Showing posts from August, 2010

Skip a Starbucks--Support Adoption

C.J., blogger at The Last Word, and her family have an important, family-changing opportunity they can obtain with your help. For $5--the cost of a frou-frou drink at Starbucks--your donation can assist them in reaching their goal of raising an additional $8000 to bring their daughter home from China.

This adoption journey is a five-year process that may, hopefully, finally come to be for them very soon.

Visit C.J.'s blog to learn more about their experience and to enter to win some great prizes for donating and/or promoting awareness of their fundraising efforts.

Thanks to Crystal of the blog Crystal Clear Reading (great title!) for leading me to the adoption donation opportunity through her blog posting.

This and That

"If I don't look at Mom, she'll never notice that I'm on Muffin's new bed. Really, if I can't see Mom, she can't see me!"

I'm a little late with posting this, but here are the 2010 RITA winners from the Romance Writers of America. See their site for the list, complete with book covers and author photos. Congratulations to all of the award recipients!

Young Adult Romance
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Inspirational Romance
The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander

Novel with Strong Romantic Element
The Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O’Neal

Romance Novella
The Christmas Promise by Molly O’Keefe

Contemporary Series Romance
A Not-So-Perfect Past by Beth Andrews

Contemporary Series Romance Suspense/Adventure
The Soldier’s Secret Daughter by Cindy Dees

Historical Romance
Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

Regency Historical Romance
What Happens in London by Julia Quinn

Paranormal Romance
Kiss of a Demon King …

All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins

In All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins (2010), Callie Grey learns that the man she loves, the man she dated for five--almost five-and-a-half--weeks at some glorious point in the past, who also happens to be her boss, is seriously involved with another woman. Of course, when Mark dumped Callie, he told her the timing just wasn't right for a serious relationship for him. Oh, and he waits until Callie's thirtieth birthday to tell her, but the other relationship has actually been going on for a couple of months.

Yeah, Callie's a "nice girl" who wants love, marriage, and babies, and she thinks Mark is Mr. Right. Of course, her sister and one of her best friends--and every reader, I'm sure--can see immediately that he's an egomaniac who gets his thrills by torturing Callie for her crush on him.

Fortunately, Mark isn't the only man in Vermont. Here's Callie's first encounter, in line at the DMV, with the man we later learn is local veterinarian (a…

This and That

I spent an hour and fifteen minutes at curriculum night for the first-graders at Maya's school last night. Whew! They have a busy year planned. Lots of reading and writing skills, lots of math skills, and not a lot of play. I've heard first grade is the hardest year of the kindergarten through fifth grade group, and I can understand why. There seems to be a pretty large gap between expectations in kindergarten and expectations in first grade.

And I have my first volunteer session at Maya's school library this afternoon. I'm so excited!!!

A new-to-me site I learned about through one of my library-related discussion lists is Open Spaces Magazine. According to their About Us section:

Welcome to the Open Spaces web site. We have launched this quarterly magazine to provide a forum for voices that speak with knowledge and insight to issues affecting people in every region of the United States and around the world. As the name suggests, Open Spaces is dedicated to an open…

Maya's New Dog

Here's a photo of Maya with Muffin from Wednesday night, when we brought her home from our local Humane Society.

So far, Muffin and Allie, our Rottweiler, are mostly ignoring each other. Allie's a little miffed with me, I know, but I think she'll enjoy the company once the dogs get used to being around each other.

Muffin appears to be a very social--with humans, anyway--and good-natured dog. She seems happiest when she's sitting by or on someone. I think Maya and I can handle fulfilling that need!

Thanks for the well wishes in the comments on my previous post. I'm glad to be able to report a "happy start" with Muffin as a part of our family!


Behold the lovely Muffin, a four-year-old female Shih tzu. Herb, Maya, and I met her at our local Humane Society yesterday, and she's adorable. Sweet and friendly, plus very pretty.

The big test, of course, is taking Allie to meet her later today. If they get along, we'll take Muffin home with us. If not, I guarantee she'll be adopted by someone else quickly.

Wish us luck, please.

Fortunately, Rusty, the Catahoula I mentioned in my last dog-related post, finally found a new home yesterday morning. Yeah!

Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn

Unleashed by Cherrie Lynn (2010), though okay, just didn't hit me the way her Rock Me did.

