Showing posts from October, 2010

Nevermore by Kelly Creagh

I've always had a soft spot for Edgar Allan Poe, so I was pretty excited to read Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (2010). Unfortunately, though probably not too surprisingly, reading something by Poe is actually way more intriguing than reading this book.

Isobel is a member of the cheer team and part of the It crowd (or crew, as she calls it). I found her not in the least bit interesting or riveting, as I really wanted her to be, and Varen, Goth guy partnered with her for their English project, is only slightly more interesting. He's just a little too wimpy for me.

Regardless of my feelings on the characters, the story does progress to include an alternate reality, one created around Poe's short story, The Masque of the Red Death. There's plenty of confusion and betrayal, some intentional and some not, thrown into the mix in the alternate world.

The ending very much leaves the reader hanging in anticipation of the sequel. Well, the majority of readers, who appear to love th…

Shades of Midnight by Lara Adrian

I was a little slow to warm to Shades of Midnight (2010), the seventh entry in Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series.

Kade, a member of the Boston-based vampire warrior group called the Order, is back in Alaska, dealing not only with a mission, but also facing some family issues he left behind. While the family issues were a tad too neatly resolved for my taste, I did appreciate Kade as a character.

Bush pilot Alex has her own haunting past, and imagine her surprise in learning that Kade doesn't seem doubtful, or even shocked, when hearing about the horrific way her mother and little brother were killed in Florida when she was little. And that past seems to have become inter-mingled with her present with a killer on the loose in Alaska.

Once Kade and Alex become intimately involved, the story becomes more interesting to read. They have good chemistry, and the sex scenes are steamy.

In the Midnight Breed series, you have resolution of the actual couple on which the book focuses, b…

Halloween Party at Porridge Papers

Maya the Vampire Princess and I had the best time at the Halloween Party held by local letterpress Porridge Papers on Saturday.

Maya listened really intently to a lovely woman from Indigo Bridge Books, another local treasure, read for two hours. Two hours of fun, Halloween-related books. We must have the pop-up Frankenstein book she shared.

Doesn't she make a smashing vampire princess?

Take Me There by Carolee Dean

I know two things about him.
He's locked away
down there in Texas,
I've heard my mother say.
She only talks about him
when she's full of wine.
His name is Dylan Dawson,
same as mine.

So reads the poem at the beginning of Take Me There by Carolee Dean (2010), a first-person YA coming-of-age book told from the male perspective.

As the story begins, Dylan is on the run with a friend after a life-altering decision. Hoping to keep them safe from someone wanting revenge on him, he leaves behind his mom and his girlfriend Jess.

Along the way, Dylan learns a great deal about what happened when he was six years old and a police officer died, leading to his father's current stay on Death Row (in Texas, no less) and upcoming execution date. He also learns about responsibility and sacrifice, and how doing what's right doesn't always mean following the trail of the facts and the truth.

While reminding me of a more modern-day The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, Dean's writin…

Hope Home & Rescue

Nikki, blogger at One Tiny Starfish, recently blogged about Hope Home, for abused girls in Kampala, Uganda. Besides being a sponsor, Nikki is the designer for the new blog devoted to Hope Home & Rescue Center for Girls.

From the blog's Who Are We? posting on September 28:

Hope Home and Rescue Center is being created out of the urgent need to provide safe living accommodations to girl students who are attending Christian Upliftment Nursery and Primary School.

Our mission is to provide a safe living space to girls who are being abused and/or are at risk of being trafficked. Our focus is to help rehabilitate each girl to enable them to continue their education. We believe each girl has the opportunity to accomplish her dreams only if she is nurtured, loved, and free from any and all forms of abuse.

Besides having clearly outlined goals for how they plan to spend the money raised, there's also a donation one-to-one match in place until November 1, up to a grand total of $1000. …

Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love edited by Trisha Telep

Kiss Me Deadly: 13 Tales of Paranormal Love edited by Trisha Telep (2010) contains short stories about various kinds of love, not necessarily--or even usually--of the romantic variety.

As with most anthologies, I had my favorites and also those I didn't really like.

My absolute favorite is by a new-to-me author, Daniel Waters, who writes the Generation Dead books. His story explores what happens when some, not all, children who die come back as zombies within a seven-day post-death period. No one understands why, or even how to tell which children will return, albeit as very different, and which won't. What happens as a father waits to see whether his daughter returns to life after a car crash that kills several teenagers? And what does he do in honor of his daughter and the love he felt for her?

I think this is a "definitely read" for all paranormal fans who enjoy the short story format, though not something I'd suggest to someone focused no paranormal roman…

This and That

I changed my poll. Please vote!

Maya is the Star of the Week for her first grade class this week. I'm still grumbling a little about just receiving notice after work last night, though Maya did quite well at improvising yesterday. She showed the necklace she made from our photo keychain bought during our trip to the amusement park Adventureland in August, and she gave each of her classmates a squirt from the bottle of hand sanitizer she happened to have in her backpack.

