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Showing posts from March, 2010

This and That

Haven't done one of these This and That e-mail messages in a while. Can you tell that I'm still spending more time on writing than reading??

E-book Advantages on the Kindle and the iPad offers a brief comparison of the two products. Worth a glance if you're trying to decide which item to purchase.

[If purchasing now, I would likely pick the iPad over the Kindle, though I think much more could have been done with the iPad.]

The Institute of Museum and Library Services released a report titled Opportunity for All: How the American Public Benefits from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries. According to the press release:

Nearly one-third of Americans age 14 or older – roughly 77 million people – used a public library computer or wireless network to access the Internet in the past year, according to a national report released today. In 2009, as the nation struggled through a recession, people relied on library technology to find work, apply for college, secure government benef…

Hot Tub Time Machine

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Starting your week off right with another piece of eye candy, this time in the form of always witty, intelligent, fun-to-watch John Cusack, because I went to his (one of the actors and executive producers) Hot Tub Time Machine yesterday.

Three friends and the nephew of one of the friends find themselves transported from 2010 back to a particular weekend in 1986 by the hot tub at a ski resort. Not too surprisingly, the three friends aren't exactly where they want to be in their current lives, and the nephew isn't doing much with his young life.

Is the trip back in time a chance to get everything right, or a reminder of what life was really like back in the "good old days" of their youth?

I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Good casting, fun in a campy sort of way, with just the right touch of nostalgia, and the music selections are perfect.

I'm a little sad that the 1980s is reduced to being called the decade of Reagan and AIDS. Depressing thought!!!!!

Please Vote in My Two Polls

Please vote in my companion polls about what you consider the most important trait in a long-term significant other and in a fling, one-night-stand.

Please vote once in each poll, and leave me a note to let me know that you voted because I'm going to be giving Random Prizes to commenters soon.

And I'd also be interested in reading in the comments if there's something else you consider more important in either category that I didn't include.

London Wishes--My Book

Still plugging away on my YA novel, London Wishes. I'm now just over 23,000 words, with a goal of at least 40,000 words, so far on the first draft.

I thought I'd share the beginning of the book, which is broken into eight days instead of chapters.

Comments? Thoughts?

London, Day 1--Arrival

Only seven or eight hours in the air, no pilot error, no mechanical problems, no wild birds on the loose and looking for an engine to sabotage, only seven or eight hours in the air, no freak storms, no midair collisions with another plane. . . .

Maya kept repeating the same litany over and over to herself to help with her fear of flying as she sat on the plane heading from Minneapolis to London for her adventure of a lifetime. Or so her school counselor kept calling the time in London in the weeks leading up to graduation and the trip.

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of an anonymous alum of her high school, five seniors selected for their excellent grades, athletic/musical/artistic talents, …

What She Wants by Cathy Kelly

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What She Wants by Cathy Kelly (2009) might have made the list of my favorite books if the story hadn't, at 592 pages, dragged on about twice as long as I really think was necessary. I like layered stories about multiple women, and I like stories set in Ireland, but this one had too much detail to really hold my attention.

Hope Parker and her family move to fictional Irish town Redlion when husband Matt decides to take a year to write his first book, the Next Great Novel, of course. Hope's the one who actually finds her place in tiny Redlion, while Matt struggles, something he chooses not to share with Hope. Lack of communication? Yep, marriage troubles ahead.

My favorite of the other various characters, all fairly well-developed, is Hope's sister, Sam, probably because I could relate to her. There's a woman on the brink of a serious midlife crisis, and even being a successful music producer leaves her feeling empty and searching for more. More, but what? Amen to t…

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin

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The Disappeared by Kim Echlin (2009) is, by far, my favorite book I've read in the first three months of 2010.

Sixteen-year-old Anne Greves, raised by her distant, widowed father, meets twenty-one-year-old Cambodian college student Serey in a Montreal blues club, and the attraction is immediate and mutual. She loves Serey in the obsessive way only a teenager can, leaving her devastated when the borders to Cambodia reopen after the fall of Pol Pot, allowing Serey to return home to search for his family.