At the beginning of Unleashed, Kelsey receives a call from her best friend, Evan, asking if she wants to go to Hawaii with him. Might not seem like such a strange conversation between best friends, except (a) this trip was supposed to be Evan's honeymoon with another woman and (b) Kelsey's marriage ended when she found Evan's fiancee, ahem, on top of her husband/Evan's friend.

As might be expected, Kelsey and Evan's relationship enters an entirely different stage while vacationing together in romantic Hawaii. Can this new kind of relationship last beyond their trip?

The part that bothered me the most is that Kelsey and Evan really could/should have been together ten years earlier, when they first formed their friendship in college. Instead, Evan introduced her to his friend, and Kelsey "settled." I'm not a big fan of books where people pine for each other …

Rock Me by Cherrie Lynn

Rock Me by Cherrie Lynn (2010) is an impulse romance buy I'm really glad I made.

Candace, proverbial sweet girl, decides to get a tattoo on her twenty-third birthday. Besides wanting a tattoo, this is a chance to see her cousin's ex-boyfriend, and Candace's crush, Brian, again.

Brian, proverbial "bad boy," owns his own tattoo parlor, and he's covered in tattoos and body piercings. He's used to being seen as the black sheep of his wealthy family and judged by others on the basis of his appearance.

Neither one is the simplistic, one-dimensional character you might expect, though. Candace is working to break free of her stifling family while being dependent on them for support while she's in college. Brian just quit smoking, and his serious drinking days are long in the past. His focus is on his business and his friends, and he's genuinely caring, especially about Candace.

Lynn does a nice combination of developing the characters, providing plenty o…

A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion

I suspect A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion (2009) is one of those books that appeals to a lot of, mainly female, readers--just not to me.

Skyla Plinka finally has a family of her own--husband Thomas and daughter Nora--after moving from place to place and losing everyone she has ever loved. Then why does she feel the need for something more?

Audrey Plinka finally has her son Thomas out of the house and in a home of his own. And she finally has a granddaughter after always wanting a daughter instead of the three boys she gave birth to. Why does she feel the need to always interfere?

Enter Skyla's new neighbor, Roxanne Bear, and her crazy household, complete with five sons and a Mastiff. Unknown to everyone, Roxanne's outlook on life and a serious illness are going to have a significant impact on Skyla and Audrey.

Sounds promising and filled with character development, but. . . .

I found Skyla more than a litle self-absorbed, and I didn't really find Audrey much better--ma…

This and That

More dog eye candy. This is the gorgeous Catahoula leopard dog, Rusty, currently available for adoption through my local Humane Society.

I liked Rusty during our visit to the shelter on Sunday, but my husband, Herb, is opposed to bringing another big dog into the house. We already have an 81-pound Rottweiler, and Rusty weighs 90 pounds. Sigh. So I keep checking the online site every day, hoping (a) to find a little dog for our family and (b) that Rusty is in a new, wonderful home of his own. No luck for either Rusty or me so far.

And, speaking of eye candy, have you seen Katy Perry's video for Teenage Dream yet? Not only do I love that song, but Josh Kloss isn't exactly hard on the eyes. Nope, not at all.

For a contrast to my review of James Levine's The Blue Notbook, check out this blog posting from Violet Crush. She has one of my favorite blogs, and she always finds the most interesting books to read. While I'm disappointed that she's listing The Blue Not…

First Day of First Grade

Here's Maya from this morning, all set for her very first day of first grade.

Yes, that's a t-shirt about vampires. We did a little shopping at Justice last night. Explain to me how I managed to get a fashion diva for a daughter. She found six new tops for school, but she wouldn't have anything to do with their jeans or any other pants in the store. She thinks she's planning to wear skirts in winter in Nebraska. Huh?

Now Mom gets to find some kind of pants, somewhere, that Maya's willing to wear because nothing from last year fits her. Being so picky about her clothes is such a luxury--if she only realized that!!

This and That

We had Maya's school open house last night. I already like her first grade teacher, Mrs. C, who seems a lot like her kindergarten teacher--calm, efficient, and nice, yet firm. Probably exactly what Maya needs!

And I'm excited that I'm going to be volunteering at Maya's school's library Friday afternoons, beginning next week. I'll be shelving books and whatever else her librarian needs someone to do.

Remember Micaela at Dolce Vita's great idea of having her blog readers send mail to her brother while he's stationed overseas? Megan at Time after Tea is also requesting mail for her sister's significant other, just deployed with the Australian Navy.

And don't forget to check out Megan's Penpal Mailing List while you're there. There's even a listing from yours truly!