That leaves four days to cover, including today. We still had the poster I made all about her during pre-school two years ago, and she covered the other side of the poster with more recent photos, a Halloween-themed drawing, and lists and drawings for healthy and not healthy foods--all her own design and efforts. The poster went to school today. Lucky Muffin, our Shih tzu, gets to visit the classroom for ten minutes tomorrow afternoon! Allie, our Rottweiler, gets to stay safely at home because, after all, …

Breast Cancer Walk

Maya and I had a great time at the walk to support breast cancer awareness and fundraising for the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Lincoln yesterday. We had perfect weather for a walk around the lake.

And I had the fanciest dressed (turquoise skirt with flounces and sparkles, rose pink shirt with sparkles, and pink beaded necklaces), most entertaining walking companion of anyone there.

Our conversation:

.3 miles--Maya: "I think we need to do the up route, Mom." [Walkers doing the 1-mile walk diverge at about the .5-mile mark to loop back to the starting point of the race. Walkers doing the 3.1-mile walk go up on the dam overlooking the lake.]

.5 mile--Maya: "We're going up. We can do it!"

1 mile--Maya: "Do you think there are sharks in that ocean?"
Me: "That's a lake, not an ocean. If the ocean ever gets to Nebraska, we've got a big problem. No sharks, babe."

1.5 miles--Maya: "I can't believe you didn't let me bring …

Please Vote

The Cancer Institute at the hospital where I work is seeking a $5000 grant from the foundation started by Lance Armstrong. In order to receive the grant, we need votes--lots of votes--and each person can vote once each day between now and 7 p.m. CST October 29, 2010.

Please go to this site and vote for Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center under the first column, Creative Center: Arts in Healthcare.

Here's a little more about the reason we're requesting the grant funding:

Creative Center: Arts in Healthcare

Arrange for a trained artist to help our cancer patients (inpatients and outpatients) and survivors with art therapy projects.

Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center
Lincoln, NE

Saint Elizabeth has a very active Cancer Outreach Program that includes a support program for cancer survivors called A Time to Heal. It would be wonderful to expand this program to include the Artist in Residence activities. Patients and survivors would benefit greatly from the arts experience as par…

Ancestry and Disease in the Age of Genomic Medicine

I think we spend a great deal of time developing groups. Sometimes those constructs benefit us as individuals, providing sources of sustenance and pride. Sometimes those constructs cause us to harm others by labeling those outside of the group not only as "other," but also as "less."

We forget that, despite differences based on race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, physical abilities, nationality, etc., we're still all part of humanity--and much more alike than we are different.

I don't usually blog about articles, especially not articles I see at work, but I enjoyed reading this one. If you want to see the full text of the article for yourself, just let me know.

Feero WG, Guttmacher AE. Ancestry and Disease in the Age of Genomic Medicine. N Engl J Med 2010;363:1551-8.

A couple of points of interest to me:

From page 1552:
Population-level studies have also shown that African populations have relatively greater genetic diversity than other populations and that…

Midnight Rose by Shelby Reed

Midnight Rose by Shelby Reed (2005) packs the usual erotic punch expected from a book published by Ellora's Cave.

Kate O'Brien accepts a position as a teacher for home-bound teenager Jude. She believes he has a rare medical condition that makes him, among other things, allergic to the sun. Jude lives with his sexy, widowed father, Gideon Renaud.

Of course, Gideon is actually a vampire, and his son is exhibiting symptoms Gideon also had when he was younger. Gideon's a lonely vampire, one who despises his condition (not something I appreciate when reading vampire books) and wants to prevent Jude from experiencing the darker elements of vampirism.

While the sex scenes are certainly hot, I wasn't as fond of the fact that Gideon hides being a vampire from Kate as long as possible. Too long. By the time she knows the truth, she's already in love with him, which I don't think is fair.

The mental/emotional self-torture on Gideon's part, along with his dishonest…

Tracker's Sin by Sarah McCarty

I've been waiting to read the stories for twins Tracker and Shadow since first discovering Sarah McCarty's Hell's Eight series. Tracker's Sin (2010) is certainly sweet, though not quite the graphic story I'm used to reading in this series.

The men of Hell's Eight have been on a mission, mentioned during preceding books, to find Desi's twin sister, Ari, taken captive by a group of Comancheros and with a price on her head, placed there by the attorney after Desi and Ari's inheritance. [Desi's story is told in Caine's Reckoning.]

Tracker finds Ari, a new mother and suffering from a case of amnesia. Meaning, she doesn't remember not only her sister, but also being raped repeatedly by numerous men for months. As you can imagine, the truth about her recent past isn't something Tracker hurries to share with Ari.

Ultimately, Tracker needs to get Ari and baby Miguel to Hell's Eight land and a reunion with Ari, all while dealing with feeling …

This and That

A photo of Maya at lunch at Granite City today. I like her smile, so had to share with all of you.

