Book Review - Gray Apocalypse by James Murdoch

Sunday, January 31, 2010

I received Gray Apocalypse by James Murdoch through a giveaway on librarything and from the moment I did I knew it was going to be enjoyable. I got started reading Sci/Fi. I don't mean when I was really young, my Mom didn't put a Carl Sagan book in front of me to teach me to read. Of course I learned that the way everyone else did See Jane Run... and then when I was a little older maybe 9 or 10 a friend of my Mother's gave me Are Your There God It's Me Margaret and even though I liked the boy version, Then Again Maybe I Won't better that piqued my interest in reading. It wasn't until I walked into the New Age and then the Sci/Fi aisles at the book store that I truly began to love to read.

These days I don't read much of the hard core stuff anymore, I stay on the outskirts with short stories and I love, love , love sci/fi/humor but I greatly enjoyed getting back to my roots, if you will, with Gray Apocalypse.

When Aliens want to destroy all humans and replace them with a hybrid race, Michael Kendon rushes to locate the weapon needed to save us all and use it before it's too late. There are twists and turns that will keep you reading late nights perched on the edge of your seat. James Murdoch called his book "...a thriller in a more or less science fiction context" and I completely agree. I won't say that at times I forgot there were aliens but I will say it didn't have to be aliens but I'll also say I am glad it is aliens because if it wasn't I would probably have never read this book.

Book Review - A Land Beyond Ravens by Kathleen Cunningham Guler

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hard to put down, that's a phrase that adequately describes A Land Beyond Ravens (The Macsen's Treasure) by Kathleen Cunningham Gulier. A Land Beyond Ravens is the fourth and final book in the Macsen's Treasure series but you don't have to read the first three to enjoy this installment. Though you may make an unplanned trip to the book store to pick up the first three in the series as soon as you finish this one.

A Land beyond Ravens takes Celtic mysticism, Arthurian legend and the Dark Age of Britain interweaves them and creates one great story. I love novels that intersect stories I already know, in this case the legend of King Arthur. Master spy Marcus ap Iorwerth makes discoveries that could hurt the thrown but the methods with which he vows to help and protect the King may end up bringing his downfall.

If you enjoy reading about Celtic history or Medieval England this is the not just the book but the series for you.

Book Review - Shelter Me by Juliette Fay

Friday, January 29, 2010

When I first read the premise for this book I knew I would be able to easily put myself into the character's shoes. Shelter Me by Juliette Fay follows Janie LaMarche in the time after her husband unexpectedly dies in a motorcycle accident. Her husband's death leaves her sad, angry and totally lost trying to keep life together not only for herself but also for her two young children.

As she is pushing through each day of her new life a contractor shows up with plans to add a new porch to her house, a surprise from her late husband. She isn't sure how to deal with what life has handed her so she pulls away from the world in a desperate attempt to shelter herself and her children from further pain and heartache but in the end she realizes that the only way to move on is to embrace those around her willing to help.

I can't truly imagine what I would do if something happened to my husband leaving me to take care of our son on my own but I am thinking that my journey or healing would be a lot like Janie's.

What's on your nightstand for January

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I always seem to miss Tuesdays for some reason I am busy or I just forget but I love the ideas over at 5 minutes for books so I am going to go ahead and add my post now even though it is late. Get more info on the What's On Your Nightstand carnival over at 5 Minutes for Books.

There are always bunch of books on my to read list, also known as my nightstand but I don't actually have a nightstand right now so my to read books are stacked by the bed, on the back on the toilet and on my shelves for right now.

Currently reading:
Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing, I am really excited to finish this one, a friend of mine is the author of the story Valentines included in this book. I should be able to finish this one up soon though I am reading slow the last few days.

Oh my, that's the only book I'm in the middle of right now. It feels weird, I might just start another book for the hell of it.

To read:
Diggers (The Bromeliad Trilogy) I love Terry Pratchett and I am looking forward to reading one of his books for Young Readers.

A Year in the Merde maybe I'll actually finish this book this month.

Rusty: The High-Flying Morgan Horse (Morgan Horse Series) this book should be easy to get through, hopefully I can knock it out soon too.

of course all these on my to read list will get kicked out of order if either of my Dr. Who or Sookie Stackhouse series books that I have on hold come in to the library.