Also check out this posting from Melissa at Oh, My Darling if you're interested in finding some new pen pals. From the posting:

The basic lowdown is that I'll be c…

Dog Hunt

"See, Mom, it's okay that terrier cross didn't like me! I'm not lonely; I have Scooby-Doo."

No, we don't have a new dog yet. Maya and I loved the little terrier cross I posted to the blog last week, but the little dog didn't like Allie when we tried an interaction. Or, more accurately, she growled and snapped if Allie approached to get some love and attention from the human holding her.

Yes, there's something a little ridiculous about a Rottweiler hiding behind me to escape from the ferocious little dog, yet that's what happened. Allie's too sweet and well-trained by Rufus (our much-missed Yorkie) and Maya to bite a little dog or a child--fortunately for this little dog with the Napoleon complex.

And, good news, when we went to look at available dogs yesterday, we saw that she's on hold pending adoption now. Hopefully to a home where she can be the only, much-loved dog!

Hopefully, we find our new family member soon, too.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Don't let the cover of Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (2010) fool you. This isn't a fluffy Victorian-era romance, not in the slightest; this is a book about identity, self-determination, and the way in which life shows you your true friends. There's also a touch of non-traditional romance, though that isn't the focus of the book.

Louisa Cosgrove believes she's heading off to become the companion to the daughter of a wealthy family. Not exactly the life she truly wants to pursue, that of being a physician like her now-deceased father, but also a realistic outcome for a woman of her period and class who doesn't want a husband and family.

Instead, she finds herself in an insane asylum, being called by the name Lucy Childs. Why is she there, and who can she trust? And, most important of all, how can she ever escape the living hell that mental institutions were at the time?

Louisa is a strong, independent young woman facing some harsh circumstances. I really enjoyed h…

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

After reading Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (2005), which I enjoyed even more than Backseat Saints, I'm officially hooked on Jackson and her work. She's now on my instant buy for her new works, and I still have a couple more of her earlier books to read.

There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of "discovering" a new-to-you author who thoroughly engages your interest with his/her writing style and characters. I'm excited!

In Gods in Alabama, Arlene/Lena Fleet (I love how her characters have dual personalities and different first names to reflect their different life paths) has to do something she promised God to never do--return to her hometown, Possett, Alabama, after ten years in Chicago.

One reason for her return involves Ro/Rose from Backseat Saints appearing on her Chicago doorstep, and the other reason is the insistence of boyfriend Burr that he's leaving if she doesn't take him to meet her family--the aunt and uncle who basically r…


Here's the little beauty we're thinking about adding to the family.

That's assuming we get to her "first" at our local Humane Society. Every dog I think looks like a fit on their Web site seems to get adopted quickly. Glad I'm bringing luck to the dogs!!

This and That

Many thanks to Misfit Salon for listing this blog as her featured blog at her site. "An eclectic and thoughtful reviewer." High praise from one of my very favorite bloggers, someone I'd love to actually meet in person. Whoot!

And, since I'm planning to end my personal blog, Maya's World, soon, you'll be seeing more This and That postings with information like the following:

Maya (my daughter), J (a friend of Maya's who turns six next month), Herb (my husband), and I went to Des Moines for the weekend. About three hours in the car is just right with two kids.

We spent Sunday at Adventureland, a nice-sized theme park. The car read 112 degrees F when we left the park about 4 p.m., and I bet that was accurate with the heat index. Not all that many people braved the heat, leaving us with short waits for even the most popular rides during our six hours at the park.

Maya's favorite parts of the weekend? Driving through downtown Des Moines on Saturday ev…

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

I woke up smelling antiseptic and the fermenting tang of yogurt.

"There you are," a woman said. I knew the voice. Even more, I knew that strawberry-vanilla breath.

"I fell downstairs," I said to the ER nurse I hated very most. The words came out creaky, automated.

I heard the cluck of her tongue, and I managed to slit one eye to see her lavender scrubs and her moistly sympathetic eyeballs, too close to my face as she bent over me. I heard the tick and beep of some machine.

"You could have died, you know," she said. "He's getting worse. He's come pretty close to killing you before, but not this close. You should let me call the cops."

I tried to nod, but it hurt too badly, so I said, "Okay. Have them arrest the stairs."

Her nostrils flared. "This isn't what love feels like, Mrs. Grandee. One of your ribs snapped and stabbed you in the lung. It collapsed. Your shoulder's dislocated., and your scalp's a bloody mess. You…

Sins of the Heart by Eve Silver

Sins of the Heart (2010) is the first in Eve Silver's new Otherkin trilogy.