Flash-forward eleven years. Anne's life still revolves around her memories of her time with Serey. [Yes, I'm thinking "what a waste, what a waste."] A chance glimpse of someone who may be Serey on television has her leaving Canada and heading to Cambodia with the mere hope of finding him again.

The relationship between Anne and Serey is extremely different in Cambodia than during their time together in Montreal. Not only are they older and different, but their rel…

Mistress by Leda Swann

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The description from the author's site about Mistress by Leda Swann (2008).

She knew she was playing with fire...and she was eager to burn.

The very thought of an innocent young woman - a teacher at a fusty finishing school - modeling for a series of titillating photographs to be sold at London's bookstalls is scandalous. But orphaned Emily Clemens's destitute circumstances have left her little choice. It is all part of her plan to capture the attention of some well-heeled roué who will then make her his pampered mistress. So the untouched beauty sheds her outer garments - and her inhibitions - to strike provocative poses before the lens of handsome photographer Eric Twyford.

But each seductive attitude she assumes is stoking a fire within that Emily never knew existed - and the heat is spurring her on to ever-greater heights of sensuous abandon. Still, the devilishly desirable Eric, a consummate professional, remains unmoved by her erotic display. If Emily cannot arouse a ma…

Justified

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That's okay; I'll wait a minute while you take another look at that photo. Timothy Olyphant's worth a second or third look. Eyes with a hint of laughter, slow-to-build smile, nice body--um, yeah, he's worth a fourth look, too.

Did anyone else catch the first episode of his new show, Justified, on FX? The show airs at 9 p.m. CST on Tuesdays, but I caught the first episode during a rerun at 10 p.m. CST on Friday.

Olyphant plays Federal Marshal Raylan Givens, sent from Miami back to Eastern Kentucky for killing one too many suspects. Going home is never easy, right? He faces an ex-wife, a boyhood friend who is now a white supremacist, and a woman recently widowed when she killed her own husband--and who still has a teenage crush on Givens. And, of course, he also has to face himself, "the angriest man I've ever known," according to his ex-wife. Hiding from yourself is more difficult when you're around people who know you well.

Oh, yes, Olyphant as G…

Don't You Forget About Me by Jancee Dunn

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I bought Don't You Forget About Me by Jancee Dunn (2008) on a bit of a nostalgia kick because the heroine, Lillian Curtis, is exactly my age and on her way to the Class of 1988's twentieth-year reunion. And maybe I made the mistake of hoping Lillian would be, if not me, exactly, at least someone I could like.

Nope, Lillian's pretty self-absorbed and seemingly oblivious to how many people she hurt during high school. Her memories of that period are actually miraculously rosy and not quite accurate.

Now a television producer, she heads home to her parents' house when her personal life crumbles, conveniently coinciding with the class reunion. What's she going to learn about herself--past, present, and future--from her former classmates, including her senior year boyfriend, single and still hot?

Lillian does grow and change, whether she actually wants to or not, and I did enjoy her older sister and her boss, Vi, a seventy-four-year-old with fantastic advice, charisma, …

London Wishes

I started writing another book last week. This is another YA novel, with the working title of London Wishes, based on a dream this time.

The heroine is on a one-week trip to London with four of her classmates, all of them just having graduated from high school. The hero is an older Italian guy who happens to meet them during their very first day in London.

I'm right at 13,500 words after about a week of writing. Pretty fast, compared to my usual writing standards. (Hey, Real Life, as in The Family and the Paying Job, come first, right?) Cutting into my reading time, though, of course!

I have no idea why London entered my dream. Nothing against England, but it's never been on my list of places I'm burning to go. Of course, now that I've been doing some research into what to include in the book, I'm ready to see the Crown Jewels, take a Jack the Ripper walking tour, see Jane Austen's Bath, visit a flower market. . . .