Book Review - The Preacher by Julie Fritz

I was sent The Preacher through a giveaway on librarything. I am not big on wars themselves but have always been interested in the people behind the war the real stories of the everyday people fighting the war or just caught in the middle of it.

The Preacher follows eight boys from their different backgrounds through World War II and then out on the other side after the War as men. Fritz doesn't over burden us with detail but lets the bits and pieces float over the reader to build the seriousness of the War at hand and the lives that are changed by it forever.

There is only one thing that bothered me about this novel, John Connor. I am sorry for that but I will always associate the name John Connor with the Terminator.

You can find more info about Julie Fritz and her novel The Preacher by visiting her website.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ok so Apple announced it's new virtual bookstore app for it's new iPad and I am assuming other devices as well such as the iPhone you can read more about it here. My question is where is it? The app doesn't show up on my iTunes and an internet search doesn't reveal much either so where can I get a copy to see what all this is about? Or when is it actually coming out, because I really like reading e-books on my iPhone and a better app to do that with would be much appreciated.

Book Review - Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Friday, January 22, 2010

Back when I working in a book store I shelved many a copy of Dead Until Dark (Book 1) [Southern Vampire #1] by Charlaine Harris as well as the other novels in the Southern Vampire series. They were in the Romance section, a section I rarely visited as a book reader but as an employee I learned it inside and out to better serve the customer. I knew the Southern Vampire books were Romantic of course and that they had vampires and to be honest I always thought they had to be a bit humorous given the covers. I never even read the back of it, I just knew it was too romance for me, then True Blood hit the small screen.

Like everyone else, I didn't even know it was on TV until the buzz started. After a few episodes I started hearing about it and by the end of the first season, I had heard it was good but with the anticipation of the second season came the real test. People were waiting for True Blood to come back and that is when you know you've got something so we purchased the first season through iTunes and watched. We were hooked from the opening title sequence and the rest is history, the more I watch the more I wanted to watch and so I did until now I am waiting for the third season. What's great about this wait is I can read the books in between. When I first found out True Blood the tv show was based on those little Romance novels I had been blowing off for years I was surprised and then I reminded myself to never judge a book by it's cover or it's section in the bookstore, for that matter.

I thought about reading the Southern Vampire series right after I finished season two of the television show last fall but just didn't do it, then when I saw the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge I knew it was the push I needed to get started.

I checked Dead Until Dark out of the library and couldn't put it down, with a 3 year old running around sometimes I had to but I didn't want to. If you've seen the tv show it's similer but at the same time totally different, it's worth the read to get deeper into the characters that you already know and love. There are things that happen in the book that give deeper meaning to things that are in the show and vice versa. I have never experienced a book/television (or movie) combo that worked together as well as this one does. As long as you accept that some things will be different you will see that they compliment each other perfectly.

Cute Short for The Girl Who Hated Books

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I found this cute video the other day, it's a little long but very entertaining. I loved it and so did my little guy.

Children's Classics Mystery Challenge

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

mysterychallengeThe folks over at 5 minutes for books are starting a new challenge that I am not exactly signing up for because it runs from January to June and I just don't have time for it right now but I do want to do this one post as a sort of nostalgic look back at the mystery books I read as a child.
The idea is to reread those classic mystery books you read as a child. Here's the catch with me, I didn't read any. Not that I didn't read at all, in fact I loved to read but I never liked to read mystery, still don't in fact. But when I was 19 I decided that there were some children's books that I missed out on. Either I didn't think I would like them at the time or I was never exposed to them. I went to a private Protestant school through 6th grade so all those books that other kids had to read, I was never even told about.
So as an adult I went to the library and picked up the Boxcar Children, I had a friend who was home schooled and she had loved these books so that is where I wanted to start. I am a slow reader and one thing I loved about each boxcar children book is that I could push right through it and finish a book in a day. I kept checking out more and more of them, I loved imagining myself reading them as a child. As much as I was getting into the story of the children in the books I was enjoying transporting myself into an alternate past where I read these books.
I loved every minute of every boxcar children book and when my son gets old enough I look forward to recommending these books to him.

Currently "Reading":
Book - Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing by various artists
E-Book - The Alphabet Challenge by Olga Gardner Galvin

Short Story Reading Challenge

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Challenge? Yeah, I know I am wondering if I am biting off more than I can chew too but here we go. I just ran into the Short Story Reading Challenge hosted by Kate over at a blog set up just for this challenge.

