of Grace’ is one of those books where I can quite honestly say that I’m really glad I took the time to give it a go."

Friday, April 10, 2009


"Starclimber" by Kenneth Oppel


Pilot-in-training Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries, expert on high-altitude life-forms, are invited aboard the Starclimber, a vessel that literally climbs its way into the cosmos. Before they even set foot aboard the ship, catastrophe strikes:
Kate announces she is engaged--and not to Matt.
Despite this bombshell, Matt and Kate embark on their journey into space, but soon the ship is surrounded by strange and unsettling life-forms, and the crew is forced to combat devastating mechanical failure. For Matt, Kate, and the entire crew of the Starclimber, what began as an exciting race to the stars has now turned into a battle to save their lives.
Award-winning and bestselling author Kenneth Oppel brings us back to a rich world of flight and fantasy in this breathtaking new sequel to Airborn and Skybreaker.

This is the last book of the series, but I'm sure there will be more, well not sure, but there should be!! This book follows Matt and Kate into space. It's not the kind of space we are used too. Their space ship is on a line that is anchored into the ground and shoots straight into space. The ship glides along this strip 20,000 miles into space. They do some space walking and find some exciting and interesting space creatures. Wonderful series of books my Kenneth Oppel. I really liked them all very much!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Special Award

Premio Dardos Award
(Portuguese for Dart Prize)

Sweet, sweet Desert Rose kindly awarded My Two Blessings the Premio Dardos award.
"The Prémio Dardos is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

Thank you Desert Rose - I am very honored you decided to give me the Premio Dardos. Another blogger gave me a wonderful idea (thanks - Kerrie) and I am going to award this to all of you who are involved in the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge.

The explanation I gave on my blog is "They have dedicated themselves to giving their children the best education possible. Through their blogs, they have shared their experiences, life's little ups and downs, how they incorporate teaching their kids within the context of normal life. Plus they love to read."

Thank you one and all for sharing your experiences.

The rules for the award are simple:

Pass the award on to those blogs that you feel expresses the values of the award. I'll leave it up to you whether you want to pass it on to whoever reads your blog or to one specific one blogger, five bloggers or fifteen. Please link back to the person who gave you the award.

Week 14 - Book 15

Week 14 - Book 15

Today, Week 14 starts in the quest to read 52 books in 52 weeks and should have you starting book # 15. If you need suggestions about what to read, head on over to the Well Trained Mind forums and see what everyone else is reading.

Curious about the previous weeks.

Week 0 - Book 1
Week 1 - Book 2
Week 2 - Book 3
Week 3 - Book 4
Week 4 - Book 5
Week 5 - Book 6
Week 6 - Book 7
Week 7 - Book 8
Week 8 - Book 9
Week 9 - Book 10
Week 10- Book 11
Week 11- Book 12
Week 12 -Book 13
Week 13- Book 14

Today marks the birthday of one of my very favorite authors Tom Clancy.

Tom Clancy has written numerous books and from the moment I read Red Storm Rising, I was sold. He is the author of the Jack Ryan series: Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, Debt of Honor and Teeth of the Tiger. He is a prolific writer of political thrillers and each and every one of them will capture your attention and imagination. Pick up a book by Tom Clancy this week and see what you think.

Happy Birthday Tom!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


"Until You" by Bertrice Small

(from the back cover)
Determined to live her own life, Rosamund Bolton has claimed her inheritance, rejected her latest suitor - and decided to travel to the court of her dear friend Queen Margaret of Scotland. Against this lavish and unpredictable backdrop, she meets the man who will forever change her destiny. Patrick Leslie, the first earl of Glenkirk, has a tragic past, but he brings to Rosamund a passion that few will ever know. And as war looms once more between England and Scotland, and Henry Vlll seeks to make himself the most powerful monarch in all of Europe, Patrick and Rosamund will undertake a dangerous mission on behalf of King James IV that will test the limits of their loyalty and the depths of their love.

Wonder book!! I love reading Historical Romances! And Bertrice Small has been one of my favorites for years!! Unknown to me when I started this book, it is book 2 of a series of 3. Oh, well, it was still good!! It is a bit steamy and the love scenes are very descriptive. I don't want to tell you too much about the goings on in this book as that will spoil the ending. Lets just say Rosamund does get into trouble with her King, Henry Vlll and has to explain her liaison with Patrick.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Long Lost


Harlan Coben

Front Flap: "Myron Bolitar hasn't heard from Terese Collins since their torrid affair ended ten years ago, so her desperate phone call from Paris catches him completely off guard. In a shattering admission, Terese reveals the tragic story behind her disappearance--her struggles to get pregnant, the greatest moment of her life when her baby was born...and the fatal accident that robbed her of it all: her marriage, her happiness, and her beloved only daughter.

Now a suspect in the murder of her ex-husband in Paris, Terese has nowhere else to turn for help. Myron heeds the call. But then a startling piece of evidence turns the entire case upside down, laying bare Terese's long buried family secrets...and the very real possibility that her daughter may still be alive.

In grave danger from unknown assailants in a country where nothing is as it seems, Myron and Terese race to stay a step ahead of Homeland Security, Interpol, and Mossad. Soon they are working at breakneck pace not only to learn what really happened to Terese's long lost little girl..but to uncover a sinister plot with shocking global implications."

I have fallen in like with another new to me author. I received an Advance Reader Copy of "Long Lost" by Harlan Coben through Shelf Awareness courtesy of Dutton Marketing. "Long Lost" is an excellent story, very well written and entertaining.

Myron, the main character, has a quirky sense of humor and the story is written from his perspective. I generally don't care too much for stories written in first person point of view because I find them hard to get into, unless they are very well written. This one is and captured my attention. It is truly a mystery, full of suspense with many surprising twists and turns. This is the 9th book in the Myron Bolitar series. Now that I've been introduced to Myron, will have to go back to the beginning and read "Deal Breaker."

Myron is surprised to hear from Terese whom he hadn't heard from in 10 years. She needs his help and he is willing to drop everything (especially since his girlfriend dumped him) and fly to Paris. They once had a torrid affair and he has only seen her once since then, when she dropped everything to help him. Now she needs his help. Her ex husband is missing and found dead and she's a suspect. Myron finds himself thrust into the center of a mystery as he is detained by the french police, followed, shot at, and threatened. Both his and Terese lives are put in danger as they uncover secret after secret. I can't say anymore about it without giving away any spoilers. All I can say is that Harlan Coben has earned a new fan.

Pages: 384
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Release Date: March 31, 2009
Genre: Mystery / Thriller