Yeah, I could book a trip to England for t…

Remember Me

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Ignoring a horrible review we read, my friend Keli and I went to see Remember Me yesterday. I'm so glad I didn't listen to the paid critic because I LOVED this movie.

Tyler (Robert Pattinson) is a twenty-one-year-old with issues. Divorced parents, distant father (Pierce Brosnan), deceased older brother, and younger sister that he treats almost like his own daughter. He's lost, in more ways than one.

Along comes Ally (Emilie de Ravin), who has her own set of issues, including a dead mother and over-protective father.

Robert Pattinson in this role reminds me so much of one of my nephews, adding to my enjoyment of the movie.

I admit that, even knowing what was coming for the ending, I still cried. I think this is one I need to buy, and I almost never buy movies other than kids' movies for my daughter.

My overall personal rating of Remember Me is an A-.

Abandoned by Cody McFadyen

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Abandoned by Cody McFadyen (2009) falls into the category of a book I wouldn't have bought, but one that I picked up while browsing at the public library a couple of weeks ago. I'm definitely willing to read books outside of my normal realm when I get them from friends, the library, a free download, etc.

I didn't realize this is actually the fourth in a series of books from McFadyen featuring (female) FBI agent Smoky Barrett, and I'm perfectly okay with having missed the first three books and any future books.

Smoky's career involves seeking the worst of the worst, psychopathic serial killer types, as a branch chief for the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC). So far, her career has brought her to the notice of the killers of her husband and young daughter and best friend (featured in previous books, I'm sure) and left her physically and emotionally scarred.

I'll give McFadyen credit for creating a strong heroine because she forges ahea…

Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl

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I didn't realize at first that Lead Me On by Victoria Dahl (2010) is actually the third, and final installment, in her Tumble Creek series. Fortunately, I don't think I missed anything essential by not reading the earlier books, Talk Me Down and Start Me Up.

Jane Morgan seems like a quiet, efficient secretary for an architect. And along comes "W. Chase," known as Chase, a chance to have one birthday night with a bad boy. And he's fine with bringing a little wild side to her life.

However, Jane actually has an entirely different birth name and a youth spent on a path of self-destruction. Having left that period behind, she doesn't have time for someone like Chase--or the way she assumes Chase happens to be.

I'll admit the story grated on my nerves more than a little because, like most true converts in life, Jane, having left her wild days firmly in her past, is extremely judgmental and self-conscious about the thoughts of others to the point of treating…

Darkness Everlasting by Alexandra Ivy

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Thanks to my friend Kym for the birthday money to spend at Amazon, I backed up to read Darkness Everlasting (2008), Book 3 from Alexandra Ivy's Guardians of Eternity series.

Darcy Smith, raised in a series of (human) foster homes, has always known she's different than everyone around her. She's about to learn exactly how different after being kidnapped by vampire Anasso (master/king) Styx, who provides entry into an entire world of vampires, weres, and assorted other demons that Darcy didn't even know existed.

For his part, Styx kidnaps Darcy only because he needs a bargaining tool in the stand-off between the vampires and the were(wolves). Since were King Salvatore tracked the girl, he must have some reason to want her. Styx enters the situation perfectly willing to trade his captive for what he wants from Salvatore.

Silly vampire doesn't know about love, does he? And he goes way under, way faster than Darcy.

I didn't find quite the level of chemistry between …

To Wed a Wicked Prince by Jane Feather

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I wanted to like To Wed a Wicked Prince by Jane Feather (2008). What's not to like from the sound of the book? 1807--London--Russian prince sweeps almost on-the-shelf, nice English daughter of an earl off her feet.

Prince Alex Prokov, one-time closest of friends with Catherine the Great's grandson, now the Czar of Russia, needs an English wife for his "spy" duties and wants access to the house where the mother he never met once lived. Livia Lacey is English, runs in all the correct circles, and happens to live in the house in question.

Of course, though I can't really see why, Alex is also immediately fascinated by Livia. He courts and marries her incredibly quickly--leaving off a couple of important details: the identity of his English mother and the nature of his true work goals, the ones that require a wife, during this time when England and Russia, supporting Napoleon, are at war.