Here are the details (in short):
Options 1 & 2: If you're short on time, you can simply commit to reading ten short stories by ten different authors over the course of 2010. If you're relatively new to reading short stories, any ten will do. If you’ve already got a lot of short stories under your belt, make it ten short stories by ten writers whose work you have not yet read. How about that—a year long challenge that you could conceivably complete in the course of a day!
Options 3 & 4: If you've got a bit more time to devote to this endeavor, you can commit to reading between five and ten short story collections over the course of 2010. Again, if you're a short story novice, the world is your oyster as far as selection is concerned. But if you're a seasoned short story reader, you'll want to choose collections by writers whose short stories you have not yet encountered.
Option 5: This is the custom option under the rubric of which you can tailor your reading list to best meet your personal reading aspirations. You might wish to craft a list that focuses on a particular place, or era, or genre. Or you might wish to include reading about short stories as well as of short stories, for example, such works as Frank O'Connor's The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story. It's entirely up to you.

I am signing on for option 3, I challenge myself to read 5 short story collections by the end of the year. Shouldn't be too hard, I already have 2 short story collections in my library and will hit the library up for the other 3. I really enjoy reading short stories but for some reason I almost never end up coming home with one after a trip to the library or bookstore. That will change this year with this challenge.

Book Trailer for Gringa in a Strange Land by Linda Dahl

I just came across this book trailer for Gringa in a Strange Land by Linda Dahl which I reviewed yesterday, Enjoy!

Book Review - Gringa in a Strange Land by Linda Dahl

Sunday, January 10, 2010

They say not to judge a book by it's cover which I find only kinda true. A bad cover shouldn't stop you from giving a book a try but a good cover can only enhance what is tucked inside those covers. The moment I looked at the cover of Gringa in a Strange Land I wanted to travel to this location. I want to walk by this building, I want to meet the people who live inside and experience all the people and places that I imagine surround this humble abode with it's weathered paint and bared window.
Linda Dahl does a wonderful job of taking you there, to a little town in Mexico, Merida. Where time lingers allowing for art, love and a lazy day-to-day living. She also crafts the perfect character to guide us through this setting, Erica a twenty something artist from America. Erica's background isn't unlike many of us, she has a white middle class family back in the states who love her but still don't quite understand her so she sets off in search of answers and experience, she sets out in search of life.
What Erica finds are men, drugs and a crazy, lazy, hyper active existence. All the while she tries to paint, tries to release her inner artist but somehow finds herself back in the same circles and the same old routines. Every step she takes seems at first to be a step in the wrong direction but as the book progresses you find that each little mistake (much like real life) is a learning experience that will make her into the woman and artist she longs to be.
Gringa in a Strange Land is written in snippets that at first seem disjointed and, to me, a bit confusing but as I moved through the book each piece began to fall into place. I got to know the characters and truly felt for and with Erica in the perfect way a reader should be connected to the main character of a book. Someone called this a "coming of age story" but that doesn't feel right, Erica isn't becoming an adult she is deciding to take control and become responsible for herself and what she wants in life, by the end of Gringa in a Strange Land instead of searching blindly for answers she is making the things she wants happen one step at a time.

Linda Dahl has written extensively about Latin America, jazz, New Orleans and other topics that interest her over a thirty year career as a published author. She has lived in Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, and New York and currently lives in an old farmhouse with lots of flowers and pets. A widow, she has a daughter and a stepson. You can find more information about Ms. Dahl as well as her other publications by visiting her website

p.s. I received this book as part of Linda Dahl's virtual book tour through Pump Up Your Book Promotions.

Kay Marshall Strom Author of The Second-Half Adventure

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I am lucky enough to have Kay Marshall Strom, the wonderful author of The Second Half Adventure writing a guest post for me today. I am so glad to be sharing Ms. Strom's words with you as my first guest post on this blog. And without further adieu:

Writing From Your Inside Out

Inside every baby boomer is a thirty-five year old asking, “Hey, what happened?”

Life, that’s what.