Half human, half god, Dagan Krayl is the Underworld's most powerful soul reaper. When one of his brothers is murdered, Dagan must use every ounce of his power to hunt down those responsible for his brutal death. But he must move swiftly—and carefully—if he's to have any chance of resurrecting his brother.

Yet that resurrection could wreak havoc on the mortal world. As an Otherkin, Roxy Tam has sworn to protect the human race, and it's her mission to stop Dagan. But when she sees him face-to-face, she realizes that she has seen him once before—a meeting that changed her life forever.

Neither Dagan nor Roxy expect to join forces for the sake of mankind. Or to have their loyalties tested as they struggle against the potent desire that threatens to consume them both….

Roxy is a strong, self-reliant survivor of the foster care system and now a Daughter of Aset. Since the Daughters of Aset are …

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

So it's taken me until December--four months since I got home--to even try this therapy stuff again. I'd almost resigned myself to just staying screwed up, but the idea of living the rest of my life feeling this way. . . Your writing on your Web site was sort of funny, for a shrink, and you looked kind--nice teeth, by the way. Even better, you don't have a bunch of letters that mean God only knows what after your name. I don't want the biggest and the best. That just means a bigger ego and an even bigger bill. I don't even mind driving an hour and a half to get here. Gets me out of Clayton Falls, and so far I haven't found any reporters hiding in my back seat.

So reads an early paragraph [Kindle location 58-62] in the first section of Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (2010).

Our narrator, Annie O'Sullivan, who pulled me into her story and wouldn't let go, is a nice, regular thirty-something real estate agent with the usual mother/boyfriend/work-life balan…

Kiss Me Forever by Rosemary Laurey

I came across a two-in-one digital download by an author I hadn't read before, one who happens to write romances about vampires. Oh, yeah; I'm in!

Kiss Me Forever by Rosemary Laurey (2010) didn't disappoint, and I'm looking forward to reading the second part of the download, Love Me Forever, too.

In Kiss Me Forever, Dixie LaPage is a regular Southerner, as in United States South, who just inherited a home in an English village from two great-aunts she never met. Two great-aunts that her grandma/their sister never talked about, other than to refer to them as "witches."

Promising start, right?

Throw in a smarmy attorney and his nephew, rumors of the house being haunted, a night prowler, and the gorgeous Christopher Marlowe, who just happens to be William Shakespeare's contemporary and a vampire, and you have a very fun read.

An example of the dialogue, which I particularly enjoy, from Kindle location 771-776:

[Christopher speaking to Dixie about the smarmy att…

This and That

A record three This and That postings in a row.

J.R. Ward is now also writing as Jessica Bird. I just bought An Unforgettable Lady (2010) while visiting Barnes & Noble with my best friend on Sunday night. (Doesn't dinner and coffee already seem like forever ago, Keli??)

The synopsis for An Unforgettable Lady from J.R. Ward's site, where you can also read an excerpt:

Grace Hall is a society beauty surrounded by glamour, privilege, and wealth- but her fortune has made her a glittering target. One by one, Manhattan’s most influential women are being murdered, and Grace is on the killer’s hit list. In order to protect herself, she demands the best in bodyguards- and gets so much more than she expects.

John Smith is a hard-hearted security specialist who is as dedicated to his work as he is deadly. Moving into Grace’s luxury penthouse is the last thing he wants, but saying no to her is something he can’t seem to do. As he lays down the rules for his new client, sparks ignite bet…

This and That

Even with the air conditioning running inside, I think my brain is too fried with the humidity for creating book postings. I'm certainly blaming my current rash of headaches on the heat and humidity, anyway. High today projected to be 93 degrees F with the heat index making it feel like 110-115 degrees F. LOVELY.

For now, let me share tidbits instead.

Misfit Salon, which, as I've mentioned before, is one of my absolute favorite blogs, is celebrating the one-year blogiversary. The bad news is that she's planning to take a little hiatus from blogging. Hope she's back into blogging again very soon for selfish reasons--I'm going to miss her and her fabulous postings! Check her blog out here for some high-quality book reviews and the chance to enter her blogiversary celebration giveway.

Why Parents Hate Parenting is a very interesting article from New York Magazine, found courtesy of blogger Kwana. One tidbit of note early in the fairly lengthy article:

Perhaps the m…