The story lies in the unveiling--excruciatingly slowly--of the truth to Livi…

Please Vote in My Poll

Does whether you can read a book for "free" have an impact on what you read?

("Free" being a relative term since public libraries are taxpayer-funded, a loan from a friend is a gift based on that friendship, and e-book downloads at no charge still require something with which to read the book. Plus, the time you spend reading something has a value that can never be recaptured and goes far beyond mere money.)

Darkness Unleashed by Alexandra Ivy

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The description for Darkness Unleashed by Alexandra Ivy (2009), Guardians of Eternity series Book 5:

A scarred recluse, Jagr makes no secret of his disdain for others' company. But now, as a member of Chicago's powerful vampire clan, he has certain obligations to fulfill. The latest: track down a missing Were pureblood and return her to her sister. The problem: Regan Garrett has no intention of complying. And though Jagr agreed not to harm an inch of this stubborn female's distractingly tempting body, he'll gladly kiss her into submission, awakening an urge he hasn't felt in years. hell, in centuries...

Regan vowed never to be at the mercy of another man. That goes double for arrogant, steel-muscled vampires with eyes of ice. All Regan wants is revenge against those who imprisoned her. She doesn't need an ally. She certainly doesn't need a mate. But soon soon Regan will have to choose--between a lust for vengeance, and a passion as dark and dangerous as the …

White Star by Elizabeth Vaughan

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White Star by Elizabeth Vaughan (2009) is the second book in the Star Series. I thought I read the first book, Dagger-Star, but I soon realized from reading this second book that I haven't read it yet. Regardless, I was fine reading the second book without the background from the first one, though I'll be backing up to read Dagger-Star soon.

This excerpt from p. 58 is why I really enjoyed the book:

If, in fact, one answered for one's choices in life, Orrin Blackhart knew he was damned. But there was one thing he'd done right and well, and he was fiercely glad of it. He'd saved her. He didn't think it would count for much in the balance. But it mattered to him.

It hit him then, hit him hard. The striving was done; the battle, over. Death was here, waiting, and part of him welcomed the possibility of oblivion. It settled in his chest, an odd sense of peace. Let it be done, then. He was ready.


Orrin Blackhart, Lord Marshal of the Black Hills, has done much …

Happy National Read Across America Day!

To everyone in the United States: Happy National Read Across America Day today! To everyone not in the United States--any excuse to read, right? And now you can add a little multiculturalism to your day, too.

Held annually on March 2, chosen because this is Dr. Seuss' birthday, various schools and libraries across the United States hold special celebrations.

My daughter's school, for pre-school through Grade 5 or ages three to eleven, held a special book parade today. Parents, grandparents, younger siblings, and so on were invited to line the halls while the kids paraded through the school dressed as various book characters. Then guests were invited to join students in their classrooms for a special "Stop, Drop, and Read" reading time.

*****If anyone wants a Dr. Seuss bookmark, leave me a comment with your e-mail address, or send me a message at Choco223@aol.com.*****

Please Vote in My Poll

[Drop me a comment saying that you voted, and I'll enter you in the next prize drawing for blog commenters.]

I love polls and hearing what others think, so I'm planning to make a poll a regular part of this blog.

Please vote in my current poll about graphic romance novel covers and whether they have an impact on what you read.

Shutter Island

I made it to see Shutter Island by myself yesterday.

I so-o-o-o wouldn't have gone to the movie if I had understood what it was really all about. I don't want to give any spoilers, so I won't say anything else specific.

I'll note that the acting was great, but the suspense I expected wasn't there at all. I couldn't get my husband or my best friend to go to the movie because they thought it looked terrifying. Herb even expected me to come home and sleep on the couch. I wouldn't say the movie was even frightening, though, not in the scary movie sense. More upsetting than anything else, and I agree the previews made the movie look scary-movie frightening.

Disturbing, yes, and definitely a movie that I'm still thinking about today.

Has anyone else seen Shutter Island? What did you think?