For years I taught a class called “Writing Your Life Story” to really senior people. I always started with this assignment: In 100 worlds or less, write the significance of your life. I called it: Your microbiography. It was fascinating to see what people looking back at a lifetime of memories considered worthy of their one hundred words. Most of the men described what they had done for a living. Many of the women used their words to talk about their children.

I always smiled and responded, “This is all so interesting. But I want you to tell me about you!

Most of my senior students seemed genuinely stymied. One time a woman wrote exactly one hundred words describing all her perceived faults and shortcomings, including the fact that she never finished a secretarial course she started in her twenties. Imagine vexing over that for half a century!

Then there was the dapper white-haired man in his eighties, always jauntily dressed in a sport jacket and wool Scottish tie in his clan’s plaid. Charles was his name. He began his microbiography this way: “At the age of sixty I got a retirement watch from the railroad and went to work as a free repairman for anybody who needed my help. That was when I became a significant person.”

What a wise man, that Charles! Significance isn’t about success; it’s about consequence. It’s not what pads the checkbook; it’s what gives meaning to life.

In their determination to give back, mature baby boomers are realizing that significance truly is found beyond themselves and their own lives. We, too, may well live into our eighties or nineties. More than a few of us will blow out a hundred birthday candles. Even so, our days are numbered. And no one can reclaim days from the past. That’s why now is the time to rethink the goals and values that will leave us with a legacy of significance.

“Do a little bit of good where you are,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said. “It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

Baby boomers, the generation of transformers, have only just begun to show the power of their second half!

Kay Marshall Strom has written thirty-six published books, numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. Four of her books have been chosen as book club selections, eleven have been translated into foreign languages, and one was optioned for a movie. Her writing is also included in numerous volumes and compilations, including the bestselling Conversations on Purpose for Women (Zondervan 2005) and various editions of the NIV Devotional Bibles.

In addition to her writing, Kay taught writing classes through the California State University system for ten years, and still teaches at writers conferences around the country. In 2008, she was invited to India to teach writing in order to give a voice to those not normally heard.

A sought-after speaker, Kay is in demand for retreats and special events throughout the US and around the world.

Kay and her husband Dan Kline make their home in the Pacific Northwest.

You can visit her website at

Book Review - Critical Mass by Kathleen M. Henry

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I began reading Critical Mass by Kathleen M. Henry a few weeks ago while sitting in the waiting room at my dentist's office. Not the most glamorous start but I was quickly pulled into the story. I guess I should say stories to be more accurate, Critical Mass follows the lives of several women and their relation to the church. Each section of the book corresponds to the segments of a Catholic Mass.

I am not Catholic but I have always been very interested in all religions and now that I live in a predominately Catholic city I am more interested than ever in the theology and lore that Catholicism is built upon. Critical Mass not only shows the reader inside the church and the sanctity of Mass but also puts us inside the minds of the parishioners sitting in the pews and the priests behind the scenes.

Ms. Henry does a great job building her stories, one character on top of the other each one pulled me more and more into the larger picture. Though the book is short at just 109 pages, it is so perfectly put together that it didn't leave me wanting but calm and warm. Even though we are not all that similar on the surface I felt like I connected with the women in Critical Mass intimately which can only be attributed to Kathleen Henry's storytelling. All-in-all I give Critical Mass thumbs up.

Currently "Reading":
Book - Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 1) by Charlaine Harris

Time Travel Reading Challenge

Friday, January 1, 2010

The rules to this reading challenge hosted by At Home With Books are simple:
Decide how many time travel books you want to read and then read them before the end of 2010 - that's it! (The challenge goes from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.)

I really like the time travel genre as well, I'm not sure if it can really be called it's own genre maybe it is a sub-genre. Well, whatever it is I like it and so I am looking forward to joining this challenge. I don't have a set list of books I am going to read for this challenge yet but I do have a set number that I want to read and that number is 10.

The reason I am choosing to put my goal so high is because if I complete my Doctor Who challenge then I would complete this challenge at the same time since all the Doctor Who books are about time travel. Fitting one challenge completely inside another just didn't seem right so I am setting my goal for this challenge higher than the number of books i have left on my Doctor Who challenge which will force me to pick at least two time travel novels that don't star the Doctor. Man, I hope that didn't confuse anyone.

Anyway, if you are interested in joining this challenge you can sign up over here on the At Home For Books Blog also she has a great list of time travel books to help get you started.

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