I also really like polls, and I haven't had one on my blog lately. I read a comment in a discussion list post that caused me to create this poll question about the current state of the American economy. Feel free to vote if you don't live in the States, yet have an opinion, too. I'm curious to see the results.

I had a really fun day yesterday. I went to the fire station and ate lunch in the park with Maya's class and another first grade class at her school. The kids were pretty excited when the firemen showing us around their station had a call near the end of the talk. They were also exhausted by the time we returned to school after the walk and an hour of playing in the park in 91-degree F weather.

How often does Nebraska have weather that warm in October? Not very. I really feel like we're having June weather right now, though we're finally seeing quite…

Pharaoh: Volume II of Kleopatra

Pharaoh: Volume II of Kleopatra by Karen Essex (2002) covers the years of Kleopatra's reign. Each section covers a different year of her reign, with a prelude piece on her final year included just ahead of each section.

With all of the material--the fighting, the romances with two of the most powerful men this world has ever seen, the murders, and the suicides--known, there certainly seems to be a lot of information for the foundation of a wonderful fictional tale.

Instead, I'm left disappointed and looking to find another piece of fiction about Cleopatra.

Besides an overall feeling of being underwhelmed, I thought the final sex scene between Kleopatra and Antony read as completely over-the-top and ridiculous until I read the ending, Kleopatra's death scene. The death went even beyond the last sex scene in terms of cheesiness, particularly the very last few lines of the book. And a poorly written ending ruins an entire book for this reader.

Since I don't think includi…

Kleopatra by Karen Essex

I'll be the first to admit that historical fiction isn't generally my genre of choice, mainly because I keep thinking, "Would any real person covered in this book actually recognize her/himself and the people s/he knew depicted here?" The sensationalistic doesn't appeal to me when covering specific people who actually lived.

That being said, going in with the mindset of reading Kleopatra by Karen Essex (2001) purely as a fictional endeavor helped this reader appreciate the work a little more. And Essex does an excellent job of bringing Ancient Egypt to life, almost to the point of being too detailed in some of her descriptions. Very detailed and very spicy.

This first volume in the two-volume set begins when Kleopatra is only three years old. Her mother is ill, and her older half-sister (same mother, different fathers) is just about to offer herself as comfort to Kleopatra's father in the hopes of cementing her place. So begins a book filled with frequent …

This and That

My lovely niece, Liz, and one of her classmates, during the Homecoming parade. My "kids" (nephew Andrew--22 next month, niece Amanda--18 1/2, niece Liz--18 later this month, and nephew Garrett--14 last month) are all getting so old. Guess I'm glad Maya is only 6!

How did I miss knowing about this? Yesterday was World Animal Day.

My friend and pen pal blisschic blogged about Gentle Paws & Friends in Singapore yesterday. For only being open six months, they have done a lot of work already.

Crystal at Life, Love, and Literature wrote some great posts last week in honor of Banned Books Week. You may notice I, ahem, stole a certain image from her blog to add to mine, too!

Kody Keplinger also wrote a fantastic ode to Judy Blume last week.

Maya and I had a great time on Friday night at her school's movie night. Using a sheet on the side of a building for a screen, we sat on blankets and lawn chairs to watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Although not Maya…

Getting the Pretty Back by Molly Ringwald

I made the mistake of assuming Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick by Molly Ringwald (2010) was going to be some sort of traditional autobiography. I assumed the book would be packed with insight into the teen movies that made her famous and the intervening years spent mainly out of the limelight.

Right. Well, this isn't much of an autobiography at all. This is actually more of a basic, relatively vague advice column in book format for the, ahem, middle-aged female. A book that could have been written just as easily by say, me, as by Molly. There's nothing remotely unique or surprising contained in the "advice," and personal anecdotes are the exception rather than the rule.

I'm disappointed. I wanted a book that read more like, "Hey, you know that girl in Sixteen Candles? And the one in The Breakfast Club? I'm not really either of those girls, or any other character I played, at all. I'm Molly Ringwald…

Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie

Tender Graces by Kathryn Magendie (2009) is the story of Virginia Kate, a woman visiting West Virginia in order to get her mother's ashes, and her struggle to come to terms with her past. With the aid of the spirits, the grandmother's journal (with notations added by Virginia Kate's mother) sent to Virginia Kate by her mother right before her death, and the photos and other memory-inducing items left in her mother's home, her childhood and family history finally become something Virginia Kate can explore in a new way and learn to accept.

As the reader, we're fortunate to experience both the present and the past through the eyes of Virginia Kate, an interesting, flawed-in-her-own-right storyteller for her family history.

I can't even describe how much this book spoke to me. I can't imagine anyone with "family issues" and the understanding that family relationships are complicated, messy, and fragile not finding something to love